Kobudo Kama Weapon

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Kama (鎌 or かま) are Okinawan and Japanese weapons that resemble traditional farming devices similar to a scythe. It was originally a farming implement, used for reaping crops.

During the annexation of Okinawa by the Satsuma, all traditional weapons were outlawed. This led to the development of the kama and other Kobudo weapons. It is sometimes known as a ‘Hand Scythe’.

When a kunai and chain, ball and chain or bare chain itself are attached to the end of the Kama, it becomes a kusari-gama, a formidable (if hard to master) weapon because its range makes it extremely difficult for opponents to approach the wielder. The Kusari-gama is a part of the 18 disciplines of Ninjutsu.

The Kama is a formidable weapon against weapons such as the sword or Bō because of the curved blades – users are able to trap or block such long weapons with one Kama and attack the opponent with the second.

The kama is an agricultural sickle and many were certainly imported from China for the farming classes. It has a long wooden handle and a thin razor-sharp curved blade at one end. It makes a formidable weapon even against the most determined enemy. Used in pairs they were flexibly reversed in the hand for both slashing and striking in a great many directions. If, however, the modern sickle resembles the ones used by the feudal farming class, it is apparent that one single blocking technique would sever the blade from the shaft and make it useless.

(The Shureido kama, above, has blades 3/16″ thick and sturdy red oak shafts to withstand the rigors of kobudo. The shafts have been wrapped where they come in contact with other weapons. It is, however, very heavy to use and requires consistent training to strengthen one’s hands and avoid flying, sharpened kama!)

Once again it is probable that more sturdy kama were constructed for fighting – although farming ones were no doubt also used. The techniques of this weapon are not often seen in modern times and there are only two registered kata in Japan today, called Kanigawa and Tozan.

Kama are often included in weapon training segments of tae kwon do and aikido.The kama is a sickle-like tool used in cutting rice and can be found all throughout Asia. However, the Okinawans are given credit for utilizing this agricultural tool as an organized method of combat.