Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Gilbert & Mesa Karate Students STICK with Kobudo

Whether training with Okinawan bo or kuwa (hoe) at the Arizona Hombu Dojo
in Mesa, Arizona, adult and family karate students learn to use many traditional
(and some modern) kobudo and samurai weapons with their karate.
Karate and martial arts are a lot more than kicking and punching. They are a dynamic art with a variety of disciplines. One discipline is known as bo or bojutsu and has been around for centuries and practiced in a martial arts school in the East Valley of Phoenix at the border of Chandler with Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. Students at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate learn to use Bo and other kobudo weapons with many Okinawan and Japanese martial arts kobudo, samurai and even modern weapons along with their Shorin-Ryu Karate training.

Imagine a stick. Imagine a 6-foot-long stick (6 shaku in length) with an Oriental carrying the stick across his shoulders and at each end is a suspended bucket. Now imagine that Oriental walking along a rice paddy dike when he is accosted by a tax collector from the Satsuma Samurai clan!

Can he defend himself? Does he have any weapons? If he has been training in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate, he has weapons that include his hands, his transporting stick, referred to as a bo, and even the buckets. Training in Okinawan martial arts teaches use all of these as weapons including many other weapons in an ancient art known as kobudo.

To learn this traditional martial art in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale, there is a traditional martial arts school in the East Valley of Phoenix that offer traditional martial arts weapons training and is located at the border of Gilbert with Mesa. The school is the Arizona School of Traditional Karate and includes adults and families from all over the Phoenix East Valley. These students include members of the Arizona State University student body, Mesa Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and Grand Canyon University.

Training in kobudo includes a variety of farming, fishing and merchant tools and implements used by the Okinawan
people in the past. One of the more common is that of the bo (6-foot staff). In our classes at the Arizona Hombu
and all Seiyo no Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai schools, the students learn kobudo along with karate.  Much of the
 training involves basics, applications and forms. In this photo, students at the Arizona Hombu dojo are training in 
one of several kata (forms).

Sensei Paula and other members of the Arizona Hombu dojo in Mesa train with bo during kata (forms). Above
photo shows two of our outstanding members - Amira and Suzette training with bo bunkai (applications).
Arizona Karate Instructors (Sensei) train with Bo kata 'Sho no Kun' prior to practicing bunkai
(applications) for the kata (form). Sensei Victoria with Sensei Ryan and O'Sensei Bill
at the Arizona Hombu dojo in Mesa, Arizona.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mesa Karate Students Study Kobudo Weapons (bo)

Bo kata training at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate on the Gilbert-Mesa border. Black belt Sensei Harden in front with bo.
At the Arizona Hombu martial arts school, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe and Apache Junction karate students train in kobudo weapons including bo at the international dojo on Baseline Road and MacDonald at the border of Mesa and Gilbert. The karate students are learning to use the bo. The bo is a common Okinawa weapon and farming implement used to carry material in the Orient by placing the stick over one's shoulders and balancing goods at both ends.

In times of trouble, merchants and farmers would take their bo and use it to fight off thugs and even  samurai. Students in the East Valley of Phoenix continue this tradition by learning Kihon (basics), Kata (forms), Bunkai (applications) and Kumite (sparring) with bo. They are taught by expert instructors in Karate and Kobudo.

The Arizona Martial Arts Students began training with the bo. The students must learn by rote and demonstrate several kata (forms) and self-defense applications certify in bo-jutsu. They are expected to learn 8 to 10 kata and all self-defense applications (bunkai) within these kata.
Training in the sand outside the University of Wyoming Education Building Gym in Laramie, Wyoming. Soke Hausel from the Arizona Hombu shown teaching bo clinic to the University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Club.
Martial artists also learn to defend against the bo and other weapons. Here Sarah (2nd dan) trains with tonfa defending attack by Dr. Adam (6th dan).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bo Martial Arts Classes in the East Valley of Phoenix

The Arizona School of Traditional Karate (Arizona Hombu) offers classes, clinics and private sessions in Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo along with some of the better Okinawan Kobudo training in the US. The martial arts school is also the Arizona Hombu. A hombu is essentially the administrative office for a martial arts association and is the home of a grandmaster. The Arizona Hombu thus is the administrative dojo for Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai. The dojo is located on the corner of Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona and is open for classes for adults and families. 

In addition to a variety of Okinawan Weapons, members of the martial arts school and association learn use of the Bo, Half-bo (hanbo), Nitan Bo (two sticks), Kuboton (Short Stick), Kibo (Kioga) and Tonfa (side-handle bo).  We stopped by this dojo to see some of the training - it was first class!

