Weapons of Okinawan Karate – Japanese Terms

Okinawa, with a long history of both chinese and japanese suppression that also outlawed the possession of conventional weapons (such as swords), developed a unique range of substitute weapons that became an integral part of Traditional Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do.

Many of these weapons were derived from farming tools.There are five traditional Okinawan weapons, the Bo, Kama, Nunchaku, Sai, and Tonfa. Many Okinawan Karate styles include these five weapons in their training to some degree. Training with these five weapons helps to develop similar muscles as used in karate as well as hand-eye coordination and heightened reflexes. Many of the striking and blocking techniques practiced in everyday Karate can be easily adapted to use when armed with these weapons, making the transition to training with these weapons relatively easy and most beneficial to the karateka.



Bo 6 foot wooden staff
Han Bo Short wooden staff
Kama Sickles used as a pair
Nunchaku Wooden sticks joined by a cord or chain
Sai Fork-like metal weapon used as a pair
Tonfa Wooden short stick with extra handle, used as a pair
Shinai Bamboo sword
Bokken Wooden sword

More martial arts weapons: Wakizashi and Tanto

One shortfall of all weapons (including knives, guns as well as traditional martial arts weapons) is that you need to carry them with you at all times for them to be of any practical self defense use – something that is almost impossible in everyday life.  No matter how good you are with your chosen weapon, if you don’t have it with you when you need it, it is useless.