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Wooden Katanas Are Even Better

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In the right hands, wood beats steel.

"Wooden or bamboo swords are just as sharp as metal swords, if not sharper."

For those familiar with Japanese culture, Katanas Are Just Better. For those who live in Japan, Wooden Katanas Are Even Better. Ever since Miyamoto Musashi defeated Sasaki Kojirou with a bokken (a practice katana made of wood). That Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi less romantic telling suggests it was a bludgeoning with an *oar* after the eponymous fighter had been too drunk.. er, late to find his weapon in time hasn't put a damper on the story: the wooden sword has become a symbol for the ultimate swordsman.

Sometimes they have the impossible cutting power of the steel versions, but usually these are more about the skill of the wielder than anything else, especially if he is so skilled that he can make a wooden sword cut as well as a steel one. Sometimes it's actually because the wielder is a Technical Pacifist (though bokken are also a classic weapon of Japanese Delinquents). Bamboo shinai are also commonly used, and they are even lower impact because their construction allows for it to give more, and these often end up in the hands of younger characters. Using a wooden weapon (especially in a semi-realistic setting) also conveniently dodges rather strict Japanese laws about carrying blades over a certain size without special permits. While its level of lethality or nonlethality can vary depending on the fictional setting's tone, this is still the equivalent of striking someone with a length of wood; broken bones and concussions are a major reason safety gear is used in real life when practicing with such weapons.

It should be noted that simply *using* one is not quite enough for this trope; The weapon has to stand up well. If it *beats* a steel weapon (a feat actually demonstrable in real-life, depending on the wood used) it's definitely an example.

Can still be used in a Single-Stroke Battle.

In Japanese, the term "bokuto" ("wood sword"), is more common and more specific to a single-edged sword. This word may also be read "bokuta" or "kigatana". The "ken" in "bokken" refers more generally to a blade, especially double-edged blades (and yes, this is the "ken" in "kendo").

