Sojutsu (the art of the spearmanship) (槍術)

The art of Sojutsu (the spearmanship) is one of the martial arts that has been performed since ancient ages in Japan. The name Sojutsu (the art of the spearmanship) is also inscribed by using different Chinese characters.

Yari (a spear with a small head) was developed in late Kamakura period by following naginata (a long pole with a sharp curving sword), which had been the mainstream in the mid Heian period and later. When it was first generated, it was for zohyo use (for common soldiers use); however, it gradually became common among busho (Japanese military commanders) for their own use, and the art of the spearmanship was developed.

With regard to the spear in itself, there was only one type of yari called suyari (simple spear) first, and improvement was made for several times depending on the taste of users. There are various kinds of spears including Great Spear, whose ear tip (blade area) is long and Kamayari (spear with a sickle on both sides of the blade) whose root of the blade area is diverging, and Kamayari was further classified into Kata Kamayari (single-sided sickle spear) and Ryo Kamayari, which is often called Jumonji kamayari (a cross-shaped spear with a sickle on both sides of the blade), and other kinds of spears including Kudayari (tube spear), in which a mobile tube is attached to the tsuka (hilt) for easiness in sticking out, Hazuyari (a bow with a spearhead) in which a covering ear tip is applied to hazu (nock) of a Japanese bow, and Tetsukiyari (fishing spear), which has a short hilt.

Imperial Japanese Army established jukenjutsu (the martial art using the bayonet) in Nihon shiki (Japanese style) based on the traditional Japanese art of the spearmanship including Hozoin school and Saburi school, and the French-style jukenjutsu, which had been performed to that day, was abolished and was replaced with the new style. The jukenjutsu of the former Japanese Army became jukendo (the martial art using the bayonet), which is a kind of Kyogi Budo (athletic martial arts) now and is performed as a training of combat techniques at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) together with the Self-Defense Force 銃剣格闘 (bayonet drill and combat techniques).

Most of the schools mainly dealing with the art of the spearmanship are lost without transmission of the techniques during the period from Meiji to Showa. Nevertheless, some schools of comprehensive martial arts including the art of the spearmanship are still present today although the art of the spearmanship is not the specialty of such schools.

[Original Japanese]