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Historically, katana were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords that were used by the samurai of ancient and feudal Japan. The katana is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. However, in the modern day, it is used to refer to a specific curved sword carried by samurai in a set known as the daisho. The katana, or “katana blade” in some contexts within the series, is a common weapon of characters within the franchise. The katana is most often mistaken for Leonardo‘s weapon, the Ninjaken.
Most of the swords deemed “katana” within TMNT media are not curved, are light enough to be used with one hand and more closely resemble the Ninjaken, a straight sword of ambiguous origin said to be the sword of choice for ninja. Karai has also wielded a katana in the 2007 film.
A bokken (木剣, boku = wood, ken = sword) or bokuto (木刀) is a wooden sword used primarily for practicing sword arts. Leonardo utilized one in his earlier years.
Tanto and Kogatana
The Tanto is a traditional samurai dagger is often used as a secondary weapon to the Katana, and is great for close range combat and surprise attacks. As a secondary weapon to a Katana, they are known together as a “Daishō” (大小), literally meaning “Big-Small”, with “Big” referring to a Katana and “Small” referring either to a Tantō or a Wakizashi (脇差).
The Tanto is a short dagger used by the Turtles. It is the smallest of the three traditional blades carried by a Samurai. The ones used by the Turtles are light, straight, and perfect for throwing. It appeared in episodes, such as New Friend, Old Enemy, TCRI, and Panic in the Sewers: In “New Friend, Old Enemy”, Leo used these to cut Mikey free from his bonds when he was kidnapped by Chris Bradford and Xever. In “TCRI”, Donnie used Leo’s tanto to make a cut in the glass cell he and his brothers were trapped in when they were captured by the Kraang.
In “Slash and Destroy”, Raph takes one out to use against Slash after seeing him beat Leo up, since his Sai were knocked out of reach earlier in the fight.
The Kogatana, a small traditional samurai dagger, (like a Tanto but smaller), is often used as a secondary weapon to a Katana, is often hidden within the bindings of a Katana’s Saya (Scabbard), and is great for close range combat and surprise attacks.
The Kogatana is a small, slim, short dagger used by the Turtles. The ones used by the Turtles are light, straight, and perfect for throwing.
According to the Concept Art of Leonardo’s Katana, “Niten Ryu”, in the 2012 series, a “Kogatana” (Mini Katana) is concealed within the Saya’s (Scabbard’s) binding wrappings, and a tanto blade is concealed within the hilt of the “Daito” (Long Sword), all as secondary, auxiliary weapons to his Katanas.
The Ninjaken, also known as the Ninjato or Shinobigatana, are blades characterized by being straight, chiseled edged swords. They appear to be largely a media creation, based on the design of the Wakizashi, or perhaps the Chokutō.
What sets a Ninjaken apart from more commonly recognized blades such as Katana are the shorter blade, straight edge, and square guard. This was said to be a more efficient and sensible weapon for the ninja, who relied heavily on stealth tactics.
Leonardo is commonly shown using Katana throughout most continuities. In the 2007 film, however, his blades were clearly rendered as being straight with square guards. Confusion between the two different swords may be since the Ninjaken and Katana have minute differences that do not affect their combat effectiveness, and the fact that both weapons share the same cutting power and penetration.
An ōdachi (大太刀, “large great sword”) is a traditional Japanese longsword. There is no standard definition for how long a sword’s blade had to be to qualify as one, but typically it was somewhere around 35 inches.
Practically speaking, the function/use of most ōdachi fall into the first two categories—as ceremonial objects and infantry swords. The possible functions of the ōdachi can be categorized as follows:
- As a votive offering to a shrine (or specifically to its patron gods). Some ōdachi were used in prayer before a war, while others were displayed (sometimes in temples)—reputedly as legendary swords from mythology. Due to the amount of skill required to make one, it was considered that their exotic appearance was suitable for praying to the gods.
Ōdachi swordplay styles differed from that of other Japanese swords, focusing on downward cuts.
The Sai is a defensive truncheon originating in Okinawa. It is often mistaken for a dagger, as its use in the TMNT media would reflect. Several characters in the series have used sai, but they are mostly associated with Raphael. The basic form of the weapon is that of a blunted, prong shaped metal baton, with two curved prongs (yoku) projecting from the handle (tsuka).
In traditional sai combat, they are carried in pairs, called saitachi. One is used for blocks and trapping weapons, while the other is used for striking, mostly with the knuckle.
- In the 2012 TV series, Raphael’s sais is the only weapon out of the four Turtles that is not designed to be a lethal weapon, unlike Leo’s katanas, Mikey’s kusarigama, and Donnie’s bo, probably because of his hot temper.
- In the 2007 film, during the fight scene between Raphael and Leonardo, Raph managed to break Leo’s Katana blades with his sai.
