A sword is a weapon comprising a long strip of metal, with at least one side sharpened. It is used almost exclusively for melee combat, to cut and/or pierce opponents.
Swords are possibly the most common weapon in the world of One Piece, with users ranging from untrained civilians and petty criminals to the Grand Line's greatest warriors. Those possessing particular training and expertise in their use are renowned as swordsmen.
|— Shimotsuki Kozaburo to Roronoa Zoro|
Though subject to any number of variations, swords fundamentally combine three elements:
- A blade, made of some durable material (most often steel or another metal) sharpened with at least one edge, which is used to attack.
- A hilt, significantly shorter than the blade, which is used to hold and move the weapon.
- A guard, which fits the blade onto the hilt and protects the user's hand(s).
A sword's blade serves its primary function. Most of them are designed for cutting, thrusting, and/or blocking other bladed weapons, although not all swords rely on being able to create a wound that's meant to be lethal; some are also designed with small indents in them to help fight other melee weapons, while a few may be equipped with special mechanisms that enhance their capabilities and efficiency.
A sword's weakness is its quality and lack of range, as well as the fact that, unlike other weapons, they rely more on the skill of their wielder.
According to Shimotsuki Kozaburo, a sword has its own personality, some more than others: Sandai Kitetsu was noted as being a "problem child" because it frequently cuts more than intended; Shusui was said to have had a "bad temper", making it heavier and difficult to handle; and Enma has a deadly disposition, often testing its owner through gluttonously draining away their Haki to a near fatal level. Because all those aspects tends to overwhelm weaker people unable to handle them, sometimes causing their previous owner's deaths, said swords might earn a reputation as a "cursed" sword, although, it is implied that those misfortunes occurs because of the swordsmen lacking the strength to handle them.
Kozaburo also said that a sword chooses its own wielder depending on who best suits it. As such, to properly use one of those swords, the potential swordsman must first figure out its personality and bend it to their will. If their wielder possesses the strength to wield them, then they'll have an easier time handling it. A good example of this is Kozuki Oden, who had mastered Enma, while having his Ryuo drained, but wielded it as if it was as light as a feather. On the other hand, Zoro, who had lacked strength comparable to Oden, needed to continue going all out using Busoshoku and Haoshoku Haki to satiate Enma.
A swordsmith (刀鍛冶 katanakaji?) is a craftsman responsible for forging and/or repairing bladed weapons that are used in battle. Master swordsmiths, such as the one in Wano Country, are skilled enough can create masterpieces known as Meitos. Known swordsmiths include Kotetsu and Kozuki Sukiyaki of the Kitetsu school of swordsmiths, as well as Shimotsuki Kozaburo.
While there are a large variety of swords in terms of shapes and attributes, they are also classified by their qualities. The three known classifications are as followed:
- Meito (名刀 Meitō?, literally meaning "Famed Blade"): A sword of exceptional quality that has gained its own fame. Meito boast cutting power and resilience that far outclass other weapons. There are four known grades of meito; Grade, Skillful Grade, Great Grade, and Supreme Grade. A meito blade is known to be worth millions of Bellies.
- Kokuto (黒刀 Kokutō?, literally meaning "Black Blade"): A sword that has a black blade, having been turned black through countless battles. These swords are stronger than normal blades, most renown for their impressive resilience, not bending an inch, even if a dinosaur stepped on it. It is stated that should a swordsman turn their sword into a Black Blade, then its grade would increase in rank, but this is rare. Yoru and Shusui are both Kokuto.
- Yoto (妖刀 Yōtō?, literally meaning "Cursed/Mystic Blade"): A sword that carries a curse and brings misfortune to its wielders; though it can be overpowered if the user's luck is superior. According to Shimotsuki Kozaburo, since swords are made specifically for causing terrible harm, the weak fearing a sword and calling it cursed is a badge of honor and a sign of good quality. All three of Kitetsu's creations are cursed blades. Kikoku and Shichiseiken are also Yoto.
Named Swords of No Known Classification
Swords that are considered neither Meito nor cursed include:
- Kiribachi: a cross between a saw and a zanbato.
- Terry Sword: a giant-sized longsword.
- Eisen Whip: a katana made of shapeshifting iron cloud.
- Bamboo: a longsword.
- Funkfreed: a western-curved sword that can change into an elephant.
- Franken: a giant, single-edged sword.
- Soul Solid: a shikomizue.
- Same-kiri Bocho: a cross between a giant cleaver and a zanbato.
- Karakuri Rasento: a mechanized sword that behaves like a drill.
Types of Swords
Within the series, a great variety of swords are used, depending on the user's personal preferences.
Katana, alongside sabers, are the most common sword depicted in the series. Zoro's Wado Ichimonji, Sandai Kitetsu and Shusui are katana. High-ranking Marines, mainly Vice Admirals, use a katana or swords that greatly resemble them. There are other characters who wield katana of gigantic proportions in comparison to their own sizes (also known as "zanbato"), such as Squard or Pica. Katana are also the favorite weapons of the samurai from the Wano Country.
