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By Jikishin Kobudo, Jul 18 2014 11:00AM

Kobudo training can be divided into three component parts

1) Kata

2) Kumi Waza

3) Hojo Undo

Each of these component parts informs the direction of practice of the others.

Kata: Through the practice of Kata, we should envisage the nature of real combat. Good Kata practice necessitates the visualisation of attackers and in doing so we can perceive our body in relation to those of our opponents. We can begin to understand how sequences of movements may be put together in different directions against multiple attacks. The spirit or nature of each Kata also teaches us lessons on how to prepare our mind for different offensive or defensive modes of combat. If we are uncertain about the effectiveness of a given technique we can test them in Kumi Waza. If we are unsure about the speed and accuracy of the technique we can practice Hojo Undo.

Kumi Waza: Here we will practice single techniques or sequences with partners or small groups. This may often require weapon contact and though this must be done with the highest degree of safety, it will reveal many elements of our techniques and their efficacy. Kumi Waza is a fantastic opportunity to learn about distance and how weapons respond. It is also the perfect time to develop light footwork and an awareness of mind. We would never practice Kumi Waza at full speed or with full power, since it is too dangerous and often counterproductive. To practice combination full speed and full power we can use our Hojo Undo. To inspire the development of emerging 'bunkai' techniques and combinations we can use our 'Kata'.

Hojo Undo: This is the opportunity to improve our physical condition and weapon handling by the repetition of techniques in formal rows in the Dojo. The same block, strike or combination may be repeated many times in order to develop speed, strength, accuracy or balance. Through Hojo Undo we get the opportunity to fine tune a technique for a specific purpose. We can visualise a broad range of these techniques in application through the practice of Kata. We can learn about how techniques must adapt for different opponents through the practice of Kumi Waza.

All of these methods of training help to prepare the Kobudo student for effective use of the weapons. None is more important than the others, none should be favoured and none neglected.

By Jikishin Kobudo, Mar 7 2014 12:00PM

The use of sound as a weapon in battle around the world and throughout history is well observed. Battle cries in particular have been used for millennia to unite the spirit of soliders and strke fear into enemies. In Kobudo training the 'Kiai' is used to focus the mind on the purpose of a given exercise or technique.

'Kiai' is comprised of two characters - 'Ki' which can be translated to mean spirit, mood or energy, and 'Ai' which is specifically a contraction of the verb 'Awasu' meaning to unite, and in this context can be used to denote harmony. The ultimate purpose of a Kiai is to ensure the unity of a delivered physical technique with the spirit or the mind of the fighter. For many Okinawans, a failure to understand the purpose of Kiai indicates a failure to understand the purpose of martial arts.

The Kiai is an expression of spirit that goes far beyond the use of words and can be found in all three stages of combat.

At the start of combat that Kiai may be used

- As a preparation for the soul when entering a guard

- To stimulate the release of adrenaline

- As a communication of intent to the opponent

During combat the Kiai may be used

- To desensitise the opponent

- To scare the opponent

- To harmonise the internal power of the body and mind

At the end of combat the Kiai may be used

- As a release of the soul from a battle mindset

- As an expression of lament following the delivery of a fatal technique

- As a warning to other attackers

If 'Kata' can be described as an imaginary fight, then the use of Kiai within these Kata becomes very important.Whilst performing Kata that contain multiple Kiai points, it is important to consider the purpose and application of each one.

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