Okinawan kobudo
Overview
 
Okinawan kobudō is a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese term that can be translated as "old martial way of Okinawa". It generally refers to the classical weapon traditions of Okinawan martial arts
Okinawan martial arts
Okinawan martial arts refers to the martial arts which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island in Japan, most notably karate, tegumi, and Okinawan kobudō....

, most notably the rokushakubo
Bo (weapon)
A bō or kon , is a long staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan. Bō are typically around long and are now used in Japanese martial arts, in particular bōjutsu...

 (six foot staff, known as the "bō"), sai
Sai (weapon)
The sai is a traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon. The basic form of the weapon is that of a pointed, dagger-shaped metal truncheon, with two curved prongs called yoku projecting from the handle...

 (dagger-shaped truncheon), tonfa
Tonfa
The tonfa , also known as tong fa or tuifa, is an Okinawan weapon. It is a stick with a handle, and is about 15-20 inches long. It was traditionally made from red oak and wielded in pairs...

 (handled club), kama
Kama (weapon)
The is a traditional Filipino and Japanese farming implement similar to a small scythe used for reaping crops and also employed as a weapon...

 (sickle), and nunchaku
Nunchaku
is a traditional Okinawan weapon consisting of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or rope.-Etymology:The Japanese word nunchaku is the Kun'yomi reading of the Kanji term for a traditional Chinese two section staff....

 (chained sticks), but also the tekko
Tekko
The , which originated in Okinawa, Japan, falls into the category of a "fist-load weapon".By definition, a fist-load weapon increases the mass of the hand so that, given the physical proportionality between the fist's momentum and its mass, it increases the force the bearer can deliver...

 (knuckledusters), tinbe-rochin
Tinbe-Rochin
The Tinbe-Rochin is a weapons combination of a short spear and a shield , it is one of the least well-known Okinawan weapon systems. The tinbe can be made of various materials but is commonly found in vine, cane, metal, or turtle shell. The shield size is generally about 45 cm long and 38 cm wide...

 (shield and spear), and surujin
Surujin
The surujin or suruchin is one of the traditional weapons of Okinawan Kobudo. It comprises a 2–3 metre long rope with a weight tied to each end. Historically this weapon is very prevalent and can be found attached to a weapon or used separately...

 (weighted chain).
Encyclopedia
Okinawan kobudō is a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese term that can be translated as "old martial way of Okinawa". It generally refers to the classical weapon traditions of Okinawan martial arts
Okinawan martial arts
Okinawan martial arts refers to the martial arts which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island in Japan, most notably karate, tegumi, and Okinawan kobudō....

, most notably the rokushakubo
Bo (weapon)
A bō or kon , is a long staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan. Bō are typically around long and are now used in Japanese martial arts, in particular bōjutsu...

 (six foot staff, known as the "bō"), sai
Sai (weapon)
The sai is a traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon. The basic form of the weapon is that of a pointed, dagger-shaped metal truncheon, with two curved prongs called yoku projecting from the handle...

 (dagger-shaped truncheon), tonfa
Tonfa
The tonfa , also known as tong fa or tuifa, is an Okinawan weapon. It is a stick with a handle, and is about 15-20 inches long. It was traditionally made from red oak and wielded in pairs...

 (handled club), kama
Kama (weapon)
The is a traditional Filipino and Japanese farming implement similar to a small scythe used for reaping crops and also employed as a weapon...

 (sickle), and nunchaku
Nunchaku
is a traditional Okinawan weapon consisting of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or rope.-Etymology:The Japanese word nunchaku is the Kun'yomi reading of the Kanji term for a traditional Chinese two section staff....

 (chained sticks), but also the tekko
Tekko
The , which originated in Okinawa, Japan, falls into the category of a "fist-load weapon".By definition, a fist-load weapon increases the mass of the hand so that, given the physical proportionality between the fist's momentum and its mass, it increases the force the bearer can deliver...

 (knuckledusters), tinbe-rochin
Tinbe-Rochin
The Tinbe-Rochin is a weapons combination of a short spear and a shield , it is one of the least well-known Okinawan weapon systems. The tinbe can be made of various materials but is commonly found in vine, cane, metal, or turtle shell. The shield size is generally about 45 cm long and 38 cm wide...

