Thursday, April 6, 2017
Mesa Martial Arts Classes: a Hoe Lot Better at the Arizona Hombu Karate & Kobudo Dojo
The Kuwa (gawa or kue) is one of many traditional Okinawan kobudo weapons practiced by members of Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai. Better known in the West as a garden hoe; in the East it is not only a garden tool, but at one time was a common peasant weapon of self-defense or one of the many so-called classical karate weapons. When training with this weapon in a dojo, you can use a common, everyday hoe found at your local hardware store such as Lowes, or search for a traditional kuwa on the internet. You will not find them at martial arts supply houses because few instructors teach this weapon. But when you purchase kuwa; before you take it to the dojo, be sure that the blade (igashira) is securely attached to the handle (ii).
Years ago, I purchased a hoe from a hardware store in Laramie and took it to the University of Wyoming dojo and started teaching kihon (basic techniques). One of the first strikes (if not the first) I tried with my hoe was a down cut (top-of-head strike) and the kuwaba (blade) shot off the iie (handle) like it had been shot out of a cannon. At the shomen (front) of the dojo, we had a large tatami (mat) hanging on the front wall we used for jujutsu training. The blade hit the mat with considerable force that echoed throughout the Educational Building Gym. I had no idea garden hoes were so poorly constructed. Luckily, I was facing to the front of the dojo and no one was in-between; otherwise I would have had a tough time explaining to the ER physician as to how the blade of a hoe got embedded into one of our students. So now, when people visit their local hardware stores to purchase a hoe, I request they drill a hole through the metal blade jacket and wooden handle to secure the blade with a nut and bolt.
Basically, only one kuwa kata has survived over the years known as kuwa no te with variations. If you are interested in a traditional kuwa, you might check the internet. My recommendation would be to buy a small hoe because kuwa are slow and cumbersome.
There is a two-person kata on the internet which uses kuwa and eku (Okinawan oar).