Training With Martial Arts Weapons - Karate Kung Fu Weaponry By Clint Leung

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    Training With Martial Arts Weapons - Karate Kung Fu Weaponry
    By Clint Leung

    There are opportunities in martial arts training to learn to
    use various martial arts weapons. Many martial arts schools,
    especially those that teach Japanese karate and Chinese kung fu
    styles have weaponry as part of their overall curriculum.
    Popular weapons from karate systems include the bo staff, kama,
    sai, sword, nunchaku and tonfa. Chinese kung fu styles have
    broadsword, 3 section staff, kwan do, whip chain, butterfly
    knives as well as their own versions of staff. Of course, there
    are many other types of weapons in martial arts but the above
    are the more common ones taught. Some of the more exotic weapons
    include the fan, rope dart and the hook swords. Martial arts
    weapons can be divided into short and long range. An example of
    a short range weapon would be a pair of sai. The bo staff would
    be a long range weapon because of the longer reach. Weapons can
    also be divided into bladed and non-bladed. Kamas and swords of
    course would be bladed weapons where staffs and nunchakus would
    be non-bladed. In most training situations with bladed weapons,
    the blades are not live. That is, the blades of swords and kamas
    are blunt rather than sharp. This adds to the safety aspect of
    martial arts weapons training. Weapons can also come in
    different weights from heavy traditional models down to ultra
    light weight versions for forms competition.

    Martial arts weapons are considered as extensions of a martial
    artist’s own body. For example, strikes with a weapon are really
    extended hand strikes. Blocks with weapons are modeled after
    traditional martial art blocking techniques. Therefore, it is
    important for martial arts students to be relatively proficient
    with martial arts techniques using their own bodies first before
    learning to use any martial arts weapon. This will help the
    students understand the applications behind each weapons
    technique much better. In most Japanese karate schools, weapons
    training won’t be offered until students reach an intermediate
    level such as green or blue belt. There are martial arts that
    are strictly weapons oriented. An example is Japanese kendo
    which is modeled after samarai sword fighting. Philipino arnis
    is stick fighting which was developed in the South Pacific

    There are many benefits in training with martial arts weapons.
    Because most weapons have some weight to them, their use will
    help develop muscle tone and strength. Performing forms or katas
    with weapons will also develop coordination. In today’s world,
    martial arts weapons may not be as practical as the days of the
    past when it was acceptable to carry weapons wherever one
    traveled. However, with some understanding of weapons
    techniques, a martial artist today can turn almost any household
    item such as an umbrella, cane or even a set of keys into
    weapons of self defense if required. Another important point
    that shouldn’t be ignored is that most practitioners will claim
    that training with martial arts weapons is a lot of fun.

    However, not all martial arts clubs and studios will teach
    weapons. Many tae kwon do schools for example do not include
    weapons in their overall training. This is not to say that
    Korean martial arts do not have weapons. The Korean martial art
    kuk sool won features the staff, sword and cane. So if a martial
    arts student wishes to learn the use of weapons, a school that
    includes them in their training should be sought after. Another
    alternative for students who are otherwise happy with their
    martial arts club that doesn’t have weapons training is to get
    supplementary private instruction from instructors who can
    provide it.

    Weapons training can open up a whole new dimension to overall
    martial arts training. Even advanced tai chi practitioners use
    swords in some of their forms. It doesn’t matter if sometimes
    the swords are made entirely of wood either since the actual
    weapons techniques will still be used in the forms. For many
    martial arts competitors, weapons forms are their favorite
    divisions to compete in. From a spectator point of view, weapons
    forms can be very exciting to watch especially when weapons such
    as whip chains or kamas with strings are used since their
    presentations are so dynamic and even somewhat dangerous to the
    user. Such weapons have caused injuries to users when certain
    techniques were sloppy or mistimed. But like other aspects of
    martial arts, proficiency with a martial art weapon after much
    hard training can bring a high sense of satisfaction to a
    martial artist.

    About the Author: Clint Leung is a lifelong martial artist with
    over 32 years of training experience in kung fu, tae kwon do,
    karate, kickboxing and martial arts weaponry. He has won
    Canadian and world championship titles (NASKA, NBL and WSKF). He
    is also owner of Free Spirit Activewear
    ( , an online retailer and
    designer of premium martial arts activewear. Free Spirit
    Activewear has martial arts info articles.


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