Saturday, March 10, 2007

Handy Weapons

Most karate styles, especially of Okinawan origin, include kobudo (weapons nee farming tools) as part of their curriculum. While your hand-to-hand combative skills are taken with you wherever you go, walking around town with your prized nunchaku draped over your shoulders to ward off the bad guys is ill-advised.

Some of these traditional weapons (such as the nunchaku) are illegal to carry in some US states and abroad. So to assuage the attention that one would normally get from traipsing about looking like a feudal warrior, a line of nifty hand-held devices have been created that are both concealable and effective for self-defense.

In the 70s, Tak Kubota of gosoku-ryu karate introduced the Kubotan, a five-inch plastic mini-baton that attaches to a keyring. Kubota originally intended his creation to be used by female police officers and offered an array of convincing pressure-point techniques that could be used to subdue a violent, non-compliant suspect. Since its appearance, a number of variant knockoffs have been made available to the public that have been modified with spikes or prongs, but the legality of these newfangled do-dads are questionable.

In the United Kingdom, the Kubotan has been classified as an offensive weapon, but for the most part remains unregulated in the US. An Isshinryu karate instructor from my area teaches one version of the Kubotan called the shu-chu as part of a self-defense course in her school. The techniques are simple and prove to work quickly, as it takes about a second to make uke tap out or drop to the mat.

Some of these items have been influenced by Asian martial arts, but others just hawk the martial arts moniker for hype. Remember that the next time you want to purchase a "ninja" keychain.

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