Women Warriors of Japan

by Ellis Amdur

1. McCullough, Helen Craig, trans., The Tale of the Heike, Stanford University Press, California, 1988. (For this and all further references to Tomoe Gozen.) back

2. In a book published in the early 1970s, a master instructor of the Takenouchi-ryu writes that the women of the Takenouchi family trained with naginata and learned self-defense when they were young. As adults, they were "...very busy taking care of the house and had little time to practice. However, when bringing tea to the dojo for the male students, they had an opportunity to listen to the teacher's instructions and pick up some of the movements that they saw being practiced" from Takenouchi-ryu Hensan I-in Kai, in Takenouchi-ryu, p. 104. back

3. Statistics from a 1764 inspection of a feudal domain in what is now modern-day Okayama show that the castle had 3,787 muskets and its retainers had another 4,698 muskets and 1,265 hunting guns. Three thousand three hundred and sixteen spears were kept at the castle and another 5,010 distributed among the retainers. Only fifty naginata were counted in this survey. back

4. Larry Bieri, martial arts scholar and long-time student of Tendo-ryu, informed me that the old Tendo-ryu naginata was tapered, getting progressively wider at the butt end for better balance and a stronger grip. This practical design is no longer included in modern-day Tendo-ryu practice naginata. back

5. From the Kokumin Gakko Naginata Seigi by Shigehachi Sonobe, page 7. back

6. Ibid, page 7. back

7. This, and all subsequent quotes of Abe Sensei were published in the early 1980s by Ms. Kini Collins in "Fighting Woman News." The author and Ms. Collins were working on a project regarding the history of the naginata, and this interview was one of its aspects. With Ms. Collins permission, I have retained the original manuscript for this interview and have made some very minor changes in syntax for ease in reading. The meaning has not been changed in any respect. back

Copyright ©2002 Ellis Amdur. All rights reserved.

Classical Japanese Martial Arts
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Classical Japanese Martial Arts