Kusarifundo, kyoketsu shoge and kusari kama

Kusari means ‛chain’. In Bujinkan, we practice with the kusarifundo, also called manrikigusari. It is a chain (kusari) roughly 90cm long with small weights (fundo) at the end. The kusarifundo is usually applied to techniques and kata forms as an improvised weapon. Manrikigusari originates in the Masaki ryu school, which Hatsumi practiced before meeting Takamatsu-sensei. According to Masaki ryu, the manrikigusari or kusarifundo was invented by Masaki Tarodayu Toshimitsu when he was ordered to defend the Otemon gate of Edo Palace. Bloodshed was forbidden in the palace, so he required a weapon which did not inflict wounds. Manrikikusari means ‛the chain with the strength of 10,000 men’.  

Togakure ryu teaches the use of Kyoketsu Shoge, a tool to help move in mountainous terrain which can be used as a weapon if needed. It has a dagger-like head (kunai) sporting a hook halfway down its length. A rope made of human or horse hair with a metal ring as weight at the end.

We also utilise kusari kama or chain sickles in Bujinkan. The kusari kama sickle is specifically designed for warfare rather than agricultural purposes. There are several kinds of blades, usually reminiscent of European war hammers with sharpened edges. A weighted chain was fixed to the sickle. Probably the kusari kama was developed in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573). The weight at the end of the chain was used for striking the opponent much the same as the European flail. The chain can be used for wrapping and binding an enemy’s weapons or body parts, or to strangle. With the sickle, the wielder could strike, cut, deflect, and bind the enemy’s weapon.