Saturday, September 5, 2015

Observations on Kama



The Okinawan kama or sickle is not part of the Isshinryu system of study.  I first learned some kata when I started training with Tris Sutrisno. His system was something that came from his father’s studies in the 1930s and I am not sure where the forms came from.


He was teaching his senior students O’ Sensei No Kama Sho and Dai, and he shared them with me.


There are many styles of kama study. This series used continual shifting hand movements and was difficult to do. The video I am sharing is of Tris making corrections and adjustments to my technique in the late 1980s.


Other kama styles hold the kama on the handle and do not shift the kama, or some hold the kama at the handle top near the blade to cut more deeply into the bone. Some have shifts of the handling, some do not. Some even use the kama on leaders and swing them around.


On Okinawa the kama are found in almost every household as they are the gardening tool of use. School children used to carry them to school to use in the fields for cutting work after class.


Back in 1989 Mike Cassidy and I attended a kobudo clinic with Fusie Kise and we were informed at that time the Okinawan Police were suggesting schools not teach youth kama. They were having problems with youth gangs fighting with kama.


 I was only trained with live blades. Sad but true I have known no one who trained in kama who did not cut themselves at one time or another. I have heard of Okinawan masters who cut themselves in the eye too. They are dangerous. It does teach one to seriously respect the tool.


The kama is intended to slice into an opponent, to cut them. Realistically this is not something I want to do or ever have my students to do.


I look at the current trend to teach kama to children (with fixed hand positions for easier use) with suspiscion. These are skills I do not feel children should be training.


On the other hand, I respect the kama for the advanced handling skills they impart. A very subtle kind of force enhances.


In that case I have developed a basic kama form we teach advanced San Dan students. The study of the kata I learned O’Sensei No Kon Sho and Dai, are reserved for instructors training.


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