• Dave Giddings

Near or far, hooked on you...

The kyoketsu shoge is a weapon that is said to pre-date the kusarigama and was used by ninja of the Japanese region called Iga. The weapon was a combination of dagger and hooked blade (kyoketsu) attached to metal ring (shoge) connected by a rope. The length of cord, in ancient days crafted from womens or horse hair (due to its strength and resilience), was approximately ten to fourteen feet.

Each part of this uncommon weapon had a particular function. The blade could be used for hooking, cutting, or stabbing as well as parrying. The cord could secure prisoners or goods as needed, or used to climb buildings and more natural obstacles. The metal ring was used in blunt force strikes or looping over protrusions to aid in climbing. This was used at long, medium, and close range, and while its many uses required extensive practice, its versatility made it a valuable tool for the ninja.

When the weapon is taught it is essential to get a feel for the weight and reach of the weapon, how the blade can be best utilised, and hojo jutsu skills to use the rope. The weighted ring is not just cast from the hand but as an extension of the rope, making it a more flexible weapon (literally).

In the demonstration above, the naginata attack is deflected by the blade while the ring is cast like a shuriken to distract the swordsman. The opponent with the naginata is brought to ground by a combination of taijutsu and the hook part of the kyoketsu blade. The katana blade is then redirected to finish the naginata wielding opponent. The swordsman is stunned by a mae geri and finished the the kyoketsu blade.

In paired training there is more adaption to a resisting opponent, and the concept of flexible approach is introduced. As with many weapons that have a flexible component (rope or chain) there are no real fixed forms, just principles to be applied. There are no fixed kamae, but as a starting point seigan no kamae is useful.

The rope is usually coiled in the hand holding the kyoketsu blade, but this can change as needed. The rope can lead to entanglement of multiple opponents, and facilitate an escape.

The use of this unique weapon is, as with many ninjutsu tools, only limited by the imagination of the user. Its usefulness as a tool of escape as well as combat should not be overlooked.

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