Historical Weapons - Naginata
Originally, the naginata was used by warrior
monks who would defend their shintoist
temples from invaders. This weapon fell out
of favor after the 14th century, when the temples
were no longer a target. At any rate, the samurai
did sometimes use the naginata while fighting at
close quarters on horseback.
The naginata was made from a short, curved blade, like
that of the wakizashi, but instead of being attached to a
normal sword hilt, it was attached to a long staff. The naginata
staff could be anywhere from 38" to 4 feet long. This made
the weapon extremely useful in close quarters, where it's
wielder could keep sword-carrying attackers out of range.
The age in which the naginata was most commonly used
is the age in which the samurai were mostly archers, which
meant that sword vs. naginata battles rarely took place.
Some schools of martial arts still use the naginata today,
however, the modern naginata more resembles the european
Halberd, with the blade resembling a scimitar moreso than
Historical Weapons - katana
The Katana was developed in the early 15th century, when the feudal era was brought to it's climax in what
historians call "The Age of States at War." This era began when the Feudal lords of ancient Japan began
fighting amongst one another for control of the land. This time in japanese history ended with the Meiji
restoration, when Japan was restored to a unified country and swords were outlawed.
The katana was the samurai's most important sword. It is widely agreed that the Katana, or Dai-to is the
single most perfect sword ever developed. It's power and finesse made it a nearly indefeatable weapon.
Made with a curved ken (blade) set into a long tsuka (hilt) it is the sword we most identify with feudal japan
today. The steel of the blade would be forged by master craftsmen, heated and folded over 200 times.
Although the Katana was very powerful, it was also much lighter than European swords and could be handled
with confidence and grace.
Most Katana are about 42" long from tip to pommel (the end of the hilt) and the blade is usually 26" to 28"
long. This means that the tsuka itself can be up to 14" long, much shorter than the grips of it's predecessors,
the No-Dachi and the Tachi.
The katana would be carried in a saya (scabbard and tucked into the samurai's belt. Originally, they would
carry the sword with the blade turned down. This was a more comfortable way for the armored samurai to
carry his very long sword. The bulk of the samurai armor made it difficult to draw the sword from any other
place on his body. When unarmored, samurai would carry their sword with the blade facing up. This made
it possible to draw the sword and strike in one quick motion, usually beheading the opponent. In order to
draw the sword, the samurai would turn the saya downward ninety degrees and pull it out of his belt just a
bit with his left hand, then gripping the tsuka with his right hand he would slide it out while sliding the saya
back to it's original position.
The appropriate way to hold the katana is still taught today by many schools of martial arts. First, the samurai
would grab the tsuka with his right hand directly below the tsuba, or cut guard, which would keep his hand
from slipping onto the blade. Next, he would place the pommel, the very bottom of the tsuka, into the palm
of his left hand. The left hand would then be wrapped around and turned vertical so that the sword's pommel
would be halfway into his closed hand. This left a gap of anywhere from 6" to 8" between the warrior's hands
which allowed for superior flexibility. Because of the space between the fighter's hands, the sword's master
could easily cut horizontall, vertically and diagonally.
Also taught even in today's martial arts schools are the various kamae, or stances, which the samurai would
take while training at his dojo. Here, wooden swords called bokuto or bokken were used so the students
would not give one another lethal injuries. Later, the flexible bamboo shinai were developed, which would
allow students to strike one another without cauing injury.
The katana had great importance outside of combat as well. Throughout the Era of States at War, the Samurai
would never be without it. It was a symbol of his status as a warrior, his obedience of the code of bushido
and his undying loyalty to his master. It was considered a great honour to receive such a sword from one's
master or even one's ally.
Historical Weapons - Wakizashi
The wakizashi was always carried along with the katana, to
make a daisho or pair. 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
The katana-bearing samurai of the Genpei war period and the
Warring States Era would never leave behind their wakizashi,
which was often used as a backup weapon if the katana was
lost or damaged. The wakizashi came in handy when, at many
times, the katana's length was a disadvantage.
The wakizashi was also used to perform seppuku, the ritual
suicide of a member of the warrior class who felt he or she was
living with great shame, from disappointing one's master or
from being humiliated in a number of other ways.
