Kusarigama - Japanese Martial Arts Weapon (Sickle & Chain)

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Kusarigama - Japanese Martial Arts Weapon (Sickle & Chain)

Kusarigama is a traditional Japanese martial arts weapon that combines the Kama (small sickle) with the Kusari Fundo (weighted chain). For information on other traditional Japanese weapons, please visit the main Martial Arts Weapons section.

The Kusarigama is a very effective and versatile weapon. It is used by many martial arts styles including Kobudo, Ninjutsu and Budo/Bujutsu (the Samurai arts). There are a couple of variations of the Kusarigama. One version has a weighted rope attached to the sickle instead of chain. Another has a hand guard on the handle. The chain or rope on the Kusarigama is traditionally around 3 meters long (but can be shorter) and is either attached to the bottom of the shaft or to the back of the blade. A weight (the fundo, traditionally but not always a small iron ball) is attached to the end of the chain or rope.

Regardless of how the weapon is constructed, the actual techniques of the weapon are basically the same. The sickle end of the Kusarigama is used to execute kama and flying kama techniques. The weighted chain portion of the Kusarigama can be swung in an arc horizontally or vertically (or indeed just about any which way the wielder chooses) in order to keep opponents armed with other weapons at bay. The traditional 3 meter length of the chain is long enough to be effective against longer weapons such as the Yari (Japanese spear) or the Naginata (Japanese halberd). The weighted end of the weapon can be swung or thrown
at an opponent and in the hands of a master, it can deliver a deadly blow. The weighted chain is also used to trap or entangle an opponent, his weapon or ideally both! Then, with the opponent either tied up or weaponless, the Kusarigama user can deliver an attack using the blade of weapon.

The down side of the Kusarigama is that the weapon can be caught (intentionally or accidentally) by the opponent. If an opponent is stronger than the Kusarigama user then a "tug of war" can ensue. The weapon can be tugged from the user's hand and the user can find himself both weaponless and in some cases fingerless (hence one of the reasons why some Kusarigama have hand guards). The weapon can also be used to perform Hojojutsu (rope techniques) especially in Ninjutsu.

Picture of Kusarigama with Hand Guard

Demonstration of Kusarigama vs Sword Wielding Opponent

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