Kuwa, Tekko & Other Uncommon Kobudo Weapons
KUWA. Ever hear of kuwa? Just about every Fall, you may 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 kue, is a peasant's tool, and was developed as a weapon of self-defense on Okinawa.
There are only a few kuwa kata: such as 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. Kuwa-jutsu can be practiced with modern garden hoe although one must be careful as most tend to fly apart as my students witnessed during teaching kuwa several years ago at the University of Wyoming. My very first 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. Luckily, I was in the front of the class of 50+ students.
So if you purchase a common hoe from a local hardware store it is best to 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). The kuwa has a butt end (ejiri), handle (eii), head of the hoe (egashira) and blade edge (kuwaba).
Kuwa is used similar to bo, with the added advantage of a blade at one end. The egashira is used to hook weapons and redirect them, hook an opponents knee, back of neck, foot, etc, and also used for tsuki (thrust strikes). The kuwaba is used to cut an opponent as well as remove toes, ears, and fingers. The butt of the kuwa (ejiri) is used for thrust strikes, while the bo handle (eii) has many uses including 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! And you never know when another thieving politician is going to try to steal your tomatoes!
TEKKO. Another traditional Okinawan 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 horse. Brass knuckles have been outlawed in some states as well as in some countries just like nunchaku - so learn about your local laws.
The origin of tekko is not clear but it appears to have originally been an accessory tool found in ‘horse’ 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. A modification included sharpening horseshoe tips, while others were made from two horseshoes tied or welded 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 the hand. As these evolved, stubs and sharpen protrusions were added to the arch of the D to deliver greater damage. These types of tekko were made from both metal and wood and the hand grip was also used in striking and blocking. Another tekko was developed by fishermen from a tool that assisted in hauling in fishing nets (similar to a nunti bo) so coral would not tear their hands.
There are similar hand weapons considered as a variety of tekko, such as the ‘yawara’ or ‘kuboton’, which were 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’ was a short stick attached to a piece of rope that looped around the defender’s fingers to make it easier to retain the weapon. Other tekko were made from wood with sharpened extensions which fit between the first and second fingers. The ‘tek chu’ allowed for increased function over some predecessors as it consisted of 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.
The principal difference between Okinawan tekko and common variety brass knuckles was not only mass of the object (brass knuckles have relatively high specific gravity) but most brass knuckles have four finger holes: traditional tekko had a single open slot for the hand. There are modern versions of tekko, such as the ninja keychain tekko and the car key tekko. In the hands of a martial artist, the tekko can be a very effective weapon of self-defense for blocking, striking and pressure point activation. Few 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 tp reap weeds by considered 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 were wicked-looking tools. For more information, see our blogspot or visit our next page on Nunchaku.