The naginata (なぎなた, 薙刀) is one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades (nihonto) in the form of a pole weapon. Naginata were originally used by the samurai class of feudal Japan, as well as by ashigaru (foot soldiers) and sōhei (warrior monks). The naginata is the iconic weapon of the onna-bugeisha, a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese upper class.
Naginata for fighting men and sōhei were ō-naginata. The kind used by women was called ko-naginata. Since the naginata with its pole is heavier and much slower than the Japanese sword, the blade of the ko-naginata was smaller than the battlefield ō-naginata in order for women to use them with greater dexterity and mainly for self-defense, rather than trying to put emphasis on physical strength and the battlefield like armoured male warriors would.