Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What is Kobudo?

Kobudo is the Okinawan term for old, or ancient, martial arts weapons. The kanji (Chinese ideographs) used to write kobudo include a symbol for 'ko' that looks like a grave site (cross on a stone) meaning old, or ancient. The middle symbol for 'bu' implies martial or combat methods, and the bottom symbol in the group of kanji translates as 'do' or 'the way' implying that there is a lifetime pathway for a person who learns and practices this art that should lead to enlightenment. It is part of the Zen philosophy.

But I need to explain what is a martial art weapon. Martial arts weapons are tools of trade - nothing more and nothing less. So, imagine you are a carpenter. Wow, you are carrying all kinds of potential weapons - that hammer, screw driver and nail gun. If you are a plumber - look at that monkey wrench! And the list goes on and on. So, these are tools of trade - just like the Okinawans used: fishermen had their tools such as the eku (oar), hari (fish hooks), tuja (three pronged spear). Farmers had the bo (transporting pole), nunchaku (rice flails) and tonfa (handles). Merchants had their tools - tekko (horse stirrups), tanto (knife), and kasa (umbrella). Then there were pechin (Okinawan version of samurai) who had their weapons - katana (sword), naginata (halberd), yari (spear).

So basically, unless you were part of the upper class or chosen class (pechin, royal body guards, royalty) you had no weapons. That's right! No weapons - and that's what we are looking at for all kobudo (martial arts) tools - none are weapons. That is, unless you know how to use them for something besides a tool. Just like that hammer mentioned earlier - its a tool! But if used for self-defense, it can be a weapon and it depends on how well the person uses it as far as its effectiveness as a weapon. So, nunchaku, kama, bo, etc are nothing more than tools! They are not weapons except in the hands of certain people.

Kobudo was the result of the Okinawan government (King Shoshin) taking away the people's rights to own bladed weapons in 1480 AD and to protect themselves and was apparently a response to King Shoshin's concern of possible insurrection by the Okinawan people.

So, what is kobudo? It is a martial art of ancient (and modern) tools - used
as weapons. Here, grandmaster Hausel demonstrates the use of garden hand
rakes from the Sears Garden shop as weapons of self-defense
We could draw similar parallels in history - such as the response of the American people to buy guns and ammunition every time the government tries to modify the 2nd Amendment. People have the basic right to defend themselves whether it is from the thief next door or the one in the white house. The response of the Okinawan people was to develop kobudo - the practice of using tools of trade for self-defense - and they became very good at this trade.

It is sad that elected governments put in place to represent their people, do not trust their people - the very people who elect them and pay taxes to them. This extreme paranoia leads to people no longer trusting their government. Government needs to learn to represent and please their people instead of attempting to subjugate them. This is an inevitable flaw in government, and  likely a problem of the flawed personality type that runs for office, or inherits a position of authority.

Farmers, merchants, fishermen and royal guards on Okinawa began modifying and developing tools of trade as weapons of self-defense. The pen or brush became a knife, the rolled-up scroll was used as a baton, a chair as a shield, a rake and hoe to cut an aggressor. Everything in site that could be moved quickly, became a weapon. The advantage that the Okinawan people had over others was that they understood muscle memory - so their tools of trade were used in daily practice in kata (forms) and bunkai (self-defense techniques).

Today, people still practice the ancient Okinawa weapons, but some martial arts schools also add other tools from the work place, home, garage, garden or car to this arsenal. Some common modern tools used as weapons include pens, pencils, shovels, books, staplers, coins, car keys, pry bars, books, rocks, computer disks, cups, hammers, screw drivers, axes and much more. Take the time right now and look around you - what do you see that would make an effective weapon if someone broke into your house - or if you are sitting in a cafe reading this - what is on your table that can be used against a thug? How would you use these tools?  Nearly all such tools can be used with the same kind techniques as the ancient Okinawan weapons such as nunchaku, bo, sai, tonfa, etc.

Wall of weapons at the Arizona Hombu (a.k.a. Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa, Arizona
Kobudo is typically taught with karate. Good martial arts instructors know how to blend both karate and kobudo together. This is because both apply similar muscle movements for self-defense and it also results in a much better, all-around martial artist.

