Hinode  Karate & Kobudo

North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Telephone: 604 - 340 - 3319 or email: info@hinodekarate.ca


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Top Row Left to Right - sai, manji sai, tonfa, sansetsu kon, ticchu, tikko
Bottom Row Left to Right - bo (6' stick laying diagonally), niccho kon, nunchaku, rochin and tinbe


bo comp.JPG (57261 bytes)

The bo is a six-foot staff, sometimes tapered at either end.  It was perhaps developed from a farming tool called a tenbin: a stick placed across the shoulders with baskets or sacks hanging from either end. The bo was also possibly used as the handle to a rake or a shovel.  The bo, along with shorter variations such as the jo and hanbo could also have been developed from walking sticks used by travelers, especially monks.  The bo is considered the 'king' of the Okinawa weapons, as all others exploit its weaknesses in fighting it, whereas when it is fighting them it is using its strengths against them.  The bo is the earliest of all Okinawa weapons (and effectively one of the earliest of all weapons in the form of a basic staff), and is traditionally made from red or white oak.

There are sixteen bo kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai.

Bo / Kon

sai1 comp.JPG (60295 bytes) The sai is sometimes mistakenly believed to be a variation on a tool used to create furrows in the ground, however this is highly unlikely as metal on Okinawa was in short supply at the time and a stick would have served this purpose more satisfactorily for a poor commoner. The sai appears similar to a short sword, but is not bladed and the end is traditionally blunt. Records from China prove its original existence although in a much more elongated form where it was known as Tsai and was used purely as a weapon.  The weapon is metal and of the truncheon class with its length dependent upon the forearm of the user. The two shorter prongs on either side of the main shaft are used for trapping other weapons such as a sword or bo.  The sai originally reached Japan in the form of the jitte or jutte, which has only a single prong.  Both are truncheon-like weapons, used for striking and bludgeoning.  Sai were thought to be given to those in Okinawan society that the Japanese could trust to maintain order.

Sai are traditionally carried in threes, two are used in combat and the third is used as either a precursor to the actual fight and is thrown at the enemy, or as a spare in the event that one is knocked from the hand. There are many other variations on the sai with varying prongs for trapping and blocking, and the monouchi, or shaft, can be round or octagonal.  Sai were also used as handcuffs and were a symbol of authority in Okinawa.  A form known as manji sai has the two shorter prongs pointed in opposite directions, with another monouchi instead of a grip.

There are seven sai kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai.

Sai / Manji Sai (centre)

niccho kon1 comp.JPG (62335 bytes) Niccho Kon are two sticks, each typically two feet in length and one inch in diameter.  Techniques practiced with niccho kon include blocking, striking and thrusting.  Both single and double stick techniques are taught, with an emphasis on defense against the bo.  Practice with niccho kon often draws comparisons to the Filipino martial art of Modern Arnis.

The single niccho kon kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai was developed by Minowa Sensei, and is called "Minowa no Niccho Kon".

Niccho Kon

ticchu3 comp.JPG (62263 bytes) Ticchu are part of the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko kai (Taira --> Akamine line), and are practiced by students of Minowa Katsuhiko (also a student of Taira).  Ticchu is one of the few hand held weapons used in Ryukyu Kobudo which can be concealed, easily carried and used to devasting effect on an opponent (punching, raking, slashing and stabbing).  Ticchu is a primitive hand held weapon, which is usually made of wood and is held inside the hand.  The ticchu fits inside a closed fist and extends some what out each side of the fist. From this pole, another pointed pole projects at 90 degrees through the index and middle fingers, providing an atemi point which is supported by the fist.

The single ticchu kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai was developed by Minowa Sensei, and is called "Minowa no Ticchu".


nunchaku4 comp.JPG (59028 bytes) A nunchaku is two sections of wood (or metal in modern incarnations) connected by a cord or chain. There is much controversy over its origins: some say it was originally a Chinese weapon, others say it evolved from a threshing flail, while one theory purports that it was developed from a horse's bit. Chinese nunchaku tend to be rounded, whereas Japanese are octagonal, and they were originally linked by horse hair.  There are many variations on the nunchaku, ranging from the three sectional staff (san-setsu-kon nunchaku), to smaller multi-section nunchaku.

The nunchaku was popularized by Bruce Lee in a number of films, made in both Hollywood and Hong Kong.

There are three nunchaku kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai.


sansetsu kon2 comp.JPG (60749 bytes) The sansetsu kon is similar to a nunchaku, but has three sections of wood (or metal in modern incarnations) connected by a cord or chain, with each section being somewhat smaller than those of the nunchaku.

There are two sansetsu kon kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai.  Both were developed by Sensei Minowa Katsuhiko.  They are "Minowa no Sansetsu Kon Sho" and "Dai".

Sansetsu Kon

tikko3 comp.JPG (64029 bytes) The tikko is a form of knuckleduster thought to have been developed from horseshoes or saddle stirrups.  They primarily take their main form of usage from that of empty-hand technique, whilst also introducing slashing movements. The tikko is usually made to the width of the hand with anything between one and four protruding points on the knuckle front with protruding points at the top and the bottom of the knuckle. They can be made of any hard material but are predominantly found in aluminium, iron or steel.  Tikko is another of the few hand held weapons used in Ryukyu Kobudo which can be concealed.  It is generally argued that the Tekko evolved from the horse and / or stirrups of the saddle.

The single tikko kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai is "Maezato no Tikko", which was created by and named after Taira Shinken.


tonfa3 comp.JPG (62610 bytes) The tonfa is more readily recognized by its modern development in the form of the police nightstick, although its usage differs.  It supposedly originated as the handle of a millstone used for grinding grain.  The tonfa are a unique weapon of the Ryukyu Islands, which are not found in the weapon traditions of Japan proper.  The tonfa is traditionally made from red oak, and can be gripped by the short perpendicular handle or by the longer main shaft.  As with all Okinawan weapons, many of the forms are reflective of "empty hand" techniques.

There are two tonfa kata in the formal curriculum of Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai: "Hamahiga no Tonfa" and "Yaragwa no Tonfa".


rochin and tinbe comp.JPG (61127 bytes) The tinbe-rochin is one of the least known of the Ryūkyū system and exudes a feeling of history long gone. The usage is, at first glance, visually reminiscent of a combination of Zulu fighting and European sword and small shield fighting, and weapons of this nature can be found in most cultures throughout the world.  The tinbe (Shield) can be made of various materials but is commonly found in vine or cane, metal, or archetypically, from a turtle shell (historically, the Ryukyu Islands' primary source of food, fishing, provided a reliable supply of turtle shells).

The shield size is generally about 45 cm long and 38 cm wide. The rochin (Short spear) is cut with the length of the shaft being the same distance as the forearm to the elbow if it is being held in the hand. The spearhead then protrudes from the shaft and can be found in many differing designs varying from spears to short swords and machete-style implements.

When fighting an opponent, the shield is held in the left hand for defense, and with the short blade halberd in the right.  The spear is typically about 50cm in length, and is used for both offense and defence.  Only one kata, the "Kanegawa no Tinbé" kata, has survived and been passed down.

Rochin and Tinbe


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