Manrikigusari means "strength of a thousand
men." This ingenious weapon was created to be very concealable
and at the same time, very effective and dangerous. The small
weighted ends can easily be used to break any bone, when swung
with the right speed and accuracy. It could also leave a man
unconscious, as well as crack the skull, if a ninja so wished.
The manrikigusari 6 consisted of a short length
of metal chain, about two to three feet long, with weights on
each end. The chain could be used to parry a strike from sticks,
swords, or other weapons. The weights were also swung to strike
an opponent or to entangle a weapon. Once a weapon was trapped
by the chain and weights, the samurai could easily disarm their
opponent. Finally, the length of chain could also be used to
temporarily restrain an attacker once he was subdued.
The manrikigusari was allegedly developed by Dannoshin Toshimitsu
Masaki, then head sentry at Edo Castle, sometime during the
early 1700s. According to legend, Masaki was inspired to create
this unique weapon to prevent unnecessary bloodshed while his
guards defended the castle from intruders. The manrikigusari
was later adopted by other constables and their assistants to
disarm and capture criminals.