Thursday, February 20, 2020

Karate, Kobudo, and More in the East Valley of Phoenix.

Kama, is a good Okinawa tool for trimming weeds and home invaders. It is a farming implement used as an extension of Okinawa karate and its use is taught in nearly all Shorin-Ryu Karate schools. But, keep in mind, this is a very dangerous tool and is never recommended unless you are taught by a qualified instructor. If you decided to ignore this warning, you are on your own and you'll need to be aware you can easily remove an eye, cut an artery, remove a finger, etc. So, for your own sake, be sure to have all of your health and hospital insurance paid up and a first aid kit handy. We train only with non-sharpened tools to retain our digits. Kama purchased from some outlets are razor sharp and extremely dangerous!



Like many Okinawan kobudo arts, this tool, likely adapted by peasants and royal guards for self-defense and protection, represents the martial art known as kamajutsu, and is part Okinawan kobudo and karate. At the Arizona Hombu, students learn to use Okinawan and Samurai tools and weapons in basics, kata, bunkai, and self-defense.
 

Traditional Okinawa karate, kobudo (the art of Okinwan weapons), Samurai arts, Jujutsu (a samurai art), and self-defense are all taught. Each one of these includes other individual traditional martial arts: just as kobudo incorporates kamajutsu

Some students are initially overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of martial arts taught, but it only takes a short time to realize all of the basics you learn in karate such as stances, forms, hand and leg movements, are all employed in each art, thus making all of the arts much easier to learn.
 

Before moving to Arizona and opening the Hombu dojo in Mesa in 2008, Soke Hausel, world head of Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai, taught martial arts classes, clinics at the University of Wyoming for three decades. 

Unfortunately, we closed our commercial dojo in Mesa, Arizona on March 1st, 2021 because of the plandemic. But, we still train in Arizona in Mesa and in Gilbert, and we are always looking for new members with integrity. In today's environment created by the democratic party, we all need to be as well trained as possible for self-defense. Soke Hausel teaches his students (14 to 74 years in age) in a number of martial arts, so that they feel a little more in control of the current government situation. If you support American values - you are welcome to train with us for a small fee no matter if you have no experience or considerable experience. Just contact Soke at sokeshodai@yahoo.com.

Oh, and I almost forgot - if you are tired of running into questionable martial arts teachers and schools in the Phoenix Valley, be sure to Google potential instructors and schools. And please search Soke Hausel for information. But, be aware, we DO NOT support Facebook, Groupon, Twitter, or Linked-In.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Kama - a Traditional Martial Arts Kobudo Weapon is No Longer Just for Gardening


Kama is one of many traditional Okinawa weapons used in Shorin-Ryu martial arts, and typically,  kobudo is inseparable from karate. All students train in kobudo and karate - after all, both use the same stances, blocks and strikes. Even so, there are many Japanese systems that evolved after Shorin-Ryu karate was introduce to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi in 1915, and few of them include kobudo. But one of the unfortunate parts of this evolution is that some of these Japanese, American and European systems are now adapting kobudo to their systems and charging high prices and butchering  kobudo kata. Another complication from this recent evolution is the manufacture of ultra-light pseudo-weapons that are dangerous because most easily break with focus and are very dangerous to use in bunkai because they snap like a twig. We've even witnessed Grandmaster Hausel of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu break three weapons (kuwa, sansetsukon, iku) just with focus. Recently, a remedy sought by some martial arts supply houses is producing ultra-heavy steel and aluminum weapons. These are sturdy, but only time will tell what such tools will do to human joints, etc.

Gyaku-te mochi

"With Kama, one can trim weeds - or trim those who plant weeds" - Soke Hausel


After the invasion of Okinawa by Japanese Satsuma Samurai, a ban on bladed weapons and firearms continued to be enforced. Some suggest that Penchin (Okinawan samurai) were only allowed to transport personal swords to Japan for maintenance: peasants had no weapons other than farming, fishing, and merchant tools.

Kama is typically taught in pairs (gama). The point, sharpened edge of the blade, handle and the butt of the handle are all used in strikes and blocks, with the following grips: hon-te mochi (natural), gyaku-te mochi (reverse) and tokushu mochi (special grip). The weapon is also used for kuride (hooking), kakede (gripping), ukete sasu (blocking and stabbing), tsuki (thrusting), kiru (cutting) and nage-te ateru (throwing and striking). Some kama have straps so the weapon can be extended similar to nunchuku.