The following description is graphic and certainly not for the
squeamish. Please do not allow children to read it. The samurai,
when asked to, or granted permission to, commit seppuku,
would kneel in the traditional manner with his wakizashi at his
side. He would take the short sword from it's saya and thrust
it deeply into his own torso, cutting himself open vertically. He
would then continue on his ritual, in spite of the pain, by cutting
once more horizontally across the original wound. The samurai,
having disemboweled himself, will have then died an honourable
death. It was permissible to have a close friend or trusted ally
to act as a second, meaning that he or she would stand behind
the samurai and strike his head off with the katana after the
first cut had been made. If a female samurai were to commit
seppuku, she would only cut her own throat, a much simpler
and cleaner ritual.
Historical Weapons - Ninja-to
Contray to popular belief, the ninjas' sword did not have any kind of specific design. The
straight-blade, square tsuba swords are a product of hollywood.
The actual ninja sword looked just like the samurai's daito or katana, but with a few small
exceptions. For one, they were usually of a much poorer quality. To a samurai, his sword
was his life. To the ninja, it was an important weapon, but not so important that it couldn't
be replaced if broken or lost.
There is some conflict in history as to whether ninja were formidable swordsmen. This
is because there were so many different clans and groups of ninja, it is quite possible that
some were well trained in the art of the sword and others were not. Since the ninja were
warriors and soldiers alongside the samurai, in everyday life they had to appear as a
normal soldier. Having a sword of a unique or special design would identify him as a ninja.
This would cause problems, because ninja were always suspect!
Sometimes the ninja would carry a sword whose blade was slightly shorter than the saya
in which it was carried. The additional space would be used to hide blinding powder. Also
some ninja would have a removable end piece on the saya so it could be used as a
snorkel or filled with muddy water to be used as a type of metsubushi. Metsubushi is
anything which blinds an enemy.
The ninja sword also had a slightly longer sageo than the samurai sword. This was so
the ninja could carry the sword by clenching the sageo in his teeth while climbing.
Historical Weapons - Kunai
A Kunai is an ancient kind of trowel, originated during the Tensho Era in Japan. The kunai
was normally wrought of iron, not steel, cheaply forged and unpolished. The size of most
kunai ranged from 20 cm to 60 cm, with the average at 40 cm. The kunai was used by
common folk as multi-purpose gardening tools and by workers of stone and masonry.
The kunai is not a knife, but something more akin to a wrecking bar. The blade was soft
iron and unsharpened because the edges were used to smash plaster and wood, to dig
holes and to pry. Normally only the tip would have been sharpened. The uses to which
a kunai was put would have destroyed any heat-treated and sharpened tool like a knife.
Contrary to popular belief, they were not designed as throwing weapons, though they can
definitely be thrown and cause damage. Ninjutsu is very versatile in the way it employs
weapons and non-weapons. A ninja could work as a gardener during the day and use a
kunai without raising suspicion.
Kunai normally had a leaf-shaped blade and a handle with a ring on the pommel for
attaching a rope. This would allow the kunai to be strapped to a stick as an expedient
spear, to be tied to the body as a hidden weapon, or to use as an anchor or piton of some
In Hatsumi Sensei's Grandmaster of the Togakure Ryu school of Ninjutsu collection there
are examples of short kunai, long kunai, narrow bladed types, saw-toothed types, and
wide bladed types. In some cases, the kunai and the shikoro are hard if not impossible
to distinguish. A shikoro is a wide bladed saw with a dagger-type handle.
Historical Weapons - Yari
Yari is the Japanese term for spear, or more specifically, the straight-headed spear. The martial art of
wielding the yari is called sojutsu or (somewhat incorrectly) yarijutsu. Yari measured anywhere from one
meter to upwards of six meters (3.3 to 20 feet). The longer versions were called omi no yari while shorter
ones were known as mochi- or tae yari. The longest versions were carried by foot troops (ashigaru), while
the samurai usually carried the shorter versions.
Yari were characterized by a straight blade that could be anywhere from several centimeters long, to 0.9
meters (3 feet) or more. The blades were made of the same high-quality steel that the swords and arrowheads of samurai weapons were forged with, and yari blades were very durable. Over history many variations
of the straight yari blade were produced, often with protrusion on a central blade. Yari blades (points) had
extremely long tangs which were usually longer than the sharpened portion of the blade. The tang protruded
into a hollow portion of the handle. This resulted in a very stiff shaft and made it nearly impossible for the
blade to fall or break off.
The shaft came in many different lengths, widths and shapes; made of hardwood (nakae) and covered in
lacquered bamboo strips, these came in oval, round, or polygonal cross section. These in turn were often
wrapped in metal rings or wire, and affixed with a metal pommel (ishizuki) on the butt end.
