Waikibiki – Auxiliary Body Armor

Waikibiki is part of the Japanese Auxiliary Armor that covers areas of the body exposed by gaps in the Samurai armor. This Arm Defense is used when additional protection is required especially during battles.

This Samurai Suit is a simple rectangle cloth covered with Kusari or chain armor, Karuta or small rectangular plates and kikko or hexagon plates. There are cases when Wakibiki can be made out of one solid piece of iron or hardened leather.

Cords are attached to it that allows it to hang from the shoulder of the soldier or Samurai. This armor relies on this cord as the pressure from the do against whoever wears it keeps it in place.

Its specific location is suspended over the exposed armpit area. These can be made so that the top inch or two inches of it is made of metal while the rest consists of cloth. There are times when odd ones were made of lame lace with sugake odoshi.

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How to Wear

This arm defense armor is worn inside the chest armor or on the outside depending on its type. The simplest definition for this is armpit protector. Other forms have long ties that allow these Samurai Armor to be tied on the opposite side of the neck.

Sometimes the use of heavy leather under the cloth is also made on certain designs for the Wakibiki. This Arm Defense is never worn with Manchira because this is considered as overkill.

Kinds of Waikibiki

  • Kusari. This was popular during the Edo period. This was long-kimono type jacket with robust kusari on light colored linen. It has leather trims and is reinforced with a honeycomb pattern collar. Its sleeves have adjustable cords attach to the underside of the Samurai
  • Kikko. This is installed on hon iyozane dou and is also popular during the Edo period
  • Tetsu/Iron. This is also installed on hon iyozane dou
Samuraiantiqueworld [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Auxiliary forms of Arm Defense like these are worn underneath the clothes and sometimes over the chest armor. Take note of how the Haidate is supported in front with the cord worn around the neck and torso so that this will not slip down.

If in case there was a form of slack in the armor the Waikibiki will act as protection when the arms are lifted up. Samurai usually undid their topknots and wear their hair loose to accommodate the pieces of armory knowing that a little sacrifice can mean a lot to protect these men from getting hurt.

A trained man can handle the great extra weight cause by wearing these extras. It was considered soldierly to never lose activity while wearing these armors. As far as prices are a concern, these extras cost a lot and are carried by the wealthy daimyo.

This gave craftsmen a lot of clients during that time willing to pay more for that extra measure of protection on the battlefield.

Clans usually commissioned this craftsman to make a personalized Wakibiki for them. Since these are equally distributed the weight does not feel as heavy as it looks or describes.

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