Kusarigama (chain-sickle) which is difficult to master, and very difficult to find in martial arts supply stores, is rarely taught. Kusarigama is a traditional weapon formed by kama attached to a metal chain (kusari) and heavy iron weight. The 6- to 9.5-feet long chain can be used to trap or strike an opponent.

According to various stories, kusarigama was a weapon well-suited against a sword or spear. The kusarigama was popular in feudal Japan where many schools trained in this weapon from the 12th to 17th century. In the 17th century, legend tells of a kusarigama master named Yamada Shinrykan was feared because of the many samurai he killed in combat. However, he met his fate when lured into a bamboo grove by Araki Mataemon. The bamboo grove made it impossible for Shinryukan to swing his chain to trap Mataemon's sword and was subsequently killed.

Hon-te mochi - natural grip



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Okinawan Kobudo Tools - the Kama | Gardening Tools for Self-Defense



Into gardening? The Okinawa kama is hard to beat when it comes to removing weeds
and bad guys. Into karate, the Okinawa kama is a must!
Traditionally, kama was developed with other farming implements for self-defense on Okinawa. It became an important weapon due to King Shoshin of Okinawa outlawing ownership of bladed weapons. Some suggest the king was a devout Buddhist and was against violence, but in all likelihood, the king was fearful of an uprising. Even though kama had a blade, these were not considered weapons, but rather farming tools; so the Okinawan peasants converted traditional sickles into weapons of self-defense and trained in secret. Typically, we train with two kama - one in each hand.

If you are into gardening - there is nothing like sharp Okinawa kama for removing weeds from your garden. But if you are into traditional martial arts like many of our adult students at the Arizona Hombu Dojo in Mesa, there is nothing like kama for self-defense. But to protect ourselves and our training partners, we train only with non-shapened kama because we all want to be able to go home and text with all of our digits still attached.

Thursday evenings, members of the Arizona Hombu on Baseline Road on the border of Mesa and Gilbert Arizona in the Phoenix valley train with Okinawan Martial Arts Weapons - just like the Okinawan peasants of the past. Currently (2015), students are training in kama as well as nunchaku. Few other schools teach kama (gardening sickles) which is unfortunate, as kama is a martial arts weapon found in most Sears garden shops. Most Okinawan kama (gama) come as pairs  and are handy to have for any garden or home invaders which are all too common in Arizona.

Ben defends attack by Gavin at the Arizona Hombu during ippon kumite 
(one step sparring).
A modified kama, known as kusarigama is even more rare in martial arts schools because it leaves bruises until the student learns to use this complex weapon - its a kama attached to a chain. But our students love gardening. So if you are ever attacked in your garden by a gang of ninja or CDC bad guys, you will be thankful you learned to use kama and kusarigama.

At the age of 10, I was handed a rusty sickle by my mother and told to de-weed our back yard. I only wish I would have known something about kama back in those days, it would have made cutting weeds much more interesting. 

Anyway, kama was likely a weapon of the peasant class on Okinawa, simply because it would have been a tool of farmers – something beneath the Pechin class (Okinawan equivalent of Samurai). One of the great controversies of Okinawa karate was how the martial art developed. Many think of karate as a form of self-defense used only by Okinawan bodyguards and royalty, others argue it was a peasant art. The martial art of kobudo argues this was a combat art for peasants.

Kobudo developed after King Shoshin outlawed bladed weapons on Okinawa in the 15th century. Okinawa was invaded by the Satsuma Samurai from Japan and the ban on bladed weapons continued to be enforced by Japanese Samurai who could take the life of any peasant they chose. If any Okinawan was caught with a weapon or practicing karate, they likely would have lost their head – this was one reason why karate was a secret for centuries.

The kama is one of the more difficult Okinawan weapons to learn due to the inherent danger of the blade. Before karate became popular in the US, kama training (just like samurai sword) involved a razor sharp blade. It was easy to self-inflict scars during practice. Today, we have practice weapons, but care must still be exercised because most are so poorly made that they tend to fall apart with little use. It is a good idea (and highly recommended) to wear safety glasses or goggles while training with these and to search for either a martial arts supply house that sells kama that will last and not break easily.

