Kuwa & Tekko
KUWA. Ever hear of kuwa?
Every Fall, you have an opportunity to use this tool if you like tomatoes in your garden. Few weapons epitomize kobudo more than kuwa. The common garden hoe, also known as kuwa, gawa or cue, is a peasant's tool used in self-defense.
O'Sensei Bill Borea trains with Sensei Paula Borea at the Arizona Hombu dojo.
Only a few kuwa kata are known that include Matayoshi no Kuwa Nu De (Kue no de), which is the kata taught to members of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai. The kata has all of the strikes, blocks, digs, and cuts needed for self-defense and can be practiced with modern garden hoe. However, be careful as many tend to fly apart as Soke's students witnessed at the University of Wyoming when a focused strike during kihon practice (basic techniques) sent the blade (egashira) flying like a missile into a tatami (mat) against the shoman dojo wall in the Education Building gym.
When purchasing a common hoe from a local hardware store -please reinforce the weapon by drilling a hole in the metal sleeve of the egashira that fits over the handle and add an anchor screw to secure the blade to the handle. For those who want to remain traditional, search the Internet for a Japanese style grub hoe. We recommend a 4" grub hoe (we found a 6" grub hoe at the Mekong Plaza in Mesa, Arizona). The kuwa has a butt (ejiri), handle (eii), head (egashira) and blade edge (kuwaba).
Kuwa is similar to bo, with the added advantage of a blade at one end. The egashira is used to hook weapons and redirect them or hook an opponent's knee, back of neck, foot, etc. It also used for tsuki (thrust strikes). The kuwaba is used to cut an opponent as well as remove toes, ears, and fingers (when training, a piece of duct taped foam are invaluable during kumite or bunkai). The butt of the kuwa (ejiri) is used for thrust strikes, while the bo handle (eii) is used in blocks and strikes. So the next time you are in your garden in Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix or even in California, Colorado, Utah or Wyoming, remember, you have a weapon in your hands! You never know when a thieving politician is going to try to steal your tomatoes!
Another kobudo weapon taught at the Arizona Hombu dojo is tekko (鉄甲).
Tekko (sometimes spelled ‘tecchu’) is known as Okinawan ‘knuckle dusters’ and have a North America equivalent known as ‘brass knuckles’. But if you decide to train with the North American version, it is best not to ‘horse’ around and get on the wrong side of the law. Brass knuckles have been outlawed in some states and in some countries just like nunchaku - so learn about local laws. As dumb as it sounds, in Arizona, one can carry a gun, assault rifle, or samurai sword; but tekko and nunchaku are considered too dangerous!
The origin of tekko is not clear but it appears to have been an accessory found in stables of Okinawa. There are many varieties of tekko and one simple variety is a horseshoe or modified horseshoe. As a horseshoe, the curvature (‘U’) of the shoe was placed in the palm of the hand with two ends projected outward. The curve was usually wrapped in a rag or rope to give the defender gripping capability. Modifications included sharpened horseshoe tips, while others were made from two horseshoes tied together.
Another variety of tekko originated from stirrups of a saddle. Many traditional tekko look similar to Western-style saddle stirrups, rather than stirrups used by Japanese samurai. In its simplest form, a tekko made from a horse stirrup (abumi) would have been a D-shaped tool that wrapped around a hand. As these evolved, stubs and sharpen protrusions were added to the arch to deliver greater damage. These types of tekko were made from metal and wood and the hand grip was used in striking and blocking. Another tekko was made by fishermen from a tool that assisted in hauling in fishing nets so coral would not tear their hands.
Similar weapons are considered as a variety of tekko, such as the ‘yawara’ or ‘kuboton’, which are nothing more than a stick or rod held in the hand. Some had pointed tips, others had a flat surface used to strike an opponent and activate pressure points. The ‘chize kun bo’ is a short stick attached to a piece of rope looped around a defender’s finger to make it easier to retain the weapon. Other tekko is made from wood with sharpened extensions which fit between the first and second fingers. The ‘tek chu’ allowed for increased function over some predecessors - it is a wooden stick carved with a wooden extension & finger hole; or of a metal rod with a metal finger ring. The bearer held the rod in hand with the ring around one finger. The tek chu often had sharpened points.
There are modern versions of tekko, such as the ninja keychain tekko and the car key tekko. In the hands of a martial artist, tekko can be a very effective weapon of self-defense for blocking, striking and pressure point activation. But few US martial arts schools include tekko in their curriculum; however, most schools affiliated with Juko Kai International train with tekko due to the teachings of Dai Soke Sacharnoski. Then there is the tekko-kagi, a farming implement used to reap weeds and considered to be more of a ninjutsu weapon. The tekko-kagi included four iron spikes that looked more like a bear claw attached to a metal ring which fit around a person’s wrist. Some of these are wicked-looking tools. Please visit our page on Nunchaku.