Sub-trope of Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age, Rock Beats Laser, and Scissors Cuts Rock. Compare Carry a Big Stick, Rock Beats Laser, Good Old Fisticuffs, Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • Since it focuses on kendo clubs, shinai are the primary weapons of choice for the cast of Bamboo Blade.
  • Katsuhito (or Yosho) tends to use these in the various Tenchi Muyo! franchises. He keeps these on hand more often than steel swords or Laserblades that wander around. And on occasion he's been shown slicing mecha open. (On another, in the manga, after chopping up a futuristic fighting robot, his sword falls apart in pieces.)
  • Kunieda Aoi from Beelzebub uses a bokken that can cut through anything. One of the other characters even mentioned her sword style as being deadlier than using a real sword.
    • They take this trope to another level when Aoi fights a fellow wooden katana user: she manages to slice his sword using a ruler.
  • Mina Hazuki, from Darker than Black, has the ability to turn objects into energy weapons, which can cut through most materials with ease. Her preferred weapon is a bokken which she transforms into something that looks like a Laser Blade katana.
  • In Demon City Shinjuku, the hero Kyoya Izayoi wields a bokken that can cut through demon because Genichirou Izayoi, Kyoya's father, had been pouring tremendous amount of spiritual energy into the weapon before his death.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: When Sabito first fights Tanjiro, he uses a wooden sword and is smugly amused when Tanjiro is worried about hurting him with his real katana. Needless to say, the fight is very short and ends with Tanjiro taking an enforced nap. When Tanjiro finally wins, though, he's clearly risen in Sabito's estimation; Sabito is using a metal sword for that one. Not that Tanjiro had much chance of hurting him in either fight, though; Sabito is a ghost.
  • Gintama: It's amazing what Gintoki can do with Lake Touya, his curry-scented, totally replaceable wooden sword (made from the wood of a 10,000 year old diamond tree, albeit) that he purchased off of an infomercial. It characterizes him as a Retired Badass.
  • Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku has Jikka, the third-rank of the Yamada Asaemon clan. A lazy and irresponsible douchebag, he sold off his sword to pay his whores and replaced it with a bamboo sword. No one noticed this because he can perform the clan's renowned single-strike beheading with his bamboo sword as though it was steel, and his feat marks him as one of the best warriors in the series despite his otherwise lack of motivation. That being said, he does admit that his bamboo sword is not as effective against Kotaku's more powerful Eldritch Abomination, and has to borrow Gantetsutai's sword when he's forced to join the battles.
  • Busujima Saeko from Highschool of the Dead uses a wooden sword for most of the series. She even kills Ishii Kazu with one hit after he is bitten protecting Marikawa Shizuka.
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Ryuu Lyon wields the wooden sword Alvis Lumina. Since it is made from a branch of a holy tree, it is strong enough to parry metal blades, and she usually uses it as a magic wand.
  • Kamen no Maid Guy nicely twists this trope. Kogarashi's training of Naeka has her power and skill increasing so that she senses and slices a leaf in half as it comes down a waterfall. The peak of her training is when she goes to slice a log in half lengthwise with a bamboo shinai (kendo sword) and suddenly realizes it's impossible, instead taking a log to the face. Kogarashi rewards her insight.
  • The manga adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass parodies this. Link manages to fight off a sword-wielding Tetra in a friendly match with only a mop.
  • In Love Hina, Motoko carries a wooden sword allowing her to use a series of potentially violent, boulder-splittingly strong spiritual techniques without harming living targets, which also fits in with the story's physical slapstick. She'd technically be too young to be allowed an actual sword, and has been waylaid a few times by street police who assume she must be using a "real" sword if she performs these feats in public.
  • Played with in an episode of Lupin III: Part II. When Goemon's Zantetsuken katana is stolen and used to attack the protagonists (held by a rocket robot, no less), Goemon confidently brings a simple bokken to the fight. As he is probably the best sword fighter in the world, his immediate defeat is quite shocking.
  • Chapter 45 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid had Micaiah provoking Sieg's Superpowered Evil Side by attacking her with apparent Killing Intent while using a normal bokken. While it snapped like a twig against Sieg's instinctual Counter-Attack, it turned out that it had still managed to slip past her defenses and inflict a clean Diagonal Cut on the Modesty Towel she was wearing.
  • Magical Warfare provides the page image. Takeshi Nanase is skilled enough to parry and beat up enemies holding real swords using a bamboo sword.
  • When Thor is stuck as a human in Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, Mjollnir disguises itself as a wooden sword.
  • Suzuka from Outlaw Star also has a wooden sword, which might as well be a lightsabre considering how she uses it to cut or block almost anything, including cutting a bus in half, standing in front of it, straight down the middle, causing it to separate and go past her, one half on each side. In this case the blade's just a conduit for her Ki Manipulation, and she was able to take down several armed combatants by using her sword fighting moves while using an ordinary lead pipe. Basically, if Suzuka has it in her hands, she can use it to slice ANYTHING in half. Suzuka claims this to be "a simple feat of strength", but nobody else in the series (even ones with Super-Strength exceeding her own) shows the ability to make clean slices using dull objects.
