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The hachiwara (鉢割?) (also kabuto wari or hachi wari), meaning "helmet breaker" or "skull breaker" [1] was a type of knife-shaped weapon, resembling a jitte in many respects. This weapon was carried as a side-arm by the Samurai class of feudal Japan.

Antique Japanese hachiwari with a nihonto style of tsuka (handle).

Types

Hachiwara were usually around 350mm long, some larger versions are around 450mm long. There were two types of hachiwara:

Dirk type hachiwara

One type of hachiwara was forged with a sharp dirk like point,[2] to parry an opponent's sword, to hook the cords of armor or a helmet, or like a can opener to separate armor plates. The sharp point could pierce unprotected or weak areas of an opponent's armor like the armpit area.[3] The blade of this type of hachiwara was a curved tapered square[4] iron or steel bar with a hook on its back edge.[5] In combat one could parry and catch a blade with that hook, as with a jitte. Some hachiwara of this type were mounted in the style of a tanto with a koshirae.[6]

Truncheon type hachiwara

The other type of hachiwara was a blunt, cast iron or forged truncheon like weapon resembling a tekkan or a jitte. This type of hachiwara had the same basic shape as the dirk type hachiwara including the hook, but it was usually blunt and not meant for stabbing.

Use

It would appear that tales of samurai breaking open a kabuto (helmet) are more folklore than anything else.[7] The hachi (helmet bowl) is the central component of a kabuto, it is made of pie-piece shaped plates of steel or iron riveted together at the sides and at the top to a large, thick grommet of sorts called a tehen-no-kanamono, and at the bottom to a metal strip that encircles the hachi.[8][9] This would require enormous pressure to split open. This idea that the hachiwara was somehow able to smash or damage a helmet kabuto is most probably a misinterpretation of the name which could have several meanings, as hachi could mean skull or helmet bowl and wari could mean, split, rip,crack or smash.[10]

In modern times there is no Ryū (School, Style) known to train with hachiwara, although certain dojos within Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu still train with them, as an extension of jittejutsu. A number of weapons retailers in Japan still sell usable hachiwara.

Gallery

References

  1. Pauley's Guide - A Dictionary of Japanese Martial Arts and Culture, Daniel C. Pauley, Samantha Pauley, 2009 P.66
  2. Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai By Don Cunningham p.75
  3. Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai By Don Cunningham p.75
  4. A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: In All Countries and in All Times, George Cameron Stone, Courier Dover Publications, 1999 P.273
  5. The Hutchinson dictionary of ancient & medieval warfare, Matthew Bennett, Taylor & Francis, 1998 P.136
  6. Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai By Don Cunningham p.75
  7. Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts Serge Mol, Kodansha International, 2003 P.71
  8. Kabuto page of Nihon Katchû Seisakuben, An Online Japanese Armour Manual
  9. The Watanabe Art Museum Samurai Armour CollectionVolume I ~ Kabuto & Mengu, Trevor Absolon
  10. Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts Serge Mol, Kodansha International, 2003 P.71

External links


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