How to Tie a Japanese Scabbard

Written by megan shoop
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How to Tie a Japanese Scabbard
A properly tied Japanese sageo will stay seated in your belt. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Nearly everything about Japanese fighting culture has to do as much with elegance and style as with practicality. Japanese sword scabbards, or sageo, are no exception. The technique used to tie a sageo to your belt is meant to be decorative, streamlined and balanced. Though you may have seen different decorative knots on a sageo, only one type of knot is suitable for tying sageo onto your belt. Decorative knots are overly complicated and put unnecessary strain on your cord when actually used for attachment.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sageo cord
  • Slip of plastic
  • Martial arts belt

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  1. 1

    Place your sageo on a flat work surface with the blade facing away from you. Locate the kurikata near the handle of your blade. This is a small metal and enamel circle attached to the side of your sageo.

  2. 2

    Spread out your sageo cord. These flat, woven cords come in many colours. Some have different colours on both sides. Most come in a standard length.

  3. 3

    Wrap the right end of the sageo cord tightly in a narrow piece of plastic tubing. Thread the plastic end through the kurikata from left to right. The plastic should help the cord slide through the kurikata without fraying.

  4. 4

    Remove the plastic from the cord and tug on the cord until it's centred in the kurikata. One side of the cord should sit over top of the kurikata while the other is threaded through. Place the upper part of the cord along the length of the sageo.

  5. 5

    Bring the lower side of the cord across from right to left, so the cords are perpendicular. Wrap the lower cord under the upper cord from left to right, creating a loop in the lower cord. Pass the end of the lower cord through the loop and pull tight.

  6. 6

    Place the centre of your martial arts belt against your abdomen. Wrap both sides of the belt to your back, cross them over each other and bring them to the front. Cross the left side of the belt over the right, tucking the left side up through the belt. Tie the ends together.

  7. 7

    Turn the sageo blade, or curved, side up and slide it into the left side of your belt. The end of the hilt should be level with your bellybutton.

  8. 8

    Loop the sageo cord back over your left hip and under the end of the sageo.

  9. 9

    Tuck a bit of the sageo cord up under the lowest wrap of your belt, pushing through just enough cord to make a small loop. Bend the ends of the cord down, creating a second loop.

  10. 10

    Slip the second loop through the first and pull the first loop tight.

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