Photos from 1935 Japan via Old Photos of Japan.

Japanese school girls practicing naginata (薙刀). Naginata is a pole weapon traditionally used by members of the samurai class. It consists of a wooden shaft with a curved blade on the end. In the modern martial art form of naginata, it is carved from one piece of Japanese white oak or it features a replaceable blade constructed from bamboo. Practitioners wear protective armor called bogu (防具). It is very similar to the armor worn by practitioners of kendo. In modern Japan, naginatajutsu is practiced especially by women.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and tag tamorapierce here because this is just too cool for words. 

And that limb held, `cos here I am, with thanks!

Look at them, at the easy grace with which they wait, at their focus on the weapon and beyond it, the opponent.

Thank you! I sit here in delighted fascination. :3

I have one of these. (It was a super thing when my sensei told me years back that the best thing about finally having a female student was that now there was someone he felt happy to teach the naginata styles to.) It’s a lovely weapon… and incredibly effective. When properly used, no one armed with a mere sword can get anywhere near you. Also very effective against mounted opponents…