Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Japanese Spear - Sojutsu in Arizona

 

One of many weapons in the Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Renmei arsenal taught at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa Arizona is the yari (), or better known as the Japanese spear. This martial arts weapon, along with other samurai weapons are taught to members of the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert, Arizona, and to our Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai members in North America. 

The yari is a spear, once favored by some samurai and warrior monks in Japan’s past. There are many types of yari and each one had its own indigenous techniques as well as interchangeable techniques from yari to yari. Yari is the weapon of sojutsu, a Japanese martial art.

The origin of yari is described by some to be of Chinese origin. However, others suggest yari is as old as Japan itself. For example, when Japanese ancestors picked up sticks to hunt game and fish, they created their first spear. Since no one was recording this event, we are left to speculation as to when it may have occurred. But before we continue with this discussion, we need to define what a yari is? Is it just a spear used by the Japanese, or is it a Japanese spear (unique to Japanese culture)?

Some suggest a yari is simply a spear: others suggest a yari is a spear with a full tang that slid within a pole much like katana (samurai sword) blades. In the following, we separate spears into three categories: (1) early spears (hoko) use by Japanese ancestors, (2) yari-like spears (hoko yari) that originated in China, and (3) spear blades (yari) with a full tang and unique metallurgy and swordsmithing that was indigenous to Japan.
Yari training in Saratoga Wyoming. Soke Hausel and Sensei
Donette Gillespie

According to Japanese folklore, a god named Izanagi no mikoto stood at the Bridge of Heaven and thrust a hoko into the earth’s ocean. As he withdrew the hoko, tiny, shinning drops fell from the weapon back into the ocean to form islands we now know as Japan. This legend is very old and Draeger and Smith (1980) indicate the use of spears on the Japanese islands is older than legend, and spears likely existed on Japan as early as 200 BC. Others argue that spears appeared much later in Japanese history, but this is likely an argument of semantics, which is why I separated spears into the three categories above.

Kapp and others (2002) report hoko yari originated in China and was exported to Japan during the Nara Period (710-794 AD). These Chinese spears typically consisted of wavy-shaped blades mounted on a 6-foot pole. The side of hoko yari often had kama (sickle) used for slicing or chopping. The base of the primary blade was a hollow socket that simply slipped over a pole rather than into the pole – in other words, it did not have a tang.

Dennis Ingram practices sojutsu with Dai-Shihan Neal Adam, 6th dan, at the Arizona
School of Traditional Karate
I can almost guarantee the hoko-yari produced some interesting moments on the battlefield, when a foot soldier, or an angry Buddhist priest lost their spear blade as it flew off the pole similar to what we periodically see in dojo today with low-cost katana that do not have full tang, or cheaply made tonfa with tsuka (handle) poorly attached to the monouchi (baton shaft). I visualize a young Japanese soldier of the 8th century on a battlefield for the first time swinging his hoko yari with a focused downward cut using every drop of adrenalin, just to have the blade fly off before striking his intended target. Now armed only with a bo I imagine hearing a loud gulp with a loss of bodily functions as the opposing forces made their way toward him with blades drawn – makes you wonder how fast a soldier could run.

This happened to me (just the part of losing the blade, not the latter). I had just purchased a modern garden hoe (kuwa) from a garden shop in Laramie that had a blade attached like a hoko yari. The blade simply slid over the end of the handle. I took my new kuwa to the evening class in the Education Gym on the University of Wyoming campus. I’m sure some University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo club members still remember this event. Luckily, I was facing the dojo shomen so no one was in front of me when I swung the kuwa down with full focus for an atama uchi (head strike) at my imaginary opponent: the kuwa blade shot off the handle like a guided missile! The blade struck the tatami (mats) on the shomen wall with a loud report that echoed throughout the gym and down the halls of the Education Building. I checked my garden kuwa (made in China of course) to see if it had any warning labels stating that the tool should not be swung, used for self-defense, or used as a garden implement – of course there were no warnings.

I learned a valuable lesson: you cannot trust any martial arts practice weapon or garden tool purchased from any martial arts supply house (or local garden shop) – most are junk and not made for kumite (sparring), kata practice, bunkai training let alone any kind of use other than mounting them on the wall. One should consider wearing safety goggles because of this danger. As a result, Sensei Bill Borea purchased garden hoes from a local hardware store in Gilbert, Arizona for use in our hombu dojo in Mesa Arizona. He drilled holes through each shaft and added a screw to keep the blades from flying off. This helps keep our Arizona Martial Artists safe.

