SHO KOSUGI: WEAPONS MASTER, WEAPONS DESIGNER


UNOFFICIAL KNOCK-OFFS, PROXIES, AND CUSTOM REPLICAS


Now that we've looked at every ninja, samurai, and kobudo weapon featured in each of Sho's numerous projects, and seen where these weapons came from and which of them had official replicas manufactured and sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES, we will look at some of the more noteworthy but decidedly NON-official ones.

Please note that the inclusion of the more blatant counterfeit/knock-off versions of Sho's weapons is not meant to be an endorsement of them or the companies that sell or sold them (especially those who have shamelessly used Sho's name and/or likeness to promote and sell their weapons).  These are only being included for competition's sake and to show the impact his weapons had on manufacturers who wanted to cash in on fans' desires to own weapons like the ones seen in Sho's ninja movies and TV shows.


KNOCK-OFFS

 

  SK NINJA-TŌ KNOCK-OFFS

 

  "ENTER THE NINJA" NINJA-TŌ KNOCK-OFFS

 

  SK NINJA BELT BUCKLE KNOCK-OFFS

 

  THE "MASTER NINJA STAR" KNOCK-OFF

 

  SK NINJA FAN KNOCK-OFFS

 

  OCTAGON SWIVEL-CHAIN NUNCHAKU KNOCK-OFFS

 

  "NINJA ASSASSIN" KYOKETSU-SHŌGE KNOCK-OFF

 

 

PROXIES

 

  YAMATO BUDOGU YARI SPEAR

 

  BUDO-YA KAMA-YARI

 

  GRAPNEL FOLDING ANCHOR

 

  STAINLESS STEEL FOLDING FANS

 

  BOOT DAGGER

 

  SHOBŌ

 

  TEKKŌ

 

  BAMBOO SHIKOMIZUE

 

  JOHN LEE KAMAKURA TACHI

 

  RYUJIN FUJIWARA SERIES CRANE KATANA

 

  HEAVEN'S FALL SWORD

 

  SHIKOMI-SHAKUJŌ SANZŌ-HŌSHI

 

 

CUSTOM REPLICAS

 

  CUSTOM-MADE NINJA-TŌ

 

  CUSTOM-MADE SHURIKEN

 

  CUSTOM-MADE KUSARI-GAMA

 

  CUSTOM-MADE TEKAGI

 

  CUSTOM-MADE TEKKŌ-KAGI

 

 

SK NINJA-TŌ KNOCK-OFFS

 

It'll probably come as no surprise to anyone that the Sho Kosugi weapon that has had the most knock-offs is the one that was the most used, most famous, and probably the most loved by fans, the SK Ninja-Tō.  During the peak of the ninja craze in the 1980s there were many ninja-tō for sale in various martial arts magazines.  Most of these were generic and therefore had only a passing resemblance to the SK Ninja-Tō, with many of them having much longer blades and featuring none of the other unique characteristics or components seen on the retail version of the SK Ninja-Tō.

 

 

One definite exception to this was the Survival Ninja Sword seen in these ads in the November 1984 and July 1985 issues of Black Belt magazine.  Not only did this ninja-tō (available in both a chrome-bladed version and a black-bladed version) have very similar dimensions to the SK Ninja-Tō, but the tsuka (handle) was partially hollow in order to hide small tools and weapons, and it even had a removable tsuka (handle) cap with a kakushi (hidden needle) attached to it!  If that wasn't enough of a rip-off, the extra-long-and-wider-width saya even featured an inner breathing tube/blowgun, and a pointy removable saya cap with a small kozuka-like knife attached to it!

 

 

This knock off sword was so similar to the SK Ninja-Tō that James, the longtime fan who has a fourth version SK Ninja-Tō (as seen in the previous section of this Blog), thought at first that his Survival Ninja Sword was an authentic SK Ninja-Tō.

 

 

 

 

Another fan named Phil has a similar looking knock-off that appears to be a black-blade Survival Ninja Sword.  He brought it with him and got it signed by Sho (who told him it was a knock-off that he'd never seen before) at the 2019 CHILLER THEATER EXPO in Parsippany, New Jersey, and subsequently described it to me as follows:

  "Very heavy blade, the pointy tip of the saya appears to have fallen off at some point and the handle of the knife that comes out is metal
  with wood filler.  Saya is lacquered wood, handle is wood wrapped in what appears to be textured black paper, and the spike in the piece
  that comes off the handle is actually a roofing nail welded into place! A friend of mine had ones of these and removed the blue-ing on the
  blade only to find that it was a gold-ish colored metal alloy.  Sho said this one's a knock off and had never actually seen this one..."

