(Art of traditional weapons)
Kobudo, the art of the traditional weapons, went through a similar development like Karate-Do. Originally from China, Kobudo has been changed and improved over many centuries. In today’s modern sport karate schools, Kobudo has almost entirely disappeared. The traditional weapons were used as farm or fishing tools, which could also be used for self protection by the common people, which at the time weren’t allowed to posses “real” weapons.
To learn the art of Kobudo one needs plenty of determination to do countless repetitions, to get familiar with a weapon in such a way that it feels like an extension of the body and not a strange object anymore.
Through the training of Kobudo one attains a general knowledge for weapons. One gets to know the advantages or disadvantages for certain weapons in different situations.
Weapons are also an ideal training tool to learn a greater coordination which doesn’t stop at the fingertips. The training of Kobudo is a perfect enhancement of the Karate-Do training.
Although practiced fairly regularly, Kobudo is not the primary aim in Kushido due to the limited amount of time most people can invest.
After the white belt stage, where mostly only the empty hand elements were practiced, the greenbelts start to learn the first techniques with the Bo, Jo, Nunchaku and Tonfa.
At the black belt stage it is expected to know at least the basic techniques plus the first form of those 4 weapons.
Bo and Jo
The Bo (6 foot wooden staff) and the Jo (4 foot wooden staff) probably are the oldest weapons which were always at hand. A wooden stick such as a broom handle, baseball bat, stick in the forest) is still today always at hand and through that one of the most practical weapons. A stick is easy and effective to use in many situations.
Contrary to the very flexible Chinese version with its very dynamic techniques, Kushido’s techniques are more suited for the harder and heavier type weapon, which are used in a slightly slower way.
The Bo and the Jo are the weapons with the longest reach which are used in the Kushido school. With these one can learn to control a bigger distance. Through their length the end of the sticks, which are mainly used to strike with, reach very high velocity which makes them very effective.
The Jo, and the even more so the Bo through the slower movements, are ideal training tools for the beginner in the weapons art.
The Nunchaku, which was basically a corn thresher, is probably the most known of all the traditional weapons, due to the famous films of Bruce Lee.
Due to its fame there exists almost an infinite number of different types of Nunchakus. Wood, plastic, foam or even metal types, round or octagonal, from short to long, from light to heavy, with chains or strings and even as telescopic version to hide in a small pocket. The one used in the Kushido school is an octagonal wooden version with strings.
In the hand of a expert, the Nunchaku is a exceptional versatile weapon. Its movements also look spectacular. The handling of the Nunchaku needs the most practice of all the weapons, because it consist of two flexible parts. There is always a danger of it snapping back at the point of impact. To stop this from happening it is important to understand the cutting nature of the Nunchaku.
The Tonfa was the wooden handle of a corn or rice grinding stone. The Tonfa is together with the Bo and Jo, one of the easier weapons to learn. Almost all the Karate techniques can be done exactly the same way with the Tonfa in ones hands.
The Tonfa becomes a very effective and interesting weapon if one starts to be able to execute the swinging and rotating techniques.
The ideas where the Sai comes from differ widely. Some say it was originally built as a weapon. Others say it was used as a tool to pull fish into a boot or to help planting vegetables.
The Sai with its sharp points is very effective. The two short side points are also a good protection for the hand and help to lock the opponents weapon.
Similar to the Tonfa, most Karate techniques can also be executed with two Sai in ones hands in a very compact form without any major adaptations.
The Kama (Sickel) has a very robust blade out of metal and was used to cut corn and rice. The Kama was maybe the only sharp tool which wasn’t taken away from the common people.
The Kama is the most dangerous of the weapons in Kushido. With a good strike almost any obstacle including protective armour can be penetrated. Exercises with the Kama need impeccable control as to not cause injuries.
It is the last of the weapons that are being taught in the Kushido school.