Did Samurai Use Spears?

Samurai were a type of warrior in Japan that were known for their fighting skills and honor. When people think about these fighters, they often picture them with just a katana and wakizashi. However, they used many different weapons in battle.

Samurai used spears known as yari in battle. The yari was more popular than the sword until the katana became prominent in the Edo period. Spears in feudal Japan were commonplace in the military.

This article will explore the use of spears by Samurai. It will look at what kind of spears they used, how they used them in battle and training, and other weapons they might have carried into combat.

Samurai spear
What kind of spears did Samurai have? See below

What Kind of Spears Did Samurai Have?

Samurai had a variety of spears, including the yari and naginata. In fact, it was common for them to bring many spears into battle, and it would be a samurai’s first choice for hand-to-hand combat.

It wasn’t until the Edo period that the katana became the symbol of Samurai. It was at this time that long-range weapons were retired. Here are two of the most common pole weapons that were used in feudal Japan:


The yari was a long spear that could be used for both stabbing and slashing. It had a pointed blade on one end and a crossbar or bladed head on the other. This weapon was popular among Samurai because it gave them reach in battle. They could stand back and stab their opponents from a distance or use the crossbar to block attacks.

Different types of the yari spear were created to fulfill specific purposes in military combat. The sankaku yari was capable of piercing any kind of armor, even tough stuff like metal plating. These spears did not have cutting edges; instead, they had a pointed edge that could penetrate any armor, which the standard yari could not.

Another type was the kagi yari, which had a hook on the side. This was used to pull enemies closer or disarm them. It was also excellent at dismounting enemies on horseback. The kuda yari, translated as tube spear, had the shaft go through a metal tube which allowed the attacker to twist when thrusting the weapon.


The naginata was a curved sword that was attached to a long pole. This weapon allowed Samurai to attack their enemies from afar as well as close up. The curved blade could easily slice through armor, making it an effective weapon on the battlefield.

One of the primary uses of the naginata during battles was to take down mounted enemies as part of the cavalry unit. The extra reach allowed Samurai to more effectively deal with charging foes. Naginata were over two meters in length and were very popular amongst infantry.

A smaller version known as ko-naginata was created for use by women. The naginata was a slow and heavy weapon, especially when considering how fast katana and wakizashi were. Therefore the ko-naginata was made to compensate for the height and bodyweight of female warriors compared to their male counterparts.

spear weapon
How did Samurai use their spears? See below

How Did Samurai Use Their Spears?

Samurai used their spears to charge at their opponents in open fields and use the momentum to thrust the spear into them. If they were fighting in tight quarters, they would use shorter strokes to slash at their opponents.

Samurai would also often throw their spears at enemies before closing in for close combat. This was an especially effective maneuver against mounted enemies as it could bring them down from their horses.

Nagae-yari units played a vital role on the battlefield. They would use their long weapons to pin enemies in place and protect the rest of their military forces from attack. In later years, this tactic would allow musketeers to shoot down the opposing forces while they were pinned.

spear tips
What other weapons did Samurai have? See below

What Other Weapons Did Samurai Have?

Samurai had other weapons that often included yami (bow), katana and wakizashi (blades), and tanto (knives). Samurai used a variety of different weapons in combat and were trained to master many different fighting styles.

Katana and Wakizashi

Samurai were well known for their fighting skills and use of swords, in particular the katana and wakizashi. Samurai would use their katana and wakizashi to slash and stab their opponents in battle. They could also use these swords to block attacks.

Katanas were particularly effective against mounted enemies as they could easily slice through their armor. Samurai would also use their katana to slash at the horses of their opponents, causing them to lose control.

Wakizashi were used by samurai in close quarters combat. They could be used to slash and stab opponents or to block attacks.


The tanto was a small dagger that Samurai would carry with them. This weapon was used for close-quarters combat and could easily be concealed.

The tanto was originally designed to be worn as a companion sword to the wakizashi. However, with the invention of the katana, the wakizashi became the common companion sword.

The combination of katana and wakizashi/tanto is known as the daisho. The literal translation is ‘big/little.’ Any larger sword paired with a tanto could be considered a daisho, which has come to signify matching fittings.


The yumi is a type of bow that was used by Samurai in feudal Japan. It is a tall bow that has a recurve design, which means the limbs curve away from the archer when unstrung. This design gives the yumi more power and makes it more difficult to pull back than other bows.

The yumi was used for both battle and target practice. It was an extremely effective weapon on the battlefield as it could be used at a distance and could penetrate most armor. In fact, the yumi was so powerful that it could even take down cavalry riders.


The Samurai were a fearsome force and used a variety of weapons to defeat their opponents, becoming some of the most feared warriors in history.

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