The Nodachi is the longest of the Japanese Samurai swords. Also known as the Odachi, the ō used in both Japanese words stands for ‘big’ or ‘great’. The counterpart of the Nodachi in other cultures is the English claymore or the European longsword. With greater curvature than the Katana, the length of the Nodachi averages at 90 cm, is 1.5 times longer than the Katana and sometimes even double the length.
The greatest advantage offered by the Nodachi is the great striking distance. It also sometimes served as a pole weapon but was not always used as one. Being the longest of the Samurai blades, the Nodachi has the greatest blade mass too and is difficult to handle in the way the shorter Katana can be used. It is most effective when used in a specific style of fighting, like the Kenjutsu.
- Advantages of the Nodachi
The Nodachi having a greater size and mass can be used to build momentum and strike with greater force. The defense against an incoming Nodachi strike is almost impossible, due to its humongous size any sword stands no chance in effectively fending off the blow. The Nodachi when used against an opponent wielding a Katana or the Wakizashi always forces them to reconsider their tactical blocking moves in combat. Its ability to be used as a makeshift polearm was used by Samurais on horseback making it very easy to strike at soldiers on the ground and gave the advantage of being able to hit from further away.
It was also carried by foot soldiers to block the charges from the attacking cavalry. The Nodachi also offers a psychological upper hand to its user, the bigger the weapon, the more scared your opponent is.
- Disadvantages of the Nodachi
Although the great length and mass of the Nodachi have its pros, it makes it very hard to handle and slows down the fighter. For example, if a person using the Nodachi tries to hit their opponent but they miss, they will take longer to recover and come into a defending position and this gap may give the opponent a smaller weapon, a window to attack. The extraordinarily long handle and blade make it impractical to be used in constricted places and only suits it for use on the battlefield.
- What to look for while buying?
The body of the Nodachi is what differentiates it from the rest of the Samurai swords. A long handle of about 20 cm and a long blade of about 70 cm are typical of the Nodachi.
The material from what it’s made from is a very big factor. If you just want to buy a decorative piece, a stainless steel blade will do, but for a functional tri, but for a functional training weapon, high carbon steel made swords are recommended. Although Japan made Tamahagane swords command high prices, they are the strongest, sharpest and most effective swords.
The Nodachi will weigh more than the conventional Katana which is 1.5-2 Kg in mass.