 (shield and spear), and surujin
Surujin
The surujin or suruchin is one of the traditional weapons of Okinawan Kobudo. It comprises a 2–3 metre long rope with a weight tied to each end. Historically this weapon is very prevalent and can be found attached to a weapon or used separately...

 (weighted chain). Less common Okinawan weapons include the tambo
Tambo (weapon)
The tambo, in Japanese , is a short staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan. Today the tambo is used by various martial arts schools.-Description:...

 (short stick), the hanbō
Hanbo
The hanbō is a staff used in martial arts. Traditionally, the hanbō was approximately three shaku or about long, half the length of the usual staff, the rokushakubō . Diameter was...

 (middle length staff) and the eku
Eku
Eku is an ancient weapon of Okinawan kobudō that originated from an oar, approximately 160 cm in length...

 (boat oar of traditional Okinawan design).

History

It is a popular story and common belief that Okinawan farming tools evolved into weapons due to restrictions placed upon the peasants by the Satsuma samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 clan when the island was made a part of Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, which forbade them from carrying arms. As a result, it is said, they were defenseless and developed a fighting system around their traditional farming implements. However, modern martial arts scholars have been unable to find historical backing for this story, and the evidence uncovered by various martial historians points to the Pechin
Pechin
The is an Okinawan term for the warrior class of the former Ryūkyū Kingdom , the class equivalent of the Japanese Samurai...

 Warrior caste in Okinawa as being those who practiced and studied various martial arts, rather than the Heimin, or commoner. It is true that Okinawans, under the rule of foreign powers, were prohibited from carrying weapons or practicing with them in public. But the weapons-based fighting that they secretly practiced (and the types of weapons they practiced with) had strong Chinese roots, and examples of similar weapons have been found in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, Malaysia and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 pre-dating the Okinawan adaptations.

Kobudō traditions were shaped by indigenous Okinawan techniques that arose within the Aji, or noble class, and by imported methods from China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. The majority of modern kobudō traditions that survived the difficult times during and following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 were preserved and handed down by Taira Shinken (Ryūkyū Kobudō Hozon Shinkokai), Chogi Kishaba
Chogi Kishaba
Chogi Kishaba, also Choji Kishaba, is an Okinawan martial arts master and founder of the Ryukyu Bujutsu Kenkyu Doyukai .Kishaba's older brother, Chokei Kishaba, was also an Okinawan martial arts master.- Ryukyu Bujutsu Kenkyu Doyukai :...

 (Ryuku Bujustsu Kenkyu Doyukai), and Kenwa Mabuni
Kenwa Mabuni
was one of the first karateka to teach karate on mainland Japan and is creditied as developing the style known as Shitō-ryū .-Achievements:# Funakoshi Gichin learned kata from Kenwa Mabuni: In order to expand his knowledge he sent his son Gigō to study kata in Mabuni's dōjō in Osaka.# Kenwa Mabuni,...

 (Shito-ryū). Practical systems were developed by Toshihiro Oshiro
Toshihiro Oshiro
is a martial arts master and instructor from Haneji, Okinawa , Japan.-Early life:He began his study of Karate at age 6, eventually expanding his study to include Judo and Kendo. As a teen he began studying Yamanni Ryu with Chogi Kishaba, the direct student of Masami Chinen who was the only...

 and Motokatsu Inoue in conjunction with these masters. Other noted masters who have kobudō kata
Kata
is a Japanese word describing detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in pairs. The term form is used for the corresponding concept in non-Japanese martial arts in general....

 named after them include Chōtoku Kyan, Shigeru Nakamura, Kanga Sakukawa
Kanga Sakukawa
, also Sakugawa Satunushi and Tode Sakugawa, was an Okinawan martial arts master and major contributor to the development of Te, the precursor to modern karate.-Karate-do:...

, and Shinko Matayoshi
Shinko Matayoshi
Shinko Matayoshi was one of the best-known Masters of Okinawa Kobudo Matayoshi Kobudo.Born in 1888 in Naha-shi at Senburu, he studied the bo, eku, kama and sai under the direction of Master Shokuho Agena. He later studied the tonfa and nunchaku with Master Irei. From 1911 until 1915 Matayoshi...

