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Thursday 13-Japanese Weapons

This weekend my SCA shire is hosting our annual event, Rhythm and Bruise. The event consists of hours of armored fighting, with music and dancing along side. This year our theme is Tora Matsuri (Tiger Festival), and the emphasis is on medieval Japan. Click the link and click again on the line in the blue square to see a list of the japanese feast. I’m serving (on my knees, literally, as was the tradition in medieval Japan) while wearing hakama, three kosode and an uchikake. (I hope I have that right!) In honor of our event, here are 13 traditional Japanese weapons.


Traditional Japanese Weapons


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

The Kama – Originally 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 (about 1.35 M) also used as a self defense
weapon by the common people.

The Keibo – A small stick (about 35 cm) used for fighting in small

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

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.

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

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

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

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