were spiked claws that were worn on the feet. This helped the Ninja climb
faster and more efficiently on their missions. As well as a great climbing
aid, it could also be used in combat to deliver deadly kicks
is the martial art of using a staff weapon called bō which simply means
"staff" Staffs are perhaps one of the earliest weapons used by man. They
have been in use for thousands of years in Eastern Asia. Some techniques
involve slashing, swinging, and stabbing with the staff.Bojutsu was probably
a battlefield martial art, used for training troops.
Today bōjutsu is usually associated either with Okinawan kobudō or with
Japanese koryū budō. Japanese bōjutsu is one of the core elements of
classical martial training. In the Okinawan context, the weapon is
frequently referred to as the kon.Fighting with just the bladeless staff
became popular in Okinawa as a stand-alone art form on its own right during
the period when the carrying of metal-edged weapons was outlawed.
Many of the grips,thrusts,blocks,parries,sweeps, and deflecting movements
were developed among the peasants of Okinawa. It is most likely that the
original weapon was the 'tenbin', a long wooden pole that was balance on the
shoulders and used to carry buckets containing either grain or water.
A bokken is a
wooden sword usually used for sword training. When a student begins to work
with a sword, he learns basic maneuvers with a bokken. However, the bokken
can also be used as an effective weapon since it is made of strong, heavy
wood. In fact, many Ninja preferred to use the bokken on a mission than a
regular sword. The reasons for this are that a bokken is lighter and easier
to carry, there is no risk of cutting oneself, bokken are very easy to
camouflage since they can be stained or painted, and, when using proper
techniques, a bokken can easily break bones and damage internal organs.
Bow And Arrow The bow and
arrow was a weapon used by the ninja as well as the samurai. There were two
types of bows used, the short bow and the long bow. The arrows were
sometimes dipped in poison to make them deadlier. Kunoichi (female ninja)
were experts with the bow and arrow.
is a 2 foot long
straight stick, with a 2-1/2 chain attached to the top with a ball with
spikes. This weapon is considered to be the japanese morning star. The chain
could be fitted in side the stick like the Kusari-Gama/Kama, and used as a
darts used by Ninjas
blowgun, was a staple in the Ninja's arsenal since it was so versatile.
The fukiya was used to
shoot darts (sometimes poisoned) at an enemy from a distance and, since it
made almost no noise, the Ninja's hiding place wasn't threatened by using
this weapon. Aside from launching darts, the blowgun could be used as a
snorkel while the Ninja was underwater. Since the fukiya was made of bamboo,
it blended in with the reeds in the water, therefore enabling the Ninja to
stay submerged for hours, if necessary.
Metsubishi could also
be delivered through the fukiya by shooting small paper containers filled
with pepper and metal shavings at an enemy's face.
Hanbo is a bo 3
feet in length can be concealed as a cane. Can be used like a bokken. May
also conceal things inside, like a sword blade or a chain.
Jodo/Jojutsu(杖術) is an approximately 1.276 m (4.18 foot) long wooden
staff, used in some Japanese martial arts. The martial art of wielding the
jō is called jōjutsu or jōdō.
The techniques for jō were reportedly invented by Musō Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi
(夢想 權之助 勝吉, fl. c.1605, date of death unknown) after he was defeated by the
famous swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, 1584–1645). They fought each
other in a duel sometime between 1608 and 1611, according to Kenji Tokitsu.
The record mentioning this duel, the Nitenki, recounts:
"When Musashi was in
Edo, he met an adept named Musō Gonnosuke, who asked to fight him. Gonnosuke
used a wooden sword. Musashi was in the process of making a small bow; he
picked up a piece of firewood. Gonnosuke attacked him without even bowing,
but he received a blow from Musashi that made him fall down. He was
impressed and left." A different text, the
Kaijo Monogatari (dated to 1666) differs considerably from the Nitenki
version. In it, Gonnosuke is a boastful and brash warrior who duels Musashi
intending to see how Musashi compares with Musashi's father in
swordsmanship. The fight occurs in Akashi, not Edo, and Gonnosuke wields a
staff four shaku in length and reinforced with steel rings. After his
defeat, he then went to Mount Homan-zan in Chikuzen (near Fukuoka), where he
practiced considerably, changing his preferred weapon to four shaku and two
sun in length - 1.27 meter as compared to 1.21 meter. This school was called
the Shintō Musō-ryū because of Gonnosuke's previous training under Sakurai
Osuminokami Yoshikatsu of the Shintō-ryū.
