August Theme: Saya


The Saya, the Japanese sword terminology for the scabbard.
The Saya contains the sword when it is not being drawn or removed for cleaning, in the traditional form they are made of wood, carved in two pieces to fit exactly the blade and then glued together to form a whole piece. Then the wood of the Saya is protected and ornamented with a lacquered finish of varnish and paints in different colours and finishes, or even in ages past bound in different types of animal skins.
Part of the furniture of the Saya includes the ‘Kurikata’, or cord knob, that holds the Saigo cord in place, and sometimes there is a ‘Kojiri’, which is metal cap that fits over the end of a Saya protecting the wood from damage.

So is the purpose of the saya to simply protect the blade from damage or the swordsman from the blades sharp edge? What if it is a cloak masking the latent danger that resides within? Or is its purpose to signal to the knowing observer the mindset and skill of the swordsman? It would appear if it serves all of these!

All sword movements begin with the swords draw and end with the re-sheath, so the saya is truly part of this whole, the beginning and the end. So don’t be fooled by a saya’s plainness, or wary if it’s very ornate, you may say; never judge a book by its cover or the swords man by his saya!

For we don’t always see all that there is to see, and we don’t always know all what there is to know.

His hand on the Tsuka, sword resting easy within the Saya.

Posture relaxed, dialogue prefered.

State your intention!

Blade now partially revealed.

A mere flash.

The strike swift and true the threat now over.

The sword now back within the saya,

 Tranquility and harmony no longer disturbed.



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3 responses to “August Theme: Saya

  1. I love this idea of the saya concealing the sword! But I also enjoy the draw of the sword and the way sword and saya part just before the cut. Its a truely magical time, whether it lasts a micro second or almost a full minute.
    Honed steel passing over crafted wood. The two suspended together in an elaborate and skilful dance of both left and right hand.
    I have practiced sword for many years now and never tire of this feeling of balance between the two. Could anyone tell me, are there any ‘draws’ I could perform that utilise more of the saya? that is to say, to use the saya to strike with as well as the sword to cut?

  2. RH

    It always gives me great joy to watch a skilled swordsman demonstrate his skill. The grace and beauty of the gleaming blade parting the air – no effort apparent. But the real gift is to see the re’sheath, for it is as if by pure magic that the blade glides back into the saya. The pureness of the blade once again protected from all that is undeserved of its beauty. To strike your opponent with the blade is to show great honour and appreciation of his skill. Maybe a less deserving opponent would adequately be served with a “bash on the head” with the saya, a life would be spared and the blade untarnished. For the slap in the face can be as poten a force when correctly served.

    Saya and sword as a whole
    Not to be parted for a mere trifle
    I say to you
    Leave for you are not worthy!

    You disrespect me
    That shall be your be your damnation
    Withdraw or I shall strike you down!

    I withdraw
    I mistook you for a vagabond
    You are so disheveled
    Please take tea with me!

    I no longer serve
    For it is only peace I now desire
    My appearance may look dull
    But my sword remains sharp!

  3. Brilliant! I love the thought that the sword and saya are one, and that they are only parted in the most extreme circumstances, and then only for a short time.

    The blade is revealed and night falls
    Blood calls in the darkness
    And the sword is re’sheathed
    Now let us appreciate the moon

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