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Traditional Weapons

Japanese

Samurai

The Katana - Not just a weapon, but the soul of bushi.It is the most sophisticated form of the beauty of killing.The more beautiful it is, the more deadly sharpness it has. Katana are distinguished from broadswords for the extremely sharp edge and the slightly curved blade.The beauty of a katana appears on its blade and edge.Its grace form and grim beauty has been fascinating many warriors.

The Wakizashi - Shorter than the Katana (about 68 cm), this sword was worn indoors by the Samurai, because the Katana was too long to fight in small rooms.

The Tanto - This is a small japanese knife from the same steel as the Katana and the Wakizashi. This knife was sometimes worn instead of the Wakizashi.

The Yari - The Japanese spear didn't differ largely from that of other countries. During the Civil War Era, spear was the most standard weapon of bushi, the main weapon used in battle in Japan until guns became common in the latter part of the period of civil strife. The spear is used in thrusts, strikes and side sweeps. Like kenjutsu, spearmanship was an art that samurai were expected to learn. Sojutsu still exists in such styles as Hozoin-ryu, Saburi-ryu, Kashimashin-ryu and Katorishindo-ryu. The type of spear depends on the school - that of the Kashimashin-ryu is an imitation spear made of white oak about 225 cm long, with a cloth tip.

The Naginata - A pole arm with a single, curved blade on one end, is employed with sweeping, circular motions and, as an extension of the wielder, channels energy in a harmonious display of beauty and precision. The Naginata is a weapon with a rich history, utilized and refined from the Nara Period (710-784 A.D.) to today. Employed initially by the Bushi, it later found itself the specific weapon of the Sohei or Buddhist monks. It is the school of the spear and, as such, is a shafted weapon. The length of its oval shaft varied, from 5' to 8', depending on battle conditions and personal requests. The most striking feature, however, was the blade; it could be anywhere from 10 inches to more than 2 feet, and was sharpened on a single side, fashioned in the manner of either Sakizori or Uchizori. As with most shafted weapons, it was most devastating when utilizing sweeping, circular motions. However, thrusts with the blade and also the heavy Ishizuki on the butt end were acceptable tactical alternatives.

It was once used in war, then used for self-defense by women in the samurai class during the Edo period (1603-1867), being considered a martial art that they should learn. Today, it is practiced mainly by women. About 55,000 people have earned a rank in this sport. There are two types of competition-in one type, contestants strike at their opponent's point areas which are protected by a mask, gloves, and chest, waist and shin protectors, while in the other a number of kata forms are performed in the prescribed order. Naginata used in competitions are about 215 to 225 cm long. A bamboo blade attached to the end is used in competitions, while an oak blade is used in kata demonstrations.

The Jutte - Jutte are implements that were used by the samurai as well as the feudal era police. They were used for trapping the blades edged weapons as well as jabbing, striking and trapping fingers. The jitte is an iron shaft 24 to 90 cm long, with a bossed hook attached. The hook was used defensively to ward off a sword, and offensively to thrust, strike and pin an opponent. It was originally designed as a weapon for splitting open an iron helmet, and was carried by samurai guards when they made arrests. A number of styles, such as the Ikkaku-ryu Jitte, still exist, but they attract few people

The Yumi - The Japanese bow was the main battlefield weapon for the bushi until the 1530's. A typical Japanese bow is 2.3m length, made of bamboo with a string of silk and pine resin. An arrow is made of bamboo and bird feather. Bamboo is the best material for bow in the plant kingdom. Though inferior to modern composite archery bow in penetration and accuracy, it was a deadly weapon, too. Until the musket was brought from Europe in 17th century, the bow was most respected by bushi. Seen in competitions as early as the Kamakura period (1192-1333), kyudo, or Japanese archery, was Japan's first martial art to develop into a sport, although the rules were different in those days. After the introduction of guns, military men lost interest in the bow and arrow, but archery remained a skill to be acquired by samurai. It gradually developed into a competitive sport. The bamboo bow used today is around 215 to 230 cm long. Feathered arrows are shot at a target either 28 or 50 to 90 meters away, and scores are taken. Body posture is important, and archers blend their movements - whether standing, sitting, or positioning the bow - into a fluid motion. About 150,000 people in Japan hold a kyudo rank.

Tessen - The iron fan of the samurai

Ninja

The Shuriken - The word shuriken means ``a dagger hidden in a palm,'' so all daggers small enough to hide in a palm were called by this name. They have many variety in their shape and usage. Some are starlike shaped, and thrown with spin. Some other are needlelike shaped, and thrown just like a throwing dagger. Though a shuriken can hardly penetrate armor protection, it was enough because ninja threw it at unarmed target mainly. Venom was used with shuriken normally.

Common

The Kama - Originaly a farming tool to weed plants. Because the farmers were not allowed to carry weapons they used their tools to defend themselves. This weapon is most know for its use by ninjas.

The BO - A large staff (about 2 M) used as a self defense weapon by the common people, who were not allowed to carry weapons.

The Jo - A shorter staff also used as a self-defense weapon by the common people. The round cane is made of white oak, and is about 128 cm long. It is used for thrusts, like a spear, for side sweeps against legs, like a naginata, and for strikes, like a sword. It developed during the Edo period as a way to ward off an opponent armed with a sword or other weapon, without fatally wounding him. The Shindomuso-ryu school that still exists in Fukuoka Prefecture is well known, and has the most followers by far. Jojutsu is the most popular of all ancient bujutsu. The police have adopted the Shindomuso-ryu style of cane wielding, with some modifications.

The Keibo - A small stick (about 35 cm) used for fighting in small area's.

The Ebo - A very small stick (about 15 cm) perfect as a defense weapon and easy to cary around.

The Tonfa - A nightstick with a handle attached to the side of it. many police forces have adopted it to replace the old police baton (nightstick).

The Nunchaku - Two sticks connected by either a small cord or chain. Originally it was used as a farming tool to thresh grain. and the farmers started using them as weapons to defend themselves.