.

Kobudō arts are thought by some to be the forerunner of the bare hand martial art of karate
Karate
is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called and Chinese kenpō. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks,...

, and several styles of that art include some degree of kobudō training as part of their curriculum. Similarly, it is not uncommon to see an occasional kick or other empty-hand technique in a kobudō 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, Kankū-dai and Kankū-sai, and Gojūshiho and Gojūshiho-no-sai, although these are examples of kobudō kata which have been developed from karate kata and are not traditional kobudō forms. Other more authentic kobudō 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 kobudō kata to make use of a kick as the penultimate technique. Kobudō 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 Ryūkyū 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.

Weapons and kata

Okinawan kobudō was at its zenith some 200–400 years ago and of all the authentic kobudō kata practiced at this time, only relatively few by comparison remain extant. Between the 18th to early 20th centuries a decline in the study of Ryūkyū kobujutsu (as it was known then) meant that the future of this martial tradition was in danger. During the Taisho period (1912–1926) some martial arts exponents such as Yabiku Moden made great inroads in securing the future of Ryūkyū kobujutsu. A large amount of those forms which are still known are due to the efforts of Taira Shinken who travelled around the Ryūkyū Islands in the early part of the 20th century and compiled 42 existing kata, covering 8 types of Okinawan weapon. Whilst Taira Shinken may not have been able to collect all extant kobudō kata, those he did manage to preserve are listed here. They do not include all those from the Matayoshi, Uhuchiku and Yamanni streams however.

The is a six-foot long staff, sometimes tapered at either end. It was perhaps developed from a farming tool called a tenbin: a stick placed across the shoulders with baskets or sacks hanging from either end. The bo was also possibly used as the handle to a rake or a shovel. The bo, along with shorter variations such as the jo
Jo (weapon)
A is an approximately 1.276 m long wooden staff, used in some Japanese martial arts. The martial art of wielding the jō is called jōjutsu or jōdō. Also, aiki-jō is a set of techniques in aikido which uses the jō to illustrate aikido's principles with a weapon. The jō staff is shorter than the bō...

and hanbo
Hanbo
The hanbō is a staff used in martial arts. Traditionally, the hanbō was approximately three shaku or about long, half the length of the usual staff, the rokushakubō . Diameter was...

could also have been developed from walking sticks used by travelers, especially monks. The bo is considered the 'king' of the Okinawa weapons, as all others exploit its weaknesses in fighting it, whereas when it is fighting them it is using its strengths against them. The bo is the earliest of all Okinawan weapons (and effectively one of the earliest of all weapons in the form of a basic staff), and is traditionally made from red or white oak.

Sai

The sai is a three-pronged truncheon sometimes mistakenly believed to be a variation on a tool used to create furrows in the ground. This is highly unlikely as metal on Okinawa was in short supply at this time and a stick would have served this purpose more satisfactorily for a poor commoner, or Heimin. The sai appears similar to a short sword, but is not bladed and the end is traditionally blunt. The weapon is metal and of the truncheon class with its length dependent upon the forearm of the user. The two shorter prongs on either side of the main shaft are used for trapping (and sometimes breaking) other weapons such as a sword or bo. A form known as nunti sai, sometimes called manji sai (due to its appearance resembling the swastika kanji) has the two shorter prongs pointed in opposite directions, with another monouchi instead of a grip.

Tonfa

The tonfa supposedly originated as the handle of a millstone
Millstone
Millstones or mill stones are used in windmills and watermills, including tide mills, for grinding wheat or other grains.The type of stone most suitable for making millstones is a siliceous rock called burrstone , an open-textured, porous but tough, fine-grained sandstone, or a silicified,...

 used for grinding grain. It is traditionally made from red oak, and can be gripped by the short perpendicular handle or by the longer main shaft. As with all Okinawan weapons, many of the forms are reflective of "empty hand" techniques. The tonfa is more readily recognized by its modern development in the form of the police nightstick but its usage differs.

