Kusarigamajutsu

Kusarigamajutsu is the art of using the Japanese weapon Kusarigama. Kusarigamajutsu is featured in several separate martial arts such as Bujinkan (ninjutsu) and Shinto Muso-ryu.

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.

The precise origin of the kusarigama and its use are probably lost to us. However, it is likely to have evolved from the standard kama, or sickle. This was an agrarian implement for cutting plants, such as rice, in the field, but also used in stables to quickly harvest grass for the horses or even used to cut horses free in the event of a fire.

The kama dates back to at least the seventh century. Serge Mol dates it to Nakatomi no Kamatari (614-669), later called Fujiwara no Kamatari, who defeated Soga Emishi and his son Iruka in 645. He observes that Sho Sho Ryu claims their kama techniques come form Nakatomi no Kamatari’s Koden Ryu.

The addition of the chain may have come from the combination of the kama with the konpi (a weighted chain). Isshin Ryu is considered, by some, to have been the pioneer school of kusarigamajutsu.. In the Edo period, this became a popular weapon of women.

Different schools of kusarigamajutsu use different kusarigama. Some have the chain attached at the base of the handle, others have it attached at the blade. Some blades are straight, others are curved. Some are only sharpened on one side of the blade, others are sharpened on both. These factors also influence the use and the techniques.

The Kusarigama also known as the Japanese Sickle Weapon is made with a sickle attached to a metal chain. At the end of the sickle and metal chain is a heavy iron weight.

In Japanese the word “Kama” stands for sickle that is on a metal chain and “manriki” means with a heavy weight at the very end. If one were to use the Kusarigama, one would swing the weighted chain above the head in a circle and then lash it forward to grab the target’s (other person) weapon or to wrap the person’s legs and/or arms up. Once the person is trapped, the deadly sickle is used on the target.

Another way the Kusarigama is used is to spin the weighted ball and chain and hit him or her with it; thus causing severe injury or even death. The chain on the Kusarigama is very helpful during fights such as if the weapon is dropped, the chain may be easy to grab and retrieve the weapon. In the twelfth to seventeenth century many schools in Japan taught how to use the Kusarigama.

Many people believe that the Kusarigama was used by ninjas. Today many televisions shows and video games use the Japanese sickle weapon.

In the past Kusarigama has shown to be a good match against spears and swords. A famous teacher, Yamada Shinryukan, from the seventeenth century killed many men with his Japanese sickle weapon. The swords held by the other men were no match for his ability to use the Kusarigama. Finally, Mr. Yamada Shinryukan was brought to his death when he was drawn to a bamboo grove.

The bamboo groves made it impossible for Yamada Shinryukan to swing the chain on the Japanese sickle weapon. Araki Mataemon who brought Yamada Shinryukan to this terrain was unable to be brought to his death as he was able to hold and keep his sword. Finally Mr. Shinryukan was brought to his death.