Weapons in Karate?

Mujician

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Hi - I have bought myself a few weapons - Tonfa, Nunchaku, and a Bo - My intention was to get some tutorial videos to learn from. I would like to know however are there any Kata using these weapons in Karate - more specifically Wado-Ryu. Yes, I am aware of the meaning of Kara-Te. However there must be people who have applied weapons to a use in Karate. I believe that us westerners look on the orient and think that they've been doing theses things for centuries in totally unchanged ways. There are a lot of crossovers in Japanese culture. I was hoping that I might find some for my weapons. Thanks in advance
 

Tony Dismukes

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Hi - I have bought myself a few weapons - Tonfa, Nunchaku, and a Bo - My intention was to get some tutorial videos to learn from. I would like to know however are there any Kata using these weapons in Karate - more specifically Wado-Ryu. Yes, I am aware of the meaning of Kara-Te. However there must be people who have applied weapons to a use in Karate. I believe that us westerners look on the orient and think that they've been doing theses things for centuries in totally unchanged ways. There are a lot of crossovers in Japanese culture. I was hoping that I might find some for my weapons. Thanks in advance
I don't know about Wado Ryu, but there are plenty of Karate styles and schools which cover usage of the Kobudo weapons you mention. However I'm pretty certain that you will receive near-unanimous advice here to stick to whatever your own instructor teaches with regards to those weapons rather than trying to teach yourself through video. There are tons of tutorial videos out there, but they may not match how things are done in your style and they can't offer you feedback to prevent you from developing bad habits.
 
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Mujician

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Thanks, yes that makes sense - however, no weapons are taught at my karate club. Occasionally there might be an eskrima instructor comes by but thats only because he's friends with the sensei.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I don't know about Wado Ryu, but there are plenty of Karate styles and schools which cover usage of the Kobudo weapons you mention. However I'm pretty certain that you will receive near-unanimous advice here to stick to whatever your own instructor teaches with regards to those weapons rather than trying to teach yourself through video. There are tons of tutorial videos out there, but they may not match how things are done in your style and they can't offer you feedback to prevent you from developing bad habits.
This, definitely. After you have some depth of experience, you may be able to use videos to expand your repertoire. Starting from videos is almost certain to develop bad habits that will make future learning harder.
 

Grenadier

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I'm not aware of any dedicated kobudo work that's been implemented into the Wado Ryu system itself. Wado Ryu dojos that teach weapons generally incorporate a separate system of kobudo.

Live instruction is the only realistic way to start out. It's all too easy to develop improper mechanics by trying to learn from videos, and even more difficult to unlearn the improper mechanics, should you get live training later.

The first thing to do, as Tony stated, would be to ask your sensei about weapons training, and get some background information on what he teaches, if at all. If he doesn't offer kobudo training, then you may also want to ask him about getting such training at another school.

The reason why I suggest this, is because some instructors aren't going to take too kindly to their students training in another discipline outside of their own dojos. It's better to see what your sensei thinks of it first, before seeking such training elsewhere.
 

Bill Mattocks

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Hi - I have bought myself a few weapons - Tonfa, Nunchaku, and a Bo - My intention was to get some tutorial videos to learn from. I would like to know however are there any Kata using these weapons in Karate - more specifically Wado-Ryu. Yes, I am aware of the meaning of Kara-Te. However there must be people who have applied weapons to a use in Karate. I believe that us westerners look on the orient and think that they've been doing theses things for centuries in totally unchanged ways. There are a lot of crossovers in Japanese culture. I was hoping that I might find some for my weapons. Thanks in advance

I do not know anything about Wado-Ryu and weapons. My style (Isshin-Ryu) incorporates sai, tonfa (we call it tuifa), and bo. Technically you are correct - karate means 'empty hand' and that would not be weapons (kobudo). However, many traditional styles of karate incorporate kobudo as part of the overall style.

As others suggested, I would advise against learning weapons kata from online sources, and for the reasons they stated.

I sometimes use them as refreshers for me; but only after I've been taught the kata in question and know it well.

I can say with certainty that many styles of karate - and even different schools within the same style of karate - use weapons differently. If I were to use a bo, sai, or tuifa in the manner I have seen demonstrated on Youtube, I'd be laughed out of my dojo. Sorry, but there is a lot of out-and-out garbage online.

I would not even buy weapons without some instruction first. For example, how do you know you got the right sizes of weapons?

If you want to learn weapons and they are not taught at your school, you could look (with your instructor's permission) at independent kobudo styles, which are beginning to become more popular now.
 

Flying Crane

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To summarize: online and book and video resources are acceptable support material IF you are already getting proper instruction from a legitimate instructor, and IF the resources are appropriate. As has been noted above, there is a lot of garbage floating around out there, and there are a lot of legitimate methods that are simply different from each other and may not mix well. It does not work to simply pick something and run with it. Memorizing the gross movements of a kata from a video is very unlikely to advance your training in weapons (or empty hand, for that matter). You may think you are doing the movements correctly, but you are guaranteed to be doing things wrong in subtle and not-so-subtle ways and that will make all the difference in the world. Only a good instructor can help you understand it properly.

Get your instruction from a good teacher. I feel so strongly about this that if quality martial instruction is completely unavailable to you, then I recommend you pursue general fitness instead. Running, swimming, bicycling, weight-lifting, etc. That is time and energy better spent.

