The maneuvers listed below describe two different, yet similar, weapon arts: Naginatajutsu (the art of the halberd) and Sojutsu (the art of the spear).
Naginatajutsu (also known as chotojutsu) is the art of using the naginata, or Japanese halberd (including its shorter version, the nagakami). From earliest times it was one of the weapons every warrior was trained to use, and many warrior-monks favored it as well. However, during the Edo Period (1603-1867), the naginata fell into disuse and eventually disappeared from the battlefield, only to become the main weapon of the homefront: many women were trained in the use of the naginata so that they could defend their homes while their husbands were away. The naginata soon came to be regarded as a "woman's weapon." In modern Japan many women still study the sport form of the art, naginata-do.
Naginatajutsu contains only a few techniques, but they are all effective. In pitched battles favorite targets usually include enemy horses and infantrymen's legs. In addition to the standard slashing and thrusting maneuvers, practitioners are trained to reverse the weapon and use the iron cap on its butt to strike a target's vital points.
Sojutsu (also known as Yarijutsu) is the art of using the various types of Japanese spears, such as the yari. The spear could be used as a form of staff, plus it had a spearhead on one end for deadlier attacks. Spear-fighting was a particular favorite of the militant Buddhist so-hei ("warrior-priests"). It died out after the introduction of firearms to Japan, but formed the basis of a later art, Jukenjutsu (the art of the bayonet).
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