In some ways, naginata can be likened to Western fencing or Japanese kendo. Naginata practitioners dress almost identically to kendo practitioners, though the weapon they use is entirely different. Competitions also resemble kendo matches, though there are ways of using the naginata (nagi and kiru techniques) that are unique to the weapon. The nagi strike is a downward horizontal cut and thought to be the origin of the word “naginata”. Another major difference between naginata and kendo is that naginata allows strikes to the shin.
Japanese waka poems have a long and vibrant history, and over time have taken on many forms. Among these are tanka, short poems of thirty-one syllables in a five-seven-five-seven-seven structure. Many tanka were written by the aristocrats of the Heian period. The poems collected in the famous anthology Ogura Hyakunin Isshu are tanka.
From tanka came renga, or linked verses, which emerged during the Muromachi period.
Renga have an opening stanza called the hokku, which is arranged in a five-seven-five syllable pattern and is of special importance. Eventually, people began appreciating this initial stanza on its own, and the structure became what is today known as a haiku.