Nunchaku

A nunchaku is two sections of wood (or metal in modern incarnations) connected by a cord or chain. There is much controversy over its origins: some say it was originally a Chinese weapon, others say it evolved from a threshing flail, while one theory purports that it was developed from a horse's bit. Chinese nunchaku tend to be rounded, whereas Okinawan ones are octagonal, and they were originally linked by horse hair. There are many variations on the nunchaku, ranging from the three sectional staff (san-setsu-kon, mentioned later in this article), to smaller multi-section nunchaku. The nunchaku was popularized by Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee was a Chinese American, Hong Kong actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement...

 in a number of films, made in both Hollywood and Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

. Now it is also made with chains or rope in between. This weapon is illegal in New York State, Canada, and parts of Europe.

Kama

The kama is a traditional farming sickle
Sickle
A sickle is a hand-held agricultural tool with a variously curved blade typically used for harvesting grain crops or cutting succulent forage chiefly for feeding livestock . Sickles have also been used as weapons, either in their original form or in various derivations.The diversity of sickles that...

, and considered one of the hardest to learn due to the inherent danger in practicing with such a weapon. The point at which the blade and handle join in the "weapon" model normally has a nook with which a bo can be trapped, although this joint proved to be a weak point in the design, and modern day examples tend to have a shorter handle with a blade that begins following the line of the handle and then bends, though to a lesser degree; this form of the kama is known as the natagama. The edge of a traditional rice sickle, such as one would purchase from a Japanese hardware store, continues to the handle without a notch, as this is unneeded for its intended use.

Tekko

The tekko or tecchu is a form of knuckleduster, and primarily takes its main form of usage from that of empty-hand technique, whilst also introducing slashing movements. The tekko is usually made to the width of the hand with anything between one and three protruding points on the knuckle front with protruding points at the top and the bottom of the knuckle. They can be made of any hard material but are predominantly found in aluminium, iron, steel, or wood.
  • Maezato (From Taira Shinken)

Tinbe-rochin

The tinbe-rochin consists of a shield and spear. It is one of the least known Okinawan weapons. The tinbe (shield) can be made of various materials but is commonly found in vine or cane, metal, or archetypically, from a turtle shell (historically, the Ryūkyū Islands
Ryukyu Islands
The , also known as the , is a chain of islands in the western Pacific, on the eastern limit of the East China Sea and to the southwest of the island of Kyushu in Japan. From about 1829 until the mid 20th century, they were alternately called Luchu, Loochoo, or Lewchew, akin to the Mandarin...

' primary source of food, fishing, provided a reliable supply of turtle shells). The shield size is generally about 45 cm long and 38 cm wide. The rochin (short spear) is cut with the length of the shaft being the same distance as the forearm to the elbow if it is being held in the hand. The spearhead then protrudes from the shaft and can be found in many differing designs varying from spears to short swords and machete-style implements.

Surujin

The surujin consists of a weighted chain or leather cord and can be found in two kinds: 'tan surujin' (short) and 'naga surujin' (long). The lengths are about 150–152 cm and 230–240 cm respectively. It is a weapon which can be easily hidden prior to use, and due to this fact can be devastatingly effective. In the modern era, found with a bladed instrument at one end and a weight at the other, the surujin techniques are very similar to those of the nunchaku. Leather cords are used for practice or kumite, whereas chains are favored for demonstration, but rope (most commonly of hemp) was the original material used.
  • Nagai Kusari, Mijikai Kusari
  • Matayoshi Kobudō: Suruchin no Toseki

Eku

The Okinawan style of oar is called an eku (this actually refers to the local wood most commonly used for oars), eiku, iyeku, or ieku. Noteworthy hallmarks are the slight point at the tip, curve to one side of the paddle and a roof-like ridge along the other. One of the basic moves for this weapon utilizes the fact that a fisherman fighting on the beach would be able to fling sand at an opponent. While not having the length, and therefore reach, of the bo
Bo
-People:*Bo , name origin, plus people with the name*Bo , name origin, plus people with the surname**Bo , Chinese family names*Bo people , extinct minority population in Southern China famous for hanging coffins...

