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Naginata dates from the ninth century, when it was used by Samurai to defeat swordsmen. Originally devised as a sword attached to a long staff, the Naginata was used with large, sweeping motions against mounted warriors. Over time, the Naginata became a weapon of self-defense, used by women to protect their homes. Now, bamboo replaces the sword and Naginata is practiced as a sport and as a means of character development (budo). It is similar to fencing. Traditionally a Japanese women’s martial art, Naginata is now practiced outside of Japan by men and women of many ages.