Jitte or Jutte


Jutte (Jitte) Japanese Martial Arts Weapon

In the world of martial arts, the Jutte or Jitte is a traditional Japanese weapon that has been used for centuries. It is a unique and powerful tool that was once used exclusively by samurai warriors. Today, it is still used in many forms of Japanese martial arts and is considered an essential part of the art. In this article, we will discuss the Jutte literally means Ten Hands in detail and explore its history, design and use in modern times.

During the time of feudal Japan, stringent laws forbade almost everyone from carrying swords within the confines of the shōgun’s palace, an offense that could lead to capital punishment. This restriction extended even to the palace guards themselves. As a result, palace security personnel had to rely on alternative non-bladed weapons for defense and law enforcement within these hallowed halls. Among these, the Jitte emerged as particularly effective and soon became emblematic of the prestigious role of a palace guard.

Throughout the Edo period, the Jitte took on additional significance akin to a police badge, symbolizing the bearer’s authority and their engagement in official duties. Police officers of various ranks, from high-ranking samurai police administrators to the lower-tiered samurai known as okappiki or doshin, were all known to carry the jitte. Furthermore, it was not uncommon for other high-level samurai officials, such as those responsible for overseeing hotels or scrutinizing rice and grain quality, known as Aratame, to bear a Jitte as a mark of their office. The Jitte’s prominence in this era is also reflected in the martial art of Jittejutsu, which centers around mastery of this unique weapon.

History of the Jitte

The Jitte has a long and rich history in Japan. It was originally developed in the Edo period (1603-1868) and was used by police officers as a non-lethal weapon. The Jutte (Jitte) was designed to disarm opponents and subdue them without causing serious injury. This was important because police officers were not allowed to kill or seriously injure suspects unless absolutely necessary.

During ancient times in Japan, the Jutte or Jitte was wielded by retainers in situations where carrying swords was prohibited. This specialized baton served several purposes, including blocking incoming strikes from swords or knives, delivering powerful blows to opponents with the shaft, and trapping oncoming sword strikes between the shaft and prong through twisting maneuvers.

The Jutte is commonly known as the “sword breaker” due to its ability, when wielded by a skilled master, to not only trap but also break a sword blade. However, accomplishing this feat requires significant strength and a deep understanding of both the jutte and the sword.

Over time, the Jitte became popular among samurai warriors who saw its potential as a defensive weapon. They began to incorporate it into their martial arts training and techniques, and it became an essential part of their arsenal.

Design of the Jitte

The Jitte is a unique weapon that consists of a long, slender metal rod with a curved or straight prong at one end. The prong is used to block and trap an opponent’s weapon, while the rod is used to strike and disarm them. The Jitte is often decorated with intricate designs and patterns, and some even have small blades or hooks on the prong for added versatility.

Sections of the Jitte

The Jitte is a multifaceted weapon with a variety of components that contribute to its functionality and design. The boshin forms the main shaft and can either be smooth or angular, typically crafted from iron but sometimes made from wood. At one end is the sentan, a pointed tip that can be used for striking.

Along the side of the Jitte is the Kagi, a hook or guard that assists in capturing and managing an adversary’s weapon, and there are instances where a Jitte possesses several Kagi. If a kagi is affixed through an aperture in the Boshin, the extension on the opposing side is called a Kikuza, which resembles the base of a chrysanthemum flower.

The Tsuka serves as the handle and may be either wrapped or left plain, with various materials such as ray skin, leather, or cord used for the Tsukamaki, or handle wrapping.

The Kan is a loop at the Tsuka’s end that often accommodates a cord or tassel and is designed with a ‘skull cracker’ feature. Some Jitte models include a Tsuba, which acts as a handguard.

Finally, the Koshirae refers to a sheathing that completely conceals the Jitte, giving it the appearance of a sword and including all corresponding fittings like spacers (Seppa), the handguard (Tsuba), hilt ornaments (Menuki), scabbard mouth (Koiguchi), scabbard end (Kojiri), tang (Nakago), peg holes (Mekugi-ana), and signature (Mei).

  • Boshin: The primary shaft of the Jitte, which may be either smooth or have multiple sides. Often made of iron, though wooden variations exist.
  • Kagi: A hook or guard that extends from the Jitte’s side, aiding in trapping and controlling an opponent’s weapon. Some Jitte feature multiple Kagi.
  • Kan: A ring or loop found at the end of the Tsuka, to which a cord or tassel might be attached, also featuring a ‘skull cracker’ design.
  • Kikuza: When the Kagi is mounted through a hole in the Boshin, the resulting protrusion on the opposite side is referred to as Kikuza, resembling a chrysanthemum base.
  • Koshirae: Some Jitte are discreetly encased in a scabbard similar to that of a sword, complete with sword-like parts such as Seppa (spacers), Tsuba (hand guard), Menuki (hilt ornaments), Koiguchi (scabbard mouth), Kojiri (scabbard end), nakago (tang), Mekugi-ana (peg holes) and Mei (signature).
  • Sentan: The pointed tip of the Jitte.
  • Tsuka: The handle of the Jitte, which can be wrapped, covered with various materials, or remain unadorned.
  • Tsukamaki: The material used to wrap the Tsuka, which could include ray skin (same), leather, or cord.
  • Tsuba: A handguard that some Jitte possess, enhancing protection for the hand during combat.

Use of the Jitte in Modern Times

Today, the Jitte is still used in many forms of Japanese martial arts, including Jujutsu, Aikido, and Kendo. It is also popular among law enforcement and military personnel in Japan, who use it as a non-lethal weapon to subdue suspects.

In modern times, the Jitte has also gained popularity among martial arts enthusiasts around the world. It is considered a challenging weapon to master due to its unique design and versatility. Many martial arts schools offer Jutte training as part of their curriculum, and competitions are held regularly to showcase the skill of practitioners.

Is the Jutte the same as a Sai?

No, the Jutte and Sai are not the same. While they may appear similar in some ways, they are actually quite different weapons. The Jutte is associated with the martial arts of Jutte-Jutsu. This weapon is somewhat similar to the Sai. The difference is that unlike the Sai which is used in pairs, the Jutte is used as a single weapon.

The Jutte is a traditional Japanese weapon that consists of a long, slender metal rod with a curved or straight prong at one end. The prong is used to block and trap an opponent’s weapon, while the rod is used to strike and disarm them. It was originally developed as a non-lethal weapon used by police officers in Japan during the Edo period.

On the other hand, the Sai is a three-pronged weapon that originated in Okinawa, Japan. It consists of a metal rod with two prongs that extend out from the handle and one prong that extends straight up from the center of the handle. The Sai was originally used as an agricultural tool but was later adapted for use as a weapon by Okinawan martial artists.

While both the Jutte and Sai are used in some forms of Japanese martial arts, they are different weapons with distinct histories and uses. It is important to understand the differences between them in order to use them effectively and appropriately in martial arts training and practice.

Final Thoughts

The Jitte is a traditional Japanese weapon that has stood the test of time. It has a rich history and a unique design that make it a valuable asset to any martial arts practitioner. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced martial artist, learning to use the Jutte can be a rewarding and challenging experience. So, if you are interested in Japanese martial arts, consider incorporating the Jitte into your training.

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Updated: January 29, 2024 — 11:59 am