Ryukyu Kobudo Weapons

Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai, Amami Oshima, Kagoshima, Weapons, Naze1a. The oar is called eku or kai in Ryukyu Kobudo. The techniques of one kata that was developed by fisherman focuses on attacking the opponent by flicking sand into to his eyes. In the Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai this kata “Tsuken Sunakake no kon” was handed down.

1b & c. In Ryukyu Kobudo the staff is considered the foundation of all weapons training therefore, compared to other weapons, the staff has the most kata. In addition, unlike traditional dance which sometimes uses the staff, the movements of attack and defense are used in parallel making the staff the most difficult weapon in Ryukyu Kobudo. The staff comes in various sizes ranging from 2′ to 9′, however a 6′ staff is typically used. In the Ryukyu’s the ends of the staff are usually tapered. In the Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai, the following kata are used for the 6′ staff: Shushi no kon (sho, dai), Oshiro no kon, Sakugawa no kon (sho, dai), Yonegawa non kon, Urasoe no kon, Shirataru no kon,  Chinen Shichiyanaka no kon, Choun no kon, Chatanyara no kon, Tokumine no kon, Tsuken bo (sho, dai), Sesoko no kon, Minowa no kon (sho, dai, niccho) Soeishi no kon.

2a & 2b. This weapon connects two (nunchaku) or more sticks (sansetsu) by a short chain or string and uses parries, swings, and thrusts. It was made famous by Bruce Lee. The nunchaku is a weapon of self-defense but most people who have not studied its techniques mistakenly think it is simply for swinging. The Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai includes the kata Maezato no nunchaku (sho, dai), Nakamoto Masahiro sensei’s Nakamoto no niccho nunchaku (double nunchaku), and Minowa no sansetsu kon (sho, dai) which were created by Minowa Katsuhiko sensei.

3a & 3b. The sai is an old weapon of Buddhist origin that entered the Ryukyu from China via India. Unlike other weapons used around the world, the sai was not used to stab and kill an opponent. Instead, the sai was meant to subdue an opponent without killing him. Indeed, sai from long ago had rounded ends. The weapon was typically used by law enforcement in ancient times to apprehend criminals. Sai kata that were inherited in the Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai include: Tsukenshita Haku no sai, Chatanyara no sai, Hamahiga no sai, Jigen no sai, Yakaa no sai, Tawada no sai, Kojo no sai, and Hantagwa no sai.

4. The tonfa is approximately 1.5 feet with a handle at a right angle. The weapon uses spins, swings, parries, strikes and punches. In the US a similar weapon is used by policemen. A tonfa is held in each hand with one parrying and the other attacking. It is a unique weapon of Okinawa with no similar weapon found on the Japanese mainland. The kata handed down in the Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai include: Hamahiga no tonfa and Yaragwa no Tonfa.

5. The suruchin is used in a similar manner to that on the Japanese mainland. The chain is swung and the weighted end used to attack. The chain can also be used to parry the opponent’s attack. The suruchin comes in various lengths both short and long, with the long suruchin being 6′ in length. The Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai inherited the long suruchin kata developed by Taira Shinken sensei (Maezato no suruchin) and the short suruchin kata developed by Minowa Katsuhiko sensei (Minowa no suruchin).

6. The tekko is a weapon of self-defense possibly developed from the stirrup of a horse’s saddle. The tekko eventually evolved into the different shapes it has today. One tekko is gripped in each hand with the thumb positioned at the top and is used to attack and defend. The Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai inherited the kata created by Taira Shinken sensei called Maezato no Tekko which was based upon the Shorin-ryu Kata Jion.

7. The tecchu is considered was used as a concealed weapon. Like the tekko, one tecchu is held in each hand and is used to hook the opponent’s weapon and deliver an attack. There are various kinds of tecchu which include one with a iron bar and a ring mounted in the center where the middle finger is inserted. Another version is made of wood and could be used in a flash for self-defense. The Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai inherited the kata created by Minowa Katsuhiko sensei which he based upon the Uechi-ryu kata Sesan, Minowa no ticchu.

8. Tinbe can refer to the shield or the shield and spear. The first recorded reference of the Tinbe can be found in the 21st volume of the “Moro Saushi” in chapter 53 written during the Sanzan Kakkyo era. To use the tinbe, one hand holds the shield for defense, while the other holds the spear for offense. Tinbe were originally constructed from animal hide, plant fibre or turtle shells, but as these are very difficult to find these days they are now made from aluminum or fibreglass. The Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai inherited the kata Kanegawa no tinbe which was passed down to Taira Shinken sensei from his grandfather.

9. Unlike the kama used on the Japanese mainland, the kama on Okinawa do not have a chain or string attached to it as these were prohibited by the Satsuma clan. The techniques of the kama on Okinawa originated from the those used for harvesting sugarcane on farms.  In Ryukyu Kobudo this weapon is only used for cutting and therefore its use is only taught to senior students. The Ryukyu Kobudo Shinkokai has inherited the kata Tozan no niccho gama and Kanegawa no niccho gama.