Tuesday, 13 August 2013



The bō is usually made with hard wood, such as red or white oak, although bamboo has been used. The bō may be tapered in that it can be thicker in the center (chukon-bu) than at the ends (kontei) and usually round or circular (maru-bo). Older bō were round (maru-bo), square (kaku-bo), hexagon (rokkaku-bo) or octagon (hakkaku-bo). The average size of a bō is 6 shaku(around 6 ft (1.8 m)) but they can be a long as 9 ft (2.7 m) (kyu-shaku-bō) .

A 6 ft (1.8 m) bō is sometimes called a rokushakubō (六尺棒: ろくしゃくぼう). This name derives from the Japanese words roku (六: ろく), meaning "six"; shaku (尺: しゃく); and bō. The shaku is a Japanese measurement equivalent to 30.3 centimeters (0.994 ft). Thus, rokushakubō refers to a staff about 6-shaku (1.82 m; 5.96 feet) long. The bō is typically 3 cm (1.25 inch) thick, sometimes gradually tapering from the middle (chukon-bu) to 2 cm (0.75 inch)at the end (kontei). This thickness allows the user to make a tight fist around it in order to block and counter an attack.

In some cases for training purposes or for a different style, rattan was used. Some were inlaid or banded with strips of iron or other metals for extra strength. Bō range from heavy to light, from rigid to highly flexible, and from simple pieces of wood picked up from the side of the road to ornately decorated works of art.

Martial Arts Uses:

The Japanese martial art of wielding the bō is bōjutsu. The basis of bō technique is te, or hand, techniques derived from Quanfa and other martial arts that reached Okinawa via trade and Chinese monks. Thrusting, swinging, and striking techniques often resemble empty-hand movements, following the philosophy that the bō is merely an "extension of one’s limbs". Consequently, bōjutsu is often incorporated into other styles of empty hand fighting, such as karate.
The bō is typically gripped in thirds, and when held horizontally in front, the right palm is facing away from the body and the left hand is facing the body, enabling the bō to rotate. The power is generated by the back hand pulling the bō, while the front hand is used for guidance. When striking, the wrist is twisted, as if turning the hand over when punching. Bō technique includes a wide variety of blocks, strikes, sweeps, and entrapments. The bō may even be used to sweep sand into an attacker’s eyes.


The earliest form of the bō, a staff, has been used throughout Asia since the beginning of recorded history. The first bo 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 bo used for self-defense by monks or commoners, the staff was an integral part of the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū, one of the martial arts’ oldest surviving styles. The staff evolved into the bō with the foundation of kobudo, a martial art using weapons, which emerged in Okinawa in the early 17th century.

Prior to the 15th century,  Okinawa, a small island located south of Japan, was divided into three kingdoms: Chuzan, Hokuzan, and Nanzan. After much political turmoil, Okinawa was united under the Sho Dynasty in 1429. In 1477, Emperor Sho Shin of the second Sho dynasty came into power. Determined to enforce his philosophical and ethical ideas, while banning feudalism, the emperor instituted a ban on weapons. It became a crime to carry or own weapons such as swords, in an attempt to prevent further turmoil and prevent uprising. In 1609, the temporary peace established by Sho Shin was violently overthrown when the powerful Satsuma Clan invaded Okinawa. Composed of Japanese samurai, the Satsuma Clan took over the island, making Okinawan independence a thing of the past. The Satsuma placed a new weapons ban on the people of Okinawa, leaving them defenseless against the steel of the samurai’s swords. In an attempt to protect themselves from the devastating forces of the Satsuma, the people of Okinawa looked to simple farming implements, which the samurai would not be able to confiscate, as new methods of defense. This use of weapons developed into kobudo, or "ancient martial art," as we know it today.

Although the bō is now used as a weapon, its use is believed by some to have evolved from the long stick (tenbin) which was used to balance buckets or baskets. Typically, one would carry baskets of harvested crops or buckets of water or milk or fish etc., one at each end of the tenbin, that is balanced across the middle of the back at the shoulder blades. In poorer agrarian economies, the tenbin remains a traditional farm work implement. In styles such as Yamanni-ryū or Kenshin-ryū, many of the strikes are the same as those used for yari ("spear") or naginata("glaive"). There are stick fighting techniques native to just about every country on every continent.