There are certain fighters who utilize katana blades to customize a standard bladed weapon. The Cat Claws are nekode with a katana blade placed on each finger and thumb, turning them into giant claws. The Kessui is a peculiar naginata that is essentially two katana linked together at each end of the hilt, creating a double-sided halberd.
It should be noted that the kanji for katana is often alternately read as "tou", making it refer to either a "knife" or "blade" (via pareleling its Chinese reading, dāo).
List of named katana:
- Wado Ichimonji
- Shodai Kitetsu
- Nidai Kitetsu
- Sandai Kitetsu
- Soto Muso
- Ame no Habakiri
The kogatana (小刀 kogatana?, literally meaning "little backsword") is a very small version of a katana, being more akin to hand-sized knife.
Wakizashi (脇差 Wakizashi?, literally meaning "side inserted sword") is a short sword, being a shorter version of the Katana with a similar design albeit with a shorter blade between 30 and 60 cm and also a shorter hilt.
In the Wano Country, Wakizashi is commonly carried by Samurai alongside a Katana as part of a Daishō set to be used as a side weapon.
A Wakizashi is used by Momonosuke as his main weapon due to his short size and height.
Tanto (短刀 Tantō?, literally meaning "short sword") is a knife. The blade is single or double-edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm. The tantō was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well.
It is used in Wano as a tool for seppuku.
The nodachi (野太刀 nodachi?, literally meaning "field sword"), sometimes referred as odachi (大太刀 ōdachi?, literally meaning "great sword"), are a type of sword known for its reach. Its cutting capability and range exceed that of a katana, due to its longer length, weight, and size.
The Captain of the Heart Pirates, Trafalgar Law, wields one of these, to be used in combination with his Devil Fruit powers. Shiryu, captain of the Blackbeard Pirates' second ship, also wields one. Charlotte Amande wields a nodachi named Shirauo, taking advantage of its length to cut through giant targets easier.
List of named nodachi:
The dao (刀? Chinese for "knife") features a curved, broad blade designed mainly for chopping, with the end of the blade consisting of two angles connected by a straight or slightly curved edge. Fancier examples of this sword are often decorated with cloth or tassels at the end of the hilt.
The swords used by both Johnny and Yosaku greatly resemble dadao, a heavier variation of the regular dao. Roronoa Zoro borrows these swords for his battle against Hatchan, since his two katana were broken by Dracule Mihawk. Queen of the Beasts Pirates also carries a pair of dao swords with tassels on each one.
The jian is a double-edged straight sword with a pommel for balance and a hilt that may feature a tassel. Its blade design features subtle profile taper but often has considerable distal taper, with its thickness near the tip being only half of the root's base, making it highly versatile as it can be used for stabbing, as well as making both precise cuts and slashes.
List of named jian:
Many low-ranking Marine soldiers and pirates are shown to be wielding these types of swords. Hatchan wields six cutlasses, each weighing over 300 kg. Wanda, member of the Inuarashi Musketeer Squad of the Mink Tribe, wields a double-edged cutlass that she often uses to channel Electro.
List of named cutlasses:
A saber (サーベル sāberu?) is a type of sword with a single edge blade with a large hand guard. Its blade is usually (but not always) curved of variable length. Unlike a cutlass, the saber is longer and thinner in design.
Sabers are often seen being used by background characters. The most notable user of sabers are Shanks of the Four Emperors and the Pirate King Gol D. Roger. X Drake wields a saber, holding it with his left hand alongside an axe in his right. Vista also employs two sabers, known simultaneously as Kaken, in combat. Vice Admiral Onigumo uses eight of these in combination with his presumably spider-based Devil Fruit, rather than the Vice Admirals' traditional weapon of choice, the katana.
List of named sabers:
A shikomizue (仕込み杖 shikomizue?, literally meaning "prepared cane") is a sword normally concealed inside a cane or walking stick.
Roronoa Zoro used one in an anime-only flashback. Brook uses a shikomizue as the main weapon for his sword style. Brook named the blade Soul Solid after the timeskip due to his new ability to imbue his spectral energy into it. Issho wields a shikomizue that doubles as a walking stick for him, and like Brook, he tends to channel his Devil Fruit powers through it—in his case, gravitation forces. Baron Tamago uses one and is highly skilled in using it in conjunction with spinning techniques as shown during his battle with Pedro.
List of named shikomizue:
Kaku uses a pair of shirasaya as part of his Four Sword Style. Upon his transformation into a giraffe hyrid form, his swords grow in size proportional to himself, becoming more or less as long as nodachi. Admiral Issho's shikomizue also resembles a shirasaya in terms of design.
