TSUBA & FUCHI-GASHIRA & MENUKI
The tsuba (鍔, or 鐔) is generally a round (or sometimes square) guard at the end of the grip of Japanese blade weapons, such as the katana and its various variants, tachi, wakizashi, tantō, naginata etc. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was primarily intended to be used to prevent the hand from sliding on the blade during thrusts rather than protecting itself from the blade of an opponent. The chudan no kamae guard is determined by the tsuba and the curvature of the blade. The diameter of the average tsuba katana is 7.5 to 8 centimeters (3.0 to 3.1 inches), the wakizashi tsuba is 6.2 to 6.6 cm (2.4 to 2.6 inches) and the tsuba tantō 4.5 to 6 cm (1.8 to 2.4 inches).
During the Muromachi period (1333–1573) and the Momoyama period (1573–1603), Tsuba was more for functionality than for decoration, being made of metals and more solid designs. During the Edo period (1603–1868), there was peace in Japan, so the tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals like gold.
The tsuba are generally finely decorated and are today collectibles. Tsuba were made by whole dynasties of craftsmen whose only trade was the manufacture of tsuba. They were generally lavishly decorated. In addition to being collectibles, they were often used as inheritances, transmitted from one generation to another. Japanese families with samurai roots sometimes have their family crest (mon) made on a tsuba. Tsuba can be found in a variety of metals and alloys, including iron, steel, brass, copper and shakudō. In a duel, two participants can lock their katana together at the point of the tsuba and push, trying to gain a better position to knock down the other. This is known as tsubazeriai (鍔 迫 り 合 い), on. pushing tsuba against each other. Tsubazeriai is a common sight in modern kendo.
The menuki are ornaments on the tsuka (generally under the tsuka-ito); to fit into the palm for grip.
Fuchi, a cap type collar or ferrule which covers the opening in the tsuba of a Japanese sword. The tang of the sword goes into the tsuka through the opening in the fuchi.
The kashira is the end cap (pommel) on the tsuka.