|| The Sai is the second weapon introduced
in the Ryukyu Kobujutsu syllabus and favoured by many being
in such contrast to the Bo. It is the first of the short weapons
and is one of the most difficult to do well.
Many study Sai but few master the qualities needed to make this
an exceptional weapon and part of their natural body movement and
way of fighting.
||There are 2 types of Sai taught in the
system, "Tsujo no Sai" and "Manji Sai".
This weapon has the second largest volume of kata in the Ryukyu
Kobujtsu syllabus to Bo, being of 8 kata.
This weapon is not the result of agricultural creativity as
commonly written. Records from China prove its original existence
although in a much more elongated form. The weapon is metal
and of the truncheon class with its length dependent upon the
forearm of the user. When held it should be about 3cm longer
than the forearm and generally Sai are used in pairs.
The Sai are of good weight which makes the techniques effective,
unlike many of the lighter styles seen today in competition. There
is a clear distinction between effective combat and visually pleasing
techniques! Advanced Sai uses 3, with one held in the belt behind
ready for, and used for throwing. With the study of "Shingetsu
Ryu" Shuriken in the style this advanced requirement is taught
from San Dan and equips the user to throw anything.
|| The tang is of the Korean classification
and the pommel is found in many guises, round, square or multi
angled types being much dependant on the emphasis of the makers
usage. The basic holding manner 'Honte-Mochi' (Natural) and
'Gyakute-Mochi'(Reverse) is prevalent with basic Sai whereupon
the advancement to 'Toku-Mochi'(special grip) is introduced.
This brings the usage and actions of the Sai into the same family
as Tonfa and Kama.
The Manji Sai which was made by Sensei Shinken Taira has a half
reversed tang looking much like a swastika or the kanji for
temples with a pointed pommel end denoting Sensei Taira's preference
to a stabbing motion instead of the smashing techniques dominant
with the Tsujo Sai.
The efficient use of the weapon is reliant on the dexterity of
the practitioner with his thumbs, which the tang is balanced and
rotated on along with the loosening and tightening of the grip from
the small finger for striking and consolidating power. The early
use of the weapon makes the user appear stiff and robotic but as
the training advances the flow and unity with body movement becomes
more apparent. Sai is the practise of 'Shuto' in empty hand and
emphasises the need for 'Koshi no Chikara' (Hip power) and 'Suri
Ashi'(sliding movement). The importance of body movement and good
footwork is ever more apparent as the weapon is of a smaller classification
||When studying Sai particular importance
should be paid to uniting the weapon usage with the body and
controlling its movements. The Sai being heavy makes for difficulty
in obtaining flow and shift but this must be practised. The
recovery of Sai to a holding position must be clean and the
stances must be worked on. You must focus on "hara"
and keep the abdomen tight with breathing deep in the stomach.
If you do not the usage and movement are weak and lacking. Many
try and work the Sai with their arms and shoulders only and
neglect good "tachi kata" devaluing the understanding
and usage. This must be studied well.
As previously mentioned advanced practitioners must learn to throw
the Sai, a difficult requirement in view of the weight. Well made
Sai have good balance and this is quickly realised but the general
Sai found today in most outlets are inferior and of bad balance
either in the shaft or the pommel. Throwing is therefore very difficult.
It is worth investigating well first before you obtain your Sai
and if you are serious, price has no bearing, as they will last
you many many years.
The Sai explores the weakness of Bo and long weapons thus making
Bo-jutsu stronger as kumite is explored. One compliments the other
making the study of Kobujutsu a fascinating journey.
|Sai Tsukai Kata Requires
Click on the Play button above to view a demonstration of Tsukai Kata.
|Sai Kumite Requires
Click on the Play button above to view a demonstration of Sai Kumite.
|Tsukenshitahaku no Sai
||Kojo no Sai
|Hamahiga no Sai
||Tawata no Sai
|Yaka no Sai
||Chatanyara no Sai
|Hantaguwa no Sai
||Jigen (Manji) no Sai
All the kata are steeped with effective bunkai and this
is the building blocks to multiple attackers and the intensity
needed to understand the weapons strengths as well as its
weaknesses. To know the weapon completely is to know what
can and can't be achieved. It is also a way to know yourself!
Sai kata are deemed long and demanding and quickly highlight
the need for fitness to be a given otherwise concentration
and the skills needed to improve are not understood and lost.
Doing a big Kiai is not a prerequisite to good Sai kata or
general good usage.