Nodachi vs. Odachi
Nodachi literally translates to "Field Sword", while Odachi means "Large / Great Sword"
The question is, is there an actual difference between the Nodachi and the Odachi?
The simple answer is no. Historical documents show that Japanese used the two terms interchangeably
You could say that when referring to a sword as Nodachi, you are specifying the application of the sword (to be used in the battlefield), whereas with Odachi you are talking about the size of the weapon (as a greatsword)
At the end of the day, as opposed to many misconceptions about this fact, they are the same weapon
So what is a Nodachi / Odachi?
The Nodachi is a traditionally made Japanese sword dating back as far as the 5th century, it was said to have been used by the Gods of Japanese mythology
It was commonly used by cavalry. The greater length allowed for effective attacks by samurai on horseback
When used by foot soldiers, it was carried on the back or simply by hand. Samurai would have an assistant or fellow soldier draw the sword off his back when needed for battle
The length of a Nodachi was typically around 3 shaku (35.8 inches), though there is no exact definition of the size to be classified as such
For comparison, a common length for a Katana sword is around 28-29 inches
What are the benefits and disadvantages of using a Nodachi over a Katana?
With the katana you are quicker to strike, also if a strike is missed with the Nodachi it will take longer to recover, which could leave you open to a counter attack
Though more cumbersome, the mass and power of the Nodachi can be very effective with a landed blow. A katana-carrying opponent attempting to parry a strike would be of no match against the sheer force of a Nodachi
The katana wielding samurai would need to rely on both his patience and speed to attack at just the right time, either right at the beginning of a fight, or while the Nodachi user is recovering from an attack
You would not want to put yourself in a position to have to block the swing of a Nodachi, which could break your sword or bring you to the ground, likely resulting in a quick death
The Nodachi handles completely differently than a Katana, and you would have to train specifically with this sword to be proficient in combat
With a Nodachi, you would want the fight to be over quickly. The force on your muscles caused by the weight of the long blade will tire you out and your opponent could use this fact to their advantage
The difference is not so great to say that one sword is better than the other. If a samurai had only trained in the use of a Nodachi, it would not serve him well to use a Katana and vice-versa
In conclusion, the Nodachi will give you greater reach and strength, while the Katana is lighter, faster, and gives the user more flexibility in combat