Kobudo is the art of training with old weapons of Okinawa in the philosophy and techniques of budo. This fun and exciting program helps to develop coordination and concentration, and to increase strength for both children and adults. Under the expert guidance of Susan Ferguson-Sensei, students can learn the art of nunchaku, sai, bo, tonfa, and kama. In addition to being a stand alone martial art, Kobudo is also an excellent cross-trainer for other martial arts or sports.


Day Time
Thursday 8:30-9:30 PM
Friday 5:30-6:30 PM
Sunday 10:15-11:30 AM


Okinawan Kobudo (also known as Ryukyu Kobujutsu or just as Kobudo) is a Japanese term that can be translated as "old martial way of Okinawa". It generally refers to the classical weapon traditions of Okinawan martial arts, most notably the rokushakubo (six foot staff, known as the "bo"), sai (short unsharpened dagger), tonfa (handled club), kama (sickle), and nunchaku (nunchucks), but also the tekko (knuckledusters), tinbe-rochin (shield and spear), and surujin (weighted chain). Less common Okinawan weapons include the tambo (short staff) and the eku (boat oar of traditional Okinawan design).

We train in the Okinawa Kobudo Doushi Rensei-kai organization under the organizations president, Neil Stolsmark.


It is commonly believed that Okinawa farming and fishing tools evolved into weapons when restrictions on peasants resulted in their inability to carry arms. The assumption is, in order to defend themselves, they used what was at hand and consequently developed fighting skills around their traditional tools. This is likely the case with those weapons that structurally and functionally closely match the original implements such as the tonfa and the kama. There are, however, weapons in the Okinawa systems that are clearly not farming or fishing tools, but are appear as weapons in and of themselves such as the nunti and rochin. The Japanese also developed Kobudo systems. The biggest difference between Okinawa and Japanese Kobudo is that, in Japan, weapons were viewed, developed and used strictly as weapons by a warrior class. For the Japanese warrior the sword was the primary weapon. Other Japanese weapons included the bow, nagamaki, nagimaka, bo and yari. The Japanese kusarigama superficially resembles a kama, but each part of it is designed for fighting, not harvesting, and it would make a very inefficient farmer's sickle. Kobudo is incorporated as part of the curriculum, or as an adjunct, in many Japanese and Okinawa empty hand systems.


The kata of Okinawa Kobudo, though having the same name, can vary from ryu to ryu. Often the variations are relatively minor (depending on the point of view of the observer) and at other times the kata do not seem to resemble each other at all. Kata were generally named after (1) the person that developed or the person that introduced it, (2) a technique within the kata or (3) their place of origin.

The MSK Kobudo program incorporates the following kata:


Shushi no kon
Chuon no kon
Sakugawa no kon
Tsuken no kon
Shishi no kon


Kobu Nunchaku
Seibu nunchaku
Nunchaku no Kata


Nicho Zai
Sancho Zai
Kobu Zai


Tonfa Ichi
Seibu no Tonfa


Kobu Ni cho Gama


The bo is a six-foot staff, sometimes tapered at either end. The bo or stick is probably the oldest of mans tools and weapons. There are several possible theories as to it's origin as an Okinawa weapon but because of it long use no one knows for sure where it initially evolved. The bo is the most extensively trained of the Okinawa weapons. Its long reach provides advantages and a margin of safety against shorter weapons. The bo is traditionally made from hardwood such as Japanese red oak or white oak.

Left: six-foot tapered bo, right: six-foot kumi bo


A traditional nunchaku consists of two sections of wood connected by a cord. There is much controversy over its origins, these range from a threshing flail used to husk soy beans to a horse's bit. Flails are common across China and Southeast Asia. There are many variations on the nunchaku. There is also a three sectional staff called a san-setsu-kon.

Different kinds of Nunchaku (the one on the right is made of foam and used by beginners)

Nunchaku Waza

Let go of nunchaku with left hand, strike downwards.
Catch it behind the right arm.
Switch sides without letting go.
Switch sides without letting go.
Let go with left hand and strike downwards.
Strike across.
Catch behind the right arm.
Catch behind the left arm.
Catch behind the right arm.
Hold nunchaku with both hands in front of you.
Figure 8 with the right hand and catch under the armpit.
Figure 8 with the left hand and catch under the armpit.
Catch behind the left arm.
Catch behind the right arm.
Hold nunchaku with both hands in front of you.
Hit up high (temple).
Hit up high (mouth).
Hit up high (neck).
Put behind the right arm with out letting go.
Catch behind the back.
Catch behind the back.
Catch behind the left arm.
Catch behind the right arm.
Hold nunchaku with both hands in front of you.
Let go with left hand (strike low) and go out into front stance.
Put and catch nunchaku around the neck.
Remove nunchaku from behind the neck by pulling them over the head.
Hooking movement with both hands - Blocking with string.
Punch forward (with both hands).
End with nunchaku into front of you in side stance.Double butt end strike - KIAI!


The sai is sometimes thought to be a farm implement, however this is unlikely as metal on Okinawa was scarce and other, more readily available, materials would have served the farmer better. One theory is that it was used by the Okinawa equivalent of the police as a symbol of authority as well as a tool of the profession. The sai is a truncheon like weapon with wings that come off opposite each other at the handle end and point down its length. These two wings on either side of the main shaft are used for trapping other weapons. The monouchi, or shaft, can be round or octagonal. As the Japanese do not use an ‘s' to make plurals, two sai are called ni cho zai.

Steel, chrome and wood zai


The tonfa is traditionally made from hardwood as are all wooden Kobudo weapons. It is gripped at the short perpendicular handle or by the longer main shaft. The widely accepted theory of its origin is as a handle on a millstone used for grinding grain. The police nightstick is recognized as the modern weapon equivalent to the tonfa.

Different kinds of tonfa


The kama is a farming and gardening sickle still in use in Okinawa today. Its razor sharp edge provides an additional challenge over the wooden weapons when learning and practicing with it.

The kama can be used to “trap” other weapons as well as for cutting and puncturing.


Other Weapons


The tekko or tecchu is a form of brass knuckle typically used with empty-hand technique and do not have a history as a farming or fishing implement. They can be made of metal or wood.

Tinbe & Rochin

This is a weapon that does not have a history as a farming or fishing implement. It is a shield (tinbe) and short spear (rochin) which can be used as a cutting or stabbing weapon.


The surujin is a length of rope or cord with rocks or other weights tied to the end.


The Okinawa style of oar is called an eku, eiku, iyeku, or ieku. It is a long paddle, shorter than a bo, with a slight point at the tip, a curve to one side of the paddle and a roof-like ridge along the other. It is wielded like a bo but there is also the ability to use the edges of the paddle for striking.


The hoe is common in all farming societies. The traditional weapon's blade is a simple rectangle of steel with a sharp leading edge.


The nunti is comprised of a bo with a manji sai mounted on the end. This may have developed as a fishing spear, but likely came into use as a weapon in and of itself.