View Full Version : Naginatajutsu and Sojutsu, the reasons for their obscurity?

Ian Christie
12th January 2004, 00:58
It would seem that during the Sengoku Jidai, what I think many experts would agree to be the main source of classical Japanese koryu, the sword was second to the spear or naginita in actual battle field combat. The sword was primarily for use in duels and such. There are a good many threads about this, and it is not the main purpose of this post.

Today, kenjutsu is (among) the most prevalent, in tact, and promoted of the koryu. I see all the reasons for this, and agree with them, I am just as enamored with the sword as anyone else and certainly hope to find an opportunity to train in kenjutsu. But it was not the primary instrument of martial combat.

To (finally) get to the point of this post, I'm in a quandary as to why Naginatajutsu and Sojutsu seem to be propagated to a much lesser degree. The publications, in English at lest, are few and far between, though most very well done. Training resources seem to be even fewer. I'm just not quite sure why this is. Were not Sojutsu, and Naginatajutsu to a lesser degree, more important in the Sengoku Jidai than the sword? Is it because once the Tokugawa shogunate was in place, and peace ensued, the yari and naginita just became much less practical to wield than the sword? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Any mistakes that I have made, I ask that they are corrected. Any insult is not intentional and merely stems from my own ignorance. Thanks very much,


Ellis Amdur
12th January 2004, 06:49
The naginata was largely supplanted as a battlefield weapon by the mid-14th's, replaced by the spear. It was not abandoned, but far less common. The spear was a pure weapon of war - it had no symbolic value to speak of, and no peacetime utility. The sword was not only an auxiliary weapon, it was a sidearm, it was the weapon of peacetime, and denoted the rank of a bushi. Carrying a spear around would be like carrying a Garand or Ak-47 down mainstreet. Spears are stored in castles and homes for emergencies.

Guns largely supplanted spears and had Japan not isolated itself, spears, like in the West, would have been abandoned as antiques.

Japan had three hundred years of relative peace. During this time, bushi carried swords.

So as far as most Japanese were concerned, the naginata was an antique relegated to a few ryu that retained it, and as a symbolic weapon representative of Japanese bushi women's status. The spear was just a war weapon not used very much.

Ellis Amdur

Ian Christie
12th January 2004, 16:19
Mr. Amdur,

Thank you very much for the informative post, you helped clear up my questions quite clearly.