A sheath for the blade called saya was also part of a complete yari.
Yari are believed to have been derived from Chinese spears, and while they were present in early Japan's
history they did not become popular until the 13th century. The original warfare of the Bushi was not a thing
for 'commoners'; it was a ritualized combat usually between two warriors who would challenge each other
via horseback archery and sword duels. However the invasions of Mongols in 1274 and 1281 changed
Japanese warfare and weaponry. The Mongol-employed Chinese and Korean footmen wielded long lances,
fought in tight formation, and moved in large units to stave off cavalry. Some argued that the yari was more
deadly than the katana, because while the katana was more than capable of splitting a man in half through
his armor, slashing attacks did not often penetrate deeply enough to be fatal. The yari's blade, on the other
hand, needed to penetrate only a few inches into the flesh in order to be deadly, and it also had a reach
advantage over the katana. It could be thrust very quickly, and was difficult to parry. To properly counter a
yari with a sword, one should use a kodachi.
Yari overtook the popularity of the daikyu for the samurai, and foot troops (ashigaru) used them extensively
as well. While it has not received the same recognition as has the katana, the spear was an invaluable
weapon of war. By the edo period the yari had been mostly phased out, with mostly close quarter combat
being seen the samurai tended to carry only the dashio because katana and Wakizashi were far more useful
for close quarters.
Over the next 200 years the Japanese armies would mirror their European and Asian counterparts by
training spearmen to support their mounted samurai, and ward off approaching horses. During the peace
time of the Edo, yari were still produced, sometimes in large numbers, by great swordsmiths. They maintained
a primarily ceremonial weapon for years, until the post Meji-reformation re-interest in the martial arts.
Historical Weapons - Kyoketsu Shoge
The Kyoketsu Shoge, which means "to run about in the
fields and mountains", is a double edged blade, with
another blade attached at 90 degrees to it. This is
attached to roughly 18 feet of rope, chain, or hair which
then ends in a large metal ring. It is thought to have
developed before the more widely known kusarigama
(sickle and chain).
Almost exclusively used by the ninja, the kyoketsu shoge
had a multitude of useful applications. The blade could
be used for pulling slashes as well as thrusting stabs.
The chain or cord, sometimes made from women's or
horse hair for strength and resiliency, could be used for
climbing, ensnaring an enemy, binding an enemy and
many such other uses. The long range of the weapon
combined a cutting tool with the capability to strike or
entangle an enemy at what he perceived to be a 'safe'
distance out of the way.
Historical Weapons - Tanto
A tanto is a common Japanese knife or dagger with a usually single or sometimes double
sided blade length of about 1530 cm (6"12"). There is a disputed saying about the tanto,
wakizashi, and katana stating that they are "the same sword in different lengths." The
tanto differs from the others as it was designed primarily as a stabbing instrument, but the
edge can be used to slash as well. Tanto first began to appear in the Heian period, however
these blades lacked artistic qualities and were purely weapons. In the Early Kamakura
period high quality tanto with artistic qualities began to appear, and the famous Yoshimitsu
(the greatest tanto maker in Japanese history) begins his forging. Tanto production increased
greatly around the Muromachi period and then dropped off in the Shinto period ("New
sword" period). Shinto period tanto are quite rare. Tanto gained popularity again in the
Shin-Shinto Period (New-new sword" period) and production increased, however many
Shin-Shinto tanto are of poor quality.
Tanto are forged generally in hira-zukuri, meaning that they have no ridge-line, unlike the
shinogi-zukuri shape of a katana. Some tanto are very thick with a triangular type construction
and no ridgeline are called yoroidoshi and are designed for armor-piercing.
Tanto were mostly carried by samurai; commoners did not generally carry them. Women
sometimes carried a small tanto called a kaiken in their obi for self defence.
It was sometimes worn as the shoto in place of a wakizashi in a daisho. Before the 16th
century it was common for a samurai to carry a tachi and a tanto as opposed to a katana
and a wakizashi.
It was a favorite weapon of the ninja because of its light weight, and was favored for
assassination. It was also a popular weapon among the yakuza.
