Kama – Traditional Martial Arts Weapon
Typically thought of as an Okinawan weapon the Kama has its origins in China and south-east Asia. This is evident in very old versions found in China and forms/Kata found within Chinese arts such as Kung Fu. As with all Okinawan weapons, many of the forms are reflective of “empty hand” techniques. The kama is a traditional farming sickle, and considered one of the hardest to learn due to the inherent danger in practicing with such a weapon. The point at which the blade and handle join in the “weapon” model normally has a nook with which a bo can be trapped, although this joint proved to be a weak point in the design, and modern day examples tend to have a shorter handle with a blade that begins following the line of the handle and then bends, though to a lesser degree; this form of the kama is known as the natagama. The edge of a traditional rice sickle, such as one would purchase from a Japanese hardware store, continues to the handle without a notch, as this is not needed for its intended use.
The Kama is a martial arts weapon based on a farming instrument, the small scythe used for cutting rice. This weapon is used in a variety of Japanese, Filipino, Indonesian and Chinese martial arts styles.
In Okinawan/Japanese Kobudo, Kama are traditionally used in pairs. In basic forms, the Kama are held towards the bottom of the handle and are used to defend against opponents armed with swords or other long reach weapons such as Bo or Jo. A typical Kama technique will involve blocking an oncoming strike with one Kama then using the other to counterattack. Also both Kama can be used simultaneously to block or trap an opponent’s weapon or to deliver a double strike.
Advanced Kama forms utilize a short strap attached to the bottom of the Kama which are used to swing or spin the Kama at great speed in order to deliver an attack. This Kama jutsu technique is often referred to as the “Flying Kama” and takes a great deal of skill and coordination to master.
Kama form is from the Shinpo Mataoshi System.
Structured pairs work as formatted in Ippon Kumite from the karate syllabus
Sensei Pete Halloran is our Okinawan weapons instructor who also holds a position on the Shizendo Technical Committee overseeing standards in our Organization.