Okinawan Kobudo (Weapons)


 Okinawa Kobudo Doushi Rensei-Kai

The Bo
A BO is an ancient Okinawan weapon, which measures approximately six feet.  A bo is a very practical self-defence weapon, and an excellent weapon to develop the upper body coordination and strength. At Deshi-Do Martial Arts, we teach how to hold a bo, basic offensive and defensive moves as well as a classical BO Kata, and its application.
The bo or stick is probably one of the first weapons that mankind used to defend or hunt.  It could easily be found, was not to difficult to handle, and could be used for multiple purposes. In Okinawa, the bo probably originated from a farm tool called tenbin.  It is a stick held across the shoulders, on which fish or waterbuckets could be hung.  The bo varies in size and length, and the thickness of the bo-staff varies depending on the style of the martial art, but the fighter needs to comfortably make a tight fist around the staff, in order to block and counter an attacker.  The length of the bo-staff also depends on the style of the martial art, although the most common is a few inches taller than the owner.  A heavier bo-staff  may be used for training in order to increase their strength and speed.  In competition and performance, the martial artist usually uses a lighter one.

The Sai

The sai is a weapon found predominantly in Okinawa (there is evidence of similar weapons in India, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia).  Sai are often believed to have originated as an agricultural tool used to measure stalks, plow fields, plant rice, or to hold cart wheels in place, though the evidence for this is limited.   At Deshi-Do Martial Arts, we teach proper handling and movement of the sai, as well as a kata and sai sparring.   The sai’s utility as a weapon is reflected in it’s distinctive shape.   Using skill, it can be used effectively against a long sword by trapping the sword’s blade in the sai’s tsuba.  There are several different ways of wielding the sai in the hands, which give it the versatiltiy to be used both lethally and non-lethally.


The Bokken

A bokken is used as a relatively safe substitute for a real blade in training for several martial arts. They are used in the early stages of training in iaido, when a practitioner has not yet reached the level where use of an iaito would be safe.  At Deshi-Do Martial Arts, we teach proper sword procedures, drawing sword and sword katas, eight directions of cutting and padded sword fighting.  There are also specially designed bokken made for sword drawing.  Bokken are used for the practice of kendo; to learn to make proper strokes and get accustomed to the curvature of the blade, as well as to practice the kata.  More than a few kata take advantage of the curvature of the blade and the presence of the tsuba, or hand guard, to block the opponent’s sword.  This is not possible with the straight “blade” of the shinai.

The Nunchaku

A Nunchaku is two sections of wood connected by a cord or chain.  Chinese nunchaku tend to be rounded, whereas the Japanese version has an octagonal cross-section.  The ideal length of each piece should be the length of the user’s forearm.  Traditionally both ends are of equal length.  The ideal length for the connection rope/chain is just enough to allow the user to lay it over his or her palm, with the sticks hanging comfortably and perpendicular to the ground.  Weight balance is extremely important.  At Deshi-Do Martial Arts, we teach basic movements, and a nunchaku kata.  Nunchaku training has been noted to increase hand speed, correct posture, and condition the hands of the practitioner.

The Kama

The Kama are Okinawan and Japanese weapons that resemble traditional farming devices similar to a scythe. Because the kama is a weapon with a blade and therefore incorporates a high degree of danger, it is somewhat different from other forms of kobudo weaponry.  At Deshi-Do Martial Arts, we train with dull blade kama for safety. Techniques include blocking and stabbing, thrusting, and cutting as well as a kata.

The Tonfa

The Tonfa is a traditional Okinawan weapon from which the modern side-handled police baton is derived.  The tonfa traditionally consists of two parts, a handle with a knob, and perpendicular to the handle, a shaft or baord that lies along the hand and forearm.  The shaft is usually 20-24 inches long.  Optimally it extends about 3cm past the elbow when held.  Often the shaft has rounded off ends which may be grooved for a better grip.


Escrima sticks are most commonly made from rattan. Hard and durable, yet light weight, it can be fire hardened. It shreds under only the worst abuse and will not splinter like other woods.  Escrima sticks are made in many sizes depending on the system and the respective ranges being trained.  Common lengths range from 6″ to 96″ with the most common ranging from 24″ to 36″.

These are just a few of the Okinawan and Philipine weapons taught at Deshi-Do Martial Arts, the style of Kobudo training that we practice is from the Matayoshi system.

Eku Makiwara Nunti Kawa
Tinbe Sai Katana




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