Over recent years we have been training with The Bo and The Sai. At the same time as karate was being developed the Okinawans also trained with an assortment of weapons (Kobudo) some of which were farm implements (as formal weapons were banned by their Japanese overlords).
We train with two of the traditional weapons , the Sai, a pair of short truncheons, (originally used for seed planting) and the Bo which is basically a 6 ft stick (used to carry pails etc).
Both weapons are used for striking and blocking opponents and are generally practised against other weapon attacks, Sai against Bo, Bo against Bo etc.
Practise of these weapons complement and enhance karate training as they use the same stances and in the case of the Sai similar blocks and strikes. For this reason a good basic level of karate is a prerequisite. Training with either weapon is not part of the usual karate syllabus and is not required for gradings up to and including Black Belt. Thus weapons training is largely taught outside the normal club training sessions.
For obvious reasons free sparring is not practised so the skills and dexterity are learned largely through individual practise and Katas.
For the Sai we use the following traditional weapon katas:
Tawada no Sai
Chatan yara no Sai
For the Bo we use the following traditional weapon katas:
Shushi no kon Sho
Chikin (Tsuken) no kon
Sunakake no kon
Training with weapons is excellent for upper body strength and conditioning whilst the skill levels and dexterity developed by expert practitioners (as opposed to enthusiasts like us) is quite astonishing.
For purists please note we follow the Matayoshi school Bo and Sai styles.
Please see the SaiBo Syllubus (pdf, 295KB) for more information.