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Yari in formation
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Simply for academic interest, I've been wondering how one would go about fighting a formation of spearmen.

Yari-carrying ashigaru are reported to have yari up to six metres long. If you assume that each spearmen takes up a metre of depth in the formation to hold their spear shaft, this would mean that they could have a maximum of about five or six spear points out in front. If you have a shorter weapon, this gives you several levels to fight through before reaching someone.

In deep formation, the spearman doesn't really have the option of shortening his reach, as his movements are hindered by the people behind him, but he can still attack the people behind you, his spear shaft causing problems for you. Responses to this threat seem to involve suffering lots of casualties while you keep the spears occupied and try to flank them, using archers, and optionally having lots of spears yourself. Similar things are true in classical Greek battles, which featured mainly spear troops.

Since the Kukishin Ryu is reported to have a battlefield orientation, and covers such things as yari and naginata, I wondered if anyone had come across this sort of information before. Has anyone investigated or been taught the battlefield aspects, or have they been discarded through lack of applicability?

Posted on: 2005/1/13 0:23
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Simon Fraser
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Re: Yari in formation
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Hi Simon

Back in July 1998, on a visit from Japan, Andrew Young taught a seminar at my dojo on these very subjects.

PHOTO

We practiced moving in formation, learning how to measure and maintain the distances between ourselves and those around us as we moved in all directions, learned how to move efficiently so we didn't get too tired (it was very hard work on the legs anyway!) and also looked at how to work as a formation to counter enemy attacks. I don't remember us practicing much about attacking those formations though - there's only so much time in the day after all and we had more than enough to work on anyway.

We also covered some of the more recognisable Kukishinden spear stuff on the day.

It's not easy to describe the training and I don't want to on a public forum anyway but the training is indeed out there if you're in the right place at the right time. If you get the chance, maybe ask Andrew Young?

Posted on: 2005/1/13 0:39
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Andrew K Jones

"Ultimately, we must forget technique, but forgetting about technique is not the same as never having learned it."
Hideharu Onuma
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Re: Yari in formation
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Quote:

Simon wrote:
Since the Kukishin Ryu is reported to have a battlefield orientation, and covers such things as yari and naginata, I wondered if anyone had come across this sort of information before. Has anyone investigated or been taught the battlefield aspects, or have they been discarded through lack of applicability?


Yes, during the year of yari (1994) Hatsumi-sensei set up a basic formation with spears, a samurai (himself) and apprentice.

Basically your group separates a weaker group from the battlefield; your spearmen kill their spearmen and disarm / weaken the samurai; the samurai moves in to cut down the now unarmed and weak samurai and the apprentice follows up to remove the head. A very basic description - but this sort of thing.

I thought at the time it is very different from the romantic image of samurai clashing swords in the middle of the battlefield.


Posted on: 2005/1/13 7:44
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Re: Yari in formation
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Each year we have a camp where we practice battlefield formations that involve a combination of men with Yari, Naginata and Katana. It is great fun and you appreciate the use of such formations. The way we use them is that the formation basically turns into a large mincing machine that systematically butchers anything in its path. As someone has already mentioned the way you use the weapons is with specific walking techniques that make the weapon part of your body. The result is a formation that slices, dices and stabs anything in its path as it move along. We then practice moving the formation around the battlefield, flanking moves and other tactics and strategy. Blinding powders and 'psy-ops' are also explored and used. We then have a series of battles with specific objectives across all types of terrain. Last year we had about 20 people in each formation. It is great fun and a wonderful learning experience. Being one of the clubs instructors, last year I had command of one of the formations. This was a great experience where I was able to work on applying tactics learned from Taijutsu to the battlefield. There was also a considerable degree of pressure which having work under was an invaluable experience for my business dealings. Unfortunately, I would however not expect many dojos to have the opportunity to do such training due to the numbers of students and equipment required to do such things.

Posted on: 2005/1/13 8:08
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Evan R. Bailey
www.bujinkanninjutsu.com.au


"Budo is a doing thing" Nagato Sensei
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