Jo

The Jo or the short stick

The history of the short stick or jo is allied to one of the most moving stories concerning the martial arts.

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Bo

The bo or staff

The primitive use of long staves or short sticks (bo and jo) is appreciably diminshing as time goes by. Yet, in Japan the staff has shown considerable growth in popularity. Therefore there are a great variety of teaching methods involving an equally wide range of staves.

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Bokken

The bokken or wooden sword

The effectiveness of the wooden sword or bokken is demonstrated by Musashi’s famous fight against his father's murderer Sasaki. Musashi knew that Sasaki used a very long straight sword, so he cut himelf a wooden sword from a pole, slightly longer than Sasaki’s.

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Yari or Spear

The Yari has a shorter shaft then the naginata and a blade about 20cm long with two cutting edges, allowing a two way attack (cutting tendons, knees etc).

Also called a Yari is a spear about 3.6m long and seldom used because of its awkward handling.  Another spear was made of a long pole with a cruciform at the end made of two cutting blades fixed perpendicular to the handle. The point of the weapon used in training is made of wood protected by a leather ball and two round wooden bars take the place of the blades.

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Naginata

The naginata is a weapon made from 1.8m to 2.8m of hard wood, at the end of which is a blade about 30cm long and as sharp as a sword. In some cases, the blade could be from 60cm to over 90cm long.
The naginata is derived from the ‘kwanto’ or Chinese bronze halberds imported very early on. In the Nara period, it was difficult to combat armed warriors - an increasingly important fighting force - with classical weapons such as arrows or swords. The length of the naginata, however enabled foot soldiers to hamstring the horses and keep the knights at bay.

In the famous battle of the Taira versus the Minamoto at Dan-No-Ura in 1185 the naginata played an important role. From that time on, its  use on battle fields became widespread and many samurai lost their legs.

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