Guiding Principles for Instruction
Through correct naginata instruction, practitioners will improve their technical skills, cultivate their minds, increase vitality and develop physical strength. They will also uphold elements of traditional Japanese culture embodied within the art of naginata, retain discipline, show courtesy and respect, value fidelity, and with resolution will strive to become a useful member for a peaceful society.
The art of Naginata is unique in that it emphasizes training on both sides of the body unlike many other forms of weapons arts; as with other arts, it emphasized the development of body, mind and spirit along with their integration. Bogu work is delayed until such time as the trainee is sufficiently grounded in the basics of moving and manipulating the naginata. We invite people of all levels and skills to join us in practice.
The naginata is perhaps the most famous polearm of Japan. It was used by the buke – the warrior class of Japan – for several centuries. It became part of the traditional progression of an ancient battle, surpassing the sword as the weapon of choice for men in large scale combat. Samurai women learned its use to defend the home and castle.
The original kanji characters for naginata meant ‘mowing’ or ‘reaping sword’ because the blade is made in a fashion similar to the tachi (old-style cavalry saber) and katana (new-style less-curved saber), although it has developed its own series of characteristics over the centuries. Like many polearms, the steel blade was attached to a long wooden shaft – perhaps 2 meters or more in length. Its length added reach and leverage, making it deadly against mounted and armored opponents.
In the daily practice of Naginata, we enlist various training methods. For example, Shikake-Oji is a series of pre-arranged movements, each involving a sequence of attacks, parries and ripostes. Eye contact, Kiai (an aspect of breath control resembling a shout) and Zanshin (mental alertness) are also integral.
The Concept of Naginata:
The study of naginata is to nurture people harmonious in mind and body.