When it comes to martial history there is much attention given to the men and women who accomplished amazing feats, their weapons of choice and how they used them. I’ve noticed that while these weapons were extraordinary unless it’s a work of fiction, there is barely any mention of who created it.
The legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi cautioned future warriors to hold no attachment to a particular “favorite” weapon since times of war will not always guarantee you having it. But master Miyamoto would agree that some of the greatest sword saints before him had blades with names just like many who followed him.
One of the most overlooked portion of the warrior’s sword is the smith. Good steel like anything else was not mass produced and chosen at random; good steel was forged by a master. Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill paid homage to this fact with the character Hattori Hanzo forging the impeccable sword of the bride.
“If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut!”
In the old days warriors would seek out these legendary smiths who could make swords that were greater than others. Swords whose steel would glitter with tiny star-like bits on it’s surface striking fear in the hearts of those who saw it gleam.
It’s interesting how the history of Smith’s has worn through the ages as we know more about the mythical masters than the actual men who made king slayers. We know of Vulcan who made the Greek god’s toys, armors and weapons but we barely know who was responsible for William Wallace’s 6ft long sword or master Yagyu Jubei’s choice katana.
Hollywood has done a great job with stories of fantasy in giving props to Blacksmiths and it is a wonderful narrative of hard work, pride in one’s craftsmanship and success through dedication. Even in the old series Shaka Zulu, the great king traveled to a Smith to forge him a spear unlike any before it.
So the next time you hear about a warrior whose sword, spear or bow did magical things in history – ask about the person who forged it. After all mastering a weapon is just part of the equation; forging it deserves it’s own legend.
Some Popular Smiths in History:
Goro Nyudo Masamune – Master Japanese smith whose swords were named after him. Video games like Final Fantasy continue to use his name for the best weapons.
Sengo Muramasa – A student to Masamune who made so many razor-sharp blades that his name became synonymous with the cruel blood that they shed. Like his master before him his name is also used in video games for the best swords.