Tonfā (トンファー) is a weapon of Okinawan origin. They are wooden cudgels with handles at the side. The tonfa measures about three centimeters past the elbow when gripped.There are three grips, honte-mochi (natural), gyakute-mochi (reverse) and tokushu-mochi (special). The natural grip places the handle in the hand with the long arm resting along the bottom of the forearm. This grip provides protection or brace along one’s forearms, and also provides reinforcement for backfist, elbow strikes, and punches. In use, the tonfa can swing out to the gyakute grip for a strike or thrust. Martial artists may also flip the tonfa and grab it by the shaft, called tokushu-mochi. This allows use of the handle as a hook in combat, similar to the kama (sickle).This grip is uncommon but is used in the kata Yaraguwa.
Raphael used tonfā as his training weapon in The Passing. Michaelangelobrandished them in Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation as his normal weapon due to censorship in Europe which led to his 1987 counterpart not using Nunchaku in the European airings of the 1987 TV Series & the same for his live action moviecounterpart as well. Raphael is seen equipping them amongst many other weapons in Showdown, although he never seems to use any of them. The tonfā is also Raphael‘s primary weapon in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
At various times, Foot Ninja have been seen wielding tonfā.
Personal opinion from Caro: Tonfa are hard as fuck to handle, much more than sai. According to me tonfa and nunchuck are the weapon who need the more dexterity.
Nunchaku and Kusarigama
The nunchaku (or “nunchucks” as they are sometimes referred to on the show), is a weapon that consists of two sticks connected at their ends by a short chain or a length of rope. The word itself comes from nun (ヌン), meaning “twin” and shaku (尺), the approximate length of each arm of the nunchaku.
Nunchaku were traditionally wielded as a defensive weapon, used to lock joints and disarm weapons. Popular culture has shown nunchaku as a striking flail, which is how the weapon is often portrayed in TMNT media. They began as an ancient farming tool used to thrash grain.
The kusarigama is a traditional Japanese weapon consisting of a sickle at the end of a kusari-fundo chain weapon.
This is the weapon Michelangelo‘s nunchaku transform into in the 2012 TV series. It has a blade that springs out of one end of the handle, and the chain extends to serve as the kusari-fundo portion of the weapon. The nunchaku are one of the weapons to get an upgrade (the other being the bo staff).
My two cents about Mikey’s weapon in Rise
They said he has a Manriki-gusari, but for me, it’s look more like a single-headed Meteor Hammer.
The Meteor Hammer is a defensive Chinese weapon that has many techniques in the form of martial arts. It is also the weapon used by Gogo Yubari in the Kill Bill movie.
A Meteor Hammer consists of a sphere attached to either a rope or a chain. The sphere can have many different designs and weights. With a lighter weight, the weapon can be swung faster and similar to a nunchaku.
There are single-headed meteor hammers and double-headed meteor hammers with both being as much as 5 meters in length.
There are many techniques for the meteor hammer as it can used for swinging, throwing, whipping, grabbing and striking opponents.
Bō and Naginata
A bō or kon, is a long staff, usually made of tapered hard wood, for example, white oak, bamboo and in some cases, for training purposes, rotan. Sometimes, it is made of metal or plated with metal for extra strength; also, a full-size bō is sometimes called a rokushakubō.
The bō is Donatello‘s weapon of choice. The bo is a versatile weapon, able to defend as well as attack. Its length allows the user to keep enemies at a distance and twirling the staff quickly can block attacks.
This matches Donnie well, as he is more along the lines of defense and strategies more than offense.
It was also used by one of the Karai Bots in the 2003 TV series episode “New Blood” and the video game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare. The bots weapon was also used by Leonardo and Donatello in the episode “New Blood”, with the latter taking it after his bo staff brakes.
In the 2012 TV series Donatello’s staff has a retractable naginata blade on the end, and is one of two turtles that received upgrades to their traditional weapons (the other being Michelangelo‘s nunchaku). However, unlike Mikey, who uses his new weapon as much as he uses his nunchaku, Donnie rarely uses this, mostly doing so whenever he is fighting robots. Under the blade it has a round holder just like a sword. Some Foot Soldiers also use Naginatas. Splinter and Karai have also used Naginatas.
The tessen, (lit. “Iron Fan” or War Fan), is a folding fan with outer spokes made of heavy plates of iron which were designed to look like normal, harmless folding fans or solid clubs shaped to look like a closed fan.
Samurai could take these to places where swords or other overt weapons were not allowed, and some swordsmanship schools included training in the use of the tessen as a weapon. The tessen was also used for fending off arrows and darts, as a throwing weapon, and as an aid in swimming.
A war fan is a fan designed for use in warfare. Several types of war fans were used by the samurai class of feudal Japan.
Kusari-fundo / Manriki-gusari,
Karai uses one in the 2003 TV series.
The manriki-gusari is also the primary weapon of Nightwatcher, which he wields in pairs.
In the 2012 series, manriki-gusari have so-far been seen in “I Think His Name is Baxter Stockman“, by the Turtles to try to restrain the “Stockman-Pod” in the final confrontation. In “Baxter’s Gambit“, whilst trying to match her to a weapon, Splinterhas April O’Neil try a manriki-gusari before finally matching her with a tessen.
