Okinawan kobudo is a weapon-based traditional martial art. Since most written accounts of the art were destroyed during World War II, its origins remain elusive. As with many Eastern martial arts, kobudo masters deliberately confined the art to oral tradition, since only select individuals were allowed to train with weapons for most of its history.
According to legend and popular belief, Okinawan kobudo originated after 1477 when King So Shin banned weapons in Okinawa, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands and the southernmost prefecture of Japan. While the upper classes secretly learned and cultivated unarmed martial art forms, the agricultural and fishing populations developed their own secret combat styles using a wide variety of weapons. Some weapons, including the tonfa, kama, and nunchaku, may originate from antique farming tools. The recorded history of traditional kobudo begins in 1762 with Sakagawa Chikodun Peichin Kanga (1733-1815), also known by the nickname “Sakagawa Tode.”
Many Kobudo forms exist today, along with wide variety of weapons. The most popular kobudo forms practiced in Japan include Yamani Chinen Ryu Bojutsu, Matayoshi Kobudo, Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai Taira Shinken Kobudo, Ufuchiku Kobujutsu, and Kenshin Ryu Kobudo.
About the Author: Stephen Lisauskas, a Director, Instructional Supervisor, and Chief Instructor at the International Seirenkai Organization in Boston. In addition to Okinawa Kobudo, Mr. Lisauskas practices Jiu-Jitsu and Seirenkai Karate.