The samurai swords (katanas) are much longer and of different quality. Traditional katanas were very long and usually exquisitely made. The samurai held a high degree of respect for the "life" of the sword. The ninja used their swords for whatever was necessary at the moment.
The Ninja-To, Ninja Sword
Primary sword of the ninja. Shorter than the long-sword traditionally used by the samurai class of warriors. The scabbard of the ninja sword often works as a club, underwater snorkel or other handy tool. Where a samurai would never consider even drawing his sword unless it was to further his spiritual ideals, a ninja might use his sword as a disposable step ladder (standing on the guard), as a crowbar, or whatever was necessary to accomplish his mission.
As such, there are no "traditional" ninja - to ninja swords. Their swords were of far inferior quality to the modern reproduction blades that we have today. Each clan had their own style of sword fighting, and their own style of swords.
Some ninja clans did possess high quality swords, in the style of the Japanese Samurai Sword (katana) but this is rare.
All ninja or even all warriors, if they expected to live were masters of the use of swords. To the ninja, the sword was a primary weapon, but it wasn't revered as the Samurai did with their katanas.
Ninja Sword Fighting Techniques: Unlike what you see in the movies, swords rarely struck each other. To do so would most likely break one of the blades. Ninja, and Samurai alike fought skilled battles of positioning to get a single deadly slash and stab into their opponent. Swords were commonly used to guide or direct the other attackers blows, but rarely or never used to strike or directly block another sword attack.
Kenjutsu of nin-po (ninja sword fighting techniques) are detailed further below:
The grip for ninja-to can be either 1 or 2 handed. The most common was the two handed stance, but there are many 1 handed strikes for distance or speed. Steven Hayes says that the sledgehammer grip is completely incorrect. Instead a grip where a small gap is between each hands, and the upper (left) hand is not pressed tightly against the tsuba (hand guard) is preferred. The sword is gripped firmly with the lower 3 fingers, so the upper 2 fingers of each hand can control the subtle angles of moment.
The essence of the ninja sword fighting technique is to cut down the enemy quickly, not to engage in a prolonged sword battle. A swordsman does not simply chop like a crude axe. The blade is drawn across the attacker so that the entire blade ideally is touched to the target.
One of the common techniques is to fling the scabbard at an opponent for the surprise effect and follow with a deadly first strike. Exact dynamics of cutting with a sword of any style is far too complex for a simple article. Basically though, you are to slice with the entire blade, in a way that uses your entire body for power, and leaves your opponent stationary. The sword will naturally pull the flesh (and attacker) closer to you, but this is an ineffective battle technique.
It is just as effective to stop an opponent from their ability to fight, as to kill them. Ninja Masters, and swordsmen have traditionally aimed for the following targets: Hands, biceps, neck muscles, upper and outer thighs, shins, and calves. Any of these attacks would render your opponent unable to fight back.
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