Friday, 17 May 2013




The sai (釵) is a traditional martial arts weapon. The basic form of the weapon is that of a pointed, prong shaped metal baton, with two curved prongs called yoku projecting from the handle. It is generally used in pairs.[2] There are many types of sai with varying prongs for trapping and blocking.

Part of the SAI:

  • Monouchi, the shaft of the sai, this can be round or faceted.
  • Yoku, the prong like side guards which are usually symmetrical but the manji design developed by Taira Shinken employs oppositely-facingyoku resembling a Buddhist symbol, the reverse swastika (manji) from which it takes its name.
  • Tsume, the tip of the side guard (yoku).
  • Moto, the actual center point between the two side guards (yoku).
  • Tsuka, the handle of the sai. The tsuka can be wrapped with different materials such as cord or ray skin (same) to provide a grip.
  • Tsukagashira, the butt end of the handle (tsuka).
  • Saki, the tip or point of the sai which is usually blunt and not pointed.[3]


Before its arrival in Okinawa, the sai was already being used in other Asian countries including India, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.[4] The Indonesian form of the sai is called chabang or tjabang, which is used in the Indonesian fighting art known as pentjak-silat.[5][6] Early evidence from Java in the form of art work is said to show that the chabang predates the sai's use in Okinawa and China.[4] The chabang is said to have been developed from the trisula.[7] The word trisula itself can refer to both a long or short-handled trident. Because the trisula was created in South Asia, another theory is that the sai originated in India and spread along with Hinduism and Buddhism. This is supported by the fact that the trisula is important as a Hindu-Buddhist symbol.

In Okinawa the sai was used by domestic police (ufuchiku) to arrest criminals and for crowd control, the use of the sai was perfected in 1668 by Moto Chohei, an Okinawan prince.[8]

The sai eventually reached Japan in the form of the jutte (jitte), which usually has only a single prong although some jutte have two prongs like a sai. Both are truncheon-like weapons, used for striking and bludgeoning.


The sai is typically used in pairs, with one in each hand.[9] Five kata are commonly taught, including two kihon kata. The style includes a variety of blocks, parries, strikes, and captures against attackers from all directions and height levels. Use of the point, knuckle and central bar is emphasized, as well as rapid grip changes for multiple strikes and blocks.

The sai's utility as a weapon is reflected in its distinctive shape. It is primarily used as a striking weapon for short jabs into the solar plexus but it also has many defensive techniques.

There are several different ways of wielding the sai, which give it the versatility to be used both lethally and non-lethally. One way to hold it is by gripping the handle with all of the fingers and pinching the thumb against the joint between the handle bar and the shaft. This allows one to manipulate the sai so that it can be pressed against the forearm and also help avoid getting the thumb caught in the handle when blocking an attack. The change is made by putting pressure on the thumbs and rotating the sai around until it is facing backwards and the index finger is aligned with the handle.

The knuckle end is good for concentrating the force of a punch, while the long shaft can be wielded to thrust at enemies, to serve as a protection for a blow to the forearm, or to stab as one would use a common dagger. In practice, some prefer to keep the index finger extended in alignment with the center shaft regardless of whether the knuckle end or the middle prong is exposed. The finger may be straight or slightly curled. Used in this way, the other fingers are kept on the main shaft, with the thumb supporting the handle.[10]

The grips described above leverage the versatility of this implement as both an offensive and a defensive weapon. Both grips facilitate flipping between the point and the knuckle being exposed while the sai is held in strong grip positions.

Monday, 13 May 2013




Kusari-fundo is a hand held weapon used in feudal Japan consisting of a length of chain (kusari) with a weight (fundo) connected to each end of the chain. Various sizes and shapes of chain and weight were used as there was no set rule on the construction of these weapons. Other popular names are manrikigusari meaning ten thousand power chain[1]or just manriki.[2]


Typically the length of the forged chain could vary from around 12 inches up to 48 inches. The chain could have many different shapes including round, elliptical, and egg shaped. The thickness of the chain also varied. Usually the first link of chain attached to the weight was round and often larger and thicker than the rest of the links of the chain.[3]