Training in kama and bo at Kobudo class in Mesa, Arizona
Kama is used singly or in pairs (gama). The point, sharpened edge of the blade, handle and the butt of the handle are all used in strikes and blocks. There are different grips used in kama combat including honte mochi (natural), gyaku te mochi (reverse) and tokushu mochi (special grip). The weapon is used for kuride (hooking), kakede (gripping), ukete sasu (blocking & stabbing), tsuki (thrusting), kiru (cutting) & nagete ateru (throwing and striking). Some kama have straps attached to handles so the weapon can be released similar to some nunchaku techniques.

A similar weapon to kama is kusarigama (chain-sickle). This is a very difficult weapon to master and rarely taught and it is difficult to find kusarigama to purchase. They are almost non-existent in the US and the few available at local martial arts stores are not up to specification.

Kusarigama is a traditional weapon with a kama attached to a metal chain (kusari) with heavy iron weight at the opposite end of the kama. Or it can be attached to a rope wound around the wrist.

Okinawan farmers at the Arizona Hombu dojo train with farming implements. Photo shows karate
 students and instructors training with kama (Okinawa sickles) during kobudo class.
The chain of kusarigama is relatively long (often 6 to 9.5 feet) and used to reach an attacker outside a striking distance of a samurai sword with weighted ball and chain. This was done by swinging the kusari overhead or at the side and wrapping it around the attacker’s arms, legs, or neck.  It is also likely the kama was swung overhead in big circles and thrown at samurai with follow-up strikes to vital points with the weight. Records show that kusarigama was extremely popular in feudal Japan, and many schools trained in this art from the 12th to 17th century including Koga Ryu, a school of ninjutsu. Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of kama or kusarigama should spend time with Tadashi Yamashita.

Kama and bokken - traditional Okinawan martial arts at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate.




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Arizona Martial Arts Weapons Classes

Summer is here in Arizona and time to cut the heat with kama. Kama is an Okinawan farming implement used by peasants to defend against samurai, bandits, CDC and other government agents. This simple farming implement was used very effectively in the hands of an expert, who could produce sliced samurai in seconds.  

A kama is simply a sickle and used to trim crops. Since we love gardening in Arizona, we are getting ready to start training in this martial art at the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Hombu

And you think its hot in Arizona? Try training with Okinawan kama and
learn what hot is. In traditional martial arts, students & faculty learn
all aspects of karate along with kobudo (martial arts weapons). 
Karate was created on Okinawa centuries ago as was Kobudo. These two were blended into one art known as Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo and taught to Okinawan royalty, their body guards and peasants. This is a traditional martial art, not sport. The difference is that in traditional martial arts, students are taught traditions, martial arts history, philosophy, respect, basics, kata (forms), applications of all techniques in kata referred to as bunkai, body hardening, and powerful strikes. There is no competition, and the only type of kumite (sparring) taught in traditional karate is one step in order to keep students from losing focus and power. 
Extreme body hardening.  
Hausel accepts full-force kick to
ribs by Sensei Gillespie, 3rd dan
Don't try this at home. Professor
Hausel takes full-force kick in
groin (unprotected) at half-time
at a University of Wyoming
basketball game and smiles.

Traditional martial arts are combat arts (jutsu) and many traditional arts include guidance for self-improvement (do). You will never see a trophy in a traditional martial arts school as competition and tournaments are considered antipathetic to progress in martial arts. 

In sport karate, one gears up with protective pads, cups, body armor, etc. In traditional karate, one learns how to accept full force strikes to vital body parts without any protective equipment. Most of our ladies are not into body hardening, so most skip this part of training as do several of the men - and it is not required.
Dai Shihan Neal Adam (6th dan) defends attack with gama
from Sensei Bill Borea (3rd dan) with bo, during kobudo
classes at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate. 

So, this summer, why not take a slice out of the heat and join our adult and family traditional martial arts school at 60 W. Baseline Road on the border of Mesa and Gilbert. Stop in and see why our martial artists are enjoying themselves and why everyone in the school are good friends. And why you are at it, we will teach you how to use the kama, other kobudo arts, samurai arts, self-defense and traditional karate.  Shorin-Ryu.


