Jitte – History, and Origins

In feudal Japan, it was considered a crime punishable by death to bring a sword inside the Shogun’s palace. This does not exclude palace guards. As a form of protection palace guards carries a non-bladed weapon called Jitte.

This made Jitte a good form of protection for these palace guards. This was carried by all levels of police officers. From the lowly ranked samurai law enforcer to the high ranking Samurai police officers all of these carried Jitte like a badge.

Jitte jutsu is a technique used to ward off against an opponent using weapons. It is literally translated to ten hands. The main element use is Gyaku-te waza grappling techniques.

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Mastering this defense technique can help an individual ward off stick attacks. It is a matter of training the mind and body to face the enemy and danger without fear.

Some theories on where Jitte got its name is the raised fist hand position used within the kata. Some experts suggest that Jitte can be traced to ancient Kung Fu.

The reason for this is that it was observed that the style use can be found in karate with some grappling techniques thrown in. The primary function of this is to teach defense against enemies using weapons during fights or battle.


Jitte can sometimes have a hidden stiletto in the hilt. This is a small pointed tip or blade attached to the tsuka but, hidden in the boshin. This can be decorated lavishly with all manners of inlays.

It can also be plain. If it is plain this means the owner is a low ranking officer. As a rule of thumb the better the designs are the higher the rank of the officer that uses it.

This can be as short as 12 inches or more than 24 inches in length. The modern Jitte stands in between, 18 inches in length. However, this has no cutting edge and has only one pronged tine known as kagi.

Azzraell Hassan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Some mistook the kagi as a weapon made to catch the sword. Jitte can be used as a short stick or baton to strike large muscle groups.

As for the Japanese martial arts using this weapon, this is known as Juttejutsu. There are several schools in existence today that teaches this practice. Some schools only teach this for those who ranked 3rd dan.

Parts of the Jitte

  • Boshin. This is the main shaft of the jitte. It can be smooth or multi-sided. The boshin can be made of iron or wood
  • Kagi. This is the hook or guard that protrudes on the side of the Jitte.
  • Sentan. The tip or point
  • Tsuka. Handle which can be plain or covered with different kinds of materials
  • Tsukamaki. Wrapping on the handle
  • Kan. Ring or loop of the tsuka pommel. There is an option to use cords or tassel
  • Koshirae. This acts as storage for Jitte. This resembles the case use for swords
  • Kikuza. If the kagi is attached to the boshin through the hole, the protrusion on the other end is known as kikuza

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Featured Image Source: Samuraiantiqueworld [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons