wakizashi

The wakizashi is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords worn by the samurai class in feudal Japan. The wakizashi has a blade between 30 and 60 cm (12 and 24 in), with wakizashi close to the length of a katana being called o-wakizashi and wakizashi closer to tantō length being called ko-wakizashi. The wakizashi being worn together with the katana was the official sign that the wearer was a samurai or swordsman of feudal Japan. When worn together the pair of swords were called daishō, which translates literally as “big-little”. The katana was the big or long sword and the wakizashi the companion sword. Wakizashi are not necessarily just a smaller version of the katana; they could be forged differently and have a different cross section.

The smaller wakizashi

Wakizashi have been in use as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The wakizashi was used as a backup or auxiliary sword; it was also used for close quarters fighting, to behead a defeated opponent and sometimes to commit ritual suicide. The wakizashi was one of several short swords available for use by samurai including the yoroi tōshi, the chisa-katana and the tantō. The term wakizashidid not originally specify swords of any official blade length and was an abbreviation of “wakizashi no katana” (“sword thrust at one’s side”); the term was applied to companion swords of all sizes. It was not until the Edo period in 1638 when the rulers of Japan tried to regulate the types of swords and the social groups which were allowed to wear them that the lengths of katana and wakizashi were officially set.

Kanzan Satō, in his book titled The Japanese Sword, notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tanto due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside. While the wearing of katana was limited to the samurai class, wakizashi of legal length (ko-wakizashi) could be carried by thechonin class which included merchants. This was common when traveling due to the risk of encountering bandits. Wakizashi were worn on the left side, secured to the waist sash (Uwa-obi or himo)

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Nunchaku  

The Nunchaku (ヌンチャク), otherwise called “nunchuk”, “nunchuck”, or “chainstick”, is a customary Japanese weapon initially created in Okinawa. The Nunchaku comprises of two sticks connected together by a short chain or rope. In more current times, the nunchaku was promoted by the martial arts symbol Bruce Lee. It is generally utilized as a part of karate and the Okinawan kobudō martial arts. Nunchaku is viewed as an incredible training weapon that creates faster developments and enhances carriage.

dragon design

The term nunchaku is from the Japanese Ryukyuan dialects. The word itself was gotten from a short Southeast Asian agrarian device utilized for sifting rice or soybeans. At the point when Japanese warlords attacked Okinawa, they banned the use other routine weapons. Therefore, Okinawans learned kobudo and karate. Kobudo weaponry were cultivating devices that agriculturists changed over into things they could use to guard themselves. An alternate conviction is that the nunchaku was from the wooden clapper called hyoshiki. It was made of two pieces of wood joined by a line and utilized by town gatekeepers. It was utilized to make clamors to caution villagers of looming flames and different dangers. It is likewise said that nunchuks were created from bits utilized for Okinawan steeds.

Assortments of nunchaku.

There are numerous assortments of nunchakus however they are basically made of two segments of wood joined by either a chain (kusari) or a line (himo). Okinawan nunchakus have an octagonal cross-area that builds the energy of contact toward one side of the weapon, while the Chinese adaptation is more adjusted. Conceivably, the bits of wood ought to be sufficiently long to secure the lower arm when the nunchucks are held high at the highest point of the pole. There are lopsided nunchuks, yet ordinarily both sticks ought to be of the same length. The chain or rope holding the two sticks together ought to be sufficiently long to permit the client to lay the weapon over the palm of the hand with both sticks perpendicular to the ground and hanging agreeably. The bits of wood ought to be splendidly adjusted to have the capacity to execute the techniques utilized with the nunchaku.

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Japanese Comfort Women And Onna-Bugeisha     

The term Shikanai used for the procurement of women was choben, an old military word that referred to gathering food for the horses.

There are hundreds of documents showing the Japanese military’s involvement in the comfort stations, as well as recent testimony. There are records from Japan’s postwar Ministry of Justice in which soldiers admitted to having been paid money to keep the crimes quiet as the war ended.

