What Are Reverse Blade Swords?
Everyone knows what a sword looks like – it is a long piece of steel with a sharp cutting edge; and some swords have a double cutting edge – each side is honed to a fine cutting point. Reverse blade swords are different from most others in that they have their cutting edge on the reverse side. When a blow is struck with the standard sword, the sharp edge cuts into the opponents flesh and the amount of injury cause depends on how deep the cut is. With reverse blade swords, the side which strikes the opponent is the blunt one and besides pain and bruising, little in the way of serious injury is likely to occur.
When a reverse blade sword is used in training it allows the learner to refines his abilities as a swordsman without risking injury to the opponent. Since reverse blade swords can be on any design, they are ideal for getting accustomed to the weight, balance and feel of the standard sword – the reversed blade makes no difference to how it handles. The first documented historical reference to the use of reverse blade swords is of the Sakaba swords of Japan. The term Sakaba does not refer to any particular type of word but to the fact that the cutting edge is reversed.
The Sakaba sword was an integral part of not just sword training but all forms of combat teaching. The advantage was that the trainee would be able to gain proficiency by using the sword of his choice without risking any injury to those with whom he was practicing. And although the chances of serious injury were small, a blow from a reverse blade sword was painful enough to make the trainee realize the injury he could sustain if hit by a normal sword. It is thought that these swords may also have been used in real combat situations – where the warrior wanted to disable his enemy and capture him without inflicting life threatening injury.
Reverse blade swords are well known today due to the popular anime about ancient Japanese warriors who use these swords to engage in non lethal combat – not historically accurate perhaps, but entertaining enough to make the swords well known. They are used in modern sword training where increased safety concerns make the use of reverse blade swords the best and safest way to practice with real weapons with small chance of serious injury.