4 Ways to Use a Katana Properly

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4 Ways to Use a Katana Properly
4 Ways to Use a Katana Properly

The katana is a type of Japanese sword known for its curved blade capable of cutting different types of materials. As simple as handling it seems simple, mastering the blows and cuts is something that requires a lot of training. Face your target and swing the blade toward it, making contact with the cutting edge of the sword. The katana can also be used in defense in training with another fighter. Below we will also teach you how to store the blade in the sheath after use to prevent damage to it and injury to others. Remember to always be very careful when handling a sword as they are extremely sharp and dangerous.


Method 1 of 4: Practicing Basic Scams

Use Katana Properly Step 1

Step 1. Place your hands on the katana hilt

Hold the sword in front of your body, perpendicular to the ground. Keep the dominant hand about two fingers from the katana guard, wrapping the shaft with your fingers on opposite sides of it. Place your dominant hand on the lower end of the handle. The idea is that the backs of your hands are always facing away from the blade. Hold it firmly so that the sword does not slip, but maintain a certain freedom to handle it.

  • Don't hold hands together, or you won't be able to make precise movements. Keep at least 10 cm between one hand and the other.
  • Keep your thumbs on the side of the handle. If you leave them on top or under the handle, you won't be able to hold the katana correctly.
Use Katana Properly Step 2

Step 2. Face the target to be able to hit it with the end of the blade

Traditional targets for training with a katana include rolls of tatami mats and bamboo. Spread your feet wide, placing them under your shoulders and facing the target, and straighten your arms. Take a few steps forward so that the blade is about 6 inches above the target.

  • Pieces of paper and filled plastic bottles are great alternative targeting options.
  • If you just want to practice the form of the moves, know that you can train without a target too.
  • Make sure there is nothing near the target that could damage the blade or be damaged by it. Ideally, you and the target are at least 10 feet away from any person or object.
Use Katana Properly Step 3

Step 3. Hold the blade over your head, parallel to the ground

Bend your elbows slightly as you raise the sword, keeping your feet flat on the ground and facing toward the target. When the blade is nearly horizontal, stop moving and hold it firmly.

  • You can also strike from top to bottom at a side angle, just aim the tip of the blade further to the side where you want to start the cut.
  • The cutting edge of the katana should face up when it is over your head.


Take it easy at the beginning of your workout, focusing more on your form and your safety. Leave to speed up your training as you gain more experience in handling the blade.

Use Katana Properly Step 4

Step 4. Push the top of the katana hilt forward to help form the bow of the sword

Don't start hitting until you're prepared to make a single fluid movement. Straighten the dominant arm and wrist, initiating the front strike - as you stretch your arm, the blade will begin to move forward with speed, increasing the chances of cutting through the projected target.

While training, it's okay to break the movement down into a few parts and practice them individually

Use Katana Properly Step 5

Step 5. Lower the blade towards the opponent and step forward

As soon as you lower your hands in front of your head, take a step in the same direction as your dominant side to strike harder. Try to take a step of about 15 cm to be able to extend the katana's reach, following with the forward movement, without hesitation when attacking!

If you're going to lower the sword at a different angle, step with your foot on the opposite side of the blow. For example, if you're going to cut from left to right, step forward with your left foot

Use Katana Properly Step 6

Step 6. Cut the target at a 45° angle

Readjust the blade angle by slightly turning your hands just before contact with the target. Continue swinging the sword to the end, slashing the target in a single move. The 45° cut is ideal for effective blade contact, but remember to stop it about 60 cm off the ground so it doesn't hit the ground and get damaged.

If you're just training, stop moving when the blade is level with your chest. Thus, you will be able to develop better katana control

Use Katana Properly Step 7

Step 7. Strike horizontally for a medium attack

Hold the sword hilt firmly using the dominant hand near the guard, with the non-dominant hand at the end of the hilt. Keep the katana to the side of the body you want to strike so that the blade points upward at a 45° angle. At the time of the attack, extend your dominant arm, swinging the sword in front of your torso, keeping it parallel to the ground. End the movement with the katana in front of the opposite shoulder.

It is possible to strike like this using only the dominant hand, but you will have less control over the katana

Use Katana Properly Step 8

Step 8. Turn the blade upside down to attack from below

Position yourself so that the katana forms a 45° angle pointing to the ground behind you, with the cutting edge facing forward. Hold the cable, close to the guard, with your dominant hand; leave your non-dominant hand on the end of the sword hilt. When it's time to strike, extend your dominant arm and swing forward, ending the attack at the height of your torso, so that the cutting edge is facing up.

  • Let the non-dominant wrist loosen so that the blade is easier to handle.
  • If you are going to strike from the other side of your body, you may need to cross your dominant arm over your non-dominant arm.

Method 2 of 4: Blocking with the katana

Use Katana Properly Step 9

Step 1. Use the side or back of the blade to block opponents' blows

Trying to use the edge of the blade to defend yourself can end up damaging the katana. So try to block the blows with the middle of the sword so that the opponent hits the side or back of the blade, where the metal is thicker. Also, avoid blocking a blow with the 30 cm closest to the tip of the blade, or you may end up losing your balance or loosening your sword.

Do your best to dodge to the side during the block, thus evading the attack and moving away from the opponent

Use Katana Properly Step 10

Step 2. Hold the blade at a 45° angle in front of you to block direct blows

If you expect the opponent to attack from above or from a side angle, hold the katana about 30 cm above your head, aiming the tip of it at a 45° angle towards the ground. That way, you will defend more easily. It is important that the blade's cutting edge is facing downwards to avoid damage to the sword.