Soke Hausel, the grandmaster, was awarded Sokeshodai of Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo in 1999 while teaching at the University of Wyoming. In 2006, he moved the hombu to Mesa Arizona where it now resides at 60 W. Baseline Road near Walmart on the northeast corner of MacDonald (across from Sundevil auto). Soke Hausel has been teaching martial arts for more than 4 decades and has a lifetime of vested interest in this martial art. 

Grandmaster of Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo examines kobudo and samurai tools at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate, Mesa, Arizona

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bo (Staff) Martial Arts Weapons Taught in Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona

Thursday evenings at the Arizona School of Traditional Martial Arts in Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert, in the Phoenix East Valley, classes focus on kobudo (古武道) or martial arts weapons.

A variety of weapons arts are taught to students of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai (西洋少林流空手道) including bojutsu (棒術) where students learn the art of the bo (), known to many in North America as the staff. In the koryu (古流) schools of Okinawa, Japan, and North America, the staff is taught as a weapon rather than a twirling tool as is taught in most modern martial arts schools. 

At the Arizona School of Traditional Martial Arts, martial artists learn kihon (基本) (basics) of the bo, kata () (forms) of the bo, bunkai (分解) (applications) of bo kata, and kumite (組手) (sparring) with the bo including ippon (one-step), sanbon (three-step), kiso (structured) and juyu (free sparring ) kumite. By doing so, these students become adapt in the bo as a weapon - exactly what it was intended for when not used as a farming implement.

Thursday evening classes are scheduled for Kobudo and Advanced Kobudo. In 2011-12, several students in the kobudo class became experts in tonfa and were certified in the weapons. They are currently working on sai with periodic review of bo, nunchaku, hanbo, kama, kuwa and manrikigusari.

Sensei Borea of Japanese samurai lineage trains with bo at the Arizona School of
Traditional Karate in Mesa, Arizona

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bojutsu - Martial Arts of the Staff

Rich attacks Dr. Adam (6th dan) at the Seiyo Kai Hombu in Arizona;
and (top photo) Sensei Linton (3rd dan) attacks Hanshi Watson (9th dan) during
bo-kumite training at the University of Wyoming.

Bo (), kon, bojutsu, bodo or 6-foot staff, is a well-known fighting martial art (budo [(武道]or bujutsu [武術]) that has roots going back many centuries. Being that the bo was (and still is) a common tool used for transportation of goods in the orient, it was a natural weapon of farmers and fishermen in the Orient. We often picture oriental farmers carrying goods at each end of a bamboo stick balanced over the farmer's shoulders - this was the bo.

Our students at the Seiyo Kai Hombu (Arizona School of Traditional Karate) in Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert learn this martial arts weapon along with other kobudo weapons. Like most Shorin-Ryu karate styles, we place considerable emphasis on 'bo' or the 6-foot staff. We have 11 bo kata and out students also learn applications (bunkai) of the techniques in each kata and also bo kumite (sparring).

Several years ago, while training at Scott Air Force base under my sensei (Dai-Soke Sacharnoski), we trained with samurai weapons and ended with mass kumite: about 50 martial artists in an hanger fighting anyone who came near us. Sometimes we fought one on one, and periodically, it was one vs 2 or 3 individuals. It was great training.

At the Arizona Hombu in Mesa, we train in kobudo on Thursday evenings. In recent months, our students have been training in bo, katana, tonfa, hanbo, and sai.

Sensei Scofield (2nd dan) attacks Dave
with bo during Thursday evening training
at the Seiyo Kai hombu

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


For traditional karate students, bōjutsu (棒術) is an important part of Okinawan Kobudo (古武道) as well as Japanese Koryu Budo (古流). Members of the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu karate train in both.

Of all of the kobudo weapons in the Shorin-Ryu arsenal, few seem more traditional than the bo. The is usually the weapon most people in Shorin-Ryu Karate begin their kobudo training. The martial arts discipline of bo known as bojutsu includes some distinct styles; however, bo is also part of all Shorin-Ryu styles.

When Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo were part of the curriculum in the Department of Physical Education and Department of Kinesiology at the University of Wyoming, bo was taught along with the traditional karate. It was relatively inexpensive for students to purchase and all they had to do was drive to the local lumber or hardware store and purchase a 6-foot wooden dowel or closet rod. But most dowels were made of pine and could not be used safely for bunkai (practical) practice: some would snap when struck with some force. Thus students were recommended to purchase Oak or some similar hardwood dowels. If we lived in Okinawa, we could just walk into our backyard with a katana (samurai sword) and cut a bo from a bamboo forest.

 Dr. Adam trains in kobudo at the Az Hombu Dojo
When the University of Wyoming Karate Club began to expand in the 1990s, the club reached a point in 1999, when it was recognized as one of the two top Juko Kai International associated schools in the world – which was not easy to do being that JKI was a large organization. At that time, there were many nights when as many as 50 karate students showed up in the Education Building Gym with their 6-foot bo-staffs. In the Physical Education classes, there were as many as 110 students each semester. More would have attended, but 110 was the cutoff limit.

