Minor spoilers for season two of Westworld follow.
Last night, as our heroes finally traveled deep into the wilds of Shogun World, Westworld watchers were treated to all manner of samurai badassery. One of the most menacing bits was a weapon wielded by the Shogun-officer-turned-ronin Musashi, who first brandishes it at the captured Hector, and then uses it to brutally murder an opponent in town. What was that thing?
This weapon is called a sodegarami, as Musashi notes before he straight-up murks a guy with it, but it was actually designed as non-lethal police weapon during Japan's Edo period (1603 - 1868). Writer of in-fiction narratives for the parks of Westworld and Shogun World, Lee Sizemore, alludes to this use when he identifies several corpses as murdered policemen due to their possession of it.
The sodegarami, or "sleeve-entangler" was designed to be thrust at a target's robes and then twisted, causing its series of barbs to get tangled in the targets clothing. The wielder could then push or pull their target to the ground to disarm and restrain them. The series of spikes that run down the weapon's shaft, meanwhile, serve as a defensive element rather than an offensive one, preventing a captive from grabbing the pole and trying to wrench it out of the wielder's hands. Although if you're a badass, murderin', robot ronin like Musashi, you can just use that part like a mace, and then use the spike and barbs to completely destroy your prone victim's head.
As the book, the sodegarami was but one of three similar polearms used in Japan during this period. An implement with a large fork instead of barbs (a "sasumata") was used by firemen to manipulate burning logs. Yet another, this one with a T-shaped bar covered in spikes (a "tsukubō"), was used to pin down or push victims around without entangling them.
But like any long weapon with spikes, any of the three would have made for a formidable weapon in lethal combat as well, at least against an unarmed and unsuspecting opponent. Maybe later episodes will give us a peek of Musashi using the sasumata and tsukubō to deadly effect as well.