There is one uncomfortable truth about the Dutch, Indonesian and Korean comfort women. Prostitution was legal in Japan before the war and after. Yes, some of the women were well paid and treated reasonably well. Many comfort women were also Japanese women. Few of them have come forward.

Japanese women

However, Japanese women have also been on the shoes of warriors.

Onna-bugeisha (女武芸者) were Japanese ladies warriors who originated from the Japanese high society. They were dowagers, wives, little girls, and some were even revolts. They offered an explanation to the honorable obligation and bravely battled in fight close by the samurai men. They were skillfully prepared in martial arts and wielded weapons, for example, the naginata (a wooden shaft with a bended sharpened steel on the end) and the kaiken (a 8-10 inch long, single or twofold bladed blade). Amid the early Heian and Kamakura periods, conspicuous ladies in the war zones inevitably went ahead to lead their own tribes. These bold ladies utilized their skills to achieve financial and social change, and even today, their stories keep on inspiring us with their honor, bravery, and valor.

A percentage of the onna-bugeisha all through history:

Onna-Bugeisha

Sovereign Consort Jingū (神功皇后 Jingū-kōgō)–also known as Empress Regent Jingū (神功天皇 Jingū-tennō). This Japanese ruler ruled from her spouse’s passing in the year 201 until her child Emperor Ōjin rose to the throne in 269. Before the Meiji period, she was viewed as the fifteenth sovereign until the re-assessment of the surviving recorded records brought about her name to be expelled from that rundown, making her child Emperor Ōjin the fifteenth Japanese majestic ruler. As indicated by the Nihon Shoki, Empress Consort Jingū drove an armed force in an attack of Korea and came back to Japan triumphant following three years. Her misasagi (tomb) can be gone by at Misasagi-chō in Nara.

Nakano Takeko (中野 竹子, 1847 – 1868)–a conspicuous female warrior of the Aizu area who battled and provided for her life amid the Boshin War (a common war in Japan from 1868 to 1869 between the decision powers of the Tokugawa Shogunate and those trying to return political force to the majestic court). Nanako Takeko was conceived in Edo to Nakano Heinai, an Aizu official. She was decently prepared in writing and martial arts. Later on, her martial arts teacher, Akaoka Daisuke, embraced her. She then joined the Battle of Aizu 1868 and battled with a naginata. She drove an impromptu corps of female warriors who battled freely on the grounds that senior Aizu retainers did not permit them to battle as an official part of the domain’s army.

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Kobudo

Okinawa, Japan is an island that is renowned for its biodiversity and the martial arts abilities of its inhabitants. The area has given birth to Kobudo, also known as Ryūkyū Kobujutsu, Koryū, or just as Kobudo. It is a Japanese term that can be translated as “old martial way of Okinawa”. Kobudo generally refers to the classical weapon traditions of Okinawan martial arts, most notably the rokushakubo or the six foot staff, known as the ““, sai or short unsharpened dagger, tonfa or handled club, kama or sickle, and nunchaku or nunchucks. Also included are the tekko or knuckledusters, tinbe-rochin or shield and spear, and surujin or weighted chain. Less common Okinawan weapons include the tambo or short staff and the eku or boat oar of traditional Okinawan design.

 

common weapons of Kobudo

common weapons of Kobudo

It is a popular story and common belief that Okinawan farming tools evolved into weapons due to restrictions placed upon the peasants that meant they could not carry arms. As a result, it is said, they were defenseless and developed a fighting system around their traditional farming implements. However, modern martial arts scholars have been unable to find historical backing for this story, and the evidence uncovered by various martial historians points to the Pechin Warrior caste in Okinawa as being those who practiced and studied martial arts, rather than the Heimin, or commoner. It is true that Okinawans, under the rule of foreign powers, were prohibited from carrying weapons or practicing with them in public. But the weapons-based fighting that they secretly practiced and the types of weapons they practiced with had strong Chinese roots, and examples of similar weapons have been found in China, pre-dating the Okinawa adaptations.

