Kobudo - the martial art of fishing, farming and merchant tools

Kobudo is an extension of karate that employs the use of Okinawan tools that were used as weapons. These implements were used by Okinawan farmers, fishermen, merchants & royalty for self-defense and defense of their families. In Shorin-Ryu Karate, students not only learn empty hand techniques known as kara-te, but also kobu-do (martial arts weapons) from the day they walk into our dojo. Most schools, if they teach kobudo at all, charge exorbitant fees to learn kobudo and others require students to reach a certain rank in karate before they learn kobudo. However, both karate and kobudo employ similar movements, philosophy & muscle memory thus it is traditional in Okinawan martial arts schools to train in both. Check out our schedule.

Imagine you are in a library and you are attacked by a thug with a knife - you are surrounded by weapons including all those books and magazines - so learn how to use them. What if you are in the Sears garden shop - my goodness, there are weapons everywhere! Think of some of your favorite places to visit. Visualize all the items and furniture around you - how can you use them for self-defense. And what about the car keys and coins in your pockets? This is what the Okinawan people did, but they also trained with the tools of their trade daily so that they would be prepared to defend against robbers, muggers or samurai armed with swords.

Traditional Okinawan weapons include chuks (nunchaku), side-handle batons (tonfa), sickles (kama), short staff (hanbo), two sticks (nitanbo), cane (tsue), long staff (bo), oar (eku), rake (ra-ke), hoe (kuwa), weighted rope (surichin), knife (tanto), short rakes (sai), rope (hojo), weighted chain (manrikigusari), three-sectional staff (san setsu) & more. We also like to train with modern equivalents, such as car keys, kuboton (short stick), books, magazines, etc.

Kobudo probably began in 1480 AD, when King Shoshin of Okinawa outlawed bladed weapons due to his concern over possible rebellion; however, Okinawan peasants were concerned for safety & no longer trusted their government & developed the art of kobudo. Okinawa was later invaded in the early 17th century by samurai from Japan, who were well-armed with bladed weapons. As a result, Okinawa continued to develop kobudo as individuals periodically used self-defense against the Japanese samurai and other thugs. 

Weapons taught at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate (Arizona Hombu) include:

  • 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 rakes)
  • Eku (oar, paddle)
  • Tanto (knife)
  • Hari (Fish Hook)
  • Katana (samurai sword)
  • Naginata (halberd, polearm)
  • Yari (spear)
  • Kuwa (hoe)
  • Kumade, Ra-ke (rake)
  • Tekko (Knuckle Duster, Okinawan brass knuckles)
  • Hojo (Rope)
  • Konobo, Konsaibo, Tetsubo (Club)

As pointed out by many visitors to the Arizona School of Traditional Karate, our students learn to use kobudo weapons and karate as if they mean business and not twirl them. Students (deshi) learn to use all of these with power, focus and mushin, through kata (forms) and bunkai (applications).