  • In Real Bout High School, Samurai Girl Ryoko Mitsurugi's skill with her wooden sword has to be seen to be believed. And that was before she figured out she could use Ki Manipulation.
  • Tatewaki Kuno of Ranma ˝ can cut through stone walls with his bokken, and in his first fight, he nearly decapitated Ranma. One wonders why he even bothered to upgrade to an actual katana in his second-to-last appearance in the manga.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: Although it's a shinai made of bamboo, Utena uses one to win Anthy as the Rose Bride. Bonus points in that she didn't expect a duel with actual swords, and that her shinai was cut to a stub almost immediately, but she won the match anyway.
  • Rurouni Kenshin
    • Kaoru manages a pretty impressive performance in the Kyoto Arc, and manages to beat Kamatari Honjo with the broken handle of her bokken. She refers herself as the assistant master of the Kamiya-Kasshin Style, the master is her father who's dead. Ignoring sexism against women's abilities in combat, that means that she is the master of an entire style of japanese swordfighting, and Word of God is that by real world standards she's actually quite powerful, but against freaks like Kenshin and Sannosuke she Can't Catch Up.
    • There's also her student Yahiko, who's fought his every battle (against airborne bombers, assassins, and a huge guy with a cannon-arm) with a shinai. And in both cases it's made very clear that Kaoru and Yahiko fight at a distinct disadvantage, and that they'd be much more powerful with real weapons. However, since they believe that swords are meant to protect instead of harm, their fighting spirit and skill bridge the difference. In the Kyoto Arc, Yahiko, a 12 year old kid had to fight by himself a flying guy who tossed explosives. It's even lampshaded in the manga: "When Kenshin was 12, he was still training, and Sano only had minor street fights at that age, but you have fought Henya and survived harder fights. You are the strongest 12 years old boy in the history". And he only have a stick to fight. In the spinoff one-shot Yahiko no Sakabato, Yahiko has inherited the titular sakabato (reverse-bladed sword, Kenshin's signature weapon), but he doesn't even draw it until the last few pages. Instead, he's taken so many levels in badass during the timeskip that he can beat up two goons wielding real swords with a bamboo practice sword, all without breaking a sweat.
    • Discussed during the Raijuta arc, where Raijuta treats his opponent with disdain for wanting to fight with a shinai (bamboo training sword) rather than a bokken (hard wood training sword). Since he whole-heartedly believes that the Kenjutsu is made to kill, he claims that the older training regimen with the dangerous bokken (which can potentially break bones or cause injuries) is vastly superior to the recent use of Shinai (which is much safer to use and thus makes Kenjutsu more avaible to people).
  • Bontenmaru of Samurai Deeper Kyo wields a wooden sword, which confuses Yuya, until the guys in the party explains that it makes him even stronger—he has to work so hard to turn his blade against metal ones that he's easily one of the most skilled of the group.
  • Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi, based around a martial art style using a wooden sword. The title character and the eldest two of the main family use wooden swords, and the eldest is a teacher, and has the youngest as one of her students
  • Wooden Sword Ryu in Shaman King wields a wooden sword, and the trope is played with quite a bit: initially, he's just a punk with a sword, but he eventually becomes a shaman and demonstrates that he's not so weak after all.
  • In Sky Girls, Otoha takes down a purse-thief with her wooden sword. She didn't know the thief was armed with a switchblade. Karen helped out by clumsily lobbing her bag at the crook, stunning him and allowing Otoha to deliver a nice thwack.
  • Sword Art Online: Quinella makes herself completely immune to metal weapons and believes she is invincible. Kirito kills her by Dual Wielding a wooden sword and a sword made of ice.
  • Taiga Aisaka in Toradora! is more known for using her fists, but she also has a wooden katana which she pulls out at moments she considers to be the Godzilla Threshold.
    • In the first instance she realizes she accidentally left her love letter to Kitamura in Ryuuji's bag, so that night she breaks into Ryuuji's house and tries to whack him on the head with her sword in the hope it will give him amnesia.
    • Further along, after Sumire rejects Kitamura's confession, Taiga gets angry on the confessor's behalf and challenges the rejector to a sword fight. The challenged borrows a shinai to use against Taiga's bokuto, and a ferocious brawl ensues.
  • In Torako, Anmari Kowashicha Dame da yo, Suzume's most prized possession is a wooden sword she purchased with her savings. She talks it up a great deal, naming it the demon blade Muramasa, but neither it nor she have any special qualities. When she fights Torasawa, the battle consists solely of Suzume whacking her with her sword until she either gets too tired or the sword breaks. When the latter happens, Suzume starts bawling.
  • In the final arc of Yaiba, the eponymous character participates in a nation-wide samurai contest with a wooden sword in hopes of meeting and defeating his father Kenjuro, whom his purported long-lost sister Moroha claims to be an impostor who had killed their real father and kidnapped Yaiba as a child, in the finals. He manages to best numerous powerful fighters including his former comrade, Jubei who fought using real sword, and fights his hardest match in the finals against Onimaru, who had trained under Kenjuro, also wielding a wooden sword. According to Kenjuro, it is a test of skill: a true warrior should be able to ovecome any obstacle regardless of his weapon.

