Monday, 22 February 2016

Women Warriors - the Onna Bugeisha of Feudal Japan

I got annoyed by a discussion on Historum forum, about female Viking warriors, but ranging a lot more widely. One person in particular is adamant (despite any evidence to the contrary) that even little weedy men can overpower any woman, and that therefore women were never warriors.

So here are the onna-bugeisha, the samurai women of feudal Japan, trained in the use of the naginata, kaiken (dagger) and the art of tantojutsu (a knife fighting style of martial arts). Their principle purpose was to protect the household, family and honour in times of war, but they also went into battle alongside samurai men.
In 1868, for instance, Nakano Takeko was recruited to become the leader of a group of twenty women using the naginata, who joined the 3,000 other Aizu samurai in the battle of Aizu. Unfortunately, they were on the losing side, and Nakano Takeko was killed when she was shot in the chest.
Tomoe Gozen was a samurai archer. She died in 1247 during the Genpai War. During the Battle of Awazu she is known to have decapitated an enemy warrior after unhorsing him.

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