The school he founded to transmit his techniques has some old records which
claims that Gonnosuke, struck by his defeat, went into solitary meditation
until he received divine inspiration in a dream; he then invented techniques
to fight against Musashi's two swords using only a stick, and defeated
Musashi on their next encounter. Assuming the records are accurate and
genuine, this would be the only time Musashi was defeated,  as the vast
majority of documentation states that Musashi was never defeated
an iron truncheon carried by feudal era police officers doshin, as well as
by their non-samurai assistants. The jutte evolved from a very strange
battlefield weapon commonly believed to have designed by Goro Nyudo Masamune
a renowned swordsmith
kaginawa translates as a hooked rope made from hemp.
A three-pointed hook designed for grappling will be attached to one end of
the kaginawa. This will be used when you happen to have to scale a rather
large wall, to secure a boat, or for hanging up your armor within the night
when you are resting. Kaginawa were also regularly used within various
sieges of miscellaneous castles as for greater results. The kaginawa will be
carried while attached to a ring, which is connected to the saddle.
rings that the kunoichi wore that were dipped in poison. The rings could be
made out of metals, and tempered wood. The ninja would quietly strangle
enemies with the ring stuck in their neck. It was far less messy then using
a sword, and left very little evidence on how the victim died.
Kamajutsu is also
called "Kama nu ti". About 700 years ago, in King Eiso's reign, agricultural
tools such as hoes and sickles began to be made of iron. Along with these
farm tools, many weapons were imported from mainland Japan and China in that
era. Kama was first used as a weapon by farmers around 1314 A.D. when
warriors and farmers rose up against King Tamagusuku's oppression. As a
result, three chieftains were established. The kama was one of the most
familiar pieces of farm equipment that could be used as a substitute weapon.
The kama has not been used much for developing kata or for tanren. Most of
the techniques have been developed from karate. Because the kama is a weapon
with a blade and therefore incorporates a high degree of danger, it is
somewhat different from the other forms of kobudo weaponry.
is a spear with an inverted sai attached to it.
is the word for "sword"
in the Japanese language. It is also used specifically for a type of
Japanese backsword or longsword in use after the 1400s, a curved,
single-edged sword traditionally used by the samurai.
The katana was typically paired with the wakizashi or shoto, a similarly
made but shorter sword, both worn by the members of the warrior class. It
could also be worn with the tanto, an even smaller similarly shaped blade.
The two weapons together were called the daisho, and represented the social
power and personal honour of the samurai. The long blade was used for open
combat, while the shorter blade was considered a side arm, more suited for
stabbing, close quarters combat and seppuku, a form of ritual suicide.
Kunai is commonly believed to be an ancient Japanese
throwing knife. Designed as a weapon, larger than a shuriken offered
increased accuracy, damage power and armour penetration when thrown, and
could also be used in hand to hand combat more readily, and could even block
sword blows. In addition, it could be used for climbing, as either a kind of
grappling hook, or a piton.
The Kunai was a small dagger-type tool that served primarily as a utility
knife. It's secondary use was as a weapon, with a sharp point and short
handle it was a great throwing weapon. It was also a great close combat
weapon as it could be used in very tight situations.
Some other uses for the kunai include a climing device, a hammering tool, a
make-shift spear tip just to name a few.
is a weighted short chain weapon that is closely-related to the kusari-gama
in application. It is a close range weapon, approximately 18–30 inches
(46–76 cm) in length. It is generally constructed of a non-reflective etched
steel chain or thick rope for training purposes. This flexible weapon can be
used to strike, snare, or entangle an assailant or their weapon.