, the rather sharp edges can inflict more penetrating damage when wielded properly.
  • Tsuken Akachu No Eiku De (Also called as Chikin Akachu No Eiku De)

Tambo

The tambo, sometimes spelled tanbo, is a short staff (compared to a bo, or a hambo) made of hardwood or bamboo. Its length is determined by measuring from the tip of the elbow to the wrist. Tambo can be used in pairs.

Kuwa

The hoe is common in all agrarian societies; in Okinawa, the kuwa has been also used as a weapon for as long as there have been farmers. Compared to garden-variety hoes, the handle tends to be thicker and usually shorter, both due to Okinawan stature, and the fact that much of the agriculture takes place on hillsides where long handles would be a hindrance. A classic shape of blade is a simple rectangle of steel with a sharp leading edge, but may also be forked with tines.
  • Kata Matayoshi No Kuwa Nu De

Hanbo

The hanbō is a middle length wood or bamboo stick, used for striking and joint locking techs. It measures about 90 cm, or can be made taking into account the length from the hip to the ankle.

Nunti Bo

The nunti bo is similar to a spear, but typically composed of a bo with a manji-shaped sai
Sai (weapon)
The sai is a traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon. The basic form of the weapon is that of a pointed, dagger-shaped metal truncheon, with two curved prongs called yoku projecting from the handle...

 mounted on the end.
  • Kata Nunti Sho, Kata Nunti Dai

Sansetsukon

The sansetsukon is similar to a nunchaku, but has three sections of wood (or metal in modern incarnations) connected by a cord or chain.

See also

  • Comparison of kobudō styles
    Comparison of kobudo styles
    This table compares styles of kobudō. The weapons practiced by each style are listed. The styles listed below may practice strictly weapons, or may practice another martial arts as well....

  • Bōjutsu
    Bojutsu
    , translated from Japanese as "staff technique", is the martial art of using a staff weapon called bō which simply means "staff". Staffs are perhaps one of the earliest weapons used by humankind. They have been in use for thousands of years in Eastern Asia. Some techniques involve slashing,...

  • Jojutsu
  • Juttejutsu
    Juttejutsu
    is the Japanese martial art of using the Japanese weapon jutte . Juttejutsu was evolved mainly for the law enforcement officers of the Edo period to enable non-lethal disarmament and apprehension of criminals who were usually carrying a sword...

  • Karate
    Karate
    is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called and Chinese kenpō. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks,...

  • Kubotan
    Kubotan
    The Kubotan self-defense keychain is a close-quarter self-defense weapon developed by Takayuki Kubota. It is essentially a derivation of the stick, usually 5.5 inches long and 0.56 inch in diameter, slightly thicker or the same size as a marker pen...

  • Matayoshi Kobudo
    Matayoshi Kobudo
    Matayoshi Kobudo is a style of Okinawan Kobudo that was developed by Matayoshi Shinpo during the Twentieth Century. Martial arts have been practiced by the Matayoshi family for over 9 generations. The honbu dojo for Matayoshi Kobudo is the Kodokan and can be found in Naha, Okinawa...

  • Ryukyu Kobudo
    Ryukyu Kobudo
    Ryukyu Kobudo is the branch of Okinawan Kobudo developed and systemized by Taira Shinken under the association.Ryukyu Kobudo uses the following weapons: Bō, Sai, Eku, Kama, Tinbe-Rochin, Tekko, Nunchaku and Tonfa.-Ryūkyū Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai:...

  • Shin Nagare
  • Yamanni ryu
    Yamanni ryu
    Yamanni-ryū is a form of Okinawan kobudō whose main weapon is the bo, a non-tapered, cylindrical staff...

  • Pechin
    Pechin
    The is an Okinawan term for the warrior class of the former Ryūkyū Kingdom , the class equivalent of the Japanese Samurai...

    /Peichin
  • jujutsu
    Jujutsu
    Jujutsu , also known as jujitsu, ju-jitsu, or Japanese jiu-jitsu, is a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses no weapon, or only a short weapon....

  • aikido
    Aikido
    is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as "the Way of unifying life energy" or as "the Way of harmonious spirit." Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to...

  • hapkido
    Hapkido
    Hapkido is a dynamic and also eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, techniques of other martial arts, as well as kicks, punches, and other striking attacks...


External links

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