Hey guys, today we are going to look at this unique and weird ancient weapon. This is called the Man Catcher and the weapon originated in India in ancient times and we will get to that later. But you can immediately begin to see why this is called the Man-Catcher. Imagine this tree trunk is somebody’s neck. You would thrust this weapon on to a person’s neck and it would just slide in. But when the victim tries to pull free, he cannot get out of it. The man catcher is a unique weapon because its primary purpose is to catch or restrain an individual, and not to kill him. So, we can call this a tool, because it is not really a weapon, used for killing somebody. Technically, You use this tool and not fight with it.
The man catcher, the iron part is actually small, just about one foot long, but it will be typically mounted on a long pole and the design is very interesting. They have 2 flap like structures which are attached to 2 more tensile spring like curves. So when you force it on a man’s neck, the flaps will give way and you can move it forward and catch him. However, the flaps will not move out, so it acts like a one way valve. You need at least 2 people to release it, so there is no way for a man to escape this, by himself. And look at these spikes all around , it will make sure that the victim cannot try to run away and he can’t even move rapidly, because the spikes would hurt him.
This particular man catcher is actually about 200 years old and was used by British. This is an antique artifact and my friend Jayesh has an extraordinary collection of all types of antiques, and has a countless number of ancient weapons. It is said that these man-catchers were used in British India to control Violent criminals. Of course, there are much simpler models of this, some just have a u shaped structure on a pole.
So, why was the Man-Catcher invented? Isn’t easier to just use a knife or a sword against an enemy? The man-catcher was originally invented by Hindu saints of India who did not want to kill the attacker, but wanted to restrain them. Hindus believe that killing or hurting someone was a sin, even if that person was attacking you. But you also had to save your own life, and man-catcher is the perfect weapon for the job. So, the Hindu saints made it a custom to carry this tool and called it Dhandam or Dhanda. . This was the very first and the most simple man-catcher and was used at least 2000 years ago. If anyone came to attack them, the saints would restrain them using the man catcher.
It is said that about 1500 years ago, Bodhidharma, an Indian prince took this weapon to China and Japan, and used it to control lawless criminals. Bodhidharma is considered the founding father of Kung Fu and he introduced this weapon and called it Sasumata, which roughly means “Taken Alive” in Sanskrit language.
While Indians have completely forgotten about this ancient tool, the Japanese, Chinese and even Thai people are actively using the Man-Catcher today and they still call it Sasumata. They find it ideal for restraining an attacker without hurting him. Even if he has a knife, the man catcher has a long handle so you will have enough distance and it would be impossible for him to attack you. And even police officials are using this today and if you have a couple of people with these Sasumatas you can totally corner an attacker and completely subdue him.
Now we saw how the man catcher went from India to China and Japan 1500 years ago. Eventually, the Man-Catcher reached the Europeans, and they began using it in the medieval period. It became a very popular tool in Europe, and they were very creative in using this. For example, they used it to catch a person, a rich person and they would not release him, unless he paid them a ransom. In Europe, the man catcher was also called a “catchpole”.
Now the best use of this weapon was in defending a castle. When you are trying to breach a castle, you would eventually have your soldiers climb the walls of the castle using ladders. This was the classic move in castle warfare. Now, imagine you are the first person who has climbed on the ladder and when you are just over the castle wall, a person from inside the castle, uses the man-catcher on you. You will end up completely restrained. You may have an armor to protect you, and you may have a sword, but you can’t move away, you can’t attack the other person and you will be kicking and screaming on top of the ladder, and none of the other soldiers below you on the ladder can climb up. So man-catchers were very very effective in defending castles, all we need is a lot of soldiers with man catchers ready to use them on the attackers who come up using ladders. And the soldiers can catch these attackers using the Mancatcher and then just hold them in the same position and let them keep their feet on the ladder. So these man catchers will completely make these ladders useless.
Is this just my fancy theory? No, in fact, there is an excellent Castle in Austria called the Hochosterwitz castle. This was built more than a thousand years ago and is famous for its 14 gates and locals maintain that no enemy has gone beyond the 4th gate. Authorities confirm that they had a total of about 200 man catchers to defend the castle. Such a large number of man catchers proves that they were used to restrain enemies who tried to climb the walls using ladders.
Now, Even though the man catchers are fading away in real life, the really cool part is that today’s gamers have revived this weapon virtually. For example, It is used in the Warhammer game, by these rat people and the man catcher is used in very creative ways. Here you can see a person is caught using the Man catcher and this person is just raised up and it is sort of like, hanging him to death. The man catcher was also featured in one of the Assassin’s Creed movies. So it is becoming more and more popular in the United States.
In Russia, the man catcher was actually used as a bear catcher, to catch bears in real life. Until about a hundred years ago, Russian hunters took these for hunting, and used it to catch bears. Imagine catching a full size bear with nothing other than this weapon, that was considered as a great act of bravery in medieval Russia. So you can see how a simple, defensive tool created by Indian saints traveled all over the world and evolved into one of the most creative devices.