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By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 27 2015 11:00AM

The origins to our style of Kobudo claims lineage from the elite fighters of the Kingdom of Ryukyu. This image (identified by Jikishin Kobudo) is of a scroll circa 1830 which shows the Ryukyuan 'Royal Guard' protecting the regal entourage as they visit Edo. The guards carry weapons and wear black outer jackets with white trousers, just as we still wear in our Kobudo practice today. Of note for those who practice Okinawan martial arts, is the colour of the Obi in this scroll - red - the colour signifying a completion of training or full mastery.


It is reassuring to see such pictorial links with the past and know that some traditions are being continued with authenticity. The challenge is for us to ensure that the transmission methods, practical techniques and emotional approaches to Ryukyu martial arts remain true, when so many 'masters and non-masters' seek to try and legislate the nature of the arts for personal financial benefit.



By Jikishin Kobudo, Mar 3 2015 12:46PM

The Sansetsukun or San Jie Gun (Chinese pronunciation) is not an agricultural tool nor does it have any other domestic functional use; it is simply a battle weapon for use in the field of conflict. The use of Sansetsukun on the Ryukyu Islands is a contentious issue since it appears to have been introduced to the island in the twentieth century and there is no evidence to indicate any historical use within the Ryukyu archipelago. However, the fact that Chinese martial arts were so widespread in Okinawa suggests that it likely was used in times past, albeit that they were not recorded.


A Chinese weapon developed for the battlefields of the Song dynasty, the Sansetsukun had two primary uses. The first was to attack mounted officers and the second to attack over and around a shield defence.


Its strength lies in its versatility and ease of transportation. Rather than carrying large cumbersome weapons to attack cavalry, the San Jie Gun can be quickly and easily deployed to any part of the battlefield and it still allows the fighter a large degree of manoeuvrability in a way that a heavy bladed weapon may not. The reach of the weapon means that it can be used to strike the legs of a horse or the rider himself.


The second use of the San Jie Gun was to attack over the top of shield walls; the flailing chained section allowing attacks that would be otherwise impossible by any other weapon. Breaking through a shield defence and disabling mounted fighters are both seminal requirements of the medieval battlefield. Both of these uses require a Sansetsukun with a heavy wooden construction, often with metal ferules and so the currnt Wushu tradition of bamboo three-section staffs is uncertain in terms of battlefield application but likely for use in practice.


2nd picture: Sansetsukun-Jutsu at Jikishin Kobudo in Leeds

By Jikishin Kobudo, Nov 6 2014 04:55PM

Some histories of Okinawa and some modern Sensei portray the people of Ryukyu as a peace loving nation who never demonstrated any acts of aggression. However, this is in contrary to contemporary accounts from neighbouring countries during the middle ages. Japan and China both document violent acts of internecine aggression between the islands and expansionist movements from the kingdom of Ryukyu to the North and South. Okinawa has its own histories and legends of great warriors and fighters from the islands and it is important the experience of Okinawa during WW2 and after does not reinterpret a nation of warriors and fighters as historical victims and pacifists.


This image taken from a historical wood block print shows a knight of Ryukyu fighting furiously amidst the surrounding Shimazu Samurai attackers. Of note to researchers is that the unique weapons on display are far more akin to the Chinese arms than the Japanese with a Guan Dao in full flurry. This mounted halberd use is something that demonstrates incredible horsemanship and leg strength in order to control a horse, hands free and with only a rudimentary saddle.


The prohibition of weapons in Okinawa is a historical fact, but perhaps we should ask ourselves why would that be necessary in a nation of pacifists? Tentatively we might wonder if the truth may well be as the King Sho Shin claimed, that the only way to stop the Ryukyuans fighting each other was to take away their weapons. However, even then, in contravention of the King's wishes, the Kobudo traditions of turning any tool or implement into a weapon, and the Karate tradition of making the empty hand lethal, meant the warrior traditions of this great fighting nation never died.

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