Onna bugeisha – The Powerful Female Samurai Warrior

Onna bugeisha – The Powerful Female Samurai Warrior: In the earlier periods such as the Heian and Kamakura, there were female members of the samurai class who became prominent or even present on the battlefield. They were the exception and not the rule, but this doesn’t mean that most women were powerless ^^;


Onna-musha or women warriors were very unusual. The most famous women warriors were Tomoe Gozen and Hangaku Gozen.

onna bugeisha female samurai

Bushi women were trained mainly with the naginata because of its versatility against all types of enemies and weapons. They would also use the kaiken – a type of dagger – and the art of tantojutsu in battle.



It was generally the responsibility of women to protect their homes rather than go off to battle in the field, so it was important that they become skilled in a few weapons that offered the best range of techniques to defend against anyone who would attack on horseback.

onna bugeisha female samurai

During the Sengoku period  (mid. 15th century – beginning of 17th century) there are accounts of the wives of warlords, dressed in ornated armor, leading bands of women armed with naginata. It was probably at this time that the image of women fighters with naginata arose.

onna bugeisha female samurai

In the mid-17th century, when Japan finally arrived at an enforced peace under the authoritarian rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, the need for skill at arms decreased. Many schools focusing on the use of the naginata were created and began to be increasingly associated with women.

onna bugeisha female samurai

When there was a disturbance at night or a suspicious character entered the village, the women would grab their naginata, which hung ready on one of the walls of the house, and go running outside to gather and search the town for any danger.

onna bugeisha female samurai

After World War II it came the Atarashii Naginata (lit. “new naginata”), a modern martial mode (Gendai Budo) sport like, which was created based on the Naginatajutsu, as it happened with the development of kendo from of Kenjutsu.

Next is a video showing the modern combat with the naginata.

Of course, to be a complete warrior, they needed to train in many martial arts – Do you know all of them? Find about Japanese Martial Arts here

japanese martial arts

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  3. […] Golden Age. That is the set theme for our joint show. I picked the Japanese Golden Age and used the female samurai (onna beugeisha) and the Edo Era as my main focus. The name of my current collection is “The Age of […]

  4. […] More on the issue of female samurai can be found in Tomoe Gozen ? Female Samurai Warrior and Onna bugeisha – The Powerful Female Samurai Warrior __________________ __________________ To view links or images in signatures your post count […]

  5. […] Japanese society was very much a male-dominated space, there were many female samurai (known as onna-bugeishas), female ninjas (kunoichi), as well as female novelists and poets. There was even a female shogun! […]

  6. christina says:

    hello,,i am christina.. I from Indonesia, i am doing some research about onna bugeisha , can you give some book reference?

    thanks before


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