At a recent naginata seminar a question arose as to when the naginata
became a "woman's weapon". I know that the naginata was traditionally the
weapon of souhei and some of the lower classes early on, and by the 16th
Century, from what I read, it is used in defence of the home. Somewhere
during the Edo Period it seems to have acquired the reputation as a
woman's weapon--where men do kendo, women do naginata--although that is
not entirely accurate. For instance, Ten-ryuu and its descendant
Tendou-ryuu include numerous naginatajutsu that are traced back to Saito
Hangan Denkibo Katsuhide in 1582 (There is some more information at
, and possibly apocryphal
legends of Tsukahara Bokuden training in the style as well.
Today, although many men do participate in the International Naginata
Federation's Atarashii Naginata (New Naginata), it is still often seen as
a woman's art from the outside. I'm looking for any sources that can
point to this development--for instance, house records that discuss
training the women in defence of the home, and possibly Edo period records
of 'official' schools of martial arts that might give clues as to who was
training in them.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
PS: If anyone in the Pennsylvania area is interested, the East Coast
Naginata Federation will soon be starting up one or more naginata classes
in the Philadelphia area--possibly on the Brynn Mawr Campus. For
information, e-mail me privately or contact Nichibukan Naginata in New
York at naginata@...