Arlong's Kiribachi is a zanbato with a saw-patterned teeth for blades, though he has no trouble wielding it due to his fish-man strength. Dracule Mihawk's Yoru is quite long in length, being taller than the 198 cm Mihawk. Squard used a very large katana that can qualify as a zanbato. Pica also wields a giant katana, even in proportion to his own naturally giant size. Bastille wields the Same-kiri Bocho, a cleaver-styled zanbato, until it was destroyed by Sabo. Even among giants, they use swords that are larger than themselves, let alone regular humans, as Little Oars Jr. wielded a gigantic butcher's knife.
List of named zanbato:
Ryuboshi wields two rapiers that have katana-wrappings around the hilts and prominent handguards. Diamante wields a rapier that he can use either as a normal sword or in tandem with his Hira Hira no Mi to fold and reshape into a mace or an urumi. Cavendish wields the Durandal, a small sword and a Meito, which seemingly possesses a shine whenever unsheathed. From the Mink Tribe, Duke Inuarashi and the Inuarashi Musketeer Squad leader Shishilian both wield rapiers, using them to channel Electro.
List of named rapiers:
Mihawk's sword, Yoru, resembles a large longsword in terms of design, but with a single-edged blade instead. Kyros, the legendary gladiator of the Corrida Colosseum, wields a standard longsword. Both Rebecca and Riku Doldo III wield variants with dull edges, in order to prevent blood shedding during combat. Dorry, one of the Captains of the Giant Warrior Pirates, uses a gigantic variant called the Terry Sword that suits his size. Charlotte Cracker wields an enormous longsword named Pretzel that is bigger than the average human.
List of named longswords:
While no actual urumi was ever seen in canon, Ohm wielded the Eisen Whip, which was made of Iron Cloud, allowing him to change its shape into a very long and sharp urumi. Spandam wields Funkfreed, a sword with the Zo Zo no Mi powers, which allows him to extend the blade in a very long and bending fashion. Diamante can use his Hira Hira no Mi powers in conjuncture with his rapier to form an urumi. Similarly, Basil Hawkins has shown the ability to use his sword as an urumi after turning it into straw.
A non-canon user of the urumi is Heaby, who wields a chain-sectioned sword, allowing him to swing it like a whip due to its mechanism, and fitting his theme of snake. In the manga, Holed'em's Karakuri-to is a katana which abilities are not shown, but in the anime, it can be split apart to as a whip blade.
List of named urumi:
The machete (マチェテ machete?) is a short, one-handed, cleaver-like weapon that can also be used as a tool like the kukri. It usually has a broad blade similar to a cutlass, but the handle of a machete is far simpler in comparison.
Run "the Machete" is able to wield four machetes at the same time thanks to his lower spider body granted to him by Trafalgar Law's Ope Ope no Mi ability. Pedro, one of the Whale Forest Guardians of the Mink Tribe, wields a machete for combat.
Blondie wields a pair of shotels that have dual blades on each sword. Jack, of the Beasts Pirates, wields a pair of twisted shotels that emulate the shape of a mammoth's tusks, but also look like sickles when viewed from certain angles. The swords themselves are kept inside scabbards that also resemble tusks.
Translation and Dub Issues
It should be noted that most of the above typings are conjectural, being extrapolated from terms used for real-life swords. In the manga and anime proper, swords are almost never typed beyond one of the following two terms:
- 刀, usually pronounced "katana" if standalone, and "tō" if part of a compound (e.g. Santoryu).
- 剣, usually pronounced "ken".
While these terms (derived from the Chinese dao and jian, respectively) have historically fluctuated in meaning, modern Japanese typically uses 刀 for single-edged swords and 剣 for double-edged swords—of any culture. One Piece, for the most part, favors this convention over any deeper typing, creating odd (though technically not-inaccurate) designations of "katana" for swords styled after non-Japanese designs.
Though the 4Kids anime does not censor the presence of swords as rigorously as firearms, it does digitally erase any bloodletting or significant wounds they cause. In addition, it has occasionally shortened (or outright removed) blades held in close proximity to characters' faces, presumably deeming such scenes "imitable" violence.
In the South Korean anime dub, among others, early episodes often recolor the blades solid black, making them resemble clubs more than blades.
- Napoleon is a bicorne homie that can extend various types of swords from its top, transforming into a sword homie. It can so far change into a cutlass, longsword, and a heraldic seax.
- Several characters are capable of forming functional, temporary swords through Devil Fruit powers or some other mechanism:
- Kamakiri wields the Burn Blade, a dial-powered weapon that generates flammable gas, which ignites in the shape of a blade.
- Caesar Clown's Blue Sword follows a similar mechanic to the Burn Blade, but thanks to Caesar's own Gasu Gasu no Mi, he does not need to utilize dials to generate flammable gas, doing so himself.
- Kuzan can make a rudimentary ice blade through his Ice Saber technique. Borsalino is capable of doing the same with Ama no Murakumo, which allows him to create a blade made of pure light.
- Sword - A Wikipedia article about swords in general.