     Card Games  
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!! has the Bamboo Sword line of cards. The Broken Bamboo Sword does absolutely nothing, while the Cursed, Golden, Burning, and Soul-Devouring Bamboo Swords require the Broken one but have incredibly strong effects to make up for it. Golden Bamboo Sword's ability to draw two cards, combined with Cursed Bamboo Sword's searching, has made it one of the more notoriously effective draw engines in the game. The Original Bamboo Sword, meant to be the sword before it was broken, lets you destroy all your opponent's monsters when the equiped monster inflicts damage, meaning it is very powerful indeed.

     Comic Books  
  • In the Chris Claremont/Wolverine (1982) miniseries, Mariko's father regards Logan with such contempt that he refuses to use a metal sword to beat him into submission. Note that this was the very first such major solo for Wolverine, so when the sword cut him through his torso, it challenged even his healing factor, which wouldn't happen these days.
  • Tales of the Jedi: Then-Jedi and eventual Sith Lord Exar Kun fought a duel against his master who was using a wooden cane. He needed two lightsabers to finally beat the guy. Lightsabers can cut through metal armor. However, it's justified in that there's a rare Force ability wherein objects can be imbued with the Force, making them incredibly hard.

     Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, the Prowler carries around a shinai and her M.O. is to Leave No Witnesses, implying that she's bludgeoned them to death with it assuming she didn't use her wrist-mounted pellet and dart guns.
  • Fate DxD AU: With the help of Reinforcement Magecraft, Ritsuka Fujimaru can slice a tree in half with a wooden sword, though the sword breaks afterwards.

     Films — Live-Action  
  • Horrifyingly averted and deconstructed in Harakiri when a samurai is forced against his will to commit Seppuku with a dull bamboo-blade; the blade is cheap, not suitable to the task at all, and the people forcing this on him have no intention of minimizing his suffering, so he dies in total agony.
  • In the opening of Royal Warriors, Michelle Yip (played by Michelle Yeoh), near a cultural parade in Tokyo, beats up a group of thugs (armed with real machetes) using a bokken she retrieved from the festival.
  • The Twilight Samurai: The Unasaka clan has strictly forbidden dueling, so when Iguchi Seibei accepts a challenge from Kouda, his friend's abusive, alcoholic ex-husband, he brings a short bokuto to a katana fight. Kouda feels he's being mocked, and is properly furious. Seibei defeats Kouda easily, and hopes that he'll be embarrassed enough not to tell anyone about the duel.

  • Fighters in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson tend to use wooden dueling canes in lieu of metal swords because the magic users in the setting can manipulate metal. Having metal on you just makes you more vulnerable to ass-kicking.
  • In the Night World series, vampire hunter Rashel uses a wooden sword specifically referred to as a bokken. Justified, as she is hunting vampires. It is also mentioned to cut through vampires like razor-sharp steel through a human, on at least one occasion.
  • The villain in Eric Lustbader's The Ninja.
  • In The Return of the Condor Heroes, Yang Guo runs into a valley that was inhabited by a long-forgotten Master Swordsman by the name of Dugu Qiubai (literally "Loner Who Seeks Defeat"). Qiubai had left behind a memorial to the four swords he'd ever used in his life, two of which were present and one was thrown down a canyon, but the last sword was a wooden blade with a memorial that essentially said that at age 40, he'd gotten to a point where he didn't even need a sword. If what he said was true, Qiubai's mastery of his swordplay was such that a wooden sword cut the same as a steel blade.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones has Master Swordsman Syrio Forel use a wooden sword to knock down several armored enemies. Deconstructed in that, when a halfway-competent swordsman comes at him, the sword breaks. He has a wooden sword only because they caught him in the middle of training a student, forcing him to defend himself with a practice weapon; it’s a testament to his skill that he was able to get even that far against his attackers.