Martial arts practice weapons are a problem. A few years ago I taught a kioga clinic in Casper, Wyoming and most attendees had new kioga purchased from a well-known, popular martial arts outlet. Before the clinic was over, half had fallen apart. And at one of the many martial arts demonstrations we performed at a University of Wyoming basketball games, my uke and I were demonstrating a fighting kata between bo and tonfa. The very first strike of my tonfa broke my uke’s bo in half and she had to end the kata with a hanbo.

During the Heian Period (794-1184 AD) which followed the Nara Period, Japanese swordsmiths progressed to a point that their blade work exceeded all others in the world. Their smithing and metallurgy resulted in some of the strongest and enduring blades in history. These swordsmiths produced yari and naginata blades using the same methods they used to manufacture katana (sword) blades. The naginata and yari blades were mounted on poles of varying lengths designed to outreach their opponents’ sword. And some were very long.

Yari of the Heian Period were unique in quality, sharpness, metallurgy, smithing and method for mounting on the polearm. They were also unique because the blades were like a double-edged knife and used for slicing as well as for thrusting (see photo of a su-yari to the right). The edges of most yari were razor sharp. These had a full tang to keep young soldiers from losing blades and soiling pants. In addition to the blade, the pole arm was used for thrusting and had a weighted pommel known as a hirumaki. The side of the pole could also be used for striking or unbalancing an enemy.

Some blades came with sharpened horns or cross blades known as jumonji yari (also known as magari yari). These looked like a cross and were similar in shape to the Japanese number 10. Ten translates as ‘ju’, thus the origin of the root of jumonji. Some jumonji also had cross bars similar to the Okinawan nunte bo (also known as nunti). The nunte bo was an Okinawan spear with three prongs. The two shorter prongs were directed in opposite directions making the blade to look like a swastika. During the Heian Period, most yari were su-yari (straight bladed). Later in the period, naginata were developed that had curved, single-edged blades (Sinclair, 2001).

During Kamakura times (1185-1333 AD), Japanese metallurgy had continue to progress. The bushi (samurai warrior) had grown accustomed to their swords which were portable and fast. It is said that excellent swordsmen could defeat spearman (Draeger and Smith, 1980) (other authors disagree and suggest the yari was more effective). The sword was considered the soul of samurai and could not be dispensed with, as a result, it became the favored weapon of samurai. So-hei (warrior priests of militant Buddhist sects) chose yari and naginata as weapons.

Our staff samurai at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa, Gilbert with practice naginata.

Both yari and naginata had an advantage of reach against horse-mounted samurai. Near the latter half of the 16th century, Japanese foot soldiers known as ashigaru were armed with long pikes (nagae yari) to stop cavalry. Sinclaire (2001) reports yari were as long as 18 feet while most were 10 and 12 feet in length. There are reports of some that were even longer. The foot soldiers marched into battle with their nagae yari to stop the charge of cavalry, while others carried shorter su yari, arquebusiers (muzzle-loaded firearms) and yumi (bows).

During the Edo era (1603-1868 AD) the yari lost the favor of samurai as greater emphasis was placed on katana and close quarters combat. Even so, some yari were still produced, but mostly for ceremonial use. Some of more interesting varieties of yari that were used at various times in history include: (1) sankaku yari which had a triangular cross-section designed to penetrate armor; (2) kikuchi yari had a single sharpen edge similar to katana, (3) yajiri nari yari had a very broad spade-shaped blade; (5) the kama yari had one horn projecting from the base of the blade and looked similar to a jumonji yari, but was asymmetrical; (6) the katakama yari looked like a pitch fork with two prongs; (7) the tsuki nari yari had a crescent-shaped blade for slashing and hooking; (8) sasaho yari had a bamboo leaf shaped blade; (9) makura yari known as a pillow yari, was kept by one’s bed for protection at night and the (10) naga yari had a short pole and used like a javelin.

