Okinawan Kobudō 古武道
also known as Ryūkyū Kobujutsu, Koryū, or just as Kobudō, is a Japanese term that can be translated as "old martial way of Okinawa". It generally refers to the classical weapon traditions of Okinawan martial arts, most notably the ROKUSHAKUBO (six foot staff, known as the "bō"), SAI (dagger-shaped truncheon), TONFA (handled club), KAMA (sickle), and NUNCHAKU (chained sticks), but also the TEKKO (knuckledusters), TINBE-ROCHIN (shield and spear), and SURUJIN (weighted chain). Less common Okinawan weapons include the TAMBO (short stick), the HANBŌ (middle length staff) and the EKU (boat oar of traditional Okinawan design).
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Bō: : ぼう
or kon (Chinese term), is a long staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan. Bō are typically around 6 ft (1.8 m) long and are now used in Japanese martial arts, in particular bōjutsu. Related staff weapons are the jo which is 4 ft (1.2 m) long and the hanbo or hambo (half bō) which is 3 ft (0.91 m) long.
The earliest form of the
, a staff, has been used throughout Asia since the beginning of recorded history. The first were called ishibo, and were made of stone. These were hard to make and were often unreliable. These were also extremely heavy. The konsaibo was a very distant variant of the kanabo. They were made from wood studded with iron. These were still too cumbersome for actual combat, so they were later replaced by unmodified hardwood staffs. The used for self defense by monks or commoners, the staff was an integral part of the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, one of the martial arts’ oldest surviving styles. The staff evolved into the with the foundation of kobudo, a martial art using weapons, which emerged in Okinawa in the early 17th century.
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Sai:
The sai is a three-pronged truncheon sometimes mistakenly believed to be a variation on a tool used to create furrows in the ground. This is highly unlikely as metal on Okinawa was in short supply at this time and a stick would have served this purpose more satisfactorily for a poor commoner, or Heimin. The sai appears similar to a short sword, but is not bladed and the end is traditionally blunt. The weapon is metal and of the truncheon class with its length dependent upon the forearm of the user. The two shorter prongs on either side of the main shaft are used for trapping (and sometimes breaking) other weapons such as a sword or bo. A form known as nunti sai, sometimes called manji sai (due to its appearance resembling the swastika kanji) has the two shorter prongs pointed in opposite directions, with another monouchi instead of a grip.
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Tonfa: トンファー
The tonfa supposedly originated as the handle of a millstone used for grinding grain. It is traditionally made from red oak, and can be gripped by the short perpendicular handle or by the longer main shaft. As with all Okinawan weapons, many of the forms are reflective of "empty hand" techniques. The tonfa is more readily recognized by its modern development in the form of the police nightstick but its usage differs.
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Kama:
The kama is a traditional farming sickle, and considered one of the hardest to learn due to the inherent danger in practicing with such a weapon. The point at which the blade and handle join in the "weapon" model normally has a nook with which a bo can be trapped, although this joint proved to be a weak point in the design, and modern day examples tend to have a shorter handle with a blade that begins following the line of the handle and then bends, though to a lesser degree; this form of the kama is known as the natagama. The edge of a traditional rice sickle, such as one would purchase from a Japanese hardware store, continues to the handle without a notch, as this is unneeded for its intended use.
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Nunchaku: ヌンチャク
A nunchaku is two sections of wood (or metal in modern incarnations) connected by a cord or chain. There is much controversy over its origins: some say it was originally a Chinese weapon, others say it evolved from a threshing flail, while one theory purports that it was developed from a horse's bit. Chinese nunchaku tend to be rounded, whereas Okinawan ones are octagonal, and they were originally linked by horse hair. There are many variations on the nunchaku, ranging from the three sectional staff (san-setsu-kon, mentioned later in this article), to smaller multi-section nunchaku. The nunchaku was popularized by Bruce Lee in a number of films, made in both Hollywood and Hong Kong. Now it is also made with chains or rope in between. This weapon is illegal in New York State, Canada, and parts of Europe.
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Tekko: 鉄甲
The tekko or tecchu is a form of knuckleduster, and primarily takes its main form of usage from that of empty-hand technique, whilst also introducing slashing movements. The tekko is usually made to the width of the hand with anything between one and three protruding points on the knuckle front with protruding points at the top and the bottom of the knuckle. They can be made of any hard material but are predominantly found in aluminium, iron, steel, or wood.
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Tinbe-rochin: 槍盾
The tinbe-rochin consists of a shield and spear. It is one of the least known Okinawan weapons. The tinbe (shield) can be made of various materials but is commonly found in vine or cane, metal, or archetypically, from a turtle shell (historically, the Ryūkyū Islands' primary source of food, fishing, provided a reliable supply of turtle shells). The shield size is generally about 45 cm long and 38 cm wide. The rochin (short spear) is cut with the length of the shaft being the same distance as the forearm to the elbow if it is being held in the hand. The spearhead then protrudes from the shaft and can be found in many differing designs varying from spears to short swords and machete-style implements.
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Eku:
The Okinawan style of oar is called an eku (this actually refers to the local wood most commonly used for oars), eiku, iyeku, or ieku. Noteworthy hallmarks are the slight point at the tip, curve to one side of the paddle and a roof-like ridge along the other. One of the basic moves for this weapon utilizes the fact that a fisherman fighting on the beach would be able to fling sand at an opponent. While not having the length, and therefore reach, of the bo, the rather sharp edges can inflict more penetrating damage when wielded properly.

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