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What is Kobudo

Traditional Japanese martial arts are divided into gendaibudo (modern) and koryubudo or kobudo ( ancient ). Gendaibudo refers to forms that were established after the Meiji restoration (1868), an era of major modernization in Japan, while kobudo refers to systems founded prior to that period.

The Japanese word kobudo consists of two characters; ko (ancient) and budo (martial arts or ways). Kobudo styles or ryu follow traditions developed in ancient times; utilize the classical weapons of sword, spear, bow, and minor weapons such as the naginata (halberd), kusari-gama (sickle and chain) , shuriken (throwing knives), staffs of various lengths, the sai, kama, tonfa and others.

Kobudo-ryu differs from gendaibudo in a variety of ways. Significantly, ancient styles do not share the kyudan ranking system of modern styles. Generally, it utilizes a graduated methodology beginning with sho-den (introductory level), chu-den (intermediate level), oku-den (advanced level studies), culminating with menkyokaiden ( certificate of mastery ).

Additionally, many kobudo styles maintain strict secrecy of their methods, rarely make public demonstrations, and accept students only with a proper introduction. Whereas, modern styles such Kendo and Judo are based on open practice where all are welcome to join.

The weapons used in Kobudo that evolved from everyday farm tools and instruments are:


Is rice-harvesting hand sickle, which has short blade set at right angle to a hardwood handle. This weapon was used either single or in pairs for close work, when it could slash, hook, chop, or deflect in a wide range of basic combination tactics.


Used as a handle to turn the hand o perated millstone when grinding rice. It is a tapered hard wood billet between 15 20 inches in length with a short projecting side handle set about 6 inches down the billet.


Originated with the tembin, a stick held across the shoulders usually with buckets hanging from each end and used to convey food, water etc. when the need arose, the tenbin or the Bo as it is known today was manipulated to strike or blocks in techniques.


Was originally used for digging in the soil for planting seeds. The SAI originally was capable of killing an enemy with a blow to the neck or a thrust to the throat. Sai is a trishul type of weapon.


The Nunchaku is constructed of two hard-wood sticks which were securely connected by rope braided from horses tails. In a defensive situation, it could be used to strike, block, hit, twist and pinch.


Eku is the paddle that was used in Okinawa, which came to be used as a weapon of defense.