  • Keep the cutting line perpendicular to the floor. Don't hold him facing you.
  • Support non-dominant hand against the side of the katana for support. Be careful not to touch the cutting edge, however.
Use Katana Properly Step 11

Step 3. Hold the blade down to protect against low or side attacks

Leave your wrists loose when turning the blade so that it can be easily positioned. Move the katana to the side you expect to be hit by turning the blade with the tip and cutting edge on the opposite side of your body. Then plant your feet firmly on the ground and lock your wrists to hold the sword tightly so that it remains in place even after the blow.

Practice with a partner to learn how to do this block correctly

Method 3 of 4: Sheathing and Unsheathing the Sword

Use Katana Properly Step 12

Step 1. Push the katana guard from the sheath using your non-dominant thumb

Hold the hem tightly with your non-dominant hand so that your thumb rests on it. Push your finger against the circular guard, pressing it lightly outward. It is normal to feel a slight friction before the blade starts to slide and enter the sheath.

  • The sheath holds the blade in place and prevents the katana from accidentally unsheathing itself.
  • Be careful not to push the blade too far, or it may snap out of the sheath.
Use Katana Properly Step 13

Step 2. Pull the blade by the handle

Run your dominant hand across the front of your body and grab the katana hilt about two fingers away from the guard. Lightly push inwards so that the sharp side of the blade is not caught in the sheath when removing the sword. Slowly pull the blade out in a straight motion, pointing the sword forward, cutting edge down.

The katana has a very sharp cutting side and a straight, blind side at the other end


Katanas are extremely sharp and it is important to handle it carefully after drawing it.

Use Katana Properly Step 14

Step 3. When sheathing the katana, hold the sheath with your entire hand

Grasp the hem firmly, close to the opening, forming a "U" with your non-dominant hand. Wrap your thumb around the hem, holding the piece firmly so that it does not move during insertion of the katana.

Never try to store the katana without holding the scabbard firmly, as the blade could slip and cause an accident

Use Katana Properly Step 15

Step 4. Direct the blade tip into the sheath gap

Slowly turn the tip of the katana towards the sheath, with the cutting edge facing up. Rest the blind side of the blade in your fingers on the tip of the sheath and use your dominant hand to fit the tip into the hole. Hold the sheath firmly, even after inserting the tip of the blade into it.

Since you're going to push the blade toward your body, be very careful not to cut yourself

Use Katana Properly Step 16

Step 5. Push the katana until there are about two blade fingers out

Guide the rest of the sword into the scabbard with your dominant hand, without letting the cutting edge scrape against the scabbard, as this can impair the sharpness of the blade. Continue as long as you feel friction, which should end when there are about two fingers left of the blade.

Do not try to force the blade into the scabbard as this may damage your sword

Use Katana Properly Step 17

Step 6. Press the guard against the hem using the thumb of your non-dominant hand

Hook your thumb around the sword guard and press it into the scabbard. Do not try to force the blade, or you could damage the tip of the blade, but keep pushing the guard until the blade disappears into the sheath and sticks inside.

Method 4 of 4: Keeping Safe While Handling the Katana

Use the Katana Properly Step 18

Step 1. Practice the moves in an open place with enough space to handle the sword

Allow to practice only in spaces at least three meters away from other people or objects, always holding the sheathed katana straight in front of your body to measure this. Reach out and rotate to check that there is nothing in the path of the blade before unsheathing it.

  • Never strike with the katana in a place where you could end up hitting a person or an object.
  • If you have space, try practicing in your backyard.
  • Check local laws before taking the katana to a public space. As it is a melee weapon, it may not be possible to practice its movements in public.
Use Katana Properly Step 19

Step 2. Practice with a bamboo or wooden sword

As much as you need a real katana to cut things, practicing with a real blade can be quite dangerous, especially for beginners. Look for a wooden sword the same size as your katana so you can practice swinging and blocking. Even when you feel confident to train with a real blade, remember to always be careful to avoid accidents.

  • Visit martial arts supply stores to find bamboo or wooden swords.
  • These swords, even without a cutting edge, can injure people and break objects. Be careful when practicing.
  • The thinner side of the wooden sword serves to simulate the cutting edge of the katana, while the thicker, straighter side represents the back of the blade.
Use Katana Properly Step 20

Step 3. Evolve your katana handling skills by taking a martial arts class

Look for dojos or martial arts schools in your area that specialize in handling Japanese swords to learn the correct techniques. Do your research and compare the options available to make a well-thought-out investment suited to the style you would like to learn. Ask all your questions with the instructors and, after making a decision, start studying!

Dojos and instructors tend to be very strict about training and uniforms. Always obey them to stay on course and evolve

Lessons to experiment:

train kenjutsu to practice Japanese swordsmanship in general.

practice iaido to learn to draw swords quickly and respond to sudden attacks.

train kendo if your goal is to improve in combat with bamboo swords and armor.


  • Not comfortable using a real sword in practice? Buy a wooden or bamboo sword. Another option is to purchase a cordless cutting katana.
  • Keep the katana sheathed when you're not using it so you don't end up hurting someone.


  • take very be careful when handling a katana, as the blade is extremely sharp and can cut people or objects.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings so you don't end up hurting a person or an object.

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