 

 






A different ninja sword ad from Collector's Armoury, Inc. shamelessly used a drawing of Sho's likeness as Okasa from THE MASTER to sell their own knock off.  Interestingly, a second ad using the same drawing, but which I'd never seen until it was recently brought to my attention, depicted a Black Leather Ninja Helmet with Metal Studs that seemed to be a hybrid of two of Sho's ninja masks, the chain-mail one from THE MASTER and the helmet he wore in PRAY FOR DEATH.  Although it would've been an unlicensed knock-off, it's kind of a shame they didn't do a proper chain-mail mask replica as their ad suggested.

 

 

After seeing the first ad numerous times in so many different martial arts magazines in the 1980s, I sent away for the Collector's Armoury catalog and confirmed that the ninja swords they were selling weren't the SK Ninja-Tō ones used by Okasa (Sho), as their deceptive ad suggested.

 

 

While planning and gathering up information and pictures for this article I also came upon a Ninja Daisho Set from Marto Swords of Toledo Spain which featured a Ninja-Tō, a Ninja Wakizashi, and a Ninja Tanto that look so similar to the SK Ninja-Tō and especially the Tanto used by Sho in so many of his projects that it couldn't have been a coincidence.  Looking at them again now it's clear that these are the same ones sold by Collector's Armoury in the 1980s, right down to the distinctive kozuka/bo-shuriken and throwing knives that come with them.

 

 

 






More recently a number of newer SK Ninja-Tō knock-offs manufactured in China, often advertised using Sho's name without his permission or approval, have become available on sites like Ebay and Amazon.  The original impetus that led to these swords being made appears to have been fans using the "customize your own sword" feature offered by some Chinese swordmakers to get a replica of the SK Ninja-Tō made.

The first Chinese company that I came across is the Ebay seller Swordmaster19.  You may recall that I had photos of some of their knock-off swords on my first Blog on The Sho Kosugi Ninja-To.  Since then I was able to find an old archived listing on Worthpoint featuring some great pics of one of their earlier and better replica swords, which was purchased by a fan and then re-sold on Ebay.

 

 

 

 

Although they don't currently have any SK Ninja-Tō knock-off listings on Ebay, a few months back they were selling the following one, as well as one of their many versions of the Ninja Tanto carried by Sho in most of his ninja projects, listed as a 9" Hand Made Sho Kosugi T10 Razor Sharp Combat Japanese Ninja Tanto Real Hamon.

 

 






Another Chinese company that makes and sells SK Ninja-Tō knock-offs is Lyuesword.  They sell at least two SK Ninja-Tō knock-offs, one of which brazenly uses Sho's name in the long name/description they have for it.  This counterfeit Sho Kosugi Ninjato Japanese Samurai Sword Full Tang Ninja Razor Sharp Real Cut is sold not only on the Company's Website, but also on Amazon.

 

 

 

The company's second SK Ninja-Tō knock-off, which features a hidden saya knife, is also sold on Amazon  It is referred to by the equally long name Lyuesword Hand Forged Japanese Samurai Ninja Sword Razor Sharp Full Tang Blade T10 Steel Sword Clay Tempered.

 

 

 





 

"ENTER THE NINJA" NINJA-TŌ KNOCK-OFFS

 

Something I never expected to see were replicas of the swords used in ENTER THE NINJA.  I can only speak for myself, but I never much cared for the ninja swords used in the film.  Perhaps this was because the much cooler SK Ninja-Tō was so prevalent in every other Sho project, but I never gave them much thought and definitely never wished I had one like them.  Obviously, at least one fan felt differently and got a customized replica made by a company called JKOO Sword, which now sells White (straight blade) and Black (curved blade) replicas on their company website.

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

SK NINJA BELT BUCKLE KNOCK-OFFS

 

Another Sho weapon that has had numerous knock-offs is the SK NINJA BELT BUCKLE seen in REVENGE OF THE NINJA, NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, 9 DEATHS of THE NINJA, and sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES in the 1980s.

It may come as a surprise to learn that Sho's Ninja Belt Buckle wasn't the first of its kind.  An earlier 8-point shuriken version called Ninja Star Buckle, which may have served as inspiration, was being sold by Samurai Martial Arts Supply no later than November 1981 in a Black Belt magazine ad.  The first and most commonly-seen knock-off of the SK Ninja Belt Buckle was the Brass Belt Buckle Shuriken seen below in the East West Markets Exchange, Inc. ad from the August 1984 issue of Inside Kung-Fu.

