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By Jikishin Kobudo, Oct 1 2015 11:00AM

Is this the most rare and important literature on Kobudo found any where in the world?

These volumes titled 'Ryukyu Kobujutsu: Jokan-Gekan' written by Inoue Motokatsu in 1972-4 and reprinted in 1983 go into intricate detail concerning the complete system of Kobujutsu and provide the only comprehensive record of a Kobudo school created by a legitimate Headmaster in existence.

The scale of the contents is staggering, all of the Kata and a great deal of bunkai is shown here, including historical descriptions of the weapons and of the people who inspired and contributed to the development of Kobujutsu in the world as we know it.

Thank you to Don Warrener for sending this book to us here at Jikishin Kobudo. It will take pride of place amongst our collection. We are only too aware that all Okinawa Kobudo and Ryukyu Kobujutsu styles have a common history, use common weapons, many of the same kata, and largely derive from the same Masters. Irrespective of badge or school, we are as brothers and sisters descendants and custodians in the same family.


Shushi no Kon Sho, Shushi no Kon Dai, Sakugawa no Kon Sho, Sakugawa no Kon Dai, Soeishi no Kon Sho, Sueyoshi no Kon, Tsukenshitahaku no Sai, Hamahiga no Sai, Chatanyara no Sai, Jigen no, Sai, Hamahiga no Tonfa, Yarasho no Tonfa, Kanegawa no Nichougama Dai, Kanegawa no Timbei, Testuko no Kata, Nunchaku Sho no Kata, Surushin (Nage), Soeishi no Kon Dai, Urasoe no Kon, Sesoku no Kon, Hakuson no Kon Dai, Raigo no Kon, Tsukensunakake no Kon, Yakaa no Sai, Hakutagawa no Sai, Tawada no Sai, Nunchaku Dai no Kata, Toyama no Nichougama, Kanegawa no Nichougama Sho, Surushin (Tan), Yonegawa no Kon, Chinenshichanaka no Kon, Tsuken Bo,

Choun no Kon, Chatanyara no Kon, Hakuson no Kon Sho, Shushi no Kon Koshiki, Sakugawa no Kon Chu, Kojo no Sai, Kyushakubo no Kata, Sanshakubo no Kata, Sansokan no Kata

By Jikishin Kobudo, Aug 21 2015 11:00AM

Four of the Sensei from Jikishin Kobudo entertained visitors today at a packed Royal Armouries Museum by teaching children the defensive martial arts techniques and stances used by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Though Jikishin Kobudo is strictly an adult club and we do not condone teaching weapons to children because weapons are malevolent in construction, we believe that offering them a censored experience of what real defensive martial arts training consists of helps children to contextualise the techniques of the cartoon in the real world and understand that weapons are not toys and the cartoons are ficticious portrayals.

Sensationalising fighting techniques is one of the biggest social problems in western society and leads to many assaults, injuries and deaths due to unrealistic expectations of fighting. We have learned that when we introduce fighting to children it must be done with much careful consideration, if it is to be done at all.

By Jikishin Kobudo, May 26 2015 11:39AM

Edo period fire fighters were tough, since fire fighting was a violent business. 'Machi-Bikeshi' (Firemen of the lower status) often competed to be the first to put out a fire so that they could claim the reward. Sometimes this would result in a fight between rival groups. At other times, fire fighters may be required to fight the arsonists themselves, who could be preventing them from putting out the fire, particularly if the fire was caused as an act of revenge. Other times, more unscrupulous Machi-Bikeshi would deliberately start fires as a way of extorting money from locals.

Machi-Bikeshi became infamous as both heroes and villains and their impact into the world of martial arts is significant as a result. The tools of the fire fighters became their weapons during famous conflicts; these tools are found as weapons in Kobudo.

This image shows two objects from our collection. The first is a Tomiguchi or fireman's axe and was used to break through doors and generally to assist in managing burning timber. Its relation to the kama is obvious, indeed some refer to it as a kama. When fastened to a chain or rope it was useful for casting high into the rafters of a building to allow greater leverage or access to higher floors, in this way it becomes identical to a Kusarigama.

The second object (smaller inset picture) is a Hyōshigi which was was used to alert all local people who may be sleeping about the presence of the fire. This tool was the equivalent of the modern siren but also has deeper connotations within the Japanese culture. The wooden blocks are hit together repeatedly to create a recognisable sound. It is considered the origin of the nunchaku by some. Machi-Bikeshi also carried polearms very similar to the bo and the Nunti which would allow them to manage burning debris from a distance. Shields (Tinbe) were not uncommon.