Historical Weapons - Kusarigama
Kusarigama is a traditional Japanese weapon that consists of kama (Japanese for sickle)
on a metal chain with a heavy iron weight at the end. Attacking with the weapon usually
entailed swinging the weighted chain in a large circle over one's head, and then whipping
it forward to entangle an opponent's spear, sword, or other weapon, or immobilizing his
arms or legs. This allows the kusari-gama user to easily rush forward and strike with the
A kusari-gama wielder might also strike with the spinning weighted end of the chain directly,
causing serious or deadly injury to his opponent while still outside the range of the
opponent's sword or spear.
Though the kusari-gama is derived from a farmer's sickle, and though the sickle was often
carried as a weapon by farmers during the feudal era of Japan, it is important to note that
these farmers did not carry kusari-gama. Its purpose as a weapon was very obvious, so
unlike a sickle, it could not be carried openly. The art of handling the Kusarigama is called
According to some accounts, the kusari-gama was traditionally used by ninja as it is a
weapon that is well-suited against swords and spears. Whether or not ninja embraced the
weapon, records show that the kusari-gama was extremely popular in feudal Japan, with
many schools teaching it, from about the 12th to 17th Century. Usage of the kusari fundo
is taught in Bujinkan ninjutsu.
A notable example of the use and mis-use of the weapon is the story of the great 17th
Century kusari-gama teacher Yamada Shinryukan. Shinryukan was known to have killed
many swordsmen with his weapon, until he was lured into a bamboo grove by Araki
Mataemon. There, he was unable to swing the chain and trap Mataemon's sword, and
was thus killed.
Perhaps one of the most famous historical users of the kusarigama is Shishido Baiken.
A swordsman of great skill, he developed great skill with the kusarigama, but was killed
by the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi.
Fictional accounts of kusari-gama sometimes show fighters swinging the sickle with the
chain, rather than the weighted end. Though entertaining, this is not a proper use of the
weapon, as the sickle is likely to bounce off a target without causing much injury.
Historical Weapons - Kama
The Kama (pronounced Kar-mah) are Okinawan and Chinese weapons that resemble
traditional farming devices similar to a small scythe or a sickle. The development of this
tool as a weapon began after Japan annexed Okinawa and outlawed all traditional weapons.
The sickle, implemented as a redesigned weapon form, was called a natagama. The kama
resemble another weapon familiar to the Japanese koryu, the Kusari-Gama, which had
a weighted chain used to parry and club an enemy from a distance before the final Kama
strike was administered. The kama itself is a stabbing and slashing weapon that is most
effective for any type of hand-to-hand combat.
The world's most renowned master of this kobudo style is Tadashi Yamashita, seen using
these weapons in the film "The Octagon".
Historical Weapons - Jitte
The jitte or jutte (Japanese: literally "ten-hand", i.e. the weapon with the power of ten
hands), is a specialized weapon which was used by law enforcement officers (called
okappiki or doshin) during Edo period Japan. Nowadays, the jitte is the subject of the
japanese martial art of Juttejutsu.
The modern jitte is about 45cm (18 inches) long with no cutting edge and a one-pronged
hilt, designed to catch and snap off an opponent's sword blade. Although two weapons
could conceivably be used for the same purpose, a single fused implement provides a
safer means of catching a moving sword or knife. After the blade has been caught, the
jitte is pushed up to the hilt of the sword, allowing the officer to control the attacker's arms
and thereby disarm him.
The original form of the jitte is traditionally believed to have been created by the legendary
swordmaker Masamune; it resembled its name of "ten hands", having that many prongs,
and resembling a rake. It was carried in one hand, and used on the battlefield either to
trap an enemy's sword and then slay them, or trap it and bind the enemy with a lasso or
grapple with them, capturing them. The design is said to have been derived from the
Okinawan sai, although some assert that the jitte existed first, and influenced the design
of the sai.
Historical Weapons - Shuriken
Hira ShurikenShuriken; "hand reverse/hidden blade") is a traditional Japanese concealed weapon that was
used for throwing, and sometimes stabbing. They are small, sharpened, hand-held blades made from a
variety of everyday items, such as needles, nails, and knives, as well as coins, washers and other flat plates
of metal. Shuriken were mainly a supplemental weapon to the more commonly used katana (sword) or yari
(spear) in a warrior's arsenal, though they often played a pivotal tactical role in battle. The art of wielding
the shuriken is known as shuriken-jutsu, and was mainly taught as a minor, or more correctly, a secret part
of the martial arts curriculum of many famous schools, such as Yagyu Ryu, Katori Shinto Ryu, Itto Ryu,
Kukishin Ryu and Togakure Ryu.