It is rumored that the kusari-fundo was invented to disarm, disable or kill
attackers of the imperial castle without bloodshed, as it was considered
is the art of using the Japanese weapon Kusarigama. Kusarigamajutsu is
featured in several separate martial arts such as Bujinkan (ninjutsu) and
sickle was used in a slashing or stabbing motion, as well as used to block
and hook opponents weapons. By holding the chain portion of the weapon, the
sickle could be swung around to get a greater reach with it.
The Kusarigama is made up of three parts:
the Kama (a wooden handle with a curved blade protuding at a right-angle on
one and, and a small loop at the other), the Kusari (a chain attached to the
Kama) and a weight at the end of the chain. In a confrontation the kusari is
swung in wide sweeping arcs to distract/entangle the opponent and the Kama
is used to deliver a fatal strike.
Kyoketsu-Shogei is a knife attached to
one end of a long cord made of women's or horse hair, or sometimes chain. On
the other end of the cord was a ring. The knife could be used in close
quarters or swung around by holding on to the ring.
to small, spiked caltrops used by ninja to deter pursuit. When pursued by
enemy soldiers, ninja would scatter makibishi on the ground. In ancient
Japan, common footwear consisted of sandals made of straw, called zori,
which offered relatively little protection against such hazards. Makibishi
spines were often hooked, and occasionally grooved to allow for a light coat
of poison, to increase the damage they dealt to those unfortunate enough to
step on them and possibly result in death.
The manji sai is a metal weapon
like the sai, except that prongs Face In
opposite directions and the handle is also
pointed. The manji sai is used In much
the same way as the sai.
Manriki Gusari was a chain usually about 3 feet long, and
weighted at both ends. It was developed as a self-defence weapon but was
also a wicked offensive weapon in the hands of a ninja. It was small and
easily concealed in the palm of the ninja's hand, or in a sash.
While holding one end
of the chain, it could be swung around and used as a whip. The weighted end
could cause a great deal of damage.
Naginatajutsu (長刀術) is the Japanese martial art of wielding the
Naginata . This is a weapon resembling the medieval European glaive, often
used in combination with a tanto or dagger. Most naginata practiced today is
in a modernized form, a gendai budō called naginatadō or atarashii naginata
(new naginata), in which competitions also are held.
Multiple theories concerning the weapon's exact origins are in debate. It
has been suggested that it developed along the same lines as kobudo weapons
as a modified farming tool. Another theory states that it is the result of
the Japanese modifying a Chinese Guan Dao that bears a similar appearance.
Others say that a creative samurai in need of a longer weapon attached a
sword to a pole.
Perhaps the simplest explanation is the natural development of polearms. The
polearms are intended as mass weapons, to be used not just by individual
warriors, but by formations of soldiers together on field battles and not
for duelling. When fighting in close order, two-handed cut-and-thrust
weapons, such as halberds and glaives, are much more efficient than mere
spears or swords because of their versatility compared to spears and longer
reach compared to swords. Fighting in massed formation does not require
similar individual weapon-handling skills as required by a skilled
swordsman. Naginata is almost identical in appearance to both glaive and
guan dao, and it is most likely result of parallel evolution.
In the early history of its use, the naginata was primarily used against
cavalry, as its length kept the wielder a safe distance from horses and
their riders. During the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), the naginata was
transformed into a symbol of status for female samurai, as well as being the
primary means for a woman to defend her home while her husband was away at
war. This period also saw the propagation of the naginata as a feminine art
and the weapon serving as more of a symbol of devotion to a woman's family.
Many koryū ryūha, such as the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu, include
naginatajutsu in their curriculum.
is a mounted horsemans version
of the Naginata.The Nagimaki is straight bladed halbred
usually used by the kunoichi (female ninja). The weapon is strong iron
fingernails that were fastened into leather bands fitted on the fingers, and
resembled claws (not like that of of the shuko, ashiko) and were also dipped
in poisons. The eyes were a favorite spot for slashing.
was different than that of
the samurai. The long sword that the samurai carried was made of high-carbon
steel, and took months to have made. They were hand made specially for each
samurai, taking great care to make a very high quality sword. It was so
sharp that it could easily cut a man in two, even through their armor. The
length of the samurai swords averaged around 26 1/2 to 37 inches.