The weight attached to each end of the chain could have many different sizes and shapes, the weights were usually exactly matched in size and shape but on some of the related chain and weight weapons the weights could be completely different from each other, with one weight being much longer than the other like a handle on one end or one weight could be round while the other weight could be rectangular. Weight shapes include round, hexagon, rectangle. The weight could be fairly light or quite heavy with the typical weight being from 56.25 grams to 112.5 grams.[4]


The use of the kusari-fundo was taught in several different schools ryū as a hidden or concealed weapon and as a self defense weapon. The kusari-fundo was useful when carrying a sword was not allowed or impractical, samurai police of the Edo period would use a kusari-fundo as one of their non lethal arresting weapons.[5][6]


There are several chain and weight weapons with one type known as a konpi being mentioned in manuscripts as far back as the Nanbokucho period (1336-1392).

The founder of the Masaki ryū Masaki Tarodayu Dannoshin Toshiyoshi (1689-1776) is said to have developed a version of the kusari-fundo[7] while serving Lord Toda as a bloodless weapon that could be used to defend the grounds of Edo castle.[8]




The kusarigama (鎖鎌?, "chain-sickle") is a traditional Japanese weapon that consists of a kama (the Japanese equivalent of a sickle) on a metal chain (kusari) with a heavy iron weight (fundo) at the end. The kusarigama is said to have developed during the Muromachi period. [1] The art of handling the kusarigama is called kusarigamajutsu.

Sunday, 12 May 2013




A tantō (短刀?, "short sword")[1][2] is one of the traditionally made Japanese swords[3] (nihonto)[4][5] that were worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The tantō dates to the Heian period, when it was mainly used as a weapon but evolved in design over the years to become more ornate. Tantō were used in traditional martial arts (tantojutsu) and saw a resurgence of use in the West in the 1980s as the design made its way to America and is a common blade pattern found in modern tactical knives.


The tantō is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade is single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tantō was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well. Tantō are generally forged in hira-zukuri style (without ridgeline),[1][6] meaning that their sides have no ridge line and are nearly flat, unlike the shinogi-zukuri structure of a katana. Some tantō have particularly thick cross-sections for armor-piercing duty, and are called yoroi toshi. Tantō were mostly carried by samurai, as commoners did not generally wear them. Women sometimes carried a small tantō called a kaiken[7] in their obiprimarily for self-defense. Tantō were sometimes worn as the shōtō in place of a wakizashi in a daishō,[8][9] especially on the battlefield. Before the advent of the wakizashi/tantō combination, it was common for a samurai to carry a tachi and a tantō as opposed to a katana and a wakizashi.[8]

It has been noted that the tachi would be paired with a tantō and later the uchigatana would be paired with another shorter uchigatana. With the advent of the katana, the wakizashi eventually was chosen by samurai as the short sword over the tantō. Kanzan Satō in his book The Japanese sword notes that there did not seem to be any particular need for the wakizashi and suggests that the wakizashi may have become more popular than the tantō due to the wakizashi being more suited for indoor fighting. He mentions the custom of leaving the katana at the door of a castle or palace when entering while continuing to wear the wakizashi inside.[10]




A shuriken (Japanese 手裏剣; literally: "sword hidden in the hand") is a traditional Japanese concealed weapon that was generally used for throwing, and sometimes stabbing or slashing. They are sharpened hand-held blades made from a variety of everyday items, such as needles, nails, and knives, as well as coins, washers, and other flat plates of metal. Shuriken is the name given to any small-bladed object, while shaken is traditionally used to indicate the well-known "throwing star".

Shuriken are commonly known in the West as throwing stars or ninja stars though they took many different shapes and designs during the time they were used. The major varieties of shuriken are the bō shuriken (棒手裏剣, stick shuriken) and the hira shuriken (平手裏剣, flat shuriken) or shaken (車剣, also read askurumaken, wheel shuriken).

Shuriken were mainly a supplemental weapon to the more-commonly-used sword or other various weapons in a samurai warrior's arsenal, though they often played a pivotal tactical role in battle.[1] The art of wielding the shuriken is known as shurikenjutsu and was mainly taught as a minor part of the martial arts curriculum of many famous schools, such as Yagyū Shinkage-ryū, Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū, Ittō-ryū, Kukishin-ryū, and Togakure-ryū.