Why Study Martial Arts Weapons… In this Age?

Why participate kobudo training in this high technology age?

Many dojos offer kobudo (koh-boo-doh) training, the study of martial arts weapons. There are many traditional martial arts weapons, most with an interesting history in the practical tools of their day.

Weapons, even for self-protection, were banned among the citizens of many of the kingdoms and municipalities of the time. Local people, often poor farmers and fishers, were denied the right to possess weapons of their day. Only the royalty and their armies were allowed to have them.

This meant that common people had to use some ingenuity and creative trial-and-error to see a means of protection for their families and possessions in the objects they used in their trade or around their homes. Weapons were fashioned out of common agricultural tools such as hoes, sickles, horse bridles, as well as from parts taken from commonly used machinery. These innocent-looking implements served their communities well.

In today’s world, these implements are no longer needed, and usually not practical. So why study them?

There are many reasons. For me, the most important reason is to learn and preserve this important part of martial arts history.

But there are other reasons. I have found that kobudo kata improve my balance, breathing, stamina, coordination, concentration, and overall strength. With a modern gun, only my trigger finger and perhaps that hand and forearm are exercised. In kobudo, my whole body is worked. One of our students has found that kobudo kata are a way to warm up and loosen tight muscles and tendons prior to class or a full workout.

Not all of the weapons of yesterday are obsolete. A substitute for a bo staff for example can be found in the office, at school, in the park, and many other places. A good long stick is not hard to find. Makeshift examples of some of the other weapons can also be used when necessary. An umbrella, for example, can be a weapon to fight an attacker. We just have to use our imagination like the kobudo practioners decades and centuries ago did.

Furthermore, we must practice. Just like empty hand kata, there are self defense techniques in our kobudo kata. We have to practice them to uncover and perfect them. So why kobudo training in this age? The answer is simple. It preserves and perpetuates an aspect of our martial arts history and provides a broader range of options to preserve our lives.