Grappling Hooks are devices with multiple hooks (known as claws or flukes), attached to a rope; it is thrown, dropped, sunk, projected, or fastened directly by hand to where at least one hook may catch and hold. Generally, grappling hooks are used to temporarily secure one end of a rope. They may also be used to dredge for submerged objects. Historically, grappling hooks were used in naval warfare to catch ship rigging so that it could be boarded, but the turtles use it only for climbing and, some times, for fighting.
Tekkō-kagi, (手甲鉤 lit. “back of the hand hooks”), were a kind of kakushi buki (隠し武器; lit. “hidden weapon”) deployed by the ninja of Japan. It is used by The Shredder in almost all incarnations. It was also used by Hattori Kinzō in Mutant Turtles: Chōjin Densetsu Hen and the Foot Assassins in the IDW comics.
Weapons of these type are presumably easier to conceal and use in close quarters, depending on the size and nature of the blades. However, in fights involving larger weapons they would be less effective considering their limited reach compared to a sword or polearm.
Weapons of these type were actually used in early civilizations. The Bagh Nakh, or Tiger’s Claw, was originally developed in India for self-defense and used by the first Maratha Emperor Shivaji. Ninjas would used the Nekode/Shuko for fighting, and the Tekagi-Shuko for utilitarian purposes, such as climbing trees.
- In the 2012 TV series, in the episode “Rise of the Turtles, Part 2, all four Turtles are seen using smaller versions of these, (known as Tegaki, or simply as “Shuko”), to scale the wall of the Kraang compound. When Donatello palm-slaps his own forehead at Michelangelo lack of grasp of Leonardo’s plan to distract the Kraang, he forgets that he’s wearing a pair of Shuko and hurts himself.
- In the 2012 series, in Splinter’s flashbacks, The Shredder is seen wielding a pair of “Tekko-kagi”). In the present, he is seen with custom-made Tekko-kagi claw weapons: They have extendable blades and are razor sharp. They have also been shown to be strong enough to cut through metal shipping containers.
In Edo period Japan, the jitte was a substitute for a badge and represented someone on official business and was carried by all levels of police officers, including high-ranking samurai police officials and low-rank samurai law enforcement officers, (called okappiki or doshin). Other high-ranking samurai officials carried a jitte as a badge of office, including hotel, rice and grain inspectors (aratame). The jitte is the subject of the Japanese martial art of Jittejutsu.
Tegaki are claws use to climb up sheer wall surfaces such as brick, stone, concrete, and wood. They first appeared in the first Turtles comic. They’re sturdy and strong, but are not designed to hold up as weapons.
A Shuriken, (lit. “Hand-Hidden Blade”), otherwise known as a “Throwing Star”, is a traditional Japanese concealed weapon that was generally used for throwing, and sometimes stabbing or slashing. They are sharpened hand-held blades made from a variety of everyday items, such as needles, nails, and knives, as well as coins, washers, and other flat plates of metal. Shuriken is the name given to any small-bladed object, while Shaken is traditionally used to indicate the well-known name, “Throwing Star”.
Shuriken are commonly known in the West as throwing stars or ninja stars though they took many different shapes and designs during the time they were used. The major varieties of shuriken are the “Bō Shuriken” (棒手裏剣, ‘Stick Shuriken) and the “Hira Shuriken” (平手裏剣, ‘Flat Shuriken’), or “Shaken” (車剣, also read as “Kurumaken”, or ‘Wheel Shuriken’).
Shuriken were mainly a supplemental weapon to the more-commonly-used sword or other various weapons in a samurai warrior’s arsenal, though they often played a pivotal tactical role in battle. The art of wielding the shuriken is officially known as Shurikenjutsu.
Shuriken are commonly seen in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, normally used as secondary weapons for the main characters. In some continuities, the Turtles are equipped with explosive and other specialized shuriken.
The kama (鎌 or かま) is a traditional Japanese farming implement similar to a sickle used for reaping crops and also employed as a weapon. It is often included in weapon training segments of martial arts. Sometimes referred to as kai or “double kai”, kama made with intentionally dull blades for kata demonstration purposes are referred to as kata kai.
The kama can be used singly or in pairs. Both the point and sharpened edge of the metal blade are called into use, Okinawan kata suggesting that it could also be used to block, trap and disarm an opponent’s weapon. The point at which the blade and handle join in the “weapon” model normally has a nook with which a staff can be trapped. The edge of a traditional rice sickle, such as one would purchase from a Japanese hardware store, continues to the handle without a notch, as this is unneeded for its intended use. The hard edge of the blade would be kept razor-sharp to enable efficient cutting of crops, though this is sometimes a cause of training accidents by unskilled wielders, for whom blunt training versions of the weapon are created.
The kama is used today in only few martial arts. The kama can be used as a weapon in karate kata competitions but competitors often simply adapt their empty hand routine while holding kama with little actual kama technique, or employ elaborate weapon-juggling routines that differ radically from the focused Okinawan forms.