Sasumata

Sasumata

The sasumata (刺股 bifurcated spear) is a Japanese weapon used primarily by samurai police forces and for self-defense in feudal Japan. The sasumata was a weapon used by the samurai police force and for self-defense in feudal Japan.

Sasumata's Description and use

Although some sources place the origin of the sasumata in the Muromachi period, most authors describe its use in the Edo period; during this period, samurai, assisted by ordinary citizens, engaged in police operations using various types of non-lethal weapons to capture suspected criminals.

The Sasumata is very similar to the Tsukubo and the Sodegarami (they are part of the same family of weapons and together with these make up the Torimono sandōgu, the three instruments of arrest) and is usually 2 meters long or more;

the sturdy wooden handle was usually covered with spines or sharp iron points, connected by metal strips to the distal end of the weapon to prevent the captured person from clinging to it.

The head varied from weapon to weapon: it could be "U" closed or "U" open; inside the "horns" could be an iron point.

The head of the sasumata was used to block the neck, arms, legs or other joints of a suspect, holding him to allow the guards to approach and immobilize him with the technique of Hojōjutsu.

The opposite end of the sasumata often ended in a metal cap (ishizuki) as in the Naginata or other pole weapons.

Sasumata Variants

Don Cunningham states that there was a version of the sasumata used in firefighting known as the chokyakusan, rinkaku, tetsubashira, and tokikama;

he also reports that in China there was a similar version called the chang jiao qian, cha gan, or even huo cha (fire fork), which probably had the same functions.

All of these tools were used by firefighters to more easily demolish burning buildings, lift ladders, and complete their functions.

In the present day, a modern version of the sasumata is occasionally used by the Japanese police as a self-defense tool; although rarely used, there are several in every police station.

These sasumata are made of aluminum, so they are durable but far lighter, and lack the spikes and points that could be found in their medieval counterparts.

Some models have been marketed to schools because of a growing fear of outside aggression in classrooms, as reported by Japanese newspapers such as the Mainichi Shinbun:

several news stories such as the 2001 Osaka school massacre have prompted some schools in Japan to make sasumata available to faculty to protect themselves or students, handling a potential threat until the authorities arrive.