Hachiwara

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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[edit]

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

Dirk type hachiwara[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

References[edit]

  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[edit]