Wednesday, February 29, 2012

KUWA - Giving Arizona Gardening a Real Punch!

Shihan Adam of Phoenix hooks Rich's
 (of Mesa) knee with kuwa in ippon kumite. 
Kobudo is a an important part of Shorin-ryu karate, so much so that the karate and kobudo should be taught as being inseparable. Few weapons epitomize kobudo more than kuwa (the common garden hoe) also known as a gawa or kue. This is because kobudo is considered a peasant art, and what could better define a peasant than a hoe, a tool of the peasant class.

Karate and Kata are essentially the same, and this includes kobudo. Kobudo is developed through the study and continual practice of both karate and kobudo kata and each and every technique or movement in a kata must be understood as bunkai or self-defense. The bunkai also needs to be pragmatic otherwise the value of the technique is next to useless.

There are few kuwa kata: such as Matayoshi No Kuwa Nu De (Kue no de), which is the kata of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai and its variations. The kata has all of the strikes, blocks, digs, and cuts needed for self-defense.
Parts of the Okinawan Kuwa include the bo handle (eii), the
pommel (ejiri), the head (egashira) and blade (kuwaba). Here
O'Sensei Bill from Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Renmei
defends against strike by Sensei Paula at the
Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa, Arizona.
Kuwa-jutsu can be done with modern garden hoe although one must be careful with these as the majority are not well made and tend to fly apart as some of my students witnessed during teaching kuwa years ago at the University of Wyoming. One of my first strikes during kihon practice sent the blade (egashira) flying like a missile into our tatami (mat) against the back dojo wall in the Education Building gym. It surprised everyone including me. Luckily, I was in the front of the class of 50+ students with no one in front of me. 

So if you purchase a common hoe from a local hardware store it is best to reinforce the weapon by drilling a hole in the metal sleeve of the egashira that fits over the handle and add and anchor screw to secure the blade to the handle. For those who want to remain traditional, search the Internet for a Japanese style grub hoe. I recommend a 4" grub hoe (we found a 6" grub hoe at the Mekong Plaza in Mesa). The kuwa consists has a butt end (ejiri), handle (eii), head of the hoe (egashira) and blade edge (kuwaba).
Kuwa is used similar to a bo, but it has the advantage of a blade at one end. The egashira is used to hook weapons to redirect them, hook an opponents knee, back of neck, foot, etc and is also used for tsuki (thrust strikes). The kuwaba is used to cut an opponent as well as remove toes, ears, and fingers. The butt of the kuwa (ejiri) is used for thrust strikes, while the bo handle (eii) has many uses including blocks and strikes. So the next time you are working in your tomato garden in Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix or even in California, Colorado, Utah or Wyoming, etc., remember, you have a weapon in your hands - learn how to use this fabulous weapon! After all, you never know when another thieving politician is going to try to steal your tomatoes!
Training with hanbo (3-foot stick) in Mesa, Arizona at the Arizona Hombu Dojo, 60 W. Baseline.
Dr. Bergkamp works with Adam to trap his hand.
View Kata.

Members of the University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Club in Laramie learn to be Okinawan farmers at Kobudo Clinic taught by Soke Hausel from Gilbert, Arizona.

Blocking with kuwa at the Arizona Hombu in Mesa, Arizona

Dr. Adam defends against attack by Rich at the Mesa Arizona Hombu.

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