  • Draeger, D.E., and Smith, R.W., 1980, Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts: Kodansha International, 207 p.
  • Kapp, L, Kapp, H., Yoshihara, Y, 2002, Modern Japanese swords and swordsmiths: Kodansha International, 95 p.
  • Sinclaire, C., 2001. Samurai: The weapons and spirit of the Japanese warrior: The Lyons Press: 144 p.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

ARIZONA Martial Arts Classes

It is the philosophy of our martial arts to teach those who will peacefully pass their way onto new generations. Martial arts are about improving oneself and challenging oneself. The only competition should be against oneself.

Come join us in our search for the martial arts way and path. You will be glad you did.

In our samurai arts classes, we teach the traditional samurai sword including iaido (fast draw) and kenjutsu (applications). We also teach tanto (knife techniques), yari (spear), naginata (halberd), jujutsu (grappling arts and sword taking), hojojutsu (rope restraints), and hanbo (half-bo).


Rich Mendolia (3rd kyu) defends against an attack by Paula Borea (2nd dan) at samurai arts
training in Mesa. Rich uses naginata - a traditional samurai weapon.
Ryan Harden applies cut of Neal Adam's arms
during bunkai practice at samurai class. Neal is
holding a katana, Ryan a naginata.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Samurai Swords (Nihontō)


Katana showing guard (tsuba), handle (tsuka), charm
(menuki) and the ‘handyman’s secret weapon (duct tape)
(photo by Kenrick Davis of Mesa).
Researching Japanese swords, systems and styles can involve considerable time and has resulted in several books on the subject by many authors. The complexities of the Japanese sword, systems and styles are mind-boggling. And I will provide only a cursory review.

Several swords were prominent during Feudal Japan and these are generally known as Japanese swords (日本刀) or nihontō. The kanji used to write Japanese sword(s) include ’ the ideograph for sun, and ‘’ the kanji for ‘origin’ or ‘root’ (this symbol is a pictorial graphic of a tree  with a root at its base indicated by the small cross horizontal line at the bottom of the kanji). These two kanji (日本) are combined to represent Japan (origin of the sun). The third kanji () represents sword: thus all together we have Japanese sword(s). The Japanese do not distinguish between plural and singular nouns.

Most Japanese swords are not well-defined and categories for length of the weapon are general. The lengths were measured in shaku (the average distance between nodes of a mature bamboo stem ~ 1 foot). The primary shaku used to measure most objects in Japan equals 30.3 cm (11.93 inches).

A general length classification scheme used for nihontō:
tantō (knife or dagger) = 1 shaku or less;
  • wakizashi or kodachi (short swords known as shōtō) = 1 to 2 shaku;
  • katana or tachi (long swords known as daitō) = more than 2 shaku;
  • ōdachi (long swords) = more than 3 shaku.
In addition to the above swords, the naginata and yari were considered to be part of the nihontō family even though they were pole mounted blades.

The most common sword known to Westerners is katana (). The katana is a single edged sword, with a curve blade whose possession was restricted to the samurai lineage during Feudal Japan. It was thought that katana were the soul of samurai and was so important that the samurai actually gave names to their swords, as they were considered to be part of the living.

Long Swords
(1) ōdachi (also known as ōtachi) (大太刀)
Sensei Bill Borea (2nd dan) of Gilbert demonstrates iaido kata (sword form) at the
Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa
The ō in ōdachi refers to ‘great’. The kanji for ‘great’ is written as which also means big. The ōdachi predated katana and had some unique characteristics. Not only was the sword noticeably long, the ōdachi was marked by religious inscriptions imprinted on the tang. It is thought by most researchers that ōdachi were used in ceremonies prior to battle; and because their length (5 to 6 shaku) was enormous (often longer than the samurai was tall), it is thought many were used as cavalry swords. The ōdachi would have been impractical to carry in an obi (belt) around one’s waist. Thus, it was thought the weapon was either carried on one’s back, in hand, attached to a horse, or by an assistant who followed the samurai.


(2) Nodachi
The nodachi is often confused with ōdachi. However, nodachi refers to any type of long battlefield or field sword (daitō) as well as a tachi and is often misapplied to any over sized Japanese sword. It has the same appearance and design as a tachi, but was significantly longer. The sword is believed to have been used primarily for dueling.

