The naginata consists of a staff with sword attached to the top. With an average length of almost 8 ft 6 inches (254 centimetres) it is a very effective weapon against the long sword. The naginata can be used to strike the opponent with the blunt side or cut him with the sharp sword like end, and has therefore a great advantage in comparison to the bo or the ken.
Even though the naginata was used in many battles by samurai, it slowly became a weapon mainly employed by the women of the samurai.
When the men were away from home, the women had to be able to defend themselves against attacks on their homes and land. Because of its length the naginata was a perfectly suited weapon for women to keep the enemy at bay or even defeat him.
Although de naginata had an average length of approximately 6.5 to 8 ft., bigger naginata were created. Sometimes the naginata were so large they had to be handled by 4 men. Weapons of such size were mainly employed against samurai on horseback.
Naginata jutsu in Tenshinsho-den Katori Shinto Ryu consists of 4 kata (Omote no Naginata), the opponent is armed with a ken. This discipline also teaches students to fight with a long weapon against a shorter weapon. Equally the ken-jutsu-ka learns to fight the much larger naginata.