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Sōjutsu (槍術?), meaning "art of the spear" is the Japanese martial art of fighting with a Japanese spear, or 槍 Yari.

Origins

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 a 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.

Use and popularity

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 a number of 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.

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