 

 

The following ad from Victor Sports from the December 1984 issue of Black Belt magazine features the predecessor Ninja Star Buckle, a genuine SK NINJA BELT BUCKLE, and a knock-off Brass Ninja Belt Buckle.

 

 

It was actually pretty common to see ads selling the genuine SK NINJA BELT BUCKLE alongside a knock-off with some retailers taking full advantage of the similarity of the Brass Ninja Belt Buckle to promote and sell it in various ads in the 1980s.

 

 

 

A second Ninja Star Buckle made of brass and featuring not one, but two moon shuriken was also sold by Samurai Martial Arts Supply, as seen in this ad in the August 1985 issue in Black Belt magazine.  One of these vintage knock-offs was sold on Ebay not that long ago.

 

 

A third knock-off of the SK Ninja Belt Buckle is yet another different Brass version which seems to have been a hybrid of the Original Brass Ninja Belt Buckle and the pointier moon shuriken with NINJA engravings featured on the third version of the SK NINJA BELT BUCKLE.

 

 

Additionally, there were also a number of other belt buckles with small knives, including those seen in the East West Markets Exchange, Inc. ad above, which was on the same page as the original Brass Belt Buckle Shuriken ad from the August 1984 issue of Inside Kung-Fu.  Although it might be a stretch to classify these Belt-Buckle Knives as knock-offs of the SK Ninja Belt Buckle, I don't think it's a stretch to think that the "Shuriken" model was very likely inspired by the very popular eight-point shuriken from THE MASTER.

 

Amazingly the original Brass Ninja Belt Buckle knock-off from 1984 is apparently still available for purchase from East West Martial Arts Supply, along with a nearly identical Steel version, and another different knock-off in Chrome, which is even more similar to the SK Ninja Belt Buckle.

 

 

The newer Bear Brand Steel Ninja Belt Buckle knock-off is made in Korea and is also available for purchase from The Martial Arts Supermarket.

 





 

THE "MASTER NINJA STAR" KNOCK-OFF

 

Fans looking to purchase an eight-point shuriken like the one seen in THE MASTER and NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, were undoubtedly disappointed by a poor six-point knock-off sold as the "Master Ninja Star".  As seen in this Musashi Martial Arts ad in the March 1986 issue of Inside Kung-Fu, they went all-in claiming that this bad knock-off was a replica of the one from the TV series, even though it wasn't even close.

 





 

SK NINJA FAN KNOCK-OFFS

 

In the 1980s, a number of knock-off NINJA FANS, similar to the ones used by Sho and sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES, were available via mail order in various martial arts magazines.

 

 

As you can see one of these knock-offs brazenly used Sho's famous Jump Kick in the graphics, while another one used an unrelated but similarly inspired ninja graphic.

 





 

OCTAGON U-CHAIN NUNCHAKU KNOCK-OFFS

 

With Dolan's Sports having discontinued their business as a martial arts supplier in the late 1980s and Century Martial Art Supply no longer selling the swivel-chain nunchaku used by Hasegawa and Cole in ENTER THE NINJA, it seemed that this type of nunchaku was gone forever, but a company called USA Nunchaku has brought it back with a number of knock-off models.

 





 

"NINJA ASSASSIN" KYOKETSU-SHŌGE KNOCK-OFF

 

This next weapon should be instantly recognizable.  This unlicensed but faithful reproduction came out shortly after the release of NINJA ASSASSIN and was referred to by various names, including KYOKETSU-SHŌGE, KUSARI-GAMA, and KUSARI-TANTŌ.

 

 




 

PROXIES

 

 

 

Whereas the weapons presented above were flat-out counterfeit KNOCK-OFFS of ones seen in Sho's ninja films and TV series, these next weapons are merely PROXIES or look-a-like weapons that make very good substitutes for anyone looking to get weapons that are very similar to the ones featured in Sho's various projects.

 

YAMATO BUDOGU YARI SPEAR

 

This beautiful hand-crafted YARI from Yamato Budogu is virtually identical to the one sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES in the 1980s.  It's so close in fact that Sho stated it might be the exact same model they imported from Japan.

 

 

 

This magnificent YARI is handmade in Gifu, Japan and has a total length of 182 cm with a 28 cm reinforced zinc aluminum alloy blade. Needless to say, for anyone looking for a YARI like the one used in ENTER THE NINJA and THE MASTER, this is a very good proxy.