Kobudo traditions were shaped by indigenous Okinawan techniques that arose within the Aji, or noble class, and by imported methods from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the other countries that traded with the Ryūkyu. The majority of modern kobudo traditions that survived the difficult times during and following World War II were preserved and handed down by Taira Shinken, Chogi Kishaba and Kenwa Mabuni . Practical systems were developed by Toshihiro Oshiro and Motokatsu Inoue in conjunction with these masters. Other famous masters who have kobudō kata named after them include Chōtoku Kyan, Shigeru Nakamura, Kanga Sakukawa, and Shinko Matayoshi.

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Using the Katana Properly

It goes without saying that Katanas are cool long, shiny steel weapons of death and knowing how to properly use on is the only way you can do them justice(if you own one). The first step that one has to take is to select an art form. Because each person has different characteristics and preferences when it comes to combat, one must choose an art form that would be maximize one’s potential. One can choose among some of the common martial arts for katana wielding. There is Kenjutsu that is about the Training with the katana and other weapons for combat. Another is Iaijutsu/battojutsu that focuses on killing blows that start from the drawing of the sword. Kendo, Art of Japanese fencing, is an art fought using bamboo swords and armor.

Everyone wants to look cool with a katana

Everyone wants to look cool with a katana

 

Once you have chosen your preferred martial art, it’s time to obtain the proper equipment. The kind of equipment or weapon you would need may vary depending on the art. Common weapons are:

  • Shinai: Bamboo swords commonly used for kendo but can also be used in kenjutsu or kendo
  • Bokken: Wooden practice swords that are safer alternatives to a live sword. It’s the most used weapon in kenjutsu
  • Tanto: A short Japanese dagger
  • Wakizashi: a short sword around 1.5-2 feet in length.
  • Katana: A sword about 3.5 feet in length with a slightly curved blade.
  • Ninjato: A cousin of the katana that has a straight blade.
  • Nodachi/Odachi: A really long katana that would scare the shit out of anyone

 

The next step would be to seek your sensei or teacher. No one can learn properly without guidance. One should look for a dojo or school to learn and master your desired art. After you have your weapon and a teacher it is time to stock up on knowledge through books.  However, you should always remember that the books should only be used in combination with a competent teacher. It is highly discouraged to self-learn techniques from books due to the risk of corrupting your foundation in the martial art. The last part is as simple as training. Practice the assigned kata, or routines, until you can execute it fluently and effectively.

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Kyudo Equipment

Kyudo, the way of the bow, uses the yumi. This Japanese bow is very tall and can stand over two meters thus being taller than the height of the wielder. Yumi, according to tradition are composed of bamboo, wood and leather. They have been crafted using techniques that have remained the same for centuries but there are some who opt to use synthetic materials for the yumi. Archers who are just beginning are the usual owners of these kinds of bows but some advanced kyudoka may own non-bamboo yumi and ya due to the sensitivity of bamboo to extreme climates.

The arrow shafts are called Ya and were traditionally made of bamboo. The feathers used are either from eagles or hawks. Nowadays, the majority of the ya shafts are still made of bamboo but the ya feathers are now made of feathers that come from non-endangered birds like turkeys or swans. The usual length of an arrow is the archer’s yatsuka with additional 6-10 centimetres. Ya are usually stored in a cylindrical quiver that is called a Yazutsu. On the other hand, the ceremonial and traditional archers of kyudo use the Yebira.

Measurements for the yazuka

Measurements for the yazuka

Another equipment of a kyudo archer is the glove that is worn on the right hand. This is called the yugake and it has several varieties. The typical glove is crafted from deerskin and the archer has two options to its design. There is the hard glove, the variant with a hardened thumb, and the soft glove, the one without a hardened thumb. The hardened thumb of the hard glove lacks flexibility and it also incorporates a pre-made groove that is used to pull the string or tsuru. On the other hand, the soft glove has a very flexible the thumb area that does not have a pre-made groove. This enables the archer to create their own grove that is based on their own shooting habits. Aside from being soft or hard, the typical yugake comes in the three- or four-finger variety. The three fingered version is called a mitsugake, and the four-fingered version is called a yotsugake. The increased padding for the fingers create more surface area that will allow the wielder to execute heavier draws.

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