     Professional Wrestling  
  • Shinai (aka "kendo sticks" or "Singapore canes") are a popular weapon in Professional Wrestling. On the wrestling weapon power scale, they seem to be one step below Triple H's sledgehammer.

     Puppet Shows 
  • In Thunderbolt Fantasy, Sho Fu Kan's sword turns out to be this. He just paints the sword silver and harnesses his energy to make the blade sharp in order to keep up appearances.

     Video Games  
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC Hearthfire adds wooden swords to the game world. You're supposed to give them to your adopted children as gifts, and they have the second-lowest weapon effectiveness in the game (after the fork), but they can still be improved at a grindstone (especially with smithing potions) and also given enchantments just like any other weapon. This allows a player gifted in smithing, enchanting and alchemy to create a legendary wooden sword with two powerful enchantments that vastly outclasses most other base-level weapons in the game.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Mandricardo tends to wield a wooden sword. Thanks to his Noble Phantasm, Serment de Durandal, anything he holds gets the strength and cutting power of the legendary sword Durandal, so his weapon inflicts serious damage. However, his weapons do not inherit Durandal's durability, so they tend to break and force him to get a replacement.
  • You can purchase a bokuto from the Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy XIV. Whether it's "better" is zig-zagged; on the one hand, it's a level-1 weapon, with the appropriate low stats, and is incredibly weak when used on its own, especially considering the class it's used with starts at level 50 and the starting katana deals eight times as much damage. On the other, this is because it's not supposed to be used on its own; rather, you're meant to use a glamour prism to make a higher-level weapon look like it, at which point you can effortlessly cut down magitek monstrosities and demons from another dimension with it.
  • For the King: The Monk's Starter Equipment includes a bokken that deals above-average damage compared to other starting weapons and can cast an Anti-Debuff effect on allies.
  • Subverted by Zote of Hollow Knight. his Life Ender is a hand-made wooden nail, but it is completely incapable of hurting anyone, including the player. Double Subverted when you fight the Optional Boss Grey Prince Zote, who is actually capable of hurting you with his nail.
  • Kengo: the player regularly uses wooden swords in ordinary duels and official tournaments, employing a real sword for tasks such as bandit hunting or assassinations or even illegal night matches. The "better" part of the trope comes from the fact that you don't risk dying like a dog because of stroke of bad luck, while you can still benefit from passive bonuses bestowed by your real sword while you fight with the bokuto.
  • Amano from The Last Blade uses a seemingly simple wooden stick to bash and whack about his opponents. It also conceals a sword which he only uses in exceptional circumstances.
  • As his name might imply, KendoMan from MegaMan Battle Network 4 uses a shinai as his weapon of choice, and it hurts just as much as most of the actual swords do. Justified, however, as the Battle Network games' fights take place inside computers; swords don't do damage by actually cutting things, they do damage simply because they're programmed to do so, making his weapon no different from any other melee weapon.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has an unlockable wooden sword that initially deals as much damage as a fully-upgraded default blade and has a chance to knock-out enemies, resulting in a higher "no kills" rating. Japan-exclusive DLC also adds a "Snake Soul" version which apparently has the soul of the now-deceased Solid Snake inhabiting it, causing it to randomly play Snake's voice clips from previous games with a swing.
  • In NetHack, elven weapons are wooden, but are as effective as steel weapons. Plus they don't rust.
  • Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) gives Ryu a wooden katana that can withstand any attack his steel Dragon Sword can. Something of a subversion though as while it is one of the strongest weapons in the game it doesn't become that way until fully upgraded, stops looking like a katana, and is renamed "Unlabored Flawlessness".
