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By Jikishin Kobudo, Sep 5 2015 11:00AM

It is the nature of weapons that their attacking focus can very quickly become redirected from high techniques to low techniques in a way that unarmed fighting cannot. In unarmed fighting your primary attacking tools (arms and legs) are rooted to the torso through the major joints (hips and shoulders), which makes them largely predictable to the trained fighter; whereas in weapon-based combat, your attacking tools are rooted to the highly mobile and more volatile wrist joints. As such, low-section attacks and defences feature heavily in Kobudo to a much higher proportion than in Karate.

This is just one reason among several why Kobudo is distinct from Karate and should not be practiced like it.

A large proportion of the Japanese/Okinawan approach to Kobudo (in comparison to the Chinese, Taiwanese and Philippino approach) is concerned with understanding the complex relationship between technique and target. It is understanding the right combinations of striking movement and attack points that allows those on a path of Budo to consider the principle of Seiryoku Zenyo 精力善用 (maximum efficacy, minimum effort).

The low section striking targets are:

KODENKO – Base of the spine

BITEI – Coccyx


USHIRO INAZUMA – Under the buttock

KINTEKI – Testicles

KISHO - Inguinal region

YAKO – Inside of the thigh

FUKOTO – Outside of the thigh

HIZA – Knee joint

KOKOTSU – Shin bone

SOBI– Base of the calf

AKIRESUKEN – Achilles tendon

UCHIKUROBUSHI– Inside of the ankle

KORI – Inside of the foot bridge

KUSAGAKURE – Outside of the foot bridge

By Jikishin Kobudo, Jul 21 2015 11:21AM

Matayoshi Shinpo wrote no textbooks instructing people in the techniques he taught. However, the organisation that he led during the second half of the twentieth century has. The Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei was begun on 15th May 1973 to help expand and develop in 'friendly relationships' the art of Okinawan Kobudo as taught by Matayoshi Shinpo Soke.

The sixteen petal chrysanthemum logo was chosen for the organisation since it is a symbol that represents plentifulness and is a symbol of good luck to the people of Okinawa. This textbook explains the reasons for the formation of the Renmei and explains how it began. Its members are obliged to preserve the techniques of their ancestors and for that reason none of the techniques in this book have been subject to adaptation or change from how they were originally taught. It is good that this book exists, created equally by several masters of Kobudo and under scrutiny of each other.

Though all of Matayoshi Sensei's students had different training experiences and now teach in diverse ways, this book perhaps represents the most reliable consensus of what Matayoshi Sensei communicated and what he wanted the world to learn, remember, protect and promote with pure hearts and diligent souls.

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, 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.

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