Adam Bialek practices with wooden gama and Neal Adam with bo during kobudo classes
at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa, Arizona.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kama - Martial Arts Weapon from Okinawa & Arizona

Pencil sketch, by Soke Hausel
"A deshi who bares kama scars, knows kama well"  - Soke Hausel.

We start all of our students of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Renmei in Arizona in both karate and kobudo (martial arts weapons) when they start training in karate. Karate and kobudo have always been taught together in traditional Okinawan karate, and there is no additional fee for learning kobudo. In Shorin-Ryu Karate, one is expected to learn both empty hand and weapons as the compliment one another and it is all part of their martial arts education. 

Dr. Adam trains with Adam Bialek during kobudo class
at Hombu dojo in Mesa, Arizona. Here, Adam defends
with kama while Dai-Shihan Adam attacks with bo
(6-foot staff).
One of several traditional weaponsKama is a traditional Okinawan weapon used by peasants and farmers that must be respected. This respect grows exponentially as one progresses to the kusarikama (kama with rope or chain) as there is greater potential for a collision with this later weapon. 

We require martial artists train with dull bladed kama, as sharpen kama leaves scars. One of our Casper Wyoming members returned from training in Okinawa a few years ago where he purchased gama (a pair of kama) and proceeded to cut himself in the dojo after he discovered the blades were sharp as razors. Because of this, we only allow non-sharpen practice weapons as we only have so many bandages to go around.




Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kama Training at Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Hombu in Mesa, Arizona

We continue training with kama during advanced Kobudo on Kobudo nights over much of the Fall at the Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai Hombu in Mesa, Arizona. Earlier we were training with tonfa while some members focused on training with a single tonfa and began to learn use of the Okinawan sai.

Bill Borea and Neal Adam train in kama applications in Mesa, Arizona

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kama - Weapon of Shorin-Ryu Karate


"Few martial arts instructors know the use of kama. And of those who do, for some reason, this weapon lost favor with many sensei (martial arts instructors) and is rarely practiced in most dojo". The kama and the kusarigama have had a long history on Okinawa, but it is difficult to find information about these weapons. The kama was used to cut crops and weeds.


One of the great controversies of Okinawan karate was how did karate develop and who practiced this martial art on Okinawa. Many people think of karate as being a form of self-defense used only by the samurai class of Okinawa, others argue that this was a peasant art developed both by peasants and the samurai class. But this one weapon, in particular, strongly suggests that at least kamajutsu was developed by peasants as no self-respecting samurai would use a farmer’s tool.

In the 15th century, Okinawan King Shoshin outlawed all bladed weapons on Okinawa. This decree affected the samurai class of Okinawa. Samurai on Okinawa were referred to as Ryukyu samurai or as Pechin. Pechin were of a feudal warrior class who were charged with military defense and enforcing Okinawan laws similar to the Japanese samurai. It is interesting that the rank of the Pechin was based on the color of the hat they wore. The Pechin were also responsible for developing and training their indigenous Okinawan art of Te (also known as Ti) that is better known to us as Karate. The Pechin kept this fighting art secret and typically taught the most devastating forms and techniques to one member of their family, usually the eldest son.

After the invasion of the Satsuma Samurai from Japan, the band on bladed weapons and firearms continued to be enforced, this time by the Satsuma Samurai. According to one document, the Pechin were sometimes issued permits by the Satsuma Samurai allowing them to travel with their personal swords to smiths in Kagushima Japan for maintenance and repair of their weapons. It is not clear if this permit allowed them to wear the weapon in public.

Dai-Shihan Neal Adam attacks Sensei Bill Borea during ippon kumite training with
martial arts weapons.
Peasants had no weapons other than farming implements. They also had no bladed weapons (other than kama and possibly knifes [tanto], so it is very likely they developed this art. Since Okinawa had no known source for metals to manufacture blades, the kama had to be imported from nearby Asian countries. Since kama was widely used throughout Asia to cut rice and bamboo, it is likely it was imported from China, Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines. 

