Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Black Dragon Naginata

The Black Dragon Naginata, the terric weapon against horseman and swords
Naginata is a Japanese martial art form that originated over one thousand years ago. Due to its massive height, the Naginata was the weapon of choice for battle against horseman and swords. Naginata can be used to stab, but due to their relatively balanced center of mass, are often spun and turned to proscribe a large radius of reach. The curved blade makes for an effective tool for cutting due to the increased length of cutting surface.

It looks similar to a European Glavie, but it's different. It has become associated with women and in modern Japan it is studied by women more than men; whereas in Europe and Australia naginata is practiced predominantly (but not exclusively) by men. A naginata consists of a wood shaft with a curved blade on the end. Usually it also had a sword-like guard (tsuba) between the blade and shaft.

The naginata, like other weapons, can be customized to fit the build of the bearer. The naginata shaft is the height of the bearer's body, with the blade mounted atop usually measuring two or three shaku (one shaku is equivalent to 11.93 inches, or 303 mm) long. Unlike most polearms, the shaft is oval in cross section to allow easy orientation of the blade, and ranges from 5 to 7 feet (1.5 to 2.1 meters) long. The blade is usually curved, sometimes strongly so, towards the tip. As with Japanese swords, naginata blades were forged blades, made with differing degrees of hardness on the spine and edge to retain a sharp edge but also be able to absorb the stress of impact. Some naginata blades may, in fact, have been recycled katana blades.

Naginatas were often used by foot soldiers to create space on the battlefield. They have several situational advantages over a sword. Their reach was longer, allowing the wielder to keep out of reach of his opponent. The long shaft offered it more leverage in comparison to the hilt of the katana, enabling the naginata to cut more efficiently. The weight of the weapon gave power to strikes and cuts, even though the weight of the weapon is usually thought of as a disadvantage. The weight at the end of the shaft and the shaft itself can be used both offensively and defensively. Swords, on the other hand, can be used to attack faster, have longer cutting edges (and therefore more striking surface and less area to grab), and were able to be more precisely controlled in the hands of an experienced swordsman.


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