Blade of Bloody Honor
Sword cannot be sheathed until it's drawn blood.
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Alternate title: Draw Sword,Draw Blood


There was a Japanese bushido honor code to never draw their sword at others unless they intended to draw blood, but media has taken this story and eloped with it. In media it might be a honor code, or a genuine hungry Empathic Weapon. In media and rumour the code usually is interpreted the other way around: if you draw your blade, you must bloody it before you can sheathe it.

In video games, there's a mechanic where the player cannot switch weapons until the sword has been used to damage or kill an enemy.

Not Truth in Television - Samurai Myth No. 7: A samurai wasn't allowed to place his sword back into its scabbard without first drawing blood. Samurai Fact: Not true. In Real Life, warriors and soldiers, even ones from the "Mysterious East" or Proud Warrior Race types, know that weapons must be drawn all the time for cleaning, practice etc, and that cutting yourself (especially in times before modern medicine) is a silly way of risking infection.

Compare and contrast Situational Sword. Compare Hungry Weapon if the weapon is literally hungry.

Examples

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     Comics 
  • In an issue of The Tick, Paul the Samurai has an overly dramatic monologue to himself, which he ends by pulling out his sword and striking a pose. He then remembers that his sword can only be sheathed when it has tasted blood. He then looks at his hand, which is covered in band-aids. Apparently, it was a bad habit of his.

    Literature 
  • Kin-Slayer in Chronicles of the Kencyrath is portrayed as a weapon which doesn't want to be put in the scabbard without having killed someone first.
  • Dune: The Fremen consider it a very grave offense to re-sheathe a crysknife without drawing blood.
  • In The Legends of Ethshar novel The Misenchanted Sword, the eponymous sword literally could not be resheathed until it had been used to kill somebody.
  • The Alchemist: While travelling with a caravan, Santiago gets a premonition that they're going to be attacked. He informs the chief, who tells him that they'll make defensive preparations, but if he was wrong they'll kill him, since apparently "blood must be shed once weapons are drawn". Fortunately (for him), he was right.

    Live Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: The Narn have a special warrior's sword, K'tok, which tradition mandates cannot be re-sheathed until it has tasted blood. In one episode this trope was lampshaded, and later the proud warrior from the agrarian culture drew the sword for effect. He discreetly cut his palm before putting the sword away.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (Classic), there was a race called the Borellian Nomen. They had a warrior's code that said that if they drew their long knife, they would prefer suicide to seeing the knife resheathed unbloodied.
  • Referenced in an episode of Magnum, P.I.. In the tag, Magnum's being a pain to Higgins, and mentions this trope in reference to Higgins unsheathing a katana. Then Higgins gets this crazy gleam in his eye and says "I know.".

    Mythology 
  • Norse Mythology
    • King Högni's dwarf-made sword Dáinsleif. It could not be sheathed until it had drawn blood or taken life.
    • Tyrfing. Another dwarf-forged sword, it was cursed so that it would kill a man every time it was drawn.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In 3.5e at least, there was a Dungeons & Dragons mechanic that was a quality of an intelligent weapon, that was almost word for word the laconic version of this trope.
  • In Nomine supplement Superiors I: War and Honor. One of the oaths that can be sworn by a Malakite angel of Laurence is "I will not draw my sword unless I intend to kill someone".
  • In Dark Heresy, a Feral Worlder character can have this as a superstition. As in, his/her weapon doesn't actually have this trait (hopefully) but s/he believes it does.
  • KABAL (Knights and Berserkers and Legerdemain) Referee Guide. One possible type of magic weapon special ability was actually a drawback. If the wielder attempted to sheathe it before it had drawn blood, it would attack all nearby creatures as if it was a Dancing Sword until it had hit each of them once.

    Video Games 
  • In Gaia Online, the Muramasa sword cannot be sheathed until it has drawn blood.
  • The cursed swords in Muramasa The Demon Blade cannot be sheathed until they have tasted blood. It there's no one around to kill, the swords will turn on their wielders.
  • Team Fortress 2 has the Half-Zatoichi, a katana used by the Soldier and Demoman classes which can only be switched for another weapon if the user has gotten a kill or has gone to a resupply cabinet and heals the player to full health on a successful kill.
  • Halo: The Sangheili, a Proud Warrior Race, claim that no weapon should be drawn without intent of using it, or else it demands blood. In Halo Wars, though, the Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee draws his energy swords in the presence of one of the Prophets, a double blasphemy. It's a sign of his disrespectful attitude toward his own religion, and his high rank is the only reason the Prophets' Honor Guards don't kill him on the spot.

    Web Comics 
  • In Sluggy Freelance Torg's magic sword does not have any magical properties unless it first tastes the blood of an innocent.
  • In one of Greg's first outings as the Shirt Ninja in Real Life Comics, he draws his katana without a target and announces in Inner Monologue that he can't sheathe it until it tastes blood. He satisfies this by using the sword to slice cold cuts.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! "Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls": Once Steve fails to bring back Akiko from trick or treating before sundown like he promised, Toshi dons his Samurai costume and swears that his sword will taste blood. Steve manages to talk Toshi into not killing him and to stop being so overprotective. Instead, Toshi slaughters a bunch of Serial Killers set loose during the A plotline to satisfy the oath.
    Toshi: (Subtitles) Once this Sword is drawn, it must taste blood.

    Real Life 
  • Although a popular legend states that a Gurkha "never sheathes his blade without first drawing blood" this is in fact untrue, and the kukri is most commonly employed as a multi-use utility tool rather like a machete. There is no requirement to prick yourself or anyone else before sheathing the blade. However there have been instances of Gurkhas slicing their fingers with it as a practical joke to impress outsiders with their ferocity. It's also been theorized that the "must taste blood" was something that annoyed Gurkhas started telling tourists, to make them stop asking to see the kukris.
  • Many Sikhs carry a small steel knife known as a kirpan, as a reminder and a means to protect the innocent from harm. Periodically this has to be taken out and sharpened, but as the blade supposedly cannot be unsheathed unless it is to draw blood, the sharpener supposedly has to nick a thumb or finger with it before putting it away. This, too is a myth. In reality, while the kirpan is a holy symbol that should only be drawn either for maintenance, to defend oneself or another, or to cut the prasad (a religious offering of food), drawing blood is not necessary.

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