Death Valley and began to reflect that if I was regularly being charged by zombies I might want something more physical to stop them while the all important headshot was administered. At first I thought about a quarterstaff or possibly a boarspear but then I recalled a Japanese polearm called the Tsukubô. The Tsukubo was one of the torimono sandôgu (three implements of arresting) used by feudal Japanese police, along with the Sodegarami and Sasumata. The Tsukubo was a T shaped pole used for pushing, pulling and tripping a suspect. The Sodegarami (Sleeve tangler) had an array of hooks and was designed to entangle in the loose clothing worn then. The Sasumata was a forked implement intended to catch a limb or the neck. Similar devices to the Sasumata were also in use in the west, where they were called Mancatchers or Catchpoles. Many western examples were more sophisticated with sprung jaws to prevent the body part escaping again once caught. On the right is a modern Japanese Sasumata that copies this feature.
I knew that a modern version of the Sasumata was still used by Japanese police. This resembles a broad Y shape and is commonly applied to the thorax rather the limbs or neck. In fact, although called a Sasumata it can be argued that in application it more closely resembles the Tsukobo. The subject is pushed against a nearby wall or tripped and held down on the ground.
Researching modern Sasumata turned up an interesting fact. Not only are they used by Police but they also appear to be standard equipment in Japanese schools. In the event of a dangerous intruder teachers will subdue him with Sasumata until the police arrive. Not only are these devices issued to schools, but teachers appear to have practice sessions on how to use them. Here is a news story about the Sasumata being used in exactly this fashion against a knifeman threatening to harm children.
| On the right is shown a proposal for a more sophisticated design of the Sasumata or Catchpole, based on a medieval German example and combining the features of both Sasumata and Tsukubô.|
Section A can be used to capture a suspect's arm or leg and has sprung jaws to prevent them freeing themselves. Once a limb is gripped the pole can be rotated and manipulated to apply a lock or control a suspect. The shaft might be fitted with side handles and the butt with a T-grip to facilitate this.
Section B can be applied to a broader target such as the torso to pin the suspect against a wall or hold them down on the ground. This section may have some padding to reduce the possibility of bruising.
Section C is a hook that can be used to pull or trip a suspect.
Variants of the Catchpole would include a telescopic or sectioned version that can be carried in the trunk of a police car.