In the Survivor-Wannabe community, there is a huge argument: are katanas the ultimate zombie weapon, or a disaster waiting to happen?
Pro-katana reasoning insists that katanas are the best melee weapon ever, in the history of melee weapons, ever. The quality of steel allows them to become incredibly sharp, and hold that edge for a long time. They are light-weight and a little flexible, which makes them more durable because they can spring back from impacts. And, because they’re lightweight, soft and feeble humans can wield them much more easily than swords seen as traditional in the West, like broadswords and claymores.
However, katanas have a lot of cons. While professionally-made, “battle-ready” katanas are incredibly strong, most people who own a “katana” own a replica – ie, a cheap imitation made out of low-quality steel that will crack in half before it slices open a skull. In reality, even a real katana probably would not stand up to a larger sword: steel for swords is created by folding it over and over to create layers, which allows for tensile strength, but in the process, burns off some carbon, leaving much lower-quality iron behind. While legendary katanas have reportedly been folded hundreds or thousands of times, which enhances their magical properties apparently, a real katana can only be folded 20 times before the steel loses physical coherence.
There are some very basic self-defense strategies, as with all melee weapons, if you are unarmed and find yourself in combat with sharp things:
As a zombie, your actual best defense against a katana-wielding Prepper will be their arrogance. Very, very few people in the world fully understand how to wield a katana.
Samurai Master Yoshinori Kuono said in an interview, “It takes decades to become battle-ready with a katana. Anyone with less experience is likely to cut their own leg or foot off on a deflection or missed attack. You’re better to hope your fake katana breaks on your first hit. It will spare you a major self-inflicted injury.”
Even those trained in the ways of the katana are not automatically masters:
Low quality replicas – the bulk of the “katanas” found in the United States – break so easily they will cause more injury to the user than the opponent:
Even well-made, brand-new, sharp katanas cause injury to those who use them without understanding:
In Escapist Magazine’s forum post “Why Katanas?” user 8-Bit_Jack made a very firm point about melee weapons in general, and swords in particular:
“A greatsword, or any other kind of two-handed blade would be a huge hindrance to ANYONE without extensive practice, and a katana is, as mentioned, a slashing weapon. That is, a weapon to make DEADLY WOUNDS with. Not bone-slicing. FLESH RIPPING. Useless against a zombie. Zombies don’t bleed out or feel pain! Combine that with the fact that most nerds likely lack the strength needed to cleave bone (with either sword) and certainly lack the skill to make a brain-piercing thrust with a katana, and you have ONE MORE CORPSE ON THE PILE.”
While Japanese swords and sword-wielders in general, and katanas in particular, have a lot of mystique surrounding them, that does not mean they are good methods of self-defense. When you see a Prepper with a katana, rejoice! That person will quickly hurt themselves or break their weapon, and make an easy snack. Don’t worry about self-defense here – put another zombie, or a trash can lid, between you and the Prepper, and you should be just fine.