The Kobudo of Matsubayashi-Ryu

The early history of Kobudo in Matsubayashi-Ryu is well known to have been influenced by Shinei Kyan. Kyan sensei is known to be directly responsible for the introduction of two bo katas, Shiromatsu No Kun and Shirotaro No Kun. A generation of pioneer Kodokan yudansha learned Kyan’s Kobudo.

Kyan sensei is said to have been influenced by several of the well known Kobudo practitioners of that era such as Oshiro Chojo (Yamani Ryu), Shosei Kina and Hanashiro Chomo. As a result, Kyan sensei was also responsible for introducing sai (Kyan No Sai and Hanagushiku No Sai) to the students of the early Honbu dojo.

One of the well known early Karateka in the Honbu dojo was Chokei Kishaba. Kishaba’s brother, Chogi Kishaba, although not a Matsubayashi Ryu practitioner, was responsible for introducing and teaching other bo kata to many of the Kodokan early day karateka. Chogi Kishaba was primarily a practioner of Masami Chinen’s Bo techniques (Yamani Ryu).

Today the influence of these early Kobudo instructors is still reflected in the katas taught and practiced in Matsubayashi-Ryu dojo in Okinawa and throughout the world. The following weapons are the most common utilized by students of Matsubayashi-Ryu Kobudo. Students will usually practice with several weapons but select a single weapon in which to specialize.

• Bo:

The bo is a long wooden staff about 6 feet in length. Five of the bo kata often practiced in Matsubayashi-Ryu are “Shiromatsu No Kon”, “Shirataro No Kon,” “Sakugawa No Kon” , “Shusi No Kon” and “Choun No Kun”.

• Sai:

The iron weapon, sai, which in olden days was used by officials to arrest criminals and to hold back crowds, was actually created to defend against attacks from swords, bo, nunchaku or tuifa. One of the sai kata practiced in Matsubayashi-Ryu is called “Chomo Hanagusku No Sai.” “Hanagusku” is the Okinawan pronunciation of “Hanashiro.”  The kata known as “Kyan No Sai” is also widely practiced. Kyan Sensei developed the basic Sai Dai Ichi Kata, which was often performed by small groups in demonstrations.

• Nunchaku:

The nunchaku is a pair of hard wooden sticks with a cord attached at the end. The centrifugal force produced by swinging the nunchaku makes it an effective weapon.
It is often said that nunchaku were originally used in the rice thrashing process. However, it is more likely that they were derived from horse bridles or pull carts. Two kata often practiced are known as “Maezato No Sho” and a kata known only as “Nunchaku Sho”.

• Tonfa or Tuifa:

Tonfa or Tuifa refers to two pieces of rectangular hard wood, each about 16 inches long, with a grip attached. It is often said that tonfa were used in connection with milling stones. A tonfa kata often practiced in Matsubayahi Ryu dojos is known only as “Tonfa No Kata”

• Kama:

Kama are hand sickles which were originally used for agricultural purposes. “Kishaba No Kama” is the kama kata that is widely practiced.