In keeping with ancient Okinawan traditions, weapons form an integral part of So-Pa Karate-Do training. Historically in Okinawa, peasant farmers were forbidden from using and carrying conventional weapons and had to improvise using their existing farming implements. Therefore, the weapons chosen trace their roots back to early agricultural tools: -

  • Bo staff - with a length of approximately six feet, the bo staff is a formidable weapon which ensures "opponents" are kept at a safe distance. The bo staff was traditionally used to carry heavy loads balanced across the shoulders. Click here for more information about the bo staff.
  • Nunchaku - it is said that Nunchaku were traditionally used to flail rice and other crops, separating the grain from the husk. Nunchaku consist of two short pieces of wood joined with a cord. Click here for more information about Nunchaku. It is still used in Portugal to this Day.
  • Tonfa - tradionally used as millstone handles, a single tonfa consists of a forearm-length piece of wood with a handle. Tonfa are used in pairs and the modern police "night-sticks" are developed from tonfa. Click here for more information about the tonfa.
  • Sai - It has been said that the Sai was used as implement to plant Seeds, however that was a ploy and surly the Sai's purpose was to have a defense against the Samurai Sword. They used to carry 3 of them, one for throwing and the other two, one in each Hand.

Training Applications

The use of weapons helps to extend awareness beyond one's own body, improving the reach of the So-Pa Karate-Do practitioner. We must also learn to "go with the flow", as excessively forcing weapons in any way simply does not work. Weapons have their own pace and direction of movement, and we must learn to work with this. Gradually, the practitioner learns to become one with the weapon until it forms an extension of his or her own body.

Weapons kata help the practioner to gain insights into the weapons' full potential, offering a good variety of techniques and practices that combine challenging combinations of weapon and body movements.

History of So-Pa Karate-Do Weapons

Like most histories, weapon history is shrouded in myth and legend. It is known that conventional weapons were banned in ancient Okinawa, and it is believed that peasant farmers developed a system of self-defense which utilised traditional farming tools.

Other histories suggest that these weapons were developed by martial art practitioners in Okinawa, taking their roots from Chinese, Indonesian, and Malaysian cultures. Certainly, there are many similarities and the types of weapons used in Okinawa can be found in the earlier traditions of these cultures and Others.