This is just to help disperse the action flick anime inspired air about the Japanese katana. These days people think the katana is the A #1 numero uno ichiban of weapons. A katana can cut other swords in half. They weighed nothing. They withstood hundreds of years of cutting armour without getting a scratch. So forth. All wrong. Shame on you if you believed any of that. Here is a somewhat concise list of what myths are absolutely false, what are untrue, and what is misleading. 1. Katanas are folded hundreds of times during the forging process. False. A katana might not even be folded at all. I will get into folded steel later. Get a sheet of paper and fold it in half. You have two layers. Fold it again. You have four. One more time and you have eight. Each time you fold the steel you double the layers in the blade. Only 9 times will bring it to 1024 layers. Most katanas do not need to have more than 4096. A sword may have thousands of layers of steel, but it is not folded that many times. Folding the steel hundreds of times makes the layers become so small they become sub atomic, therefore eradicating the layered effect you tried to produce. 2. A folded steel katana is much stronger than a non folded steel katana. False. In fact these days a non folded katana will actually have more structural strength than a folded katana to some extent. Folding the steel always allows for some kind of mistake to be made, perhaps tiny gaps in the layers of a blade that was not folded and laminated properly. The reason steel was folded is because japanese steel was often impure and brittle. Parts of the sword may be very strong, and others very weak. Folding the steel evens out the blade, giving the sword no specific weak point. The sword may overall become slightly weaker, but with even strength. A sword with a brittle section would undoubtedly snap during usage. 3. "Tempered" means folded. False. Not at all. Many people claim that even the hamon pattern, the hardened portion of the blade that appears whitish in color, means the blade is folded. The tempering or hardening of a blade has nothing to do with whether or not it is folded. 4. A katana can cut other swords in half. False. The edge of the katana ma be harder than the rest of the blade, but hard does not mean indestructable. In fact it means the exact opposite in this case. The harder the steel, the more brittle it becomes. hard steel can hold a sharper edge longer, but it also sacrifices strength. In fact katanas are usually brittle weapons. they have to be pampered or else it will be damaged or destroyed. Even cutting rolled up straw mats can bend a japanese katana. European swords are through hardened. The steel is the same hardness at every part of the blade. They are also extremely flexible and will return to the originl shape. Japanese katanas are dfferentially hardened (most of them, some special makers through harden them) and will bend and stay bent. The hamon can be damaged and possibly flake off, and the sword will be useless unless straightned by an experienced polisher for probably a lot of money. There was a video on the internet showing a katana cutting a bullet in half. The blade was gripped in a vice and a bullet was fired at it, cutting it in two. Howver most bullets are very soft lead, or maybe copper jacketed. Lead and copper stand no chance against steel in a strength competition so the video is interesting, but unfascinating. 5. Katanas weigh less than other swords. Depends. In fact a katana can weigh much more than a similar sized eauropean sword. Very few swords with a 29 inch blade require two hands for usage, but many japanese katanas need two hands to weild properly. Katana blades were usually very thick at the time they are forged, mostly because a great deal of the blade could be polished off during the swords lifetime. Steel weihs the same no matter what sword you make, but the Europeans relied on pommels for counter balance, katanas had no pommels, but instead a thicker tang in the grip. That is all for now. I would love for people to add of to this thread or ask questions.