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.

By Jikishin Kobudo, Oct 12 2014 11:00AM

For several years Sensei from around the world have looked to create a tournament environment for staff fighting. This has typically been through the introduction of foam staffs and helmets.

Events using foam staffs are popular, particularly in the USA and though such competitions are amusing to watch and participate in, the techniques employed have been open to criticism from the perspective of realistic application.

Recently in Okinawa there have been attempts made at the Budokan to introduce competitive staff fighting tournaments using more realistically weighted weapons. Competitors are requested to wear full bogu with the addition of shin protectors. This has caused split opinion on the island between those who promote such events and others who feel it is reckless and spiritually destructive. Some say it is not traditional practice and has no place in Kobudo.

Interestingly, there is an older pedigree for such competitions, unbeknown to 21st century Okinawa it can be found in 19th century England.

Quarterstaff fighting was considered an essential skill of close quarters fighting within the British Army during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was useful for the practical development of techniques with the bayonet and with the pike; it was also good fun and gave rise to numerous inter-regional tournaments. Baden-Powell famously learned staff fighting in the Army and later introduced these skills to the Boy Scouts.

At the height of the British Empire's reach, the Great Grandfather of Jikishin Kobudo's Sensei, was a weapons instructor and Regimental Sergeant Major for the 1st Royal Dragoons. For several years during his long service he was stationed at Aldershot barracks, a dedicated training centre created to enhance the Army's physical fitness and fighting skills. Here he was exposed to the joys of Quarterstaff matches, which were intended to keep the eye keen and the feet swift whilst, developing the strength of heart amid tough physical conflict.

During staff fighting matches, the soldiers would wear fencing masks, wicket keeper's gloves, cricket pads and a thick leather tunic to protect the ribcage and groin. The fights were full contact and the only restricted technique was a thrust. Just as with boxing, musketry and fencing, there were regimental champions for Quarterstaff fighting and the matches drew quite a crowd and gained significant press attention.

It may may be interesting for Okinawan Kobudo-ka to know that there was a methodical system of instruction for Quarterstaff fighting in the British Army during the Victorian era and it is sometimes taught at Jikishin Kobudo for research purposes. The British system includes blocks, strikes and combinations based upon fencing guards, parries, cuts and thrusts. Interestingly for students, many of the techniques taught within the British Army in the 1800s are very similar to those practised in Okinawa today.

(Picture - training session at Aldershot 1891.)

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, Nov 26 2013 12:00PM

In Kobudo we practice wearing a training suit or Gi that has a black top with white trousers. This perhaps provides the symbolism of Yin-Yo, perhaps better known by its Chinese name Ying-Yang. The concept of 'Ying-Yang' is sometimes referred to as 'Dai-Ji/Tai-Chi' or the grand purpose and can flippantly be defined as the way of all things.

Just as Isaac Newton has to some extent proved in the West, Oriental wisdom believes that the universe is constituted of balancing opposites: cause and effect, action and reaction, night and day, destructive and creative etc.

Some martial arts take this concept further and include their analysis of martial arts styles to be split across two categories: the malevolent and the peaceful. This can be further exemplified by martial arts styles that choose to wear either white or black as their uniform.

White is worn by those who practice peaceful martial arts of defence and civility. Since white is a colour that is bright and be seen clearly, it reflects the openness of the wearer. Black on the other hand indicates a willingness to hide or to be surreptitious; it may reflect mistrust or represent a perception of hostility by its wearer. Black may be worn by martial artists with a more malevolent, hateful or fearful spirit, perhaps born out of need.

In times of peace there is no need for weapons training, since such practice is most often born out of fear. People with fear in their hearts whilst living under peace, are considered to lead unfulfilled lives and can create a nation riddled with suspicion and conflict. Conversely, in times of war, openness and trust are quickly taken advantage of and will result in humiliation, deception and ultimately defeat for a nation.

It is essential for a person who practices violence during peaceful times to understand clearly whether their training is malevolent or peaceful. In doing so they can be mindful of their spirit and the effect their martial arts may be having on their own spirit and that of the people in the immediate world around them.

In Kobudo, this consideration is reminded to us whenever we wear the Yin-Yo Gi. Though we train with open minds and pure hearts, we are also using weapons that may be considered malevolent. However, not weapons designed out of fear, but weapons designed for other purposes, primarily as tools or domestic implements.

Kobudo is a martial art of balance and harmony. In times of war the Yin may take hold of our spirit, though the Yo is never forgotten. In times of peace, the Yo is treasured and cultivated, whilst the Yin is studied and respected.

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