Wooden Swords As Impact Weapons


January 8, 2008, 03:34 AM
In the past, several threads have appeared on this subform which discuss exotic weapons such as spears and crossbows. Reading these threads reminded me of another exotic weapon, the wooden sword, and how one man used it to deadly effect. I thought sharing this information might make for some interesting discussions.

In seventeenth century Japan, the famous swordsman Musashi whittled a boat oar into a wooden sword with which he killed a rival by smashing his skull. The use of a wooden sword in this manner does not seem too different from a similar use of a baseball bat or club. Indeed, it seems to me that a wooden bokken or other quality wooden sword might serve as a impact weapon in the event of a home invasion. This is just food for thought. Other opinions are welcomed.

Before anyone jumps to an incorect assumption, I am not suggesting that such a weapon is equal to a firearm. I am merely suggesting that it be considered as an additional weapon in case one lacks the time to retrieve a firearm.


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January 8, 2008, 04:09 AM
Oh, I think that in terms of an impact weapon wooden swords are perfectly OK. It's interesting to me that you make the bat comparison, because of the two, thats what I would choose simply because there is more mass behind a bat than there is behind a bokken.

Out of curiosity, are you talking about just taking a swing with the wooden sword, or using actual technique? For me, the bat definitely wins out if your speaking about technique because I neither know nor particularly care to learn any sword techniques!

Either way, the bokken would be fine as an impact weapon, I think.

January 8, 2008, 08:12 AM
Impact weapons are great self defense tools. Having trained with stick and knife, learned quickly that stick trumped knife (and a whole lot of other things) many times.

January 8, 2008, 08:59 AM
Like HSO said, in my case I figured out early that a PR-24 (http://www.copquest.com/25-2000.htm)baton trumped a lot of stuff, especially in close quarters. Then they took 'em away and gave us food seasoning (pepper spray) <sigh>.

The PR-24 I had was wooden so I don't see why a wooden sword would be less effective. A club is a club.

January 8, 2008, 09:06 AM
Mushashi did win a duel with his wooden sword. The rest of the story is that the swordsman he was duelling was known to use an extremely long sword. To counter the extremely long sword, Mushashi whittled an even longer wood sword for the purpose of the duel. It put the other swordsman off-kilter, because he had only practiced how to beat opponents with shorter (standard length) swords.

It wasn't so much the Mushashi liked the wooden sword as a weapon, but that he needed a new weapon to fit a new situation, and the wooden sword was the most expedient.

Throughout Mushashi's career as a duellist, he repeatedly changed his tactics to meet the challenge of the day.

January 8, 2008, 11:28 AM
Impact weapons are great self defense tools. Having trained with stick and knife, learned quickly that stick trumped knife (and a whole lot of other things) many times.


Stick beats knife. Stick seeks bones and joints...

There's a reason that FMA (Eskrima/Arnis/Kali) starts with the stick and transitions gradually into unarmed fighting. Simplicity, effectiveness, and efficiency.

January 8, 2008, 05:40 PM
TimboKhan, I initially thought about techniques since I assume that a person who purchases a bokken or other type of wooden sword is interested in sword training. But, even someone who lacks formal training could generate enough force to inflict damage with a quality training sword. The baseball bat does have more mass, but as ZeSpectre put it so well a club is a club.

Owen, I related the Musashi story since it seems so unusual. But you are correct that Musashi was a master at adaptation. Another story involving a wooden weapon used against the sword is found in Christoph Amberger's work The Secret History of the Sword. According to Amberger, an Englishman named John Peeke used a quarterstaff to fight against three Spanish swordsmen armed with rapiers. The result was one dead swordsman and two more injured. Peeke emerged unharmed. I think these episodes demonstrate the sheer power of impact weapons.


January 8, 2008, 06:35 PM
I've been using a bokken as a "walking stick" for the past 15 years. It doesn't get much of a glance by most of the public.

As far as effectiveness, just practice a thousand overhead strikes a day and it'll solve most non-firearm related problems.

Most of the $10 red oak varieties won't stand up to much abuse, but work fine for self-defense. Check the shaft for grain consistency and obvious imperfections and you may get one that lasts several years of normal use. I have not experimented with other wood types although the Cold Steel all-plastic bokken are tempting to try out.

January 8, 2008, 07:34 PM
Here's a site if you are interested http://www.aikiwood.com/

January 8, 2008, 07:38 PM
The Bokuto (Japanese wooden sword) is a very deadly ancient weapon and was used in close quarters fighting with as much effectiveness as using a metal one at the time (FYI metal swords at the time were generally made of bronze as steel was not yet invented).

January 8, 2008, 07:46 PM
My understanding was that Musashi fought all his latter duels with a bokken.

A good strong bokken (not the crap you usually see, but a more expensive, larger, stronger version) is faster than a bat and very effective for both thrusting and swinging.


January 9, 2008, 12:21 AM
The Book of Five Rings seems to indicate that Musashi fought with a bokken more out of a lack of challenge than anything, but then again, Musashi was also pretty crazy. A total bad-ass to be sure, but crazy as a loon.

Loyalist Dave
January 9, 2008, 04:36 PM
He was also a master of the sword, single and both at once. It was his life's vocation. As such it pretty much excludes most of us from using his example, or his weapon choice, for our personal defense (imho), as he probably could've used a piece of wild rattan and won.

If you want a piece of wood to protect yourself, get an Eastern Woodland Native American ball-headed club, Simple, efficient, and takes less technique to pop a skull. (again imho)


January 10, 2008, 04:32 AM
LD, it is true that Musashi perfected his fighting skills beyond a level most of us will never know. But I think it is also valid to say that any BG we may face will also fall below the level of Musashi's opponents. In this circumstance, a good impact weapon, such as the one you mentioned, serves as a good alternative. What does a quality ball club cost anyway? Your recommendation is both interesting and unique.


January 11, 2008, 01:56 AM
Fijian war clubs have a nice heft.

January 15, 2008, 05:02 AM
Tim, sent you a PM about the Cold Steel clubs. Looking at thier website reminds me that they market a Sjambok, which is another good impact type of weapon. Actually, out of everything mentioned so far, I think the Sjambok is the one I would least like to get hit with!

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