Daitō
(3) Katana ().
The katana (pronounced kah-ta-nah in Japanese and popularized as ka-tan-a in the West), was one of the traditional swords worn by samurai.  It had a blade larger than 2 shaku with a more moderate curve than a similar blade known as tachi (see #4 below). The katana was worn on the left side of the samurai with the cutting edge (yaiba or ha) up. The blade included a circular to square guard (tsuba) separating it from a long grip handle or pommel (tuska) made for two hands. The blade of the katana along with the portion of the blade known as the nakago that extends into the handle was all one continuous piece known as the tang. Those katana made for combat (shinken) and training (iaitō) have full tang. This simply means that the nakago and ken (blade) are made of one, uninterrupted, piece of steel. Many cheap practice (iaitō) unfortunately have two separate pieces - a blade and handle. This results in loosening of the blade with prolong use until the handle starts to separate from the blade. Thus, when searching for an iaitō it is best to pay a few extra bucks and purchase one with a full tang. If you decide to purchase one to train in any of our dojo, it must be an iaitō with dull edge. Shinken are way too dangerous for dojo use and in Arizona should be reserved for trimming cactus.

Sarah attacks Sensei Borea with bokken during kenjutsu training at the Arizona School
of Traditional Karate
The grip handle of katana is typically covered with ray skin leather (same’) and wrapped with cord known as ito. To hold the handle (tsuka) in place on the nakago, a hole was punched into the steel nakago and a small bamboo peg (mekugi) forced through the handle into the nakago. When the handle is removed from a well-made katana by forcing the mekugi out, the swordsmith’s signature should be seen carved into the nakago. The katana was developed from an earlier sword referred to as uchigatana (打刀). The katana was carried in a scabbard known as the saya.

(4) Tachi (太刀). The katana and tachi look very similar but can be distinguished by locating the mei (signature) on the sword’s nakago under the handle. When worn, the mei would be carved on that side of the tang that would face outward when placed in one’s obi. Because the tachi is worn with the cutting edge down opposite of the katana, the mei will be on the opposite side of the tang for this sword. The tachi was often considered as a spare blade used in battle.

There were tachi with variations from the classical weapon that included a larger tachi (see #1 above) known as ōtachi (ōdachi) and a shorter sword known as kōtachi (kōdachi). The kōdachi was similar in length to wakizashi (see #5 below).

Shōtō  (short swords)
(5) Wakizashi ()
The wakizashi, also referred to as wakizashi no kataka, translates as ‘sword inserted at one’s side’. The wakizashi typically had a blade of 1 to 2 shaku. Those closer to the length of a katana, were referred to as ō-wakazashi, while a shorter blade wakizashi was closer to the length of a tanto and known as ko-wakizashi. The wakizashi was worn with a katana only by samurai. Together, the pair were referred to as daisho which translates as dai’ (big) and sho’ (little), terms some of us are already familiar with because some of our advanced karate kata use these terms, such as Passai Dai and Passai Sho.



The wakizashi was a back-up sword, also used for close quarters fighting and for seppuku (ritual suicide). The size of wakizashi was not regulated until the Edo Period when in 1638 AD, only samurai were allowed to wear katana of a regulated length. At this time wakizashi were also regulated. Samurai were allowed to wear both swords while those of the chonin class (merchants) were only allowed to wear a shorter ko-wakizashi to protect themselves from bandits. It was customary for samurai to leave katana at a door of a castle, but they always carried wakizashi. The wakizashi was the samurai’s honor blade and would never leave his/hers side, so much so, that it is reported samurai even slept with them under their pillows.

Tanto (knife)
(6) Tanto
The tanto was a knife worn by samurai of feudal Japan. One variety was that of the yoroi tōshi or dagger (about 8 inches long) that had a greater thickness and used for piercing armor. Another tanto was the aikuchi (). The aikuchi had the distinctive characteristic of no tsuba, similar to another dagger known as a kaiken. See also ken tanto below (#8). Even so, many tanto had tsuba, such as the tanto given to me by the Utah Shorin Kai at the last Gassuku (see photo to right of tanto with shaku measuring tape).

Miscellaneous
(7) Chokutō.
The chokutō had a straight blade and was introduced to Japan from Korea.

