Monday, January 9, 2017

Kobudo Update

Here I am in my last year of kyu-rank kobudo study, and overall, I've learned a lot of stuff I didn't expect (and fell in love with nunchaku, even, as silly as the weapon is from a practical point of view). 

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I've been in a program studying kobudo weapons with AKATO.   I am working towards earning my black belt under them.  As of this month, I'll have been in the program for a full two years.

New students generally aren't allowed to join the class mid-session. They must wait until the next one. So, the people who started in January 2015 are a "class" and those of us who stick through to the end and pass our black belt test will have all studied together for about three years when we're done.  Then a new class of kyu-rank students will start, and we will join the Black Belt Class.

Our green belt test. About half of the people here are still studying with us.

In the black belt class, we'll not only study the four weapons we've covered, but we'll also get to study kama and my favorite weapon, jo.

We started as a huge class (seriously, it had to be about fifty people).  Now we have about 20-25 depending on the month.  Attrition took far more men than women in the program - there were FAR more men than women when we started - and now we're about evenly divided by gender, which is pretty cool.  I bet only a fraction of that group will continue on in the black belt class, but hey, you never know.

We've studied bo, we've studied tonfa, and now, we're working on nunchaku.  Shortly we will be taking on sai, and then we'll be testing for black belt.

Honestly, it's hard to describe this class to people who aren't in the martial arts.   Heck, even people in martial arts - but not ones that do weapons - have a hard time understanding what I'm studying. Usually I describe it as just "Okinawan" or "Japanese" weapons, but if pressed, well... this is how I tell folks to picture it, except we don't study sword in this class.

Leonardo is NOT in our Kobudo class.

Being a weapons-oriented kind of person, I am finding that this study (along with my normal Arnis training which covers stick, knife, and short sword) has helped me really appreciate the commonalities and the differences between various weapons.

You learn why you can't and shouldn't hold a bo in a grip like you would a baseball bat (but you should hold an arnis stick that way).  You understand why dual-wielding is not always the advantage video games might portray them to be.  You get to work ambidextrously.  You get to understand the differences in range, the advantages and disadvantages of long weapons vs. short weapons. With the study of nunchaku, you add in flexible weapons, and that's a whole different ball game.

Best of all, you learn not to fear weapons.  Respect them, yes, but don't fear them.

I would not choose to fight empty hand vs. a weapon if I get my druthers.  I actually would prefer not to fight empty hand vs. empty hand, as I am a short, dumpy middle aged woman who is at a severe disadvantage vs. most of the likely people who would offer me violence.  If I can have something to help me survive, I'm a LOT happier.

Give me a tool, please.  Any is better than nothing at all.

I don't always get to choose what's available to me, though. Working with the various weapons in kobudo helps me develop the skill to use similar objects in self defense situations if necessary.  So that's another nice thing that kobudo has done for me.

Have you studied weapons?  What did you like about it?  Dislikes?  Do you think it's practical, or do you think that time is better spent studying empty hand?  Let me know in the comments!