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Karate Weapon training.....for beginners

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    Karate Weapon training.....for beginners

    Just had a conversation with a friend who took up Karate a few months back and he told me that he just bought a Bo Staff. Apparently he is being taught Nunchuka and Bo Staff moves along with the usual Karate stuff.

    What do we think of beginners being taught weapon use?
    Personally I would rather concentrate all my efforts on learning to kick and punch rather than waste my time twirling a staff, but I may be in the minority.
    Any thoughts?

    #2
    Depends how it is taught and a persons training goals, the unarmed training may be the typical Karate anyway, so flopping around with punches or a Bo staff is all the same thing anyway as none of it is realistic.

    If it is Dog Brothers type full on shizzle, then that would be cool, but I doubt it.

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      #3
      Most Okinawan and Japanese styles of karate that I'm familiar with teach bo to beginner students. Bo and nunchaku were the two that I've been shown when I first started training in Goju ryu.

      I don't see a problem with learning weaponry at beginner level, but I'm more interested in hojo undo, bunkai, and sparring; You can never go wrong with these 3.

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        #4
        I think one should pick a weapon and train with it from the get-go. Just my opinion. I can't do weapons for shit and wish I could, especially that Filipino stuff.

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          #5
          It's a bo, or a staff, not a bo staff. The bo basics seem to reinforce karate basics, so I don't really see a problem with it, unless they're training specifically for unarmed competition.

          Originally posted by ty5 View Post
          If it is Dog Brothers type full on shizzle, then that would be cool, but I doubt it.
          It is almost certainly not, and karate/kobudo guys have done poorly at that kind of thing.

          Kobudo tends to have long, wide, low karate stances, which aren't so good compared to mobile FMA footwork for weapon fighting, and holding the staff towards the center and hitting with both ends is not recommended for Dog Brothers staff work (they call it "Little Johnning).

          On the other hand, I heard at the last tribal gathering, there was a kung fu guy with a three sectional staff that did very well, so maybe there's kobudo/karate guys that can fight with weapons.

          Here's a tonfa vs staff match I video'd at my last tournament:

          It looked to me like they weren't very used to actually sparring with those weapons.

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            #6
            With a lot of karate styles, the weapon art is a later addition, and as such doesn't fit that well in the karate system. (though some (very? i forgot) few karate styles do have some weapon stuff). I mean to say that the way of moving around, the stances, the way blocks are made, do are often not compatible between the original karate style and the kobudo bits and pieces picked up along. Okinawan Goju is for example without formal weapon instruction.

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              #7
              We start noobs off with pure empty hand for about the first six months, and then start them off with the bo (basics, then kata, then partner drills). For those first few months they are usually so busy trying to get basic footwork and technique down that bo work would really just be a marketing ploy and not really help their training.

              About 8 months or so after that we introduce the sai, and then a year to a year and a half later the kama. Nunchaku doesn't come in until much later, and to tell you the truth it's my least favorite weapon of all. Looks cool to twirl 'numchucks" but any of the other weapons are much more useful.

              And for the record, although we are not Dog Bros level, we do stress application, and using weapons to augment empty hand technique - very little "twirling". Even our karate stances are more upright and lots of tai sabaki footwork so they really do complement each other well.

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                #8
                And yes, it's a bo (or rokushakubo if you want to get really technical). Bo staff is right up there with numchucks and sai swords

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                  #9
                  Nothing wrong with weapons right away, especially in JMA. Most of the empty-hand stuff (karatedo, jujutsu) started as augments to weapon-based training, not the other way around.

                  Caveat: so long as the instructor isn't a total loss that says "numchuks" or "tawn-fa" or whatever.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by senseipookie View Post
                    And for the record, although we are not Dog Bros level, we do stress application, and using weapons to augment empty hand technique - very little "twirling". Even our karate stances are more upright and lots of tai sabaki footwork so they really do complement each other well.
                    How do you spar with weapons?

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                      #11
                      Aside from the padded bo that we go to town with once in a while, we don't do so much free sparring with weapons. But we do practice focused, moderate speed freeform partner drills. Bo tai bo, sai against bo, (wooden) kama against bo, empty hand against bo, and every now and then we'll throw baseball bat in there as well just to keep it a little more up to date.

                      We don't do this with beginners, but usually small groups of students who have a little experience and control.

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                        #12
                        I don't see anything particularly wrong with beginners doing weapons training. Sometimes weapons training can make certain principles in unarmed fighting more obvious, easier to grasp. Timing and distance, for example, sort of "stand out" a bit more. Ya know? That's just my take on it, the first thing my school teaches you is how to use a sword and then empty hand stuff comes just a little later... I don't know much about karate, but from a general JMA standpoint... There you go.

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                          #13
                          In 37 yrs of training and learing various weapons katas, I find the most useful to be Jo or bokken, in that order, strictly because a simple stick is probably what I will find or have at hand, if any weapon at all, should a situation arise. Most of the bladed weapons are illegal to carry, and even a bo is too long. I have a solid shovel handle replacement stick in my car and sometimes baseball bats or broomsticks are around. I don't like all bokken training because it presumes I have a blade edge. And shinai are too light to simulate the solid wood stick I will most likely use if ever in need. There are some nice two-person drills to do with Jo or a stick-- and hang a tire or heavy bag and hit it hard.

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                            #14
                            Well, I don't know what "we" think, but I think it's a waste of time to start learning weapons as a beginner in karate.

                            The idea that they reinforce empty hand skills sounds nice, but I'm going to need severe convincing on that one. Personally, I've never noticed anything except the most vague connections and certainly nothing that would be practiced better with a weapon instead of just more empty-hand drilling.

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                              #15
                              It's obviously not going to be better, but it seems to work pretty well for some people. I think weapons training has its place as a fairly decent supplement. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "our jujutsu/aikido/whatever is rooted in our weapons practice" - usually swordsmanship. You hear it a lot in koryu and gendai arts rooted in koryu, especially. In premodern Japan, the sword was often viewed as a vehicle to martial prowess in general, whether that be unarmed combat or spear or... whatever. Either way, there are still people that swear by that sort of thing. Suits me fine.

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