Video instruction is not better than nothing.
 

MI_martialist

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If Karate means empty hand, why are there weapons in karate? I know it doesn't respond to the OP, but I am curious.

Weapons should be incorporated into everyone's training.
 

Bill Mattocks

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If Karate means empty hand, why are there weapons in karate? I know it doesn't respond to the OP, but I am curious.

Weapons should be incorporated into everyone's training.

I honestly don't know why, but I agree that weapons training is good. I did not think that at first, but now I see how it informs my empty hand techniques.
 

Chris Parker

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Hi - I have bought myself a few weapons - Tonfa, Nunchaku, and a Bo - My intention was to get some tutorial videos to learn from. I would like to know however are there any Kata using these weapons in Karate - more specifically Wado-Ryu. Yes, I am aware of the meaning of Kara-Te. However there must be people who have applied weapons to a use in Karate. I believe that us westerners look on the orient and think that they've been doing theses things for centuries in totally unchanged ways. There are a lot of crossovers in Japanese culture. I was hoping that I might find some for my weapons. Thanks in advance

Wado Ryu is a modern form, created by Ohtsuka Sensei, and based in his training in and licensing in both Shotokan Karate (and some other forms), and a form of Shindo Yoshin Ryu Jujutsu... and, as Shotokan has no Kobudo contingent (some instructors teach from specific Kobudo lineages, but it's not actually there in what Funakoshi brought to Japan), and the Shindo Yoshin Ryu was a Jujutsu only system (not a Sogo bujutsu ryu-ha), weapons were not a part of that either. There is some short bladed work (kodachi, tanto), as well as some tachi handling, but this is really geared around training defence against such weapons (primarily from the Shindo Yoshin Ryu side of things), not training in using the weapons themselves.

As a result, things being done "for centuries" means little when dealing with a system that has existed since the 1930's, and features little of what you're looking for in it's historical antecedents.

Primarily, in karate systems, the weaponry contingent is known as kobudo, and is dominantly not part of the actual karate systems themselves... instead, they are independent methods of using weapons, also based in Okinawan (Ryukyu) methodologies, such as Yamani Ryu, or simply referred to as Ryukyu Kobudo (or sometimes Kobujutsu). It's not simply a matter of "doing your karate with a nunchaku in your hands"... as that's a good recipe to misunderstand and misapply the weapons themselves.

Thanks, yes that makes sense - however, no weapons are taught at my karate club. Occasionally there might be an eskrima instructor comes by but thats only because he's friends with the sensei.

If there are no weaponry forms taught at your school, and you're interested in them, there are realistically three options:
- Accept that your school doesn't teach them, so you can't (realistically) learn them.
- Accept that your school doesn't teach them, so you will have to find genuine instruction at another school. If there is no school around that teaches them, go back to the first option.
- Not accept that you can't learn these aspects and methods without proper instruction, try to teach yourself from videos and books, miss the point, get it wrong, and either give up because it's not working, or delude yourself that you know something. This is not the advised option, by the way.

If Karate means empty hand, why are there weapons in karate? I know it doesn't respond to the OP, but I am curious.

The modern usage of characters (since about 1936) to write "karate" have a meaning of "empty hands", but that's not the same thing as saying that "karate means empty hands"... I mean, one of my systems has a name referring to "capturing the sweet smell", according to it's written characters, but...

The naming of karate as "empty hand" was based on a decision of a number of prominent karate practitioners and teachers in Japan in 1936, who were looking at ways of introducing and promoting their (non-native Japanese) art to the Japanese people. At the time, the characters used (and even the name used, including pronunciation) was less than standard, with some using the characters (karate), referring to "close combative methods (hand) from Tang (China)", or "Chinese hand" to simplify it. Others simply used (te), meaning "hand", implying close combative methods... but sometimes pronounced "tii". For that matter, was also sometimes pronounced "to-di" in the Okinawan language... And, of course, some had already taken to using the characters 蝛箸 (karate), meaning "empty hand".

The point is that the choice of characters wasn't necessarily to say "only empty hands"... it was to show the emphasis of the system, and to maintain the same pronunciation as the older characters, without the reference to China.

Weapons should be incorporated into everyone's training.

Why? I mean, I'm a big fan of weapons training... many of my arts are almost nothing but weaponry... but to say that they should be incorporated into everyone's training is to think that your values are the only ones, and your take on martial arts is the only one. Believe me, it's not... and there are plenty of arts, approaches, and methods that do not require, or even majorly benefit from, adding in training with weapons.
 

Buka

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I was taught that the "empty hand" etymology, stemming from the Japanese, indicated that the physical body was the weapon itself, that the "hands empty'' directly relates to weapon-less. That everything else was secondary. However, that body, when supplied with, and highly trained in, a weapon of it's Art - was even more formidable still.

Not sure how accurate any of that is. But that's what I believe by choice.
 

Chris Parker

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Yeah... it's kinda the other way around. The contextual reading of 蝛箸 would be "hands that are empty" itself... which is the second of the translations you looked at. If the intention is to convey that the body is the weapon, typically, that'd be said... by using term such as taijutsu (雿銵 - body skills, or skills with the body), or some similar term. Of course, Japanese being such a context-based language, many shades of meaning can always be seen, or read, based on particular kanji usage...
 
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