Kanabo

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The kanabo (???) (metallic staff) is an iron or steel staff used in feudal Japan as a weapon. It was constructed out of heavy oak wood, and covered with some form of metal from the end to the middle, with metal studs along the metal-shod end. Later versions were made entirely out of metal, but shorter. It was this later version that many popular pictures of Japanese demons carry. It was usually a very heavy weapon.

Because of its sheer weight, only a few soldiers carried it. It was more of a mythical weapon, often used in tales by the great Japanese demons “oni” since the oni were extremely strong and could carry these mammoth weapons and so were feared by many superstitious people. Today there is a saying in Japanese that says, “Like giving a kanabo to an oni”- which means to give an extra advantage to someone already holding all the cards.

When used, the purpose of the kanabo was to smash enemies’ armor and break their warhorses’ legs. The art of using this cumbersome weapon, kanabo-jutsu, consisted of a mastery of both balance and strength; it required great skill to recover from a miss with the heavy club, which could leave a warrior open to a counter-attack.