 

 

 





 

BUDO-YA KAMA-YARI

 

Another spear that I immediately associate with Sho is the KAMA-YARI.  Although not identical to the one featured in Sho's projects, a company from the United Kingdom called Budoya sells one with blunt edges.  Meant to be used for training, this spearhead is sold without the pole/staff and has the following dimensions: Overall length - 44cm, Blade length - 24cm, Tang length - 20cm, Width (widest point) - 17.5cm, Thickness - 0.5cm.

 





 

GRAPNEL FOLDING ANCHOR

 

This folding GRAPPLING HOOK was a revelation to me when I stumbled upon it by accident while searching for other things on Ebay in 2019.

 

 

It was a revelation not only because it is virtually identical to the one used as an anchor by Braden when he travelled between the 2 buildings in REVENGE OF THE NINJA, and the one that Yamada used to anchor himself when the mountain began to fall beneath him in NINJA III: THE DOMINATION, but more so because it wasn't a grappling hook, but rather a small boat anchor.

 

 





 

STAINLESS STEEL FOLDING FANS

 

A number of Chinese vendors on AliExpress sell both single-faced and more importantly double-faced STAINLESS STEEL FOLDING FANS which are very reminiscent of the ones seen in REVENGE OF THE NINJA.

 

 





 

BOOT DAGGER

 

This next weapon is another one that I stumbled upon by accident while purchasing other things from an online vendor.

 

 

I was so struck by how close this dagger's profile and size was to the pair of KUNAI THROWING KNIVES that the Black Ninja Hanjuro (David Chung) used in NINJA III: THE DOMINATION that I instantly bought a couple of them.  For anyone wanting to do the same, this nice boot dagger is available from Hero Outdoors and from various Ebay sellers.

 





 

SHOBŌ

 

One rather obscure weapon that has had a surprising number of different versions for sale is the SHOBŌ.  Below are just a few of the various ones listed in martial arts magazines and sold on Ebay in the past.

 

 

More recently I also found some nice EMEICI (峨嵋刺) for sale on AliExpress. These "Emei Piercers" (or "Emei Daggers") are a traditional Chinese martial arts weapon, but as you can see they are virtually identical to the Japanese SHOBŌ.

 





 

TEKKŌ

 

Another pretty obscure weapon, the TEKKŌ (or TECCHŪ), has also had a surprising number of different versions.  Below are metal sets similar to the ones seen in the Master's case of ninja weapons on THE MASTER, and a wooden set reminiscent of the ones used in DRAGON SPIRIT.

 

 





 

BAMBOO SHIKOMIZUE

 

Of all the knock-off and Sho-like weapons that I've found over the years, the one I was probably the most excited about finding was this BAMBOO SHIKOMIZUE.  This has always been one of my favorite weapons and I always wanted one like the one Sho wielded in THE MASTER, so when I found one that from the pictures looked pretty close, I immediately ordered one...

 

 

Unfortunately my excitement turned to massive disappointment when I finally got my hands on it.  Not only did it not look anything like real bamboo or like these photos, with a distinctively bright uniform green color instead of the faded yellow with shaded knots that I expected and wanted, but the blade was all chipped and scratched.  Needless to say I returned it.

 

 

I've continued to look for better BAMBOO SHIKOMIZUE, but none of the ones I've found use real Bamboo, and thus the look is simply not realistic.

 

 





 

JOHN LEE KAMAKURA TACHI

 

Although not exactly the same, this very nice KAMAKURA TACHI makes a very good proxy for the various Tachi swords carried by Sho, Kane, and many of the other samurai in JOURNEY OF HONOR.

 

 

 

 





 

RYUJIN FUJIWARA SERIES CRANE KATANA

 

Although not meant to be a replica of the OZUNU KATANA used by Sho in NINJA ASSASSIN, this nice inexpensive sword features the exact same Japanese Crane tsuba and an overall good resemblance.

 





 

HEAVEN'S FALL SWORD

 

This next sword, known as the "HEAVEN'S FALL SWORD" (天瀑劍 Tiān P Jin) is very similar to the DOUBLE-BLADED NINJA-TŌ used in NINJA ASSASSIN, but rather than being a replica of the sword wielded by Takeshi in this 2009 film, it is actually a replica of a sword from the 2005 Hong Kong film SEVEN SWORDS.

