Weapons of Ryukyu Kobujutsu
The Kama is the first bladed weapon of the Ryukyu Kobujutsu arsenal taught and this weapon brings to the practitioner the feel of steel and the hint of fear a live blade gives
It is always recommended however that students first use wooden Kama to familiarise themselves with the handling and control and understand the elements of usage. Used, as a pair there is one style of Kama with varying sizes of blade length and shaft size. The corner of the blade to the shaft should have a groove cut into it for catching the Bo and other weapons without the blade digging into and getting stuck into the attacking weapon. Many types have a preferred straight blade better equipped for stabbing techniques but some like the curved style, which endear the feel of slashing and cutting.
The weight of the Kama shaft is dependent upon the strength of the user and should be tapered to the butt end with increasing thickness. This allows for ease of catching and sliding when changing grip. The blade should add sufficient weight to ensure it is the heaviest point in the weapon. This also allows for ease of usage. The length of the weapon should extend to about 3cm passed the elbow when held in reverse grip. The handling of the weapon is the same as the Sai with the following grips, ‘Honte-Mochi’ (Natural), ‘Gyakute-Mochi'(Reverse) and ‘Tokushu-Mochi'(Special grip). Kama is the practise of ‘Kuride’ and ‘Kakede’ (hooking and gripping) in open hand technique.
The initial training with Kama (Tsukai Kata) quickly illustrates why initially an oblong type shaft is better. The reverse grips, which run parallel to the leg when changing must have the blade straight otherwise the hamstrings, can be cut if this position is wrong. The oblong type shaft allows the fingers to detect the position. Later however the classical rounded shaft is favoured. Many of the moves have a familiarity with Sai and Tonfa and this feeling is correct, as they form part of the same family.
In Yakusoku Kumite the distance and length of the Kama must be quickly understood. Too far away and the intention is lost and too close and injuries ensue. The reverse grip usage requires must practice and footwork skills are paramount. The dexterity of the fingers is paramount to the changing grips the weapon affords and needs in Kumite.
The basic Kumite approach is always against the Bo and being of the wood family helps to understand how bladed weapons such as Kama are able to hook into the weapon and pull it either away from the opponent or break the opponents balance as a consequence. Students must prepare themselves for the training intentions of cutting the neck and wrists along with striking the cranium.
In the study of Renzoku Kumite the speed and flow is important but care must be taken with live blades. Such mistakes as running the Kama down the Bo and cutting the fingers or striking the head do occur. The pressure of attack however combined with the knowledge of live blades brings the practitioner into a new realm with Zanshin being of the utmost importance along with a strong spirit (Seishin). It is the same for all weapons but the flashing blades bring home this point well.
This weapon known as the sickle in the west has a derivative from the farming implements and is the first that does legitimately correspond to the agricultural story.