Samurai Teen?

Today, the BBC News reported on a ‘Samurai teen out for revenge’.

It’s not at all clear who added the quotes and why, but the young teenager, from Newcastle, Northern Ireland, luxuriating in the ancient samurai name of “Rocco Burns”, took his ‘Samurai Sword’ out to wreak revenge on several people who allegedly assaulted him. His mother very prudently called the police, and when our hero Rocco spotted them he threw the sword into a nearby river. The best bit for me is that

Police recovered the weapon from the river, while its cover was tucked into Mr Burns’ trousers, the crown lawyer said.

leading to the great chat up line “Is that a saya in your trousers or are you just really pleased to see me?”. It would have been fun to watch Burns-san run. This of course will only add fuel to the fire for the incoming sword ban, which is to be brought into Northern Ireland in line with England and Wales.

We still don’t know the form of the ban, but we can observe some important facts:

  • it will be illegal to buy, sell and rent Japanese swords (apart from real ones, and we don’t know what other exemptions if any);
  • it is of course already illegal to brandish such weapons in public, and Rocco has been charged with this;
  • it is of course illegal to assault someone with such a weapon or otherwise;
  • it won’t be illegal, at least for now, to possess such weapons as already exist.

In other words, when the ban comes in April it will be no more, nor less illegal for Burns-san to have done this very silly thing. It’s quite bad enough that this sort of thing happens, but please, let’s not talk about “samurai teens” unless you’ve checked their family lineage write back to before the Meiji Restoration when the samurai class was effectively abolished and wearing swords in public in Japan was outlawed.

People who train in martial arts, and have any sense, don’t claim to be samurai, so let’s not attach this label to this misguided youth.

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