(8) Kusanagi no Tsurugi
This was a double-edged sword used in the 5th century in Japan and similar to the ken tanto (double-edged knife).

(9) Shirasaya ()
Shirasaya translates as ‘white scabbard’. This was a sword that had a plain wooded blade mount consisting of a saya (scabbard) with a tsuka (hilt) and traditionally used for storage when a sword blade was not needed for some time. In this form, it was not used on a battlefield.
(10) Shikomi-zue (仕込み)
The shikomi-zue is a sword-stick. These typically contained a blade inside a cane (tsue) mounting for concealment. Some of these also concealed other weapons such as pepper powder (metsubuski), chains, hooks, etc.

Schools and Ryu
Most Japanese swords are traced to one of five provinces in Japan that included Shoshu, Yamato, Bizen, Yamashiro and Mino. There were different styles and systems of Japanese swordsmanship and training.

Kenjutsu, Kendo
Kenjutsu (sword techniques) is the martial art combat sword training. Similar to kenjutsu is kendo (way of the sword). Both tend focus on techniques of the sword after it has been drawn from the saya (scabbard). Kendo-ka practice with bamboo swords known as shinai, while wearing padded clothing known as bōgu and head gear known as men. Most kenjutsu use sword.
Kyoshi Rob Watson, 8th dan, explains to members
of the Utah Shorin Kai about kenjutsu and
kendo while wearing bōgu and men of kendo and showing
katana of kenjutsu. To the right, Renshi Todd Stoneking,
6th dan, hands shinai to Kyoshi Watson.
Iaijutsu (iaidō 居合) and Battōjutsu (抜刀)
Iaijutsu, iaidō and battōjutsu are fast draw arts designed to develop fast draw with follow-up attacks with the sword. These arts are similar and generally only differ in training methods. For instance, battōjutsu incorporates multiple cuts following the draw of the sword; while iaidō emphasizes reaction to unknown scenarios, or a reaction to a sudden and swift attacks. In iaidō, the student begins training with a bokken (wooden practice sword) and later switches to a iaitō (dull-edged practice sword). Only very experienced practitioners use shinken (live blade) because of the extreme danger to oneself. Because iaidō is practiced with a weapon, whether it is a dull or live, nearly all training is by kata that includes drawing the weapon followed by cuts and finishing with ceremonial de-blooding of the blade and replacing the weapon back into the saya. Sparring is not part of iaidō, but is instead restricted to kendo. Another art that is similar to iaidō, is that of jōjutsu (training with a 4-foot staff).


According to Wikipedia, some styles of iaidō include Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu, Muso Shinden Ryu, Mugai-Ryu, Jikyo-Ryu, Suio-Ryu, Motobu Udundi (Okinawan), Shindō Munen-ryu,  Shinkage-ryū, Hōki-ryū, Tatsumi-ryū, Tamiya-ryū, Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū, Takenouchi-ryū,Eishin-ryū

Sword testing, known as tameshigiri was designed to test the blade’s sharpness and the practitioner’s abilities to cut a variety of materials. Today, we often see cuts on matting or straw on a vertical pole. In the past, it was not uncommon for some Japanese to test on cadavers of executed criminals. Few iaidō schools practice tameshigiri.

Samurai arts are also part of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo. In addition to iaido, our members train in jujutsu, hojojutsu, hanbojutsu, naginatajutsu and yarijutsu.

Some Books On Nihonto
Craig, Darrell, 1981, Iai – the art of Drawing the Sword: Lotus Press, Tokyo, Japan, 257 p

Yumoto, J, M., 1958, The Samurai Sword – A Handbook: Charles E. Tuttle Co, Tokyo, Japan, 191 p

Warner, G. and Draeger, D.F., 1982, Japanese Swordsmanship – Technique and Practice: Weatherhill, Boston, 296 p
Zier, Don, J., 2000, Japanese Sword Drawing: Unique Publications, Burbank, CA, 317 p

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Naginata in Arizona


Naginata is one of many weapons taught at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate (Seiyo Hombu). Many of our members have already been introduced to this weapon. The naginata is rarely seen in most martial arts schools, although it was relatively common on the Japanese battlefields during the reign of the samurai.
 
 Certifications (menkyo) in naginata are typically given in Koryu dojo, although there are modern Gendai dojo that offer dan ranks in naginata-jutsu.
Rich Mendolia prepares to attack Ryan
Harden during naginata training.

