Kobudo - "The art of ancient weaponry"
The Okinawan weapons are an integral part of Okinawan martial arts. In 1477 all weapons in Okinawa were banned and confiscated. This political move directly led to the development of two different fighting systems: Te, practiced by the nobility, is a form of empty hand combat; and Kobudo, developed by farmers and fishermen, is a form of armed combat using simple farming tools and everyday implements as weapons. In both systems, training was conducted in strict secrecy. In some circles if one does not know weapons, one is not considered well rounded in martial arts.
Although there are eight different weapons in Okinawan Kobudo, the most commonly used and generally viewed as the core of the art are the bo, jo, tong fa, and the sai. Each weapon has its own set of kata and techniques of use in combat. Today's existing kata go back two or three hundred years or so; we can safely say that they were forged by masters experienced in combat.
Unfortunately the history of the fighting arts of the Orient depends more on an oral rather than a written history. Therefore, different opinions and interpretations exist among the historians as to the accuracy of the various divergent viewpoints regarding the founders and their times. We can at least go back (with some degree of accuracy) to Aburaya Yamaki and Matsu Higa as the first to establish a systematized approach to kata and techniques. We definitely know that Matsu Higa was the sensei of Takahara Peichin who taught Karate Sakugawa (1733-1815) who most historians readily agree was the fountainhead of modern Okinawan Kobudo. After the year 1609 when the Satsuma clan of Japan subjugated the Ryukyus, the Japanese with their propensity for accuracy, recorded quite a bit of the customs of the Ryukyus including the martial arts.
Written by O'Sensei Richard Kim
The weapons that we teach at our school are the bo (6'staff), sai (forked prongs), jo (4'staff), tong fa (tool for grinding rice into flour), kama (sickle), eku (oar), ulesi (a Filipino weapon: 28-inch stick), knife, and the sword (bokken). The major purpose of training with weapons is to teach the difference between life and death. This comes about when a person realizes just how lethal weapons are. There is a drastic difference between fighting with an empty hand and fighting with a weapon. For example, a punch to the chest stuns, while the same technique done with a sword kills. Therefore training with weapons requires greater mental focus than empty hand training, and it helps students gain a greater appreciation for life. In kobudo the weapon is simply used as an extension of the body. Nearly all basic karate-do moves can be duplicated with a weapon in your hand; therefore, the perfection of basic moves is a necessity for weapons training. The same moves learned with weapons can be applied to a broom, walking stick, umbrella or a rolled up newspaper.
"You can only fight the way you train."