The Naginatajutsu

The Naginata | What is Naginata | History of the Naginata | Naginata Background | Naginata Description | Origin of the Naginata | The Naginatajutsu | Construction and Usage | Toda Ha Buko Ryu Naginatajutsu

Naginatajutsu (長刀術 or 薙刀術) 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 budo called naginatadō or atarashii naginata (new naginata), in which competitions also are held.

Debated origins: 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 refining a Chinese halberd that bears a similar appearance. Others say that a creative samurai in need of a longer weapon attached a sword to a pole.

History: 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 koryu ryuha, such as the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu, include naginatajutsu in their curriculum.

Modern sport: Today, naginatajutsu is most often practiced in the form of a sport called either the “way of the naginata” (長刀道, naginatado), or “new naginata” (新しい長刀, atarashii naginata), which are governed by the All Japan Naginata Federation. It is most common for these sports to be practiced by women at the collegiate level.

The naginata has been referred to by many names such as halberd, pole arm, sword spear, and curved spear. It consists of a curved blade approximately one to two feet long mounted on a hard wood shaft usually between five and nine feet long.

The naginata began its history with the earliest beginnings of the samurai warrior. It was heavily relied upon as a battle field weapon because of its length and cutting and thrusting abilities. Opponents both on foot and on horseback were successfully nullified by the long range capability of the naginata.

Off the battlefield the naginata was a favorite weapon of warrior monks and ladies of the Bushi (samurai) class. It was used by samurai women as a means of self defense. It was a way to protect their children and themselves from marauders that occasionally attacked villages while the men were in the field or away in battle.