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(function() { var c = document.createElement('script'); c.type = 'text/javascript'; c.async = true; c.src = document.location.protocol + '//cc.chango.com/static/o.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(c, s); })(); </script> <!-- End Chango --> </xmp>Catchpoles for Increased Public Safety.

Added 9-4-2012


Modern Catchpoles


        As many readers will no doubt agree, I have some fairly eccentric thought processes. I was watching the TV series “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.

Japan Today: teachers-pin-down-knife-wielding-man-with-two-pronged-man-catcher.
Sasumata at Dojorat

        Here we see a video of teachers practicing neutralising a knife wielding intruder with Sasumata. A Sasumata can also be used against students or parents who become violent and may have other applications such as animal control.

        On the left we see a Sasumata with a shield. I don't know if these are police issue or school equipment, but a shield does seem a useful thing for a school to have too.
        It is worth reflecting for a moment what countermeasures your local school has against violent students or outsiders. Probably the answer will be they will phone for the police, who may turn up within twenty minutes. The police will then probably use pepperspray, batons and tasers to subdue the suspect. Wouldn't things be a lot easier if the police had a Sasumata available? If the teachers were practiced in using Sasumata the suspect may have been rendered harmless by the time the police arrived.

        The Sasumata is a very effective yet inexpensive device. Any school workshop worthy of the name could turn out half a dozen of a basic design. Obviously such devices also have applications at correctional facilities, hospitals, sports venues and many other public places.

        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.


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