Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tekko - Okinawan Horse Sense

Another traditional Okinawan kobudo weapon taught at the Arizona Hombu dojo at the border of Chandler with Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona is tekkō (鉄甲). Tekko (sometimes spelled ‘tecchu’) is known as Okinawan ‘knuckle dusters’ in English and have a North America equivalent known as ‘brass knuckles’. But if you decide to train with the North American version, it is best not to ‘horse’ around and get of the wrong side of the horse. Brass knuckles have been outlawed in some states as well as in some countries just like nunchaku - so learn about your local laws. 
Using car keys as tekko, a very good
  self-defense weapon for women and men.
The origin of tekko is not clear but it appears to have originally been an accessory tool found in the ‘horse’ stables of Okinawa. There are many varieties of tekko and one simple variety was a horseshoe or modified  horseshoe

As a horseshoe, the curvature (‘U’) of the shoe was placed in the palm of the hand with the two ends projected outward. The curve was usually wrapped in a rag or rope to give the defender some gripping capability. A modification included sharpening the tips of the horseshoe, while others were made from two horseshoes tied or welded together

Another variety of tekko originated from stirrups of a saddle. Many traditional tekko look similar to Western-style saddle stirrups, rather than stirrups used by Japanese samurai. In its simplest form, such a tekko made from a horse stirrup (abumi) would have been a D-shaped tool that wrapped around the hand. As these  evolved, stubs and sharpen protrusions were added to the arch of the D to deliver greater damage. These types of tekko were made from both metal and wood and the hand grip was also used for striking and blocking.

The traditional horse stirrup tekko
Another tool used in handling of horses harnessed to carriages apparently was used as tekko, while another tekko was developed by fishermen from a tool that assisted in hauling in fishing nets (similar to a nunti bo) so coral would not tear up their hands.

There are similar hand weapons considered as a variety of tekko, such as the ‘yawara’ or ‘kuboton’, which were nothing more than a stick or rod held in the hand. Some had pointed tips, others had a flat surface that was used to strike an opponent as well as activate pressure points. 
Kuboton tekko

The chize kun bowas a short stick attached to a piece of rope that looped around the defender’s fingers to make it easier to retain the weapon. Other tekko were made from wood with sharpened extensions which fit between the first and second fingers. The ‘tek chu’ allowed for increased function over some predecessors as it consisted of a wooden stick carved with a wooden extension & finger hole, or of a metal rod with a metal finger ring. The bearer held the rod in hand with the ring around one finger. The tek chu often had sharpened points.  

The principal difference between Okinawan tekko and common variety of brass knuckles was not only mass of the object (brass knuckles have relatively high specific gravity) but most brass knuckles have four finger holes: traditional tekko had an open slot to place the hand and fist. 

There are modern versions of tekko, such as the ninja keychain tekko and the car key tekko. In the hands of a martial artist, the tekko can be an very effective weapon of self-defense for blocking, striking and  pressure point activation.

A ninjutsu tekko
Very few martial arts schools include tekko in their curriculum; however, some schools affiliated with Juko Kai International train with tekko due to the teaching of Dai Soke Sacharnoski. 

Then there is the tekko-kagi, a farming implement used for reaping weeds and considered more of a ninjutsu weapon. The tekko-kagi included four iron spikes that looked more like a bear claw attached to a metal ring which fit around a person’s hand or wrist. Some of these were wicked-looking tools. 


A primitive tekko straight from the horse.
Using car keys as a kuboton. 


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