  • In Nioh 2, all 11 weapon types have a Wooden iteration: Wooden sword, wooden axe, etc. These are primarily used in dojos against certain masters to learn secret arts and such. As a rare drop, you can get wooden weapons or the smithing text to craft your own, and use them throughout the rest of the game. They are somewhat weaker in attack power, but they are fully capable of neutralizing humans and demons alike. As they are functionally the same as every other weapon, they can have elements and attributes attached to them, including possibly being yokai-possessed!
  • In Persona 4, a bamboo shinai you can obtain near the end of the game is extremely weak... but since equipping it gives the whole party a +50% XP bonus and you do most of your fighting with spells at that point, most players will use it exclusively from then on.
  • Musashi is a playable character in the Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi series from Koei. While he starts the game armed with massive swords (an "old style daisho composed of a tachi and a uchigatana), his ultimate blades are composed by a suburito (a wooden training sword resembling a large club) resembling a giant oar and a jitte-like blade as a nod to his historical father.
    • In the first Samurai Warriors game, Date Masamune also battles with a pair of bokken. In later editions, though, he wields a cutlass and a pair of handguns.
    • Starting from the second Extreme Legends expansion set, Mori Ranmaru gets a fifth ultimate weapon in the form of a large shinai sword (which somehow is just as sharp as his ordinary nodachi)
  • In Seven Samurai 20XX, Jodie's sword Jambiya is apparently made of sharpened wood. In a slight subversion, the sword isn't exceptionally deadly or else, but Jodie heavily customized it so that even a normal woman such as herself could wield it with efficiency.
  • In the Soulcalibur series, a bokken is Mitsurugi's joke weapon in 3, and a shinnai in 4. They make a delightful plok sound, yet are still perfectly capable of impaling someone to the hilt. Nightmare or Sigfried sometimes have an actual (uncarved) galley oar, both of these are explicit references to the original Miyamoto Musashi.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Dual Wielding wooden katanas are Lloyd Irving's starting weapons, meaning they are the weakest weapons he can possibly equip (except for the Nebilim before unlocking its true power). If you don't unequip them until a certain point in the game (thus fulfilling the "more skilled wielder" version of the trope), you unlock a title for Lloyd.
  • The Sniper in Team Fortress 2 has the Tribalman's Shiv as an unlockable melee weapon, which, while not being a katana and dealing only half the damage of his standard weapon, causes a nasty blood loss effect.
  • Properly upgraded and with its moves learned, wooden katana weaponry in Way of the Samurai are this. A notable example would be the impossibly hard-to-get Reikon-Kudaki from the second game, which differs from a regular wooden Bokuto by its wrapped grip, and its (un)naturally high defense at the expense of extremely low offense. And what all of them shares is that, barring using the Blunt mode at the third game, every one of them kills an enemy just as easily as a sharp katana does.
    • Yes, before you ask, from the third game onward, you can dual wield wooden swords. It is as lethal as it sounds, especially in 3 due to dual wield stance's moves being incredibly powerful and versatile.
  • In World of Warcraft, you can transmogrify a Training Sword or Misery's End to fit this trope. In terms of characters, there was the orc Broxigar Saurfang. After losing his axe, the demigod Cenarius gifted Broxigar with a wooden axe made of enchanted wood, stronger and sharper than steel. Broxigar would go down in history by using this axe to wound Sargeras, the Fallen Titan himself.

     Visual Novels  
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Taiga uses one, being the sensei of a kendo dojo. It's said that in terms of stylistic skill, this Taiga is actually very good. However, she's a goofball and while her shinai is jokingly claimed to be a demonic blade, she has zero magical ability, so no super powers.
    • Shirou, from the same series, uses a bokken or a shinai near the beginning of some routes (before upgrading to projected weaponry, generally the scimitars Kanshou and Bakuya) with the added justification of Strengthening Magic. And even strengthened, his bokken quickly break due to Kuzuki's sheer martial arts skills.
    • Tetsuro from Fate/Nuovo Guerra ups the ante by Dual Wielding them.