The ninja sword was considerably shorter,
only 24 inches, and the quality of the swords was much poorer. The reason
for the poorer quality was the way they used the sword as opposed to the way
the samurai used theirs. Samurai would swing their sword, severing limbs and
slashing at the opponent. Ninja, on the other hand, used the sword more in a
stabbing motion. To use the blade of the ninja sword effectively you would
have to use a sawing motion when the blade came in contact with the
Another reason for the poor quality of the
swords is that since ninja were mostly mountain people and outlaws, they
could not afford to hire expert sword smiths like the samurai could. Also
their own sword smiths did not have access to the right resources to be able
to make curved edge swords with well constructed blades. If a Ninja could
overcome a samurai he would take his swords, simply because they are better.
Although the ninja sword was smaller and
poorer quality, it still had its advantages. The scabbard for instance was
made longer than the sword, about 3 to 4 inches longer. At the end of the
scabbard there was a hidden compartment that was used to hide small weapons
such as spikes, daggers or small amounts of poisons. Another use the sword
had was that it could act as a small step by jamming the blade into the
ground, the ninja could use the hand-guard as a step to get that extra
height needed to scale a wall. Because the blade was not very sharp, the
ninja could also use it as a hammer by holding onto the blade (carefully)
and hitting with the handle. Also it was common to have the tip of the
scabbard come off so it could be used as a snorkel.
(ヌンチャク)not a primary weapon of the
Ninja, nunchakus (also known as "nunchucks") were used because they could be
adapted for many situations. Aside from being easy to carry, the nunchakus
were used to defend against most any weapon from a bo to a sword. By
trapping the blade of a sword with the chain between the two sticks, a Ninja
could entangle and disarm a sword-weilding attacker.
The same concept applies to
almost every other weapon. The nunchakus were not just used for defense,
they could also be effectively employed against an enemy in an offensive
way. The Ninja could strangle an opponent or even execute joint locks with
the chain or cord between the two sticks.
Odachi (大太刀) meaning "great big sword"-ō (大) means "big" or
"great". The characters for da (太) and chi (刀) are the same as tachi (太刀,
lit. "big sword").The older style of sword/mounts that predate the katana.
The chi is also the same character as katana (刀) and the tō in nihontō (日本刀
"Japanese sword"), originally from the Chinese character for a knife, dāo
Ōdachi that were used as weapons were
too long for samurai to carry on their waists like normal swords. There were
two methods in which they could be carried.
One method was to carry it on one's back. However, this was seen impractical
as it was impossible for the wielder to draw it quickly.
The other method was simply to carry the ōdachi by hand. The trend during
the Muromachi era was for the samurai carrying the ōdachi to have a follower
to help him draw it.
Ōdachi swordplay styles focused on downward cuts and different wields than
those of normal swords.
The ōdachi's importance died off after the Siege of Osaka of 1615 (the final
battle between Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori). Since then it has
been used more as a ceremonial piece.
The purpose of the ōdachi can be categorized as follows:
As an offering to a shrine or gods. Some ōdachi were dedicated with prayer
to win a war, others were placed in shrines as legendary swords from
Since the average ōdachi is apx. 65–70 inches long (165–178 centimeters)
they could not be used in close quarters combat (at times the Katana was too
long). But they were found to be effective on horse back. With the extended
reach that surpass the Katana or the Jintachi (another variation on the
Katana) it was easier to strike a target, though it was harder to use due to
its weight. Once mastered it became a valued weapon on the field.
As a trend during a certain period. Some swords were also used for
To show the swordsmith's skill.
Most ōdachi were used for the first two reasons.
battle axe, was a very powerful weapon used to smash through castle gates,
knock opponents off their horses or totally destroy anyone attempting to
fight with a lesser weapon. The Ono was generally 4 feet long with a heavy,
oversized steel blade.
