Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Kobudo (Martial Arts Weapons) Classes and Schools in Arizona

Few in Arizona know what kobudo (and its counterpart – kobujutsu) is. This alone suggests how difficult it is to find a martial arts school that teaches and stresses kobudo, or basically, Okinawan martial arts weapons. When one learns about the history of martial arts and karate, it is puzzling as to why it’s a secret in Arizona.
Karate and Kobudo were blended into one martial art centuries ago, and only recently in the 20th century, some Japanese forms of karate elected to eliminate kobudo. And when karate was introduced to the US, even more schools chose to eliminate kobudo from the curriculum. Yet, one Okinawan master of martial arts stated that the two were intertwined, Karate and Kobudo can be likened to tires of a bicycle. Both are needed to make the bike move,” and should not be separated.

Kobudo employs a variety of Okinawan farming & fishing implements as weapons including nunchaku, nitan bo (batons), kama (sickles), short staff (hanbo), tsue (cane), bo (long staff), iiku (oar), ra-ke (rake), kuwa (hoe), surichin (weighted rope), tanto (knife), fish hook, short rakes, rope, weighted chain & more.

It is assumed that Kobudo became part of the Okinawan culture in the 15th century. In 1480 AD, King Shoshin of Okinawa outlawed bladed weapons due to his non-violent Buddhist belief; however, most Okinawan peasants were concerned for their safety & developed the art of kobudo in secret. Then the inevitable happened, Okinawa was invaded in the early 17th century by well-armed samurai from Japan. As a result, Okinawa continued to develop kobudo and karate in total secrecy for self-defense against Japanese occupation forces.

Some weapons of kobudo:

  • Bo (6-foot staff).
  • Nunchuku (rice flails).
  • Tonfa, Tuifa (rice grinder handles/baton)
  • Kama (sickles).
  • Kusarigama (weighted sickles).
  • Manrikigusari (weighted chain, rope).
  • Hanbo (3-foot staff).
  • Surichin (weighted rope)
  • Nitanbo - two sticks
  • Keibo, Kioga (expandable telescopic baton)
  • Tsue, Jou (cane)
  • Kobuton, Tanbo (short stick)
  • Nireiki (two rake)
  • Eku (oar, paddle)
  • Tanto (knife)
  • Hari (Fish Hook)
  • Katana (samurai sword)
  • Naginata (halberd, polearm)
  • Yari (spear)
  • Kuwa (hoe)
  • Kumade, Ra-ke (rake)
  • Teko (Knuckle Duster, Okinawan brass knuckles)
  • Hojo (Rope)
  • Next time you are in the Sears, Home Depot or Lowells garden center, look at all of the
    kobudo weapons on display. And you thought they were for gardening. Here, Sensei
    Paula Borea from Japan trains with kuwa (garden hoe) with husband Bill Borea who has
    a bo (6-foot dowel).
  • Konobo, Konsaibo, Tetsubo (Club)

Kobudo should be very practical and also provide an extension of karate techniques.  The twirling of martial arts weapons makes a mockery of the martial art. Students (deshi) should learn to use such weapons as weapons of power and focus, along with kata for kobudo weapons and bunkai (applications) kumite (sparring) for both kobudo and kobujutsu weapons. Sparring must be kept to a minumum and controlled.
In seaching Arizona for classes and schools in kobudo, one will likely find kobudo practiced at most Shorin-Ryu and Shito-Ryu martial arts schools. If a martial arts school has Okinawan influence, then kobudo should be a very important part of the training.


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