 

 





 

SHIKOMI-SHAKUJŌ SANZŌ-HŌSHI

 

This final weapon in the proxy section, the SHIKOMI-SHAKUJŌ SANZŌ-HŌSHI (仕込錫杖・三蔵法師). which features a hidden blade/sword, is very similar to the one from Sho's YIN-YANG CODE novels.

 

 

 




 

CUSTOM REPLICAS

 

 

 

In this last sub-section we will take a look at just a few of the seemingly endless number of CUSTOM-MADE replicas of weapons from Sho films, TV shows, etc... that have either been commissioned by fans or personally built and sold by them.

 

CUSTOM-MADE NINJA-TŌ

 

As previously mentioned in the SK NINJA-TŌ KNOCK-OFFS section above, a number of fans have gotten some Chinese swordmakers to make and customize SK Ninja-Tō replicas specifically for them.

The first one of these that I remember seeing on-line was this nice Custom Sho Kosugi Revenge of The Ninja Sword, SK Saya, and Tanto set posted by C R, on his Flickr page.

 

 

 

 

 

 






Another custom-made Chinese replica ninja-to is owned by blog contributor James, who sent in these great photos.

 

 

 






Jim, another contributor to this blog who's had a number of these Chinese-made Ninja-To replicas customized to his specifications over the years, sent me these great pics of two of his most recent acquisitions.

 

 

 

 

 






Another fan-owned custom-made Chinese Ninja-To and Tanto set, is displayed appropriately enough on a () "NIN" emblazoned sword stand.

 

 






One especially nice fan display consists of a glass case that holds a custom-made "Enter the Ninja" replica sword and a custom-made "Revenge of the Ninja" replica sword.

 

 

 

 

Additionally, our friend Jim recently informed me that he once owned a different custom-made replica of Hasegawa's ninja sword or ko-katana (short katana), featuring a Spring Steel Sharpened 20 inch blade, that he ultimately sold on Ebay.

 

 

He also sent me a photo of another different custom Hasegawa sword that he has now.

 





 

CUSTOM-MADE SHURIKEN

 

Some fans have also taken it upon themselves to make their own Sho shuriken replicas, including Ebay seller 4cf29er who in the past has made and sold some great replicas of the "Master Shuriken", the "Ikeda-style Arrow Cross Shuriken", the "Yagyu Shinkage-style Arrow Cross Shuriken", and the "Ozunu clan Arrow Cross Shuriken".

 

 

 

 

Another craftsman in Lake Oswego, Oregon who's been making his own Shuriken since 1985, started The Samurai Connection in 2012 out of repeated requests to buy the items he was making.  A number of these are custom-made replicas of the Shuriken seen in Sho's various projects.

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, someone who made a number of spectacular stainless steel Shuriken added photos of them to the Wikimedia Commons Shuriken and Wikimedia Commons Hira shuriken categories.

 

 

 

 

 





 

CUSTOM-MADE KUSARI-GAMA

 

Ebay seller 4cf29er has also been making and selling a limited number of handmade replicas of some of Sho's other weapons.  Although not 100% accurate, this nice handmade KUSARI-GAMA does feature the same color combination of a shiny metal blade and a black handle.

 

 

Moreover, it also has the exact same type of chain that was used on some of the ones in Sho's projects and photoshoots.

 





 

CUSTOM-MADE TEKAGI

 

These two different sets of hand forged TEKAGI with leather straps by Ebay seller 4cf29er are very impressive and are relatively accurate reproductions of the ones used in Sho's various ninja projects. 

 





 

CUSTOM-MADE TEKKŌ-KAGI

 

Of all of the custom-made weapons I've seen on Ebay seller 4cf29er's page, none have been more impressive than these great replicas of the TEKKŌ-KAGI used by Okasa (Sho) on THE MASTER.

 

 

The high quality on this reproduction was so convincing that at one point a fan contacted me thinking they had an original one sold by SHO KOSUGI NINJA ENTERPRISES in the 1980s.

 

 

It's worth noting that Sho's TEKKŌ-KAGI (aka "Master" Tekagi) was most-likely based on the one found in the Ninja MUSEUM of Igaryu located in Iga, Mie Prefecture, Japan.  Interestingly, as indicated in the photo below, these were donated to the museum by Mr. Kiyoyoshi Komori which makes me wonder if maybe this is where Mike Stone got the name for the ninja teacher Master Komori in his original script for ENTER THE NINJA.

 

 

Replicas of this version were, until very recently, sold by Yamato Budogu.  Ebay seller 4cf29er has also made and sold replicas of it in the past.