The weight of this
weapon demanded great skill from the user in battle.
was incorrectly believed to be
an Okinawan tool to measure stalks, or some even say as a pin to hold cart
wheels in place, but is better and more correctly known as a weapon. Its
basic form is that of an unsharpened dagger, but it also has two long,
unsharpened projections (tsuba) attached to the handle.The sai's distinctive
shape makes it a versatile weapon. With skill, it can be used effectively
against a long sword by trapping the sword's blade between the sai's blade
and the tsuba and breaking it with a twist of the hand. Also, it can be held
so that the middle arm fits between the ring and middle fingers, and used as
a longer variant of brass knuckles (this stance is only accepted in American
Sai come in two
traditional styles, one is just rounded arms, still no point at the tip; or
what are called octagon sai, which have an octagonal shape on the middle
arm.Traditionally, sai were carried in threes, two at the side, as primary
weapons, and a third tucked behind, in case one was disarmed. An alternative
use of the third sai is as a throwing weapon to disarm or distract an
opponent before engaging in close combat. The sai was the only okinawan tool
designed to be a weapon only, the rest were formed from farm tools.
is a three-section staff a Chinese flail weapon that consists of three
wooden or metal staffs connected by metal rings or rope. The weapon is also
known as a coiling dragon staff
The three section staff is said to have originated from Master Sanda of the
Honan Temple. It was made popular by Chao Hong-Yin, the first Emperor of the
Song Dynasty (960 A.D.). Before becoming emperor, he was a Shaolin
trained martial artist known for being an adept bodyguard and escort. Once
while guarding a lady of the royal family and her entourage on a journey to
Beijing they were attacked by five bandits. Chao quickly turned and struck
the first attacker in the head with his "gun" (staff). Such was the force of
the blow that it broke Chao's favorite weapon into two pieces - one long and
one short. The bandits were awestruck by Chao's skill and power and fled
into the forest. Naturally, Chao was displeased with the condition of his
precious staff but in the next town he had the local blacksmith reconnect
the two pieces with iron rings and created a "Dai-Si-Jo" or "two-section big
stick" also known as a "Big Sweeper".
Unfortunately, the long section of the staff had been weakened during the
attack and it soon broke in two again. Once again Chao had the broken
sections rejoined to mimic the sān jié gùn or "three section staff."
Chao realized the devastating potential of the weapon -- it was small and
easily carried and concealed, it could be used for stabbing or striking like
a broadsword, it could be used as a whip and it was very useful for
Chao's fame with this weapon spread and soon other escorts and bodyguards
were also using the three section staff. It soon became the signature weapon
of escorts who would carry a banner with a picture of the weapon as a
warning to potential thieves that the person or persons being guarded were
well-protected by a highly-trained martial artist.
is a sister weapon of the Nunchaku. Three equal lengths instead of two gives
the weapon more reach and options for defense and offence.
(竹刀) is a weapon used for practice and competition in kendo and are meant to
represent a Japanese sword. Shinai are also used in other martial arts, but
may be styled differently from kendo shinai, and represented with different
characters.The shinai was developed when a group of swordsmen, in an effort
to reduce the number of practitioners being seriously injured during
practice, undertook to create a practice weapon that was less dangerous than
bokutō (木刀 ,ぼくとう?), the hard wooden swords they were previously using. This
is also the motivation behind the development of bōgu (防具 ,ぼうぐ?), the armour
that protects the kendoka.To learn more about the Shinai click here
Shinai Bamboo Sword
Shobo was a small weapon that was used
for striking pressure points within the body, the neck was the best place to
strike. It was a ring fitted on the middle finger and a piece of sharp/dull
wood attached, there are many variants of this weapon.
Shurikenjutsu (手裏剣術) is a general term describing the traditional
Japanese martial arts of throwing shuriken, which are small, hand-held
weapons used primarily by the Shinobi or "Ninja" in Feudal Japan, such as
metal spikes bō shuriken, circular plates of metal known as hira shuriken,
and knives (tantō). Shuriken-jutsu was usually taught among the sogo-bugei,
or comprehensive martial arts systems of Japan, mostly in Ninjutsu and are
Shinobi in Origin.Shuriken
are small and easily concealed, yet they have the versatility of being used
as a stabbing weapon at close range (called Shoken if used in this manner),
as well as a longer range thrown weapon.
consist of two basic designs;
Bo-shuriken - straight metal
spikes, usually 4-sided but sometimes round or octagonal. They were normally
single-pointed but variations exist that are double pointed. The average
length was 16 cm and the average weight was around 50 grams. The Bo
shuriken is thrown by holding it in the palm with the shaft resting
between the first and second fingers. They are thrown from either hand,
overhand, underhand, or sidearm from standing, seated, and lying positions.