It was a challenge keeping everyone in one piece; so the grandmaster spaced the deshi (students) with strict orders for no one to practice by themselves (for fear that someone might accidentally walk into their bo), and for everyone to carry bo in a vertical position held against the right (migi) shoulder. In this way, the karate instructor was able to keep everyone safe from a rogue swing. The classes focused on basic strikes (uchi), blocks (uke), kata, and a few applications (bunkai) on crowded kobudo nights. We all breathed a sigh of relief whenever a class ended and everyone left the dojo without a bo imprint on the side of their heads (atana).

Kobudo implements including bo at bottom of rack. Photo
by Kenrick Davis.
Jujutsu classes at the University of Wyoming were greatly limited in size due to a lack of mat space - and the university cut off the student signup at 22. We could easily have had 200+ karate and 50+ jujutsu deshi each semester, but many had to be turned away. Waiting lists were long and it was a blessing that these classes were scheduled in Corbett gym. But even with the larger space, it was not enough for this many beginning martial arts students.

The course syllabus for Beginning Karate initially included bojutsu; however, the kobudo was eliminated except in the University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Club because of safety. It was less difficult in the Karate Club where we had many senpai (advanced karate-ka) to assist. Anyway, this turned out to be the largest class in the PE department and in the first semester that karate was taught, we had to turn away more than 250 students after enrolling 110. These classes were taught for 5 years, and the University of Wyoming Campus Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo Club existed for more than 30 years and still operates on campus. 

Dr. Amit demonstrates bo tsuki at
University of Wyoming
When I reminisce about karate demonstrations performed at half time for the UW Men’s and Women’s basketball games, one demo stands out. We usually started our demos with traditional bowing then moved on to basics (kihon) before breaking up into 3 to 4 groups at different points on the court with each group performing different things at the same time. At one corner, we would have a kata demonstration, in another corner – self-defense, and in another - kobudo. We would finish the demo with rock or brick breaking or body hardening exhibitions. At one of these, Shihan Stahl (who was one of the people absent in the above photo) and I performed a two-person bo-tonfa kata. During one of initial blocks, I struck her bo with my tonfa and the bo broke. We finished the kata; but it was challenging starting with a bo and finishing with hanbo.

Historically, the bo was developed as a farming tool known as a tenbin or tenbinbo. These are still used in the Orient. The tenbin is a pole placed across the shoulders of a farmer  designed to transport equal weights of material in buckets or sacks at either end. Most tenbin are made from bamboo due to available material and usually have a diameter (about 1.2 inches) that is constant from end to end which was necessary for transporting materials. Many modern bo taper at either end. A few historians suggest the bo may have been derived from a ra-ke (rake) or kuwa (hoe) handle. I don’t doubt this, as any pole of suitable length would be used as a carrying pole or handle depending on the personal needs of a farmer.

Nodes (shaku) are clearly seen in bamboo fence
The length of a bo varied depending on where in the Orient (or even in the West) it is made. The differences in length and diameter are due to using a measuring unit known as shaku (). In China, shaku is known as chi and equals 1.094 feet (also referred to as a Chinese foot). All around the Orient, different countries have different names for shaku and there is not much consistency other than being approximately the length of an English foot. In Japan, a shaku or Japanese foot is 0.994 feet in length.

In times past, longer shaku were used in Japan known as korai shaku equal to 1.167 feet. Because of these differences, there remains an interpretation problem of historical records that reminds me of a problem I often face in geology. This is the difference in short tons, long tons and metric tonnes. This causes problems because few reports (both historical and modern) identify which ‘ton’ is used (a short ton = 2,000 pounds; a long ton = 2,240 pounds, and a metric tonne = 2,204 pounds).

So why is there inconsistency in shaku? Prior to 1961, shaku was a common unit of measurement in Japan. The unit was derived from nature and equivalent to the average length between mature bamboo nodes. For those fascinated by bamboo, it should be obvious that the length between nodes will vary from plant to plant and between individual stocks in a single plant. But it is even more entertaining when one learns a few facts about bamboo. There are >1,000 species of bamboo; each having different heights, diameters and even different lengths between nodes. The species includes small annuals to giant perennial timber bamboo. It is the fastest known growing woody grass plant and has been reported to grow as much as 3 to 4 feet per day. We have bamboo in our Zen garden in Gilbert, Arizona and it is amazing to watch it during a growth spurt.

Bojutsu Kumite
The different species of bamboo vary from a few feet to 120 feet tall with diameters as great as 12 inches (now that would produce one heck of a bo). There are almost as many variables in bamboo as there are in climate change. One cannot control the average length between nodes anymore than they can control global warming: thus, this is where much of the inconsistency arises in shaku. For those interested in paleontology, it is interesting to note that species of bamboo have been identified in the fossil record 30 to 40 million years ago. As for kanji the Japanese and Chinese use the ideograph "" to represent bamboo, which represents two twigs of bamboo with leaves.

