Sōjutsu (槍術), meaning “art of the spear”, is the Japanese martial art of fighting with a Japanese spear (槍, yari). Although the spear had a profound role in early Japanese mythology, where the islands of Japan themselves were said to be created by salt water dripping from the tip of the spear Ame-no-Nuhoko (Heavenly jeweled spear), as a weapon the first spear prototypes were brought from mainland Asia. These early versions were not seen as suitable by the Japanese, who later redesigned them once technology permitted.
The yari was a popular weapon throughout the feudal period of Japan, being cheaper to produce and requiring less training than other contemporary battlefield weapons, and lending itself to close formations of ashigaru troops, in conjunction with firearms upon their adoption in Japan. The height of Sōjutsu’s popularity was immediately after the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, who themselves used spearmen in great numbers.
The Japanese ultimately modified the heads of their spears into several different variations, leading to the use of the spear both on foot and from horseback, and for slashing as well as the primary use of attacking with thrusts.
Both the demonstration and the workshop on will be presented by the Tosa No Shugyo Dojo, which is based in Wichita, Kansas and is a Sōjutsu (Spear) and Kenjutsu (Sword) school promoting Kochi/Tosa culture as well as arms, armor, and culture of the samurai class of Japan.
Training spears (no steel) are 7 to 9 feet in length and are used in a linear manner. Senior members of Tosa No Shugyo Dojo will work with festival attendees and will give hands-on instruction in the etiquette and handling of the Japanese spear.