ABOUT KOBUDO

Okinawan Kobudo (less commonly Ryu Kyu Kobujutsu or Koryu) is a Japanese term that can be translated as "Old Martial way of Okinawa". It generally refers to the classical weapon traditions of Okinawa, most notably the Rokushakubo (six foot staff, known as the "Bo"), Sai (short unsharpened dagger), Tonfa (handled club), Kama (sickle), and Nunchaku (nunchucks), but also the Tekko (knuckledusters), Tinbe-Rochin (Shield and Spear), and Surujin (Weighted Chain). Less common Okinawan weapons include a short staff and the Eku, a boat oar of traditional Okinawan design. It is a common misperception that Kobudo weapons mean only the Bo, Sai, Tonfa, Nunchaku, and Kama. Many believe that the five better-known weapons trace back to fishing or farming traditions as classical implements used in these trades.

Kobudo traditions were shaped by indigenous Okinawan techniques that arose within the Aji, or noble class, and by imported methods from China and possibly other countries that traded with the Ryu Kyus. The majority of modern Kobudo traditions that survived the difficult times during and following World War II were preserved and handed down by Taira Shinken and Kenwa Mabuni, and developed into a practical system by Motokatsu Inoue in conjunction with Taira Shinken. Other noted masters who have Kobudo Kata named after them include Chotoku Kyan, Shigeru Nakamura, and Shinko Matayoshi.

Kobudo arts are thought by some to be the forerunner of Karate, and several styles of that art include some degree of Kobudo training as part of their curriculum. Similarly it is not uncommon to see an occasional kick or other empty-hand technique in a kobudo kata. The techniques of the two arts are closely related in some styles, evidenced by the empty-hand and weapon variants of certain Kata. For example, Kanku-dai and Kanku-sai, and Gojushiho and Gojushiho-no-sai, although these are examples of Kobudo Kata which have been developed from Karate Kata and are not traditional Kobudo forms. Other more authentic Kobudo Kata demonstrate elements of empty hand techniques as is shown in older forms such as Soeishi No Dai, a Bo form which is one of the few authentic Kobudo Kata to make use of a kick as the penultimate technique. Kobudo and Kobujutsu are older and have undergone less ‘modern development’ than Karate and still retain much more of the original elements, reflections of which can be seen in more modern Karate Kata. The connection between empty hand and weapon methods can be directly related in systems such as that formulated in order to preserve both arts such as Inoue / Taira's Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai and Motokatsu Inoue's Yuishinkai Karate Jutsu. M.Inoue draws direct comparisons between the use of certain weapons and various elements of empty hand technique such as Sai mirroring Haito / Shuto Waza, Tonfa reflecting that of Urkaken and Hijiate, and Kama of Kurite and Kakete, as examples. The footwork in both methods is interchangeable.

An Explanation of Ryukyu Kobudo Weapons

Bo or Kun: Bo techniques (Bojutsu) differ from those used with swords. The Bo can be used like a sword but deponding on technique, Can change into a thousand kinds of weapons. This is to say that with a sword, even the versatile long sword, the edge of the blade must contact the opponent or it will not cut. This is a limit. Tho Bo has neither blade nor handle. It can be used to beat, strike and cut. It's 1.8 meter length hides thousands of possibilities. The Bo has the capabilities of the sword, halberd and sper, Ryukyu Bojutsu was influenced from both North and south china. This combined with the techniques developed here in the Ryukyus to become modern Bojutsu.

Sai:The sai or truncheon passed to us through India and china and entered the Ryukyus where it become further developed, During the Ryukyu Kingdom Era, it was originally devised for the protection of the king and high ministers and to arrest ruffians and criminals and was used in actual combat situations. Latter Kata were formulated by the Busa[martial artists] so people could train by themselves In offensive and defensive techniques. The primary emphasis being self-defence. The Kata have been passed down to us through rigorous practice.

Tonfa: The Tonfa is basically a wooden stick with a handle attached. Not found on the mainland of japan, the Tonfa is orginal to Okinawa and is used in a set of two. Using the Tonfa is Quite difficult and requires a high degree of skill. It is said to have been devised from the handle of a grinding stone. To use this weapon with ease requires considerable time. It is used in training by those ranked first degree black belt and above.

Kama(Sickle):In Okinawa, where there was a strict prohibition against weapons, the Kama was a readily available tool that could easily substitute for a weapon. Kata were devised but few train with it and the number of kata passed down is Limited. The techniques (Waza) inlcude blocking and stabbing, striking cutting. The Kama is the only weapon With a blade used in Kobudo and compared to other weapons, is quite dangerous to perform with. The Kata are performed only by those with first degree black belt and above. The Kanegawa Ni-cho Kama Kata is the most famous among the few Kata for this weapon.

Eku Oar (Kai):In one type of Kata for the Eku, developed by fishermen for use on the beach or open sea, water or sand is flung in the opponent's face. When attacking the Eku Can be used to cut down an opponent. The Eku is a practical weapon of great destructive power.

Tekko(Brass Knuckles):Originally developed from a farm use horseshoe and modified, the Tekko can instantly be used for self-defense. Tekko are conveniently carried and can display considerable power to attack.

Tinbe(Short Halberd and Shield): Tinbe is the use of a shield and short halberd, When fighting am opponent, the shield is held in the Left hand for defence and a short blade halberd is in the right. Only the sakugawa no Tinbe kata has been.passed down.

Nunchaku: The Nunchaku is said to have come from the Muge, a kind of horse's bit developed in Okinawa. It's small size is convenient to carry but is a weapon of considerable power and effect in a fight. It is said that the martial artists (Busa) in the Ryukyu island would always carry Nuchaku concealed in their brest or in their belts.