  • Dellyn in Goblins has a body that's partially made of magical wood, and can quickly grow wooden weapons out of it to defend himself. When he gets into a tavern brawl with another adventurer, his wooden sword is able to sunder the metal sword of his opponent, to the opponent's complete disbelief.

     Western Animation  
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Mystery Train", the train conductor who "murdered" everyone had a wooden sword and it was able to stand up to Finn's sword without breaking in a sword fight.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Oni-chan", Kagami manages to chop down a tree with a bokken. However, the bokken doesn't survive the experience either, and it's not meant to showcase the bokken's cutting power or even her skill with it, but rather how angry she is at the moment.
  • Samurai Jack had an episode where Jack faces a poser named Da Samurai who challenges him into a duel. Jack insists they battle with bamboo sticks instead of blades. The wannabe takes a beating until an entire group of Aku's latest-model of Assassin Robots surrounds him and immobilizes Da Samurai; who watched on in awe as Jack used that same bamboo stick to wipe out the Assassin Robots.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), whenever Splinter and Shredder face one another, Splinter is always armed with his cane, against Shredder and his metal blades, and Splinter always comes out fine. In their first battle, Shredder comes armed with a sword, which is promptly cut in half by Splinter's cane no less.
    • Donatello's wooden Bo also counts, though this trope has been defied on some occasions involving him.

     Real Life  
  • Miyamoto Musashi himself is an example of how potentially deadly a bokken can be; tales of his exploits often indicate that he employed wooden swords to lethal effect. The most famous example of this is his use of a bokken against his rival, Sasaki Kojiro, in their fight on Ganryuu island that he carved from a spare oar on the boat he rode in on the way over. This is an example of tactical brilliance as Musashi deliberately carved his weapon to be slightly longer than Kojiro's infamous "drying pole" (Sasaki usually used a nodachi — a sword that was considerably longer than the average katana) in order to overcome Kojiro's reach advantage.
    • The bokken he improvised would form the template of yet another sword-like training weapon with an oar-like blade known as a suburito, which is heavier and meant for kata practice.
  • Dave Lowry's book Bokken says "Historical tales of swordslingers and their art, called kenshi kodan, are full of examples of master kenshi who met opponents armed with live, steel weapons with nothing but a bokken in their hands." He then explains why this worked.
  • The British martial art Singlestick is this same philosophy applied to sabres.
  • Some wooden katanas have an advantage in being lighter than most other weapons. This allows the user to move quicker and strike faster/more strategically. However, there are different types and sizes of bokkens, optimized for different training styles and techniques, and some of them weighing almost as much as real swords.
  • Shinai were developed because bokken were far too deadly for training and demonstration of skill. A serious downgrade in lethality, the shinai can still inflict some incredibly stunning pain.
    • Not to mention the various horror stories about incorrectly bound shinai smashing into their component sticks and making their way through the horizontal faceguards of kendo helmets. Ouch.
  • In an inversion, Roman legionnaires trained with wooden swords thrice the weight of their Gladii, making non-wooden Gladii even better.
    • This is a common training method in swordsmanship worldwide. Learning to wield significantly heavier versions of the weapon you're being trained in means that real fights will be easier than training, because all the extra strength you've gained just to hold the training weapon up, much less swing it at a speed that it could hurt someone, will be used to actually deal damage with a real sword.
  • Here is a demonstration of a Bokken cutting bamboo.
  • A fusion between a wooden sword and an Elemental Weapon, Pykrete is a material made from wood pulp and ice that's hard and sharp enough to make a good if short-lived blade.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Wooden Katanas Are Just Better


Jack vs. Assassin Droids

During his "duel" against Da Samurai, the pair of them are surrounded by Akus' latest model assassin droids, and Jack simply demonstrates that it's not a sword that makes a Samurai.

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Main / WoodenKatanasAreEvenBetter

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