Naginata is the practice and study of the Japanese halberd. This graceful and dynamic martial art, characterized by large sweeping strikes and its ambidextrous nature make the naginata a formidable and deadly weapon. Used from the 11 th to 15 th centuries, the naginata was phased out from battlefield use in favour of the spear and firearms. Today, like many martial arts, Naginata is practiced as a means of self development and the cultivation of a strong body, mind, and spirit.

Since its departure from the battlefield, the teaching and training methods have been preserved primarily by women – women of samurai families were taught naginata as a means of defense and protecting the family. Modern Naginata (also known as “atarashii naginata”) was created in part to provide physical education for young women in schools across Japan.

Naginata practice is composed of two parts – the practice and execution of form (Kata/Waza) and its application in competitive bouts (Shikake-Oji/Shiai). Diligent practice in form improves one’s balance, co-ordination, sense of timing and co-operation with others. Competition provides greater confidence, patience, and the needed spirit to assert oneself in matches and in daily life.

Naginata is practiced in two locations in Toronto – the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) and Hart House at the University of Toronto. Founded in 2003 and 2007 respectively, members of both clubs have gone to represent Canada in the World Naginata Championships as well as numerous tournaments across the United States and beyond.

JCCC Naginata Club

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University of Toronto Naginata Club