Learn About Naginatajutsu - Japanese Martial Arts Style

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Learn About Naginatajutsu - Japanese Martial Arts Style

Naginatajutsu is a Japanese martial arts style focused on the long pole weapon known as the Naginata. The Naginata is a weapon that looks like a spear with a long curved blade at the top. Given its length, the Naginata was used to fight mounted warriors. It also gave users a reach advantage over a traditional sword.


Summary of Naginatajutsu Techniques

The Naginata is an ancient Japanese weapon usually associated with Samurai and Warrior Monks. Given its length and cutting power, Samurai found the Naginata very useful against mounted enemies.

Today, Naginatas are used in Naginatajutsu (old-styled) and Naginata-Do (modern-style) martial arts styles. These martial arts style uses Naginatas in katas and in sparring matches.

According to the International Naginata Federation, "There are two different kinds of competition in Naginata. Shiai-kyōgi is that similar to Kendo competition. Armour (bōgu) is worn and competitors engage in sanbon-shōbu. That is, the first to get two points within the designated time limit wins. There are both individual and team matches. Teams have three or five members. As in Kendo, three referees (shimpan) adjudicate matches. In shiai-kyōgi, the criteria for valid points (yūkō-datotsu) are defined by the All Japan Naginata Federation’s Tournament Regulations: “An accurate strike with the naginata’s datotsu-bu (monouchi) must be made to a datotsu-bui (stipulated target area) with correct posture, vigorous spirit, while calling out the name of the target being struck.” The stipulated target areas are men (helmet; front, left, right), dō (plastron; left, right), sune (shin guard; left, right, both inner and outer), kote (gauntlet; left, right), tsuki (straight thrust to the throat).

Basic methods for using the naginata include furiage (lifting the naginata overhead and striking), mochikae (swapping grip to enable attacking from the opposite side or from a different angle), furikaeshi (spinning the naginata overhead), kurikomi (pulling the naginata in to shorten the length to strike closer in), kuridashi (extending the naginata, thereby facilitating attacks from a further distance). In all cases, either the sharp side (monouchi) of the blade or the butt-end (ishizuki) must make contact with one of the official target areas for the point to be counted as valid.

The other type of competition is called engi-kyōgi. In this competition, a team of two is pitted against another pair. Both teams perform set-forms or techniques. There are two variations: One involves performing three or five of the shikake-ōji techniques simultaneously, and the other involves doing the All Japan Naginata Federation Kata."

Modern Naginatajutsu Training

Modern Naginatajutsu focuses on the use of a wooden Naginata with a bamboo blade. A metal blade is not used today due to safety reasons. This wooden Naginata is used for training, kata and sparring.


  1. International Naginata Federation, What is Naginata?, http://international-naginata.org/drupal/node/1, Added - 5/29/13

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