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Ryukyu Kobudo is the collective term for the ancient martial arts of Okinawa that made use of the old style weapons. Its roots of origin are lost in time and mythology. It is believed that Sai Jutsu and Karate-do evolved at about the same time. It is known that in 1606 when the Satama Clan of Kagogshema conquered Okinawa, all swords, spears and any other conceived weapons were hastily confiscated. These actions caused the Okinawan people to earnestly study and train in the various martial arts such as Ryukyu Kobudo, Bo Jutsu (art of the staff), Tonfa Jutsu (art of the wooden handled rice grinding tool) and the Nichogama Jutsu (the art of sickle type tool) and so on goes a very long list.

At the present time, RyuKyu Kobudo primarily revolves around Bo Jutsu and Sai Jutsu (art of the sai). While karate is a martial art that defends against an unarmed enemy, empty-handed, the art of Kobudo defends against an armed enemy using weapons. Among the core of the martial artists of the Ryukyu Islands from early historical times these two martial arts (Karate and Kobudo) have been developing together. Karate and Kobudo are like two wheels on a cart, one helps the other, but without the other, the cart is incomplete.

My first introduction to the true RyuKyu Kobudo arts was in 1972 on my way back to Australia from the 2nd world Karate championships in Paris. It was then that I first visited Murakami Sensei whom was a top student of Kyodazuhatu Sensei, whom is the man that brought RyuKyu Kobudo from Okinawa to Japan in about 1940.

Katsumi Murakami lives in a small town tucked away in the mountains of Kyushu. This man holds Shihan rank in six different branches of martial arts including Karate, Jujitsu, Taikyokuken, but his real passion is Ryukyu Kobudo.

Murakami Sensei and Oakley Sensei training.

We brought Murakami Sensei to Australia in 1973 where he instructed classes at my dojos. We all gained a lot from that and some of us were also graded by him at that time. While he was in Australia we held a Karate Tournament where Murakami Sensei gave a Kobudo demonstration that showed us all just how Kobudo should be done. When you watch Murakami Sensei using weapons, it is not a man and a weapon, it is as if the weapons is an extension of his arm, an actual part of him. He teaches you that you must think of the weapon as these extensions of yourself, and flow with the movement of the weapon and not to go against its natural flow.

Since then I have visited Murakami Sensei in Japan many times. Each time I go, I add a little more knowledge to the memory banks, whilst knocking off the rust on the higher Kata that I do not teach very often.

At age 72 Murakami Sensei still has the speed of a Cheetah, the strength of a bull and the endurance of men half is age only dream about. Every morning he does one hour training before breakfast. He says that it makes breakfast taste very good. After breakfast it is back to the Dojo for private lessons until lunchtime. Then the same again after lunch. After dinner he teaches Karate class and after that a Kobudo class. By this time, most would be exhausted, but he still is full of energy.

Each time I visit Murakami Sensei I learn more in a few weeks, that I have in training with some other teachers for years. I also come away with the knowledge that I have taken one more step on the never-ending ladder of knowledge.

Copyright 2022 MERV OAKLEY