Hello everyone, I'm Luca from Italy and this is actually my first post; I've been looking in this forum for some times and I've seen it's full of Wonderful people, so I wanted to share with you some doubts and some questions; thank you for the time you are spending right now for reading this post!
I'm still a "newbie", but I wanted to start studying japanese armor and weapons of the middle ages, so I guess this place is a good starting point. As far as I'am aware, Yari was the mainstream weapon during the sengoku jidai for hand to hand combat. Since armor was involved, I was asking myself if the yari was capable of damaging the armor and the wearer inside in a similar way pollaxes did in Europe. So I started looking on the web for blade's geometry and shapes of the yari spears and I've found some interesting pictures; I wanted to ask you if they are historically accurate, and if they were able to deal effectively against armor, like "smashing" the wearer inside or pull him to the ground. These are the pictures (I hope the links will work):
Then I wanted to ask if they were used in a similar way to european lance for shock cavalry purpose by mounted warriors.
And finally, were sasumata,sodegarami, tsukubo and similar polearms used in a similar way (piercing the gaps in the armors,pull people to the ground, delivering blunt trauma etc.) in a warfare context?
Thank you so much for your attention, Best regards Luca from Italy
P.S If there is something wrong with my post please let me know, I've read the forum rules twice but you never know!
Luca, All the images you show were used but not like lances in Europe. There, the lance was tucked under the arm so that the power and weight of the man and horse went into the point. In Japan they were just held in the hand when on a horse. On foot, the shaft was held loosely in the left hand and pushed through the left hand by the right hand on the end of the shaft. Sasumata,sodegarami and tsukubo were really police weapons used in the Edo period. You see them in a rack dotted around towns ready for use. Ian B
Hello Luca. Welcome to the forum. I have a japanese book on the edo police weapons and they demonstrate how several policeman used the sodogarami and sasumata and some ladders to get a samurai with his sword down. Sodogarami can be twisted in the samurais clothes. Taking it off would be painfull because of the pins at the end of the pole. Sasumata goes to neck or arms, etc., also with the pins at the end of the pole. The 4 ladders around so he cant escape and to push him down. There is a famous woodblockprint where a samurai is on the rooftop and all those people with these poleweapons were around him to get him.
Hello Luca, the european pole axe was more of a police weapon, the staff or "que" was used far more than the head. The que was used to trip and off balance the opponent. The hook was used as that to catch in the edges of the armour and pull the opponent off balance. Unlike hollywood real armour is only worn if it works, so you target the gaps or the fastenings to create gaps in the armour. Mail works against cuts but not against powerfull thrusts from spears or arrows. PSJ
Thanks to everyone for your precious informations. So, was still possible to use the yari on horseback for a cavalry charge, or did they use it in a different way? What was the main purpose of the mounted troops during the sengoku jidai (did they actually used yari on horseback?)
Being police weapons,were sodegarami and sasumata never used on the battlefields?
I think the main differences for the yari used by samurai and ashigaru, in addition to quality, would have been decorations and more complex blade shapes. I doubt a common ashigaru with an okashi armour would have used a decorated yari.
Thanks again for your answers, I learnt a lot Luca
I will switch back to English which is the common language of the Forum. There are two good books on Japnese polearms by Roald Knutsen. One is quite difficult to find but the second is still available and it explains the use in fighting. As for the other weapons there is a book by Serge Mol, Classical weaponry of Japan, that could give you a starting point.