No 8: Borough

Modern use of an old building on St Mary’s Street, Cardiff.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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Tsuba with Udenuki Ana

Download the full-size picture to use as your desktop wallpaper.

My desktop wallpaper today is another from this week’s theme of the Japanese katana.

Although the appraisal of any katana rightly focuses on the condition, quality and aesthetics of the blade itself, to a martial artist looking for a working blade, the sword’s fittings cannot be completely discounted. The tsuba (Japanese for the guard) plays two important roles in swordsmanship. The obvious one is to protect your hands from someone running their blade along the length of yours. Can’t exactly fight back if you’re missing a few fingers or your thumb now.

Many tsuba (but by no means all) also contain what I believe is called udenuki ana, one or two holes through with the sageo (the cord normally tied to the katana’s sheath or saya in Japanese) can be looped. This has the important effect of tying off the katana, preventing someone from just walking up to you and pulling out your sword with intent. It also stops a blade falling out and onto the floor (where it could well shatter) if you are bowing or otherwise leaning forwards for some reason. (A good swordsman will also secure his katana at all times using his left thumb, but a belt-and-braces approach is safest when using live blades in the dojo or in a public demonstration).

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

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