The length of many bo produced in the past was known as hasshaku (7.96 feet) or hasshaku gosun (8.45 feet); both which are considerably longer than the bo sold by martial arts supply houses. Supply houses sell rokushaku-bo that is 6 shaku in length. Supply house lengths are satisfactory for our needs; but for the purist, you might consider a hasshaku gosun bo from a bamboo plant (and cut your own). Members of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu karate also train with a half bo known as hanbo as do many forms of jujutsu and ninpo. These are usually three shaku long, or half the length of a traditional bo.
Confusion arises from another archaic unit that was known as shaku. This shaku was equal to 14.9 inches, or the length of an average whale’s whisker (I had no idea whales had whiskers). It was adopted by law in 1881 for measuring cloth. To distinguish between the two different Japanese shaku, the cloth shaku was referred to as kujirajaka (kujira meaning whale) while the bamboo shaku was referred to as kanejaku (see the Bushido Newsletter, v. 5, no. 12, 2008).

A similar weapon to bo is kuwa - the garden hoe. The hoe is
not as fast as weapon, but it provides an added attraction of
a cutting edge at one end.
Not only did Okinawans train with bo, but bo was also employed by Japanese samurai because of the considerable reach on a katana. Unlike most Okinawan bo techniques which grasp the bo by splitting the bo in thirds, the Japanese samurai grasped the bo near one end to achieve maximum reach to stay out of reach from a samurai armed with katana (sword). Many techniques that apply to Samurai bo also apply to yari and naginata.

Several years ago, at one of the many Juko Kai International clinics on kobujutsu, we trained in samurai bojutsu arts. I was a little nervous, but also very excited when we started training in kumite. We were at Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis and had about 50 yudansha in a hanger. Like most Shorin-Ryu systems, we wore no protective gear - just had to defend ourselves, and it was more like a battlefield. We did not get a chance to pick a uke (partner), it was every karate-ka for himself and herself. So you had to be on the lookout for anyone near you as everyone and everything was fair game. Often we would find ourselves defending against 2, 3, and sometimes 4 and 5 martial artists. Talk about fun. Most people would think this would lead to serious injury, but we were all well trained and loved the martial arts and the only injuries were bruises to fingers because of misplaced blocks.

Gardening with a smile
When it comes to the shape of bo, most of us are familiar with maru-bo, or a round staff. But there are also kaku-bo (four-sided), rokkaku-bo (six-sided) and hakkaku-bo (eight-sided). There is even an archaic bo known as the konabo (also konsaibo and tetsubo) which looked more like a caveman’s version of a club made from wood studded with iron.

When training with a bo, many thrusting, swinging and striking waza resemble empty-hand karate techniques. Consequently, bōjutsu is often incorporated into the Shorin-Ryu styles of karate. Additional techniques taught with the bo include entrapment waza in which the practitioner blocks an attack while keeping both bo in contact to swing the attacker’s bo to a position causing the aggressor to lose balance. There are also techniques in which sand is picked up by bo and thrown at an opponent’s face, something that does not work well with dry, let alone wet, sand.

The kata of Seiyo Shorin-Ryu that use a bo include Kihon Bo, Sho No Kun, Sho Ken No Kun, Suuji No Kun, Choun No Kun Dai, Choun No Kun Sho, Bojutsu Shodan, Bojutsu Nidan, Bojutsu Sandan  and Bo-Katana No Kun. The last kata in the list is from Japanese Koryu Budo. Note the Okinawans refer to the bo as kon and kun refers to bo kata.

Join us at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa for training in karate, kobudo and self-defense. We have several affiliated schools in Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai around the world and offer training for adults and families in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate. We teach karate, self-esteem & self-confidence in a traditional dojo. Classes are taught by Professor Hausel, Soke/10th dan.
Soke Hausel from the Arizona Hombu dojo in Mesa, Arizona teaching bo clinic at Corbett Gym at the University of Wyoming in Laramie

Juji kumite practice using bo and tonfa.
Our school (Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa) is located near the crossroads of Baseline and Country Club Road. We are just a short distance to the east at the NE corner of MacDonald where it intersects Baseline Road.

If you are interested in training in traditional Okinawan kobudo, stop by our dojo - the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa. We have adult and family classes in classical Shorin-Ryu Karate, Kobudo and Self-Defense. We also offer classes in traditional Samurai arts including the katana (sword), yari (spear), naginata (halberd), jujutsu, hanbo (half-bo), Japanese bo, and rope restraints.

Traditional Okinawan Martial Arts Classes at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate in Mesa

For a map and direction to our dojo - click on MAP