What is Chambara, the new addition to Switch Sports?

We’ve been taken back to 2006 with Nintendo’s latest sports simulation game. From competitive battles between friends to broken TV screens, the nostalgia of Switch Sports has taken the world by storm.

But one mystery remainswhat is Chambara, the new addition to the Switch Sports launch roster?

Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the creation of Chambara, from classic swordplay sports to the film genre that inspired its name. Read on to discover why you should skip bowling and try this new game mode.


What is Chambara? 

To give a definition, ‘Chambara’ (more commonly spelt ‘Chanbara’) is the Japanese term for samurai cinema. We cover this in the next section, but it’s one of the main influences behind Nintendo’s adaptation in Switch Sports.

In the context of Switch Sports, Chambara is a two-player game in which participants must wield a wooden sword and use it to drive their opponent off the edge of a raised platform.

If your opponent’s strikes cause you to topple over the platform’s edge, you’ll fall into the water below. It’s essentially fencing meets The Joust from American Gladiators.

There are three game modes, including:

  • sword (standard chambara mode)
  • charge sword
  • twin swords

Standard chambara involves attacking and guarding by either slashing the Joy-Con as if it were a sword or holding the ZR or ZL button to block.

Charge sword enables the player to perform a powerful charge strike after guarding three times and a counter which activates if they time their guard perfectly.

Twin swords mode arms the player with a strong spinning strike if they fill up the meter on the screen by performing well during the game.

While the Switch Sports version of Chambara doesn’t currently exist, it’s certainly inspired by real-life organised sports, martial arts systems, and pop culture.

If you want a break from the gym or playing field and Chambara sounds appealing, remember to attach the wrist strap to your Joy-Con…


What inspired Chambara?

As stated above, Japanese Chanbara movies were likely a huge inspiration for the game mode in Switch Sports. It is a sub-genre of Jidaigeki, the Japanese equivalent to period dramas.  

Many Chanbara films focus on sword-fighting and action-led plots, and they’ve inspired many motifs, themes and characters used in western cinema to this day.

Star Wars is a notable example of a popular film franchise heavily inspired by Chanbara, as George Lucas even admitted this himself.

Going back to the Chambara of Switch Sports, it wasn’t only inspired by Japanese samurai cinema but also real-life swordplay.

What is swordplay, you ask? It’s an umbrella term for sports that involve fencing with smallswords, such as fencing, or martial arts that involve using a sword.  

We could talk about fencing, but kendo is likely the main sport and martial art responsible for Nintendo’s development of the Chambara game mode.

Kendo is a Japanese form of fencing yet is seen more as a martial art than an organised sport as it focuses on character building alongside the physical act of swordplay.

It involves duelling with a two-handed wooden sword, not unlike the format used in Switch Sports.

ESPN dubbed kendo as the sport that sparked lightsaber lore, another link to Japanese swordplay’s influence on western culture.

It seems fitting that Nintendo would take inspiration from their native culture to craft a game mode that has such a fresh feel yet evidently borrows from a rich history of competitive Japanese swordsmanship and martial arts.

Related: The best FIFA songs of all time, according to Spotify


Will Chambara become a real sport? 

It’s certainly not impossible.

Take Quidditch, for example. What started as a fantasy sport involving magic within the pages of the Harry Potter book series has become a global phenomenon. It even has its own World Cup.

Where there are hardcore fans, fantasy can often become a reality. At the very least, it could be added to the roster of competitive esports games alongside Tekken and Street Fighter.

If you’re feeling impatient and Chambara has sparked a passion in you for swordplay, we’d suggest taking up fencing.

It’s a modern and relatively safe sport based on traditional swordsmanship, and British Fencing even has an official club finder so you can find affiliated groups welcoming to beginners.

Or, if you like the air of self-discipline that chambara carries, you could try a form of martial arts such as Ju Jitsu, Karate or even MMA.


Specialist sports insurance from Insure4Sport 

All in all, if you’re a professional athlete or amateur sportsperson who wants a break from your regular training, the fantasy sword sport Chambara may prove to be a real treat!

But for any real sports you participate in, it’s essential to ensure you’re properly protected through insurance.

At Insure4Sport, our specialist sports insurance covers a huge range of sports. Our policies include Public Liability, Personal Accident cover and Loss of Earnings cover, as well as optional extras. That way, you can tailor your cover to your specific needs.

Click here to discover how we can help or hit the button below to get an instant online quote.


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