My introduction to naginata (なぎなた, 薙刀) occurred at the JKI Hombu. When I trained at the JKI Hombu in this art, most wore a white or black uwagi (jacket) or keikogi hakama as naginata is a very traditional Japanese art. For those of you who have not trained in hakama, it is a clumsy piece of clothing particularly for men, as it is bloused, pleated pants that is very easy to trip over until one gets use to it. It seems women never have a problem with hakama.
The naginata is considered a Japanese samurai weapon. It was just one of several bladed weapons in the arsenal of the samurai class of Japan. A halberd, or pole arm, the naginata had a long wooden pole for a handle that was attached to a curved blade with tsuba (guard between the blade and pole similar to that on a katana). The length of the blade and pole for naginata varied.

Naginata means ‘mowing down sword’ or ‘reaping sword’. The dictionary defines ‘reaping’ as ‘harvesting with a sickle’. This definition provides a very good visual of what the weapon is designed to do. When you train with naginata and in particular Naginata-Dai kata, this will give you the impression of mowing down aggressors – particularly when you perform a series of 360o propeller-like cuts.


In old Japan, naginata varied in size. The shaft was reported to range from 5 to 9 shaku and blade 1 to 3 shaku (a shaku equals 0.994 feet). The blade of some naginata were thought to have been recycled from katana (see William Deal, 2007, Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan. Oxford University Press. pp. 432) while other blades were likely forged for naginata.
Patrick Scofield (1st dan) from Mesa trains with Bill Borea (2nd dan) from Gilbert
in samurai arts at the Arizona Hombu in Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler.
The shape of the blade sort of reminds me of a banana: curved to a point. The portion of the blade (tang) that enters the handle should be almost as long as the blade itself. This will assure that the naginata is sound and hold together under most any kind of abuse.

The shaft of naginata was equipped with a pommel known as an ishizuki. The ishizuki was designed as a counterweight and as a striking surface to attack between armor plates of an enemy. Similar pommel are found on yari (spear). Unlike most pole arms, the shaft of the naginata was oval shaped to allow samurai to ‘feel’ the orientation of the blade while swinging the weapon during combat.

Naginata-ka of today often wear bogu similar to those worn by kendo practitioners to allow them to engage in combat using wooden training weapons. The bogu is gear that provides protection from powerful blows.

Like many weapons in martial arts, the origin of naginata is uncertain. Even so, many have suggested it descended from the Chinese Guan Dao. Others have pointed out that the naginata had been used by Japanese for many centuries all the way back to the Heian Period (794 to 1185 AD). Other researchers claim the naginata was used even earlier by sohei (warrior monks) during the Nara Period (710 to 794 AD).

During one of many wars in Japan (1180–1185 AD), naginata rose to a position prominence as an effective weapon. Cavalry battles had become important by this time and the naginata proved effective in disabling riders. During the Edo Period (1603 to 1868 AD) the naginata became less common on the battlefield, and instead was adopted as a symbol of social status for women of the samurai class and the  naginata was often given as a part of a samurai daughter's dowry. Although women did not typically fight on the battlefield, those of the samurai class were expected to defend their homes (and dojo) when necessary. An excellent example was a famous female samurai by the name of Itagaki who led a garrison of 3,000 warriors from Toeisakayama Castle against ten thousand warriors dispatched to take the castle. Itagaki led her troops out of the castle killing a significant number of the attackers before being overpowered.
Soke Hausel, Grandmaster of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu and head
of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai shows rack of kobudo weapons.
Koryu Naginata training became part of the public school curriculum in Japan after the Menji Restoration (1868). After world war II, martial arts training was banned on Japan for five years and then in 1950, a modern system of naginata training known as atarashii naginata (new naginata) was developed. This system is primarily practiced as a gendai sport with emphasis on etiquette.

Although considerably smaller numbers of practitioners still train in a number of koryu bujutsu systems (old school martial arts) of combative naginatajutsu that including Araki-Ryu, Tendo-Ryu, Jikishinkage Ryu, Higo Koryu, Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-Ryu, Toda-ha Buko-Ryu, Yoshin-Ryu and Dai-Yoshin Ryu.