Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Kobudo Update: On the Home Stretch

It's been a while since I wrote a kobudo update.

The last update was "Oh Hai, Sai!" back in March.  We'd started learning the sai, and now I'm three months into it.

Honestly, thus far, I think sai might be my least favorite of the four weapons in this program.

Nah. Not even.

They require a lot of finicky manipulation and there's too much room for error when you use them to block in reverse grip along your arm.  I will say that the manipulation thing (from what I'd call "saber" grip to "reverse" grip and back) has got me thinking about how to do that with other weapons, so that's good, I guess.  Working with sai is also very good exercise for the wrist and forearms, so that's a plus, I guess.

At this point, I think it'd take a very long time of study before I'd choose to use them in a fight or study more than I really need to.

We're wrapping up the material we have to learn with sai, and then we'll spend some months in review, before we test for black belt in this program towards the end of the year.  So I'll be spending most of my free time practicing, practicing, practicing with bo, tonfa, nunchaku, and sai.

As of right now, here's how I'd rank the weapons I've studied in this program.  Jo doesn't count, as I studied jo under my teacher before I started this program, and I'll probably be studying it again in the black belt class next year.

  1. Nunchaku
  2. Bo
  3. Tonfa
  4. Sai
Me playing with my favorite!

Yes, I ended up liking nunchaku best of the four weapons.  Oh, not because they're practical, or I'd pick them in a fight to save my life, but because they're just so darn fun and easy to use (for an Arnis person).  I definitely get the attraction so many people have for the weapon.  I will be playing with them a lot, for fun, going forward.

I was always rather ambivalent about the bo.  Remember, the bo I study with is a 6 foot Japanese White Oak Bo, not one of those flippy-flippy, toss-and-catchy, spin-a-roonie so-called "bo" that are basically four foot dancing props.  Mine is one that you do not want to get hit with.

Given it was our first weapon, and the one I've studied longest in this program, I now kind of like the bo.  The reach and power of this weapon is substantial, and I see how it would translate pretty quickly from a dueling weapon to a battlefield weapon (put a metal tip on it, and you have yourself a pike or halberd, my friend).

I thought I'd like tonfa the most, but it was most disappointing.  I do not understand why empty hand people don't start with tonfa, as basically, all you have to do is punch or block with tonfa (with a minor adjustment here or there) as you do in empty hand and they work relatively well.  Tonfa can also be manipulated much like double sticks are in Arnis. But they're short and they're bulky.  I'll use tonfa in the future, but it's not because I'm having tons of fun with them.

And then there's sai.  I stated above why I don't like them much.  I get why other people do, but I don't know if I'll be converted to a fan, or not.  We'll see with further study.  It's possible I'll discover that they're the most awesome weapons ever.

If I get to include the jo in my list above, it actually is the real number one weapon of the Okinawan/Japanese weapons I've studied.  I think it's the best compromise of length, weight, and speed.  We have Actionflex versions of many of these weapons and I am usually most successful with the jo. As two-handed duelling weapons go, it's hard to beat.

My next few months will be hard work as I work towards earning my black belt in this kobudo program.  As I've repeatedly stated, I think that black belt is in no way mastery of anything more than the very basics, and that will definitely be true should I be promoted.  I don't think I'm an expert in any of these, by a long shot.  That's going to take a lot more practice.

But I'm getting there!

So what's your favorite weapon?  Let us know in the comments!