Shuriken are commonly known in the west as "throwing stars", however this term hardly does justice to the
weapon, as the pointed "star" shaped form is but one of many different designs the blades took over the
centuries they were used.
The major varieties of Shuriken are the bo shuriken and the hira shuriken, or shaken, also read as kurumaken)
Hira shuriken are constructed from thin, flat plates of metal from a variety of sources, such as coins (hishigane), carpentry tools (kugi-nuki), washers (senban) and as such do not generally look like what is usually
conceived of as the ninja star. Often they have a hole in the center, are only sharpened on the very tips and
are very nearly square in shape with slighty curved sides and a fairly thin blade. The reason for the hole is
that the original source items had holes - old coins, washers and nail-removing tools, each possessed holes
as part of their design. This was found to be convenient for the user of the shuriken, as they could be carried
strung together on string, and the hole also had an aerodynamic effect which aided the actual flight of the
blade as it was thrown. Also part of the design is the fact that the tips alone were sharpened, for the simple
fact that having sharpened edges would lead to cut fingers. In addition, the thinness of the blade added to
the penetrating power. There are a variety of forms known that follow the fashion of the shaken. Variations
include one- or two-pointed tips, smoother aerodynamic shapes to aid flight, or small blades.
It should be noted that unlike bo-shuriken, senban shuriken were used as harassment tools rather than as
a true throwing knife in many instances. Generally they would gash an opponent and bounce off, making
it difficult to ascertain the direction from which it was thrown.
During medieval times, samurai used small throwing missiles as ranged weapons. Besides shuriken, these
throwing spikes were used.
Historical Weapons - Shuriken continued
Bo ShurikenThis is a throwing weapon consisting of a straight, iron or steel spike, 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 of the hand, the shaft being supported and controlled by the first two
fingers. The shuriken is thrown by snapping the wrist forward and brushing the back of the blade. This slows
down its rotation in the air, thus controlling the distance at which it will stick.
The straight bo-shuriken were thrown so that they spun slowly in flight. Thus, the thrower did not have to
worry about how many rotations the shuriken would make on its way to a target. This allowed the thrower
to stick the shuriken in a target that was moving toward or away from the thrower. A skilled shuriken thrower
would have been able to hide the shuriken and throw it while just outside of sword-striking distance to distract
their opponent. A bo shuriken is not a dart. A dart has feathers or a tassel which correct the path of the
shuriken in flight in the same manner as an arrow. The flight path and rotation speed of a bo shuriken are
controlled entirely by the release of the shuriken by the thrower.
In a combat situation, one could throw a single or handful of shuriken toward an opponent as a diversion.
The targeted areas are vulnerable body parts like the face, the throat or the hands. The maximum effective
range is about 6 yards. With an opponent thus distracted or injured, one could escape or take the advantage
with a follow-up attack.
Tracing back through history to determine the origins of this unique throwing weapon is difficult, if not
impossible. In theory, it can be seen how the four-pointed Senban shuriken, characteristic of the Togakure
Ryu of ninjutsu, was perhaps developed from the four-cornered, iron reinforcing plates (washers) that backed
up the heads of the nails used in the joining of timbers in castle and fortress construction. Such washers
are also seen in the construction of the large taiko drums still played today.
Today few ryu still train to throw shaken. In such ryu, a single, carefully aimed shaken is thrown against a
target. Also, rare kata are taught where shaken are used for an initial action followed by a sword technique.
Contrary to popular belief, (video games, Hollywood, etc.) shuriken are not designed as a primary weapon,
but rather as a distraction or tactical weapon. The first bo shuriken were large nails used in the wooden
construction of temples and houses. However, the more commonly seen four sided shuriken was a tool
used by carpenters to dig out those nails. Usually ninja could not afford to buy an expensive weapon from
a weaponsmith. As a result, they improvised by using everyday objects for weapons.
Shuriken could be used on the battlefield as a distraction; a hidden ambush group might throw a volley as
a diversion or delaying tactic. Shuriken were at times tipped with poison.
Historical Weapons - Hanbo
The hanbo is a quarterstaff used in martial arts.
Traditionally, the hanbo was three shaku, or 90 cm
long, exactly half the length of the rokushakubo. As
with any weapon, bearers would often find one best
suited to their build, opting often for one that comes
up to about waist/hip height.
