Basically, the counter involves the target of the spear thrust to stomp onto of the spear with their foot as can be shown in this video clip from an old movie. This is described as the "mikiri counter" in Sekiro, Shadows Die Twice game parlance.

Obviously these two are from speculative media which allow for a heavy dose of "magical" abilities. However, does this counter have a basis in real life? How effective at stopping a spear thrust would it be?

My gut feeling is that it is magical thinking but I am quiet happy to be proven wrong by any yari expert here.

  • 2
    As best I understand from the descriptions/videos you've linked, this is less a parry and more a "after blocking, disarming the opponent". FWIW, we did something like that in my Bujinkan class several years ago, but magical thinking was pretty common there, and we never did any sort of free-sparring to prove the efficacy against someone who wasn't just doing the drill with you. Jul 12, 2019 at 13:37
  • 3
    The closest I've found to a practical exploration of it is someone mentioning at reddit.com/r/martialarts/comments/osu9p/sword_vs_spear/… the difficulty of actually knocking a spear downwards and keeping it down there. Most spear thrusts are quick in-and-out. Even if you parry it down, the spear-wielder will just pull back. The Bujinkan bit had to do with disarming someone after you'd grappled them to keep them in place. Jul 12, 2019 at 14:02
  • 2
    @SeanDuggan spear vs sword… Popular wisdom tells you sword will win yet in practice it's always the spear. Jul 12, 2019 at 14:30
  • 1
    @Sardathrion: There's a fun test at youtube.com/watch?v=afqhBODc_8U in more or less live combat. Jul 12, 2019 at 15:37
  • 1
    @SeanDuggan I am indeed familiar with this video. It's great fun and does a fantastic job of dispelling myths. My only criticism is that they fight in an nice open field but not in forests, inside (spiral stair case?), or anywhere restrictive of one or both weapons. Which to be fair is a minor thing. Jul 15, 2019 at 6:56

1 Answer 1


I unfortunately do not have a very complete answer, but partial answers are worth something, I suppose. There's some discussion here about a sword vs. spear bout that reminds us that, outside of movies, it's not that easy to just knock a spear down and keep it there.

I think the hard part is actually grabbing the spear without getting impaled on it. Look at the ranges they stand in: for the most part, it's the point of the sword to the point of the spear, and that's for good reason. The spear guy can easily plunger the spear forward, so by the time your hand is in range of the spear, you're probably fucked.

Batting the spear down is not an easy task either. There's not much of an angle to do this at all, and even if somehow you got it down, he can draw the spear back rather quickly. In a lot of these bouts, the spear guy gets 2-3 solid hits in before the kendo guy can even get in range to do his one hit.

This is further reinforced in the test that Lindybeige did at a HEMA event where you can repeatedly see that the stabs are quick and high. Deflecting them is less a matter of "drive them into the ground or into the air" and more "move them enough that they barely miss you".

We did do a step disarm when I was studying Bujinkan in Dayton, OH, but it was in staff vs. staff combat, and was intended to be done after grappling with the person and more or less immobilizing the spear before stepping on it. It was difficult to target the spear with your foot without looking and was tricky balance-wise, but indeed, it didn't take much weight to rip the staff out of the other person's hand, essentially doing a third-degree lever effect.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.