If I had a dollar for every time someone declared a katana to be the ultimate zombie weapon, I’d be rich by now. But what actually is a katana, and how much help will it be in staying alive in an undead world?
Contrary to popular belief, the term katana in Japanese was originally applied to any kind of single-edged curved sword, of any origin. Therefore, an old U.S. Civil War battle sword was just as much a katana as anything you find in the Land of the Rising Sun. For our purposes here, we’ll use the more contemporary definition that a katana is the standard size, slightly curved Japanese sword with a blade length of greater than 60 cm.
In a recent interview, modern Samurai Master, Yoshinori Kouno, pointed out that only katanas made in the traditional Japanese way, Tamahagane, are strong enough to withstand real battle. These swords have a specific blend of high and low carbon not found in store-bought replicas, no matter what their advertised quality. However, the imposter weapons can still be sharpened to a fine blade, making them extremely dangerous to the inexperienced user.
“It takes decades to become battle-ready with a katana. Anyone with less experience is likely to cut their own leg or foot off on a deflection or missed attack. You’re better to hope your fake katana breaks on your first hit. It will spare you a major self-inflicted injury.”
Kouno closed the interview by stating that there are only a handful of people on the planet who could effectively use a katana in battle. For the rest of us it would be nothing more than a recipe for certain death.
Don’t get me wrong. The notion of fighting zombies with a deadly katana is as appealing to me as the next guy, but it is also equally unrealistic. In my research I’ve found that a real Japanese katana is difficult to master, nearly impossible to find and purchase at a reasonable price, and limited in its real-world application.
Good thing I’ve still got my trusty crow bar and baseball bat.