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

By Jikishin Kobudo, Jun 22 2016 11:12AM

We have had four sets of replicas made of these that have just arrived today. An outstanding weapon, that has hardly been put down all afternoon. Now we just need to find out a bit more about their history.

If anyone has seen or used knuckle-dusters that are exactly like these - please get in touch. They are quite rare and different from the mainstream Okinawa Tekko and are almost certainly Chinese. Of particular interest is the fact that these appear to be a mixture of Tekko and Tetchu. Oddly perhaps is also the ornate decoration along the bar that would usually be gripped, whereas the striking side is more rounded and undecorated. Possibly evidence that these were used as horse stirrups? Much to research with these and much to enjoy in their use.

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, Mar 30 2015 11:14AM

There are numerous explanations for how the Tunkuwa, Tonfa or Guai first appeared into the world of martial arts. Whatever its origins, it has undoubtedly been developed as a weapon and for martial arts use and has gone on to reach worldwide popularity as the police PR24 sidearm.

The prevailing Okinawan history is that the Tunkuwa (Ryukyu pronunciation) was used within households to turn a grindstone and that for this reason it is a weapon associated with kitchens and with women. However, the Chinese explanations are quite different. One of the most romantic histories is associated with the Daoist immortal Li Tieguai which can be translated to mean "Iron Crutch Li".

Li Tieguai was by some accounts a contemporary of Lau Tzu the father of Daoism. Li famously walks with a crutch and is one of the eight great immortals. He defends the weak and the infirm and protects all who face disability. His iron crutch is unable to be destroyed and is his primary weapon for fighting, if he is ever to do so.

The manner and the shape of a crutch is very similar to the modern weapon except that it is much shorter. A different legend tells of how an unarmed martial artist who was fighing with a crutch against a sword suffered from his crutch being cut in two. The martial artist then held the two pieces of the crutch in either hand and so the "Seung Guai" or "double crutch" weapon was born.

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, Jan 8 2015 01:29PM

This mysterious weapon is potentially one of the most important martial arts artefacts in the world. Currently in private ownership in England this weapon was formerly the property of the family of William Gladstone (1809 – 1898), four times British Prime Minister and President of the Board of Trade during the wars between Britain and China. On it is inscribed the symbol (正) which represents correctness. It has been suggested that this was presented to William Gladstone by the Chinese, though this claim as yet remains uncorroborated.

It is steel, weighs 603grams and measures 52cm in length, the shaft is circular and the cambered double-edged blade measures 8cm long and 2.5cm wide. It is ideal for strong parries and puncturing and slicing blows. The weapon is dated to 1850 (approx) and though not showing any signs of recent sharpening it still maintains a cutting edge. A single notch in the blade may suggest a use at some time.

This weapon is contemporary to the Sai and is associated with a plethora of short range steel weapons that were at one time a key feature of southern Chinese martial arts and its similarity to the Kama cannot be ignored. The exact name of this weapon is unknown and we would welcome suggestions from other martial artists and historians. This weapon has contributed to the ongoing practical research into historical fighting practice at Jikishin Kobudo and will feature as part of a martial arts demonstration at the Royal Armouries Museum in February 2015.

William Gladstone was a popular, caring and poignant man whose insight into world affairs is as relevant today as it was a century and a half ago.

“Remember the rights of the savage, as we call him. Remember that the happiness of his humble home, remember that the sanctity of life in the hill villages of Afghanistan among the winter snows, are as sacred in the eye of Almighty God as are your own. Remember that He who has united you together as human beings in the same flesh and blood, has bound you by the law of mutual love, that that mutual love is not limited by the shores of this island, is not limited by the boundaries of Christian civilisation, that it passes over the whole surface of the earth, and embraces the meanest along with the greatest in its wide scope” W.E. Gladstone 1879.

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, Oct 12 2013 11:00AM

Weapon injuries discovered on the skull of an adult male from late 17th century Japan indicates the presence of blows created by both sharp and blunt weaponry.

In total this man sustained seven strikes, which due to the lack of healing, we can assume are likely to have caused his death. The sharp injuries are likely caused by swords whilst the blunt injuries are uncertain. Injuries 5 and 6 are circular impacts. Injury 7 is a quadrangular hole, similar to the base of an old Sai?


A: Posterior view of the cranium

B: Left lateral view of the cranium

C: Superior view of the cranium

D: Inferior view of the right parietal bone

E: Right lateral view of the cranium

Injuries (White arrows show location of traumas)

1-4: Sharp force traumas affecting the ectocranial and endocranial surfaces

5-7: Blunt force traumas with radiating fractures from the perforation.

(Ref: Nagaola, T. (2012) Cranial traumatic injuries caused by weapons in Tokugawa, Japan. Int J. Osteoarchaeol., 22: 138-144 doi: 10.1002/oa.1187)

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.

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