Nagamaki – Japanese Weapon of the Samurai


The Nagamaki is a Japanese weapon that was widely used by the Samurai during feudal Japan. We hope that you find this a comprehensive and informative article that wil leducate you on the Nagamaki.

The Nagamaki stands out as one of the iconic weapons from ancient Japan, characterized not only by its distinctive look (featuring a blade almost as long as its handle) but also by its notable effectiveness on the battlefield. It holds significant importance for Samurai, particularly in open-field combat scenarios.

What is Nagamaki?

Nagamaki is a Japanese long weapon that was popularized during the Muromachi period. The weapon consists of a long handle, measuring approximately 1.5 to 2 meters in length, and a curved blade at the end. The blade is usually single-edged and can range in length up to 60 cm.

Nagamaki is often compared to the more popular Japanese pole weapon, the Naginata, which has a similar design but a shorter blade. However, the Nagamaki was favored by samurai who preferred its longer reach, versatility and power.

History of Nagamaki

The Nagamaki has its roots in the earlier Naginata, which was first used during the Heian period. The Naginata was primarily used by female warriors, known as Onna-bugeisha, for self-defense and protection. However, as the samurai class emerged, the Naginata evolved into a more sophisticated weapon and was widely used in battle.

During the Muromachi period, the Nagamaki was introduced as an improvement to the Naginata. It quickly gained popularity due to its longer reach and ability to pierce through armor. The Nagamaki was used by samurai as both a defensive and offensive weapon, and was particularly effective against cavalry charges.

Nagamaki in Battle

The Nagamaki was a versatile weapon that could be used in a variety of ways on the battlefield. Samurai would often hold the weapon at the middle of the handle and use the blade to strike opponents from a distance. They could also use the weapon to hook and pull enemies off their horses.

In addition, the Nagamaki was a popular weapon for castle defenders. Its long reach allowed samurai to attack enemies from behind castle walls, while its curved blade could be used to hook enemy weapons and pull them away from attacking soldiers.

Nagamaki Use

Wielding a Nagamaki is highly specialized, requiring a two-handed grip maintained in a stationary position, similar to how one would hold a Katana. In contrast to the Naginata, there is no shifting of hands during the weapon’s manipulation, and the right hand consistently remains closer to the blade. Unlike the Naginata, which involves extensive sliding actions along the handle, the handling of the Nagamaki minimizes such movements. The design of the Nagamaki is optimized for executing broad sweeping and slicing strokes. Historically, this weapon served as an infantry weapon, often employed against cavalry.

Crafting a Nagamaki

The Nagamaki was a complex weapon to craft, requiring both skill and patience. The blade was made of high-quality steel, while the handle was often crafted from durable wood, such as Japanese red pine or bamboo.

To create the blade, the steel was heated to a high temperature and then hammered into shape by a skilled blacksmith. The blade was then quenched in water to harden it, before being sharpened and polished.

The handle was also an important part of the Nagamaki. It needed to be strong enough to withstand the force of a battle, while also being light enough to allow for quick movements. Handles were often wrapped with silk or leather for added grip and comfort.

Final Thoughts

The Nagamaki was a formidable weapon that played an important role in the history of feudal Japan. Its long reach and curved blade made it a favorite among Samurai, who used it in battle and for castle defense.

Excited to Discover More?

We hope you found this article beneficial. If you desire more information on traditional martial arts weaponry, we recommend the articles presented below.

Next Martial Arts Weapons article: Naginata – The Versatile Japanese Halberd-like Weapon

Previous Martial Arts Weapons article: Mokgum – Korean Martial Arts Wooden Training Sword

Check out this detailed piece presenting a vast assortment of Martial Arts Weapons here at Dojo Directory.



Updated: February 5, 2024 — 12:54 pm