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We enjoy sharing knowledge and subjects around Kobudo and the martial way.

By Jikishin Kobudo, Jun 22 2016 11:15AM

The Shodokan dojo of Seiko Higa is one of the most important in the history of Okinawan martial arts. For some this was the spritual centre of the renewal of Okinawan martial arts following the anhilation of Okinawa by America during World War 2. Seiko Higa (1898-1966) became known as the Master of Naha-Te and the list of Masters who trained and taught at the Shodokan is extensive.


One of these is Master Shinpo Matayoshi, who following his return to the island from Japan, lived in the Shodokan for a period whilst he got his family back on their feet. Matayoshi Shinpo was greatly respected because of his father and also because of his own martial arts skill and knowledge. He became an imposing figure seen around the Shodokan through his sheer ability and affable character.


Master Matayoshi made musical instruments as a way of providing his family a living, but he also began to teach martial arts. He taught Kobudo at the Shodokan dojo, but not as many believe under the authority of Higa Sensei. They were family friends and Matayoshi Sensei hired the dojo from Higa in order to deliver instruction.


This image shows Matayoshi Sensei with a young Tetsuhiro Hokama, posing in the Shodokan with Kobudo weapons.



By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 5 2014 11:00AM

Jikishin Kobudo practices at the Royal Armouries in the UK, which holds one of the largest collections of arms and armour in the world. It also has within its possession some of the oldest martial arts literature in existence (such as the famous 13th century I-33 - The oldest such manuscript in Europe) Through its unique access to real historical artefacts, Jikishin Kobudo is fortunate to be able to research wider traditions of the martial arts and place its knowledge of Okinawan Kobudo within a global context.


Of particular interest for several years at the club, is the fact that the feudal peasant martial arts of Europe were not dissimilar to those found in the East. This image, created by Jörg Breu the Younger comes from a European fight-book commissioned by Paulus Hector Mair. In it we see 16th century sickle fighting not unlinke the kama techniques from Okinawa. There are many similarities and difference that we have observed, but this article will focus on one in particular: One or two sickles?


Whereas in the West, the sickle was used singularly, the Eastern kama is practised in pairs, but why?


The answer lies possibly in relation to the field uses of the tool. The European sickle was used primarily for collecting cereal crops, which was a one-handed job. It was important to get close to the ground and reap close to the earth. As such, single-handed techniques are most convenient. An alternate use was for maintaining hedge-ways or collecting fruit, again primarily one-handed jobs due to the reaching element. For this reason the average European farmer would only have had one sickle.


In Okinawa the kama are widely used for collecting rice and harvesting pineapple (one-handed jobs), but not for chopping sugar cane as some have suggested; the seiryuto (machete) is used for this. However, there is an additional use for the kama and also the seiryuto that gives us some insight into the dual-use phenomenon.


Due to the climate in Okinawa, vegetation grows very quickly and farmland can easily become overgrown. When clearing large areas of shrub in preparation for planting, old farmers would use two hands with either a kama in each or wielding a pair of seiryutos. The devastating pincer cuts and double-slashing techniques that could rapidly cut down vegetation taught the Okinawans the benefits of fighting with two of these weapons at one time.


The added advantage of using one weapon to block whilst counter-attacking with the other is standard technique of dual weapons seen throughout Asian martial arts. Interestingly, the Europeans rarely use dual weapons fashioned of the same form. An intrigue worthy of further research and study?

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.

By Jikishin Kobudo, Jan 31 2014 12:00PM

Though mainland Japan celebrates the new year in accordance with the solar calendar, many Okinawans hold true to their Ryu-Kyu traditions of celebrating new year in accordance with the lunar calendar. This is one example of how Okinawan culture remains close to that of the Chinese.


A tradition at new year is for the Okinawan people to take fresh water and use this to wash either themselves or to bless their property or possessions. This is called Wakamiji or "Young water".


The new year is a time of transition, during which the Okinawan people say goodbye to the fortunes of the previous year and get excited about the prospect of good fortune for the coming year. It is a time for families to come together and it is the most important of all festivals.

By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 27 2013 11:00AM

We are fortunate to practice martial arts amongst one of the largest collections of arms and armour in the world, at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England.


One of the objects on is display is exhibit XXVIM.17: Listed as a Chinese parrying weapon. The weapon is steel and measures 48.9cm in length. Its shaft is octagonal and the hilt is very sturdy.


The exact age of this weapon has not yet been determined, but we believe it to be at least one hundred years old. This weapon was purchased from a collection of South and East Asian weapons in the second half of the 20th century.


At the moment we are investigating as to whether this item is Okinawan or indeed Chinese and would welcome the thoughts of other martial artists with experience in this area. The item can be viewed at the museum inside the Oriental Gallery.


By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 15 2013 11:00AM

2013 is the 125th anniversary of the birth of the renowned Kobudo master Shinko Matayoshi, father of Shinpo Matayoshi.


Shinko Matayoshi was born in the same year as John Logi Baird (Inventor of the television), Lawrence of Arabia and Irving Berlin (leading 20th century songwriter). For Okinawan martial artists, his influence and legacy are comparable.




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