Martial artist with weapon - original sketch by Soke

Monday, January 5, 2015

Okinawan & Japanese Martial Arts Weapons Classes in Mesa Arizona in 2015

Soke Hausel demonstrates tonfa

As the New Year begins in Arizona's Phoenix valley in 2015, the sounds of weapons clanging and whipping through the air can be heard when driving by the intersection of Baseline and MacDonald Roads not far from Walmart. The swoosh of nunchaku and samurai swords (katana), the thud of bo against tonfa, the distinctive clang of steel against steel can be heard in the air as Okinawan martial artists train each week.

Where are these sounds emanating from? Sounds like they are coming from the northeast corner of the intersection where a non-distinct sign 'KARATE' marks the Arizona Hombu (aka Arizona School of Traditional Karate). Each week, adults and families carry in their weapons and karate uniforms, yell "kiai" during training exercises in Karate, Self-Defense and Martial Arts weapons and learn a practical self-defense art while getting in shape and keeping their weigh manageable.

Since 2006, Arizona-ites known as zonies, have been learning from Hall-of-Fame martial artist, Soke Hausel, a notable person in Gilbert.  The Japanese title of soke denotes a world head, or grandmaster of martial arts, and Soke Hausel moved his hombu (world headquarters) martial arts organization from the University of Wyoming in Laramie to Mesa Arizona in 2006 after teaching at the university for 3 decades.  Some of the many traditional martial arts weapons taught at the school include bo, tonfa, kama, nunchaku, sai, kuboton, hanbo, kibo, nitanbo, manrikigusari, kuwa, katana, naginata, hojojutsu, jujutsu and yari.

Scott blocks kama attack by Sensei Harden using
Okinawan nitanbo in Mesa, Arizona
Soke Hausel cleans samurai sword blade (katana) after slicing pumpkin
in Gilbert, Arizona
2015 began with Zonies learning to use a farming implement. The tool, known as kama in Japanese, is the Okinawan version of a sickle. Unlike US farmers who may use one to cut weeds, Okinawans use two - one to block with, the other to cut with. Or, if you are like Soke Hausel, he had to remove some cactus from his yard and found these were perfect tools for the job.

At the end 2014, students finished learning a kata known as gama shodan and were working on all of the applications in the kata. Katas are forms that contain many self-defense applications that assist martial artists in learning how to use the weapon and how to develop power and blinding speed.

In 2015, the Arizona Hombu students will learn more kata with their kama. They are scheduled to learn gama nidan and gama sandan katas and their self-defense applications before moving on to another weapon known as sansetsukon (three piece nunchaku). These same students are also learning to use a yari in a martial art known as sojutsu. The yard is an Okinawan spear.

In 2015, the Arizona students will continue training in sojutsu before moving on to iaido. Iaido is the art of fast-draw samurai sword.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mesa Arizona Karate Students Learn Many Martial Arts Weapons

It has been tradition in Okinawa martial arts for more than five centuries to teach kobudo with karate. By learning weapons and karate as one martial art, a person is better prepared in self defense situations. It became a tradition on Okinawa after King Shoshin outlawed bladed weapons in 1480 AD for fear of an uprising. As a result, Okinawan peasants began training with their tools of trade as weapons. A fisherman learned to use fish hooks, gutting tools, paddles, ropes for self-defense and farmers learned to use poles, hoes, shovels, sickles and other tools for self-defense. This can also be applied to Arizona.

This same form of Karate and Kobudo are taught at the Arizona Hombu martial arts school in Mesa, Arizona.

Grandmaster Hausel poses with kama (sickles) at the Arizona Hombu Karate & Kobudo Dojo in Mesa, Arizona.
When one learns to use the ancient Okinawan weapons, they are also introduced to everyday tools such as belts, car keys, coins, towels, magazines, cell phones, rocks, hammers, water bottles and other tools found around the workplace, home or restaurant. It makes a person better prepared in case they end up in a situation where they need to defend against more than one person, or an armed individual.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Martial Arts Weapons Classes in Mesa, Arizona are Best of Mesa

Best of Mesa Award - 2 years in row!
When the Arizona Hombu opened in 2006 in Mesa Arizona, we were hoping we could continue with an excellent martial arts program, such as the one at the University of Wyoming - where the UW club was recognized as the top Juko Kai International - affiliated school in 1999.

And we did - our school was awarded "BEST OF MESA" in 2013 and in 2014.

