Monday, February 5, 2018

Kobudo – My experience with stones and things that go bump in the dark

When I learned Isshinryu, there were just weapons kata that were part of the art. They were not referred to as kobudo studies, nor separate from Isshinryu.

 Then the karate magazines started referring to them as kobudo kata, that use became the standard designation.

 My Issshinryu weapons kata were:

Tokomeni No Kon
Urashie No Bo
Shi Shi No Kon No Dai
Kusanku Sai
Chantan Yara No Sai
** Chia fa** regardless of the name being controversial, this is what I called it.

 Then following one of my seniors these Bando forms were studied.

The Horseman’s Footsoldier’s form – staff
The Hidden Stick – short stick

 Other weapon form studies came from friends:

Ernest Rothrock

          Yang Tai Chi sword (the most difficult form I ever studied)
          a Staff set
          a Short staff set
          a Three Sectional Staff set

 Tristan Sutrisno (those weapons forms were generational being built on the previous forms,)

          O’ Sensei no Kon
          O’ Sensei no Kon Sho
          O’ Sensei no Kon Dai
          O’ Sensei no Kon Dai Ichi
          Chosen No Kama Sho
          Chosen No Kama Dai
          Studies in Tanto

 There were also several weapons forms from other sources.

 In the years I learnt them, I had a great deal of free time to work on them, and these were in addition to my more numerous form studies.
Then I moved in space and time with different work necessities and less time for my own training. After work and family,my focus was more on teaching and less time for myself. So I made adjustments.

I would keep the Isshinryu, the Bando weapons and select studies in other weapons for supplemental training of the dans. Others I set aside.

 As I was adding supplemental form studies into my kyu studies, to enhance their understanding about what some other systems were doing, I made the decision to only share some of the Bando weapons at kyu training. Deciding that the Isshinryu weapons made more sense as Dan studies.

 A large part of that was the realization that the only weapon study I had, which was seriously adaptable to anything you could hold in your hands, was the Bando Short Stick. Even the ½ version I created for brown belt study allowed serious use for self defense.

 I came to realize that for modern self defense, the Okinawan weapons were not really feasible that way. The world had changed. Then in time I came to find there was a more serious reason for long term dan study of the kobudo.

 At brown belt the student might get Bando staff, or the ½ Bando short stick study. It might depend on the student’s individual needs. I was making my own serious study of the short stick potential. The possible use was very large.

From a crushed can in the hand, to various lengths of stick, to a book held, use with a bottle, use with a length of chain. There was not limit to what hand held implements could be used in place of a stick. Of course even a knife was a possibility (though knife studies were not for kyu or even dan inclusion). Additionally the movements of the hands in the form could also become a very effective empty hand technique of movement.

Then used the kubudo as dan studies.

Beginning with Tokomi No Kon, and Chantan Yara No Sai (the first form Charles Murray started my studies with).

When appropriate the next level (not tied to rank) of study included Urashie No Bo, optionally Kusanku Sai and Chia Fa.

Another layer would teach Shi Shi No Kon No Dai.

I was not satisified that that Tonfa kata was using tonfa potential in what I saw as the best way. I developed a personal Drill for in school use to address that, naming it wansu NO tonfa. That became a dan study.

Yet another dan drill on kama, also only an in school study) based  on a Kama kata Joe-Swift once shared with me, became another exercise.

Separate from Dan study were other studies just for instructors (who had at least 15 years of training, as well as completion of a 5 year mentorship) to allow them to push themselves. Of course they were also responsible for all the rest. Those studies were with weapons more dangerous (in part should the day come when those instructors should consider such appropriate for students then), Those kata were Chosen No Kama Sho and Dai (also generational the 2nd built on the first- but each using valuable different passes of the kata (or possibly two sticks), that an a series of Tanto drills.

What I came to realize in time, the Isshinryu kubudo kata were extremely important to the study of Isshinryu. For one thing I have been fortunate to have had a group of dans who did study for an average exceeding years, some over 34 years at this time.

What I discovered after decades of work on the weapon forms, their real value became clear to me. Not because of skills they imparted to allow you to use them. Rather what decades of work making them a supreme karate Force Enhancer, Allowing the forces developed through practice, to enhance your empty hand applications. In a sense similar to what use of the makiwawa added to your karate.

Thus the down strike with the sai enhanced your own empty hand down strike/block. The other weapons forms developed additional skills which were similarly transferable.

About that time I noticed how Ernie Rothrock’s Eagle Claw was becoming more painful, paralyzing so. More like the name implied. He worked a tremendous number of weapons forms in his studies, Each imparted different things, as a body they were enhancing his own studies ( hen into many decades of work)

While nothing like the range of weapon studies he employed in his own training, I did establish this use for my students. Specifically with long term use we worked on using say a grab with the same pull down as if striking downward with a sai (as one example)

Age is going to occur, we all will lose power over tine, but the work with the weapons over the decades, allows you to include their force enhancement to replace that which time does take.

And a note, IMO even a few studies over the decades offers the same thing. Of course more weapons imparts different handling skills, but even one intense long term study offers much.
I offer a few examples of our studies:

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