Kult of Athena


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Samurai Weapons You’ve Never Heard Of

The Katana, the Wakizashi, the Tanto – these were the agreed-upon mainstays of the Samurai arsenal. During their time, every Japanese warrior worthy of the noble rank would wear all three at all times; removing them only indoors, and then only the long sword, or Katana.

Now, augmenting the Samurai’s armaments were an assortment of deadly implements that we all have maybe heard of, but not necessarily seen except for modern cinema and a handful of armorers in the modern day:  

The Yumi Bow for battles from horseback:

The Naginata, a spear-like weapon with a long curved blade at the end of a long handle:

The Yari – a pike like weapon similar to the boar spear, but (most times) without the crossguard

But for all of Japan’s homogenous tendencies – their people, at least in the 16th century, adopting similar dress and mannerisms in service to their Shoguns and Emperors – they did have very unique flashes of incredible individuality when it came to the brutal breaking of bones, and the cleaving of one’s enemies.

Come along while we explore some of the more unique options for taking the light from a man's eyes, hmm?

The Tinbe Rochin:

The Spartan, the Viking, the Templar Knight…the Okinawan Warrior? Each one of the aforementioned death machines in human form relied on a sword/spear/shield combination in battle to skewer and slice their enemies and claim victory. Some even developed some of the greatest formations in history because of it – the shield wall, the Spartan phalanx, and others.

But the Tinbe Rochin is unique because it is a Japanese weapon system that seems to be influenced by Western martial arts. But how can that be, you ask? Japan wasn’t discovered until the 1700’s by the Portuguese, and by that time, Japan had already been a military superpower in its own right for something like 500 years!

The origin story is a bit hazy, but however the weapon came to be in Okinawan Kubudo (something to do with the abundance of turtle shells for food?), you can be sure that it is something to watch.

This short sword/spear and shield combination relies on the blade (or stick with sharp point) being hidden in the shield (the tinbe). When the warrior holding the tinbe is attacked, they can use the shield to deflect, while the stick/blade (the Rochin) shoots out at an upward angle to do the offensive damage.

I’ll let the video do the talking and walking: 

The Oni Axe:

Though many cultures in Asia transformed their farming implements into devices of death, the Oni Axe stands out among them as particularly eccentric. Massive, broad-bladed, and more akin to a European halberd, the Oni War Axe was over 6 feet long and the favorite of Japanese warrior monks, as well as Samurai.

The Kanabo:

A favorite weapon of Oni demons, the Kanabo was an ideal delivery system for blunt…force…trauma. More than 4.5 feet long and studded with flat metal disks, the Kanabo bypassed the intricate plate and lacquer armor of Samurai warriors and delivered crushing strikes against its target with a satisfying “thunk!” that could be heard across the battlefield.

Whew, nasty!

Whatever method Samurai (and other warriors from Japan) used when dealing death, they perfected their use of the weapon to become one of deadliest fighting forces in the history of combat itself. 

Are there any others what I missed on the list? Let me know through the comments below! 


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