Hanbojutsu, the method of using a hanbo, is a focus
in several martial arts including the Kukishin Ryu
koryu classical school of martial arts. Part of the
importance in using this length is that it approximate
that of a walking cane. It should be noted that
although techniques with a cane in this ryu-ha utilize
pulling or hooking and possess one rounded
end, that they invariably function the same as a
hanbo in all other respects.
The hanbo can be used as a means of striking,
restraining or even throwing someone. It is useful
to know because sticks are abundant and can be
picked up if attacked. Masaaki Hatsumi says that
one who wishes to be a swordsman should first
master hanbo techniques, since it can be held and
utilized in a similar fashion to a Japanese sword
(but without the cutting edge). When utilized properly
(parrying by deflecting the sword by striking the flat
parts of the blade), it was more than capable of
defeating a katana.
Historical Weapons - Rokushakubo
A bo is a long stick, usually made of wood or bamboo,
but sometimes it is made of metal or plated with
metal for extra strength; also, a full-size bo is
sometimes called rokushakubo. This name derives
from the Japanese words roku (meaning "six"), shaku
(a Japanese measurement equivalent to 30.3
centimeters, or just under 1 foot) and bo (kanji,
Chinese character meaning "staff"). Thus, rokushakubo refers to a staff about 6 shaku
(181.8 cm, about 6 ft.) long, other types of bo range from heavy to light, from rigid to
highly flexible, and from simply a piece of wood picked up off the side of the road to
ornately decorated works of art.
The martial art of wielding the bo is bojutsu. The basic purpose of the bo is increasing
the force delivered in a strike, through leverage. The user's relatively slight motion, effected
at the point of handling the bo, results in a faster, more forceful motion by the tip of the
bo against the object or subject of the blow; thus enableing long-range crushing and
sweeping strikes. The bo may also be thrust at an opponent, allowing one to punch from
a distance. It also is used for joint-locks, thrustings of the bo that immobilize a target
joint, which are used to non-fatally subdue an opponent. The bo is a weapon mainly
used for self-defense, and can be used to execute several blocks and parries. Martial
arts techniques, such as kicks and blocks, also are often combined with weapon techniques
when practicing this martial art to enhance its effectiveness.
Although the bo is now used as a weapon, its use is believed to have evolved, like most
martial arts devices used as weapons, from non-combative uses. The bo staff was
traditionally used to balance buckets or baskets. Typically, one would carry baskets of
harvested crops or buckets of water or milk or fish, one at each end of the bo, that is
balanced across the middle of the back at the shoulder blades. In poorer agrarian
economies, the bo remains a traditional farm work implement; yet, when these nations
were required to lay down their arms by conquering armies, they looked to their household
implements to extend their self-defense. In styles such as Yamani Ryu or Kenshin Ryu,
many of the strikes are the same as those used for Yari (spear) or Naginata (Japanese
polearm). There are stick fighting techniques native to just about every country on every
continent. The word "bo" is merely the Japanese word for wooden staff weapons.
Historical Weapons - Kusari fundo
Kusari-fundo is a weighted short chain that is closely-related to the
kusari-gama in application. It is a close range weapon, ranging between
eighteen and thirty inches in length (approximately the lent, and
generally constructed of a non-reflective etched steel chain. This
flexible weapon can be used to strike, snare, or entangle the enemy
or his 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 hallowed ground.
As with the kusari-gama and kyoketsu-shoge, striking attacks with the
kusari-fundo utilize the very end of the weight in motion in order to
generate the most leverage and impact. Striking trajectories include:
Tenchi furi: Rising or falling vertical strikes
Yoko furi: Inward or outward horizontal strikes
Happo furi: Inward or outward diagonal strikes
Naka furi: Forward shooting strikes
Historical Weapons - Shuko
Handclaws, also called Shuko or Tekagi ("hand hooks"), are claw- or hook-shaped
objects used by ninja as weapons.
They were originally sharp spikes fixed to wooden clogs used for walking on snow or
ice. Later they came to be worn on the hands as an aide for scaling walls, trees, and
other upright objects. Eventually they entered the realm of combat, with the spikes
used to scratch an opponent. The spikes were attached to a broad band to help hold
them in place, and these were sometimes used to block blows and even ensnare
When handclaws were invoked by a skilled user, victims often appeared to have been
mauled by a bear or other wild animal. It is commonly believed that the spikes were
also used to scratch messages into stone or wooden surfaces to warn accomplices
of what lay ahead; for example, one line could mean "safe passage"; two, "turn back";
and three, "enemy ahead." Sometimes used for torture, the handclaws are victors of