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Home Weapons Types of Short Blades in Martial Arts

Characters from the G.I. Joe film Retaliation, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, face each other down a corridor

The short blade is important because in the world of martial arts weapons, size isn’t everything. There are numerous types of short blades and knives which are used in martial arts. Some popular examples can be found below, each with a description and video for your enjoyment.

1. Shuriken – Spinning Short Blade

This is perhaps the most well-known example of a martial arts short blade. Commonly associated with Ninja and Ninjutsu, the name Shuriken actually refers to any of the smallest Japanese short blades. There are two major types of Shuriken one of which is the Shaken (wheel Shuriken), or throwing/ninja star. Check out the videos below which show these two Shuriken in action.


Bō Shuriken

2. Kunai – Multi-Purpose Short Blade

Originally a sharpened farming tool, this short blade has many functions. Primarily it may be thrown in a similar way to Shuriken. The Kunai’s weight and grip also allow it to be used in sparring or fighting against other bladed weapons. The most interesting feature of the Kunai is the metal ring at one end. This was used either to hang it to clothing, attach it to an object for increased reach or threading a rope through in order to use it as a basic grappling hook.

3. Sai – Dual-Wield Short Blade

You may have noticed that at 1:00 in the above video the “ninja” seemed to decide to throw any old sharp object at the target. Apparently (this worries me) the closest thing to hand was a Sai. These short blades would actually be better described as pointed batons. Most Sai techniques involve the use of a pair, with the prongs used to block or lock. Watch the video below from 2:30.

4. Tantō – Samurai Short Blade

The Tantō short blade was traditionally used by Japanese samurai as a backup for the katana and other longer swords. In simple terms it bears a similar form the modern knives; however its original shape would have been similar to a katana. Watch the below video which demonstrates some useful techniques for defending yourself against a Tantō or other short blade.

5. Shōtō – Wakizashi Short Blades

You many notice that in many martial arts videos and films samurai carry two swords. One is usually a longer katana and the other is a Wakizashi short blade. This shorter sword may be used with or as a backup for the katana. Watch the below clip where many of the above weapons make an appearance, including the Wakizashi.

Tell us in the comment section below what your favourite short blade or knife is 😀


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