Sensei Bill Borea defends bokken attack by Sarah.
The kama is considered one of the hardest weapons to learn due to the inherent danger of the blade. Before karate became popular in the United States, kama training (just like the katana, or samurai sword) had a razor sharp blade. It was easy to provide oneself with many scars during practice. Luckily today, we have practice weapons, but care must still be exercised even with these. Because it is easy to lose a finger during training with a live blade, sharpen kama are not used in training in Seiyo Shorin-Ryu dojo. Just think how difficult it would be to insult someone if you accidentally removed your middle finger.

Most Shorin-Ryu karate systems train in kama. Seiyo Shorin-Ryu has three kama kata – one that is indigenous to our system of Shorin Ryu. In addition to the kata, there are several very effective bunkai for the kama. It is very likely that we will add one or two kama kata in the future.

Kobudo training in Mesa, Arizona
The kama is used singly or in pairs (gama). The point, sharpened edge of the blade, handle and the butt of the handle are all used in strikes and blocks. The kama is used similar to sai and is used in the following grips: honte mochi (natural), gyakute mochi (reverse) and tokushu mochi (special grip). The weapon is used for kuride (hooking), kakede (gripping), ukete sasu (blocking and stabbing), tsuki (thrusting), kiru (cutting) and nagete ateru (throwing and striking). All of these techniques show up in most kata. Some kama also have straps attached to their handles so that the weapon can be released similar to some nunchuku techniques.

The point where the blade and handle of a Okinawan kama are attached forms a nook unlike the characteristic farming sickle some of us are familiar with in the U.S. where a blade continues to the handle without a nook. This nook is used for trapping weapons, such as a bo. 

A similar weapon to kama is the kusarigama (chain-sickle). This is a very difficult weapon to master and rarely taught in most dojo and is also difficult to learn. In addition, it is very difficult to find kusarigama to purchase. They are almost non-existent and the few that are available are usually not quite up to specification.

The kusarigama is a traditional weapon consisting of a kama attached to a metal chain (kusari) with a heavy iron weight at the opposite end from the kama. The chain of the kusarigama is relatively long (usually about 6 to 9.5 feet) as was used to trap a samurai outside the striking distance of his sword with the weighted ball and chain, and then to move in to slice with the kama. This was done by swinging the kusari overhead or at the side and then wrap it around the samurai’s arms, legs, or neck. The chain was designed to strike a samurai with a katana or yari at a somewhat safe distance. The weight could also be used to cause injury and disorient the victim. It is also likely that the kama was swung overhead in big circles and thrown at a samurai with a follow-up strike to the head or other vital point with the weight. 

Sensei Bill Borea blocks thrust by Charles at the Arizona Hombu in Mesa, Arizona.
According to various stories, the kusarigama was a weapon that was well-suited against swords and spears. Records show that kusarigama was extremely popular in feudal Japan, and many schools trained in this art from the 12th to 17th century including Koga-Ryu, a school of ninjutsu.

The kusarigama was a very useful weapon, but had its limitions. In the 17th century, a kusarigama master named Yamada Shinrykan was feared because of the many samurai that he killed in combat. However, he met his fate when he was lured into a bamboo grove by Araki Mataemon. Being surrounded by thick bamboo made it impossible for Shinryukan to swing his chain to trap Mataemon's katana and was subsequently killed.

Another story of limitations of the kusarigama involved Shishido Baiken who was also well-known for his kusarigama technique. Miyamoto Musashi injured Baiken by throwing a tanto (knife) outside the reach of Baiken’s chain prior to finishing him off with his sword.

Police DAV karate team from northern India poses with Soke Hausel, Dai Shihan Neal Adam and Sensei Bill and Paula Borea after a weeks training at the Hombu in Mesa, Arizona.
Members of the Police DAV school karate team from northern India pose with Soke Hausel and Shihan-Dai Adam on their visit to the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Hombu in Mesa, Arizona for a week-long clinic in kobudo and karate training.

Kobudo, the ancient art of weapons, is part of the curriculum of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai, as are the samurai arts. These arts are taught at the Hombu in Mesa Arizona by Soke Hausel and Shihan-Dai Neal Adam. They area also taught at a number of dojo in Wyoming and Utah as well as several national and international dojo.