"You can’t split siamese without losing something important"
When you start practicing Okinawa Kobudo you quickly realise that the use of the body is basically the same as in Karate. Some old masters gives to the new students the following comparison: you can eat with your hand or with cutlery, depending on the situation, but in both scenarios you and your body are doing basically the same. A warrior start the fight using its weapons and when he lose it, then he start to use its hands and the rest of the body. He doesn’t feel he’s doing another martial art, only a continuation of the same.
Historians has still not agreed what was first: Karate or Okinawa Kobudo. For old masters it doesn’t matter if the use of weapons (Kobudo) or the development of self-defence techniques with the own body (Karate) started first. For them are two wheels of the same bicycle, they both need themselves.
The understanding of the weapons it has always been essential for the warrior, because in case they find themselves without weapons and in front of an armoured enemy they need it to understand how the opponent weapons work to succeed and save their live.
We all have read amazing stories about the Shuri Castle warriors, fathers of karate who practised Sai, Bo and other weapons as a regular karate training. They didn’t understand the training of martial arts without the training of weapons following the same principles of the empty hand.
The study of Okinawa kobudo helps karate practitioners to further understand its body and develop more strong and fine movements. Only training Karate or Okinawa Kobudo the possibilities to improve and grow are limited.
When the Okinawa masters decide to spread karate and teach it in the universities they preferred not to teach Kobudo. They kept it for themselves and this is the reason why this essential part arrived later to the general public.
A very different history, but sometimes confusing due to the use of similar words, is Nihon Kobudo. This associated discipline to many Karate Associations is based on other way to move the body, far related to Karate principles and more associated with the use of katana, the principles of jiu-jitsu, kyudo or other biomechanical principles.
Okinawa Karate and Kobudo are one only and focused vision of the martial arts and never should be separated or one of them put in a category or level inferior or far from to the other.
TRADITIONAL OKINAWA KOBUDO SCHOOLS (Some examples)
MATAYOSHI RYU: Use of more than 29 different weapons (origin). Nowadays only 19 are taught. Short amount of kata on each weapons, but high performance difficulty. Originated on China and other Asian countries.
YAMANI RYU: Focused to the use of the BO. Recently has opened to the teaching of Sai and Tunkwa.
TAIRA SHINKEN: Hozon Shinkokai, basically the study of eight weapons. It is the style with the largest amount of Kata.
NAKAIMA NORIZATO: Family style, during more than three generations. Also brought from China and other Asian countries. Too little people know the use of the most unusual weapons and its practise has been significantly reduced.
SANDA KANAGUSUKU: It was a system developed for police. Its focuse was to hit, stun and stop. They use only sai.
Jordi Ferrando, Director of Kobudo