This is the most common form of shuriken used in traditional shurikenjutsu.
Shaken (or "throwing stars") - flat, wheel-shaped plates of metal,
with sharpened points and/or edges. Usually 3 mm thick or less, about 11 cm
wide, with a variety of tips ranging between 3-20. The hira-shuriken
can be thrown either from overhead, or horizontally with a quick wrist-snap.
Sojutsu (槍術 ),
meaning "art of the spear" is the Japanese martial art of fighting with the
Japanese spear (槍 ,yari)
The Yari was a popular weapon throughout the feudal period of Japan less
training then other contemporary battlefield weapons, and lending itself to
close formations of ashigaru troops, in conjunction with firearms upon their
adoption in Japan.
The height of sōjutsu's popularity was immediately after
the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, who themselves used spearmen in
great numbers. Sōjutsu is typically only a single component of curriculum in
comprehensive traditional (koryū) schools. The still extant Tenshin Shōden
Katori Shintō-ryū claims to be the first school to include sōjutsu in its
Tanto or knife, was an important weapon in the ninja's arsenal.
Like the ninja-to, the tanto was not made of the high quality steel that the
samurai's sword was but the ninja made up for this by using the tanto as a
The tanto was used to
pry open doors, dig holes or small ditches, or it could be thrown like a
shuriken. Of course, the tanto was also used to cut and stab an opponent.
Tessen-jutsu The fan was an accessory customarily carried
in the hands or tucked in the obi(belt) especially in ceremonial dress. The
folding fan also played a significant role in Japanese etiquette, especially
on formal occasions and was rarely ever out of a samurai's possession.
(also known as calthrops)
are small metal weapons shaped so that one point is always up. They, like
the shuriken, were a weapon used for distraction while fleeing. The ninja
would scatter the calthrops behind them and anyone unlucky enough to step on
them would not likely continue with the pursuit. They could also be thrown,
and dipped in poison like the shuriken.
also known as tong fa or tuifa, is a traditional Okinawan weapon from which
the modern side-handled police baton is derived.The origin of the Tonfa is
debated but experts believe it either originated in China or Indonesia.It is
used in both Southeast Asia and China and was possibly brought to Okinawa
through their influence. A similar weapon called the mae sun sawk is used in
Thailand. Tradition holds that during the reign of Okinawan ruler Shō Shin,
restrictions were placed on the use of weaponry in order to stabilize the
country after a period of civil war. This restriction is said to have
favoured the development of unconventional agricultural tools as weapons of
self-defense. In this context, it is believed that the tonfa was developed
from a wooden handle of a millstone.The tonfa can also be wielded in such a
way as to use the knob as a striking implement, held either by the handle or
by the shaft. One can also stab one's opponents with the shaft of the tonfa.
By holding the shaft and the handle of the tonfa together, one can use it
for holding or breaking techniques
Wakizashi The wakizashi was, esentially, a
shorter katana that could be wielded with one hand. One of the main uses of
the wakizashi was to fight indoors, where the low ceilings of feudal japan
would make use of the long katana nearly impossible.
The wakizashi itself was a samurai's "honour weapon"
and purportedly never left the samurai's side. He would sleep with it under
his pillow and it would be taken with him when he entered a house and had to
leave his main weapons outside.The wakizashi was always carried along with
the katana, to make a daisho or pair
Yari was typically 5 feet long with a 6
inch blade and the handle often contained a hidden chain or knife.
Used by men and women of the samurai class on foot and horseback, the yari
has been part of Oriental weaponry for thousands of years. Many schools of
sojutsu (the art of the spear) were formed throughout history, each teaching
different methods of yari fighting.
Traditional use: Primarily a thrusting weapon, the yari existed in several
forms and styles, including the pipe spear and three-bladed spear.