Would a Sword with the Blade Reversed prevent one from killing?

Yes, this is a question based on the anime/manga Rurouni Kenshin (or Samuari X). In the stories our hero is a skilled swordsman who was once an assassin, but has now decided to lead a peaceful life, protecting the weak without killing his foes. He carries a reverse-blade sword, which is what it sounds like, that he uses to fight.

My question: would such a sword prevent its wielder from killing so long as he didn’t use the sharp side (its’ a katana). Sure, you’re using the dull side; however, it still has to have some substantial force behind it, I’d think enough to kill.
Yes, I know I’m asking a question about a fictional character and that willing supension of disbelief is a good thing, but I’m curious.

What’s the difference between a “reverse-bladed sword” and a regular sword turned around?

What kind of response are you hoping to get? If you hit someone in the neck with the flat side of a sword, full force, you’re likely to kill them. If you hit them in the ass, you’re not.

Actually, a reverse blade sword may be just what it sounds like, but I am not sure what it sounds like. (By your later explanation, I would guess that it is a blade that has an single edge on the opposite side from where one would expect it. (My first thought when I saw the thread title was a blade extending back from the hilts toward the wielder, but I dismissed that impression as unlikely.)

If I have understood your question, the answer would be “Yes” a reversed blade sword can still kill. (People get killed by fireplace pokers or golf irons every once in a while.) A sufficiently strong blade could easily deliver a blow that would crush a skull. (It could also break the bones in an arm or the rib cage after which internal bleeding could kill the victim.)

On the other hand, if all strikes were delivered with the flat of the blade, the energy would be dissipated, reducing the possibility of a crushing stroke. (By the way, even armor would not necessarily prevent death from a reversed blade. Hammers and maces were used extensively after plate armor was developed specifically because they could be used to crush an armored helmet into the head of an opponent. A katana would not have the concentrated weight of a mace or hammer at the point of impact, but it is still possible to kill in that way against leather, mail, or less-than-plate armor.)

One presumes that your hero would wield his sword in a way to avoid crushing injuries and that the reversed blade was simply insurance to prevent an opponent from accidentally slashing hiself open.

Well, the sword still has a point, so I imagine the opponent could run up on it. And yes, you could beat someone to death with a blunt piece of metal, but only provided that they weren’t concurrently trying to eviscerate you with a razor sharp instrument.

Realistically, if you’re using a blunted sword against an even moderately skilled opponent with a sharp sword, then you’re doing the equivalent of fighting a gun battle with blanks against someone using real bullets. No matter how good you are, you aren’t going to last a very long time. All the opponent has to do is take a hit, removing your blade from effective use in parrying and then swing. I’d rather have a broken collar bone and a notch in the win column than a cleft from shoulder to hip bone.

Here’s a replica someone made:


What’s to stop someone from just using the other side of the blade?

In the case of the TV show the OP referenced, personal conviction against killing people. He does flip the sword around a couple times, usually for the purposes of slicing through things such as a wooden barrier blocking some train tracks or an opponents rather large sword (a Zanbato, IIRC)

And, IIRC, the reverse-bladed sword in question is also known as a Sakabato.

In the anime, it’s his own moral code. He only uses the sharp side to cut inanimate objects (which range from piles of wood to ropes to his opponents’ weapons).

Quite a simulpost. We said exactly the same thing. :eek:

Not EXACTLY the same thing, I neglected to mention ropes entirely! :smack:

Of course, this is an anime, where swords are the most powerful weapons and outdo guns. And he has this secret combat technique which lets him dodge bullets or parry them.

A thin, but very dull edge like that could certainly be lethal. It’d be worse that a basebat bat, and we know those can kill.

That’s what it’s called in Rurouni Kenshin, but the term is an invention of the author.

What’s worse than the whole “reverse blade = bad guy lives” thing is that some of Kenshin’s moves would result in him accidentally slicing his own hand off.

(Or, for that matter, try saying “Hiten Mitsurugi Amakakeru Ryuu no Hirameki” three times fast.)

Thanks everyone. I could have been a lot clearer, but I got my answer. I suppose my question might have better been phased “Could a person ‘realisticly’ fight with a reverse blade sword without holding back (except for flipping the sword to the sharp side) and not kill anyone?”


I’m left-handed. Damn near every implement is a “reverse blade” for me.

I wouldn’t even think it was impossible to kill someone with a bokken (wooden sword). I’ve messed around with them and they can deliver quite a blow, easily breaking bones if one is not careful to avoid it.

The reverse bladed sword would allow Kenshin to use iaijutsu fast draw techniques without necessarily killing an opponent. Though any good cut would be deadly whether the sword was sharp, blunt or wooden if Miyamoto Musashi is to be believed (and he, the true “Kensai”, is to be believed)

Ah, Musashi!

Story is, this guy used to win duels left right and centre, fighting with bokken, against metal swords. Which would be pretty cool, if true.