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Antique Japanese (samurai) Iron bar weapon (jitte) mounted in a sword type case (koshirae)

A jitte (十手?, literally "ten hands") is a specialized weapon that was used by police in Edo period Japan. It is also spelled jutte.[1][2]

In Edo period Japan the jitte was a substitute for a badge and represented someone on official business and was carried by all levels of police officers including high-ranking samurai police officials and low-rank samurai law enforcement officers (called okappiki or doshin).[3][4] Other high-ranking samurai officials carried a jitte as a badge of office,[5] including hotel, rice and grain inspectors (aratame).[6][7] The jitte is the subject of the Japanese martial art of jittejutsu.[8]

Parts of the jitte

[9] [10]

  • Boshin, the main shaft of the jitte which could be smooth or multi sided. The boshin of most jitte were usually iron but some were made from wood.[11]
  • Sentan, the tip or point of the jitte.
  • Kagi, the hook or guard protruding from the side of the jitte. Jutte may have more than one kagi with some jitte having two or three kagi.[9]
  • Kikuza (chrysanthemum seat), if the kagi is attached to the boshin through a hole in the boshin, the protrusion on the opposite side is called a kikuza.
  • Tsuka, the handle of the jitte which could be left plain, it could also be wrapped or covered with various materials.
  • Tsukamaki, the wrapping on the handle (tsuka). Materials such as ray skin same', leather, and cord were used for tsukamaki on jittes.
  • Kan, the ring or loop at the hilt of the tsuka. A cord or tassel could be tied to the kan.
  • Tsuba, a hand guard present on some types of jitte.
  • Koshirae. Jitte can occasionally be found housed in a sword type case hiding the jitte from view entirely, this type of jitte can have the same parts and fittings as a sword including:seppa, tsuba, menuki, koiguchi, kojiri, nakago, mekugi-ana and mei.

Additional information and technique

Jitte with a hidden stiletto in the tsuka (handle), it has an iron kan (end loop) with tassels.

Jitte may have a small pointed tip or blade attached to the tsuka and hidden in the boshin. Jitte could be highly decorated with all manner of inlays and designs or very plain and basic depending on the status of the owner and the jitte's intended use. Jitte could range in length from around 12 inches to over 24 inches. [9] The modern jitte is about 45 cm (18 inches) long with no cutting edge and a one-pronged tine kagi, about 5 cm long starting just above the handle tsuka and pointing toward the tip sentan. A popular misconception is that the kagi is used to catch a sword. It could possibly be used for this purpose, but the kagi's proximity to the hand would make it rather dangerous. When faced with a swordsman, a more likely use for the kagi would be to capture and arrest the blade after blocking it with the boshin.[12] The kagi's more common use is to hook into clothing or parts of the body like the nose or mouth, or to push into joints or other weak points on the body. It also could be used to hook the thumb while holding the weapon backwards, to allow different techniques such as punches and blocks, very similarly to a sai. The jitte can also be used in much the same manner as other short sticks or batons, to strike large muscle groups and aid in joint manipulation.[12]


In feudal Japan, it was a crime punishable by death to bring a sword into the shogun's palace. This law applied to almost everyone, including the palace guards. Due to this prohibition, several kinds of non-sword, defensive weapons were carried by palace guards. The jitte proved particularly effective and evolved to become the symbol of a palace guard's exalted position.[13]

Other jitte types and similar weapons

In popular culture

Notable examples of jitte featured in fiction include: Classic Japanese cinema, trading card games, in manga and anime and in video games.[14] In the card game Magic: The Gathering, a Jitte is referenced in Betrayers of Kamigawa (see Umezawa's Jitte). In the 1992 anime Gundam 0083, the first Gundam piloted by the main character was equipped with a short beam blade, designed with the express purpose of blocking enemy blades. Though it is mounted to its rifle like a bayonet, it is expressly referred to in the story and supplemental materials as a "jitte".

The One Piece character Smoker, uses a giant (almost man-sized) jitte, tipped with Seastone, one of the few things that can disable the powers of Devil Fruit eaters, allowing him to harm ones whose powers would ordinarily make them impervious to blunt force. This being a direct reference to the old police using this weapon to disarm and enforce law breakers.

In the Street Fighter Alpha fighting game series, a character named Sodom wields a pair of jitte in battle. He was previously a boss character in the arcade game Final Fight where he wielded two katanas and was a member of the Mad Gear gang.

In Gintama Terada Tatsugorou, the late husband of Terada Ayano, also known as Otose, uses a jitte along with his katana, his weapons of choice during his time. Later they were temporarily used by the protagonist Gintoki Sakata.

Inspector Ishida, a recurring character in Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo series, is a yoriki (police official) who carries a jitte with him as a badge of office and a defensive weapon. Although he is a samurai and carries the traditional pair of swords, he prefers to rely on his unarmed combat skills, including his deft use of his jitte to catch and break an attacker's sword.



  1. Draeger & Smith (1969). Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts. pp. 83. ISBN 978-0-87011-436-6. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Serge Mol, Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts, Kodansha International, 2003; p.221
  3. Stephen Turnbull, The Samurai Swordsman: Master of War, p.113
  4. Don Cunningham, Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai, Tuttle Publishing, 2004; p.65
  5. Serge Mol, Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts, pp.77–78
  6. Cunningham, p.72
  7. William E. Deal, Handbook to life in medieval and early modern Japan, pp.166–167
  8. 8.0 8.1 Serge Mol, Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts, Kodansha International, 2003
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Cunningham, p.66
  10. Daniel C. Pauley, Samantha Pauley, Pauley's Guide: A Dictionary of Japanese Martial Arts and Culture, 2009, p.65
  11. Thomas Louis, Tommy Ito, Samurai: The Code of the Warrior, Sterling Publishing Company, Inc., 2008; p.129
  12. 12.0 12.1 Serge Mol, Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts, Kodansha International, 2003; p.80
  13. Jutte (Ju-Te): The "Power-of-Ten-Hands" Weapon

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