And unlike the Taekwondo school down the road on McQueen and the Mixed Martial Arts school on Arizona, we are still here. May of those students are now stuck paying for contracts without any school. At the Arizona Hombu, there are no contracts and our instructor has decades of experience with a lifetime of commitment to martial arts. Grandmaster (Soke) Hausel has been teaching martial arts for more than 4 decades and has been awarded the four highest honors in martial arts. 

As the sun sets over many nearby martial arts schools and many students are stuck paying for contracts for defunct schools, the Arizona Hombu is still going strong.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kobudo (martial arts weapons) Classes and Schools in Mesa, Arizona

Kobudo classes at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate dojo in Mesa, Arizona, provides karate students with a complete curriculum in martial arts training. Most martial arts students are not offered this opportunity, but at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on the border of Mesa with Gilbert and Chandler, class fees include training in both empty hand (karate) and weapons (kobudo). Students of traditional Shorin-Ryu Karate learn both arts: kobudo has always been taught with karate in the historical pat. Kobudo, the ancient art of weapons, is an extension of the empty hand. You can not have one without the other. In the photo below, students at the Arizona Martial Arts school on the corner of Baseline and MacDonald learn to use nunchaku in bunkai (practical applications) as well as in six different kata (forms).

Such an art is important for peaceful people to learn. In particular, women should learn kobudo as weapons will give them an advantage. Not only are traditional Okinawan weapons taught at this Arizona Martial Arts School, but so are common everyday weapons such as car keys, belts, rope, magazines, books, and coins. With reported statistics indicating that 1 in every 4 women will be sexually assaulted in college, learning to use that book, magazine, car keys, notebook, pen, frying pan, etc could provide a needed advantage.

Training in nunchaku kata at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate (fall, 2014)
Kobudo (Martial Arts Weapons) Classes in Mesa, Arizona include training in the basics, kata (forms), and bunkai (self-defense applications). Most of the traditional Okinawan kobudo weapons are taught along with modern weapons such as key chain, magazine, coins, expandable baton, shovel, etc.

What is kobudo? Kobudo is a martial art of using tools at hand as a weapon. It was created on Okinawa in 1480 AD, and blended with karate such that the two are now inseparable in the traditional Okinawan martial arts. If you have a set of car keys, a pen, a book, a magazine, fish hook, hammer, etc., these are modern kobudo weapons. When kobudo was created, the Okinawans used their fishing and gardening tools as both weapons and tools. These became an extension of karate and used the same stances, arm and leg movements, and even similar kata (forms). In several of the traditional Okinawan martial arts, kobudo is taught along with karate - they are inseparable - they are like the tires on a bicycle.

“Karate and Kobudo can be likened to tires of a bicycle. Both are needed to make the bike move”

Kobudo classes in Mesa, Arizona include training with bo.
All students of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai (西洋少林流) who train around the world and at the Arizona Hombu, also known as the Arizona School of Traditional Karate learn karate and kobudo together. We also educate our students in martial arts history, training and activities.


Kobudo students in Arizona also train with hanbo (half-bo) and expandable batons
Karate and Kobudo were blended into one martial art centuries ago, and only recently in the 20th century, many Japanese forms of karate elected to eliminate kobudo. And when karate was introduced to the US, even more schools chose to eliminate kobudo from the curriculum.

Kobudo employs Okinawan farming & fishing tools as weapons including nunchaku (rice flails), nitanbo (batons), kama (sickles), short staff (hanbo), tsue (cane), bo (6-foot staff), iiku (oar), ra-ke (rake), tonfa (rice grinder handles/baton), surichin (weighted rope), tanto (knife), fish hook, short rakes, rope, weighted chain, Kusarigama (weighted sickles), Manrikigusari (weighted chain, rope), Kuwa, Konobo, Konsaibo, Tetsubo (Club) and more.
Okinawan gardening in Arizona with kuwa
Training with kama and nitanbo
You don't have to swing nunchaku to be effective

Training with sai
In addition to the traditional Okinawan kobudo tools, Soke Hausel also teaches 
Japanese samurai arts including sojutsu (see above), naginata, iaido (sword),
rope restraints, tanto (knife), jujutsu (throwing arts) and hanbo (half-bo)
Kobudo should be pragmatic. The twirling of martial arts weapons makes them look more like part of a circus that a martial art. Students (deshi) should learn to use such weapons with power, focus and mushin, along with kata for kobudo weapons and bunkai (applications) kumite (sparring) for both kobudo and kobujutsu weapons.

Tonfa (side handle baton).