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The most touted explanation I have ever heard is that weapons give you insight into and additional understanding of hand techniques. What I have heard the most when I ask why someone practices a particular weapon of focuses mainly on weapons. Another is the, my view now, misleading perception that it will help you in a self defense situation as you will scope out weapons as you walk through life just in case your attacked so you can snatch up that make shift weapon and trash the attacker. Think about that one!
People love weapons and weapons training or kobudo. It flashy, its cool and everyone asks when starting up karate, "When do I get to learn the bo or sai or tuifa or nunchaku (thanks Bruce)?" Yes? No? Maybe?
When I think of kobudo practice/study I no longer think of it as applying weapons in self defense. I don't believe that resorting to weapons, make shift as found laying about, is legal or promotes the defense that one is apply self defense against an attacker. I also do not believe anyone outside of those who actually work in dangerous occupations need to consider weapons and then they tend to have them supplied, i.e. police with batons and guns and taxers, etc.
So, if this is so why would anyone want to practice and train in kobudo? In a fundamental sense I agree with the book, "Becoming a Complete Martial Artist," as I quote, " ... we do encourage the study of weapons. ... because of the discipline, concentration, physical skill, and lessons in tradition, ceremony, and ritual."
My view and opinion here, in self defense you don't usually have time to seek out a weapon. You have to remember regardless of what you are told as to the use and practice of kobudo it does not enhance your use of hands but actually commits both hands to the weapon limiting or disrupting your hand movements. Let me add that seeking out a weapon, picking it up, and then making use of it COULD BE INTERPRETED as aggression which is fighting which is attacking and (Fighting is ILLEGAL!) passes the self defense maxim. DO NOT TAKE MY WORD for IT, seek out expertise advice from an attorney or law enforcement type and ask. Then sign up for and attend a course provided by, if available from, police or schools of law, etc. Its complex.
Again, I quote, " ... the bottom line is that without the courage or determination to use the weapon, a high degree of skill is useless." I use the martial systems/arts to achieve a morally directed spirit and develop my mind and body. In order to do that it means we learn about our systems history, culture, and in this case combative's which includes study of its historically based weaponry. I did that and now I don't and focus on empty hand; that's me tho!
Think about your goals in the study of kobudo. Mine was originally misguided because I was told it enhanced my abilities with empty hands. Later I decided it was a good way to understand Asian/Okinawan traditional weapons. I also kept it up for the love of the art. Self Defense, never and no way dude!
I want to do one more quote, "The decision to use a weapon will be yours. The decision if that use was justified ore misdeeds belongs to others. Your decision to use a weapon must be in accordance to that reality."
Think seriously about the reasons and goals for practicing and training in traditional Okinawan Weaponry?
Sutrisno, Tristan, MacYoung, Marc and Gordon, Dianna. "Becoming a Complete Martial Artist: Error Detection in Self Defense and the Martial Arts." Lyons Press. Connecticut. 2005.