Black Beltに掲載

喜納政順 先生がアメリカ滞在の頃、沖縄空手の普及活動、指導などの功績が認められ「Black Belt」の取材を受けました。その際に表紙を飾ったものです。日本人としては「Black Belt」の表紙を飾ることはとても珍しいと思います。

以下、「Black Belt」で取材された内容を記しておきたいと思います。内容は琉球古武術の1つであるトンファーについてです(英文)。

about the cover

the spinning fury of the tonfa is one of the most respected forms of kobujitsu, taught only to the hight-ranking black belts in the orient. the tonfa is one of the most difficult weapons to master – and one of the most diabolical in the martial arts. many sensei do not know how to master the weapon, but those who do are said to be master of karate, cover photo by oliver pang.

said by many to be the true test of a karateman this tool is only taught to hight degree black belts in the orient…only they learn the use and the respect…

you say your’re a karateman?
how good are you in the art of kobujitsu?
to be more exact, how proficient are you in the use of the sai, bo, ninchaku, kama and tonfa? these are the tools which astute karateman have deemed vital to their know-how.

only in the united states where the insatiable thirst for knowledge is in the hands  of the students is the art of bojutsu taught to those of lower ranks.  in japan, korea, and okinawa only the higher ranked black belts get an insight into this training.

it takes a true, determined karateka to gain prowess with the tonfa.

in the days when satsuma took over okinawa and ravaged the land, a staunch group of farmers fought off their adversaries with only the tools at hand. one of the most common ”weapons” was the tonfa. common ? the tonfa was a soy-bean grider in okinawa, and a rice grinder in japan.  and, farmers who knew how to use the tonfa in their occupation were many. those eho recognized the tonfa as a weapon were few.

the  tonfa can be used singly or as a double measure of lethaleffect. grabbing it by its protruding handle, it can be revolved like a top which, moving along with a fast and agile body,can slam its revolving prongs with the ferocity of a spinning propeller.

concentration needed 

it takes a great deal of concentration to master the instru-ment, and many karatemen have been hurt in their attempts as the “blades” of the tool can slam against one’s body with as much force as the karateman might want against his opponent. the combination of body agility and power is vitally important to the mastery of the weapon. a karate without much agility cannot concentrate on the weapon if he must concentrate on his body. for this reason, once the body’s firmness and almost automatic response is developed, he can then concentrate on the tonfa. because of this, many schools n the orient prohibit anyone but a fifth degree black from leaning the use of the weapon.

it is surprising, however, that many sensei in the united states are instructing some of their lower grades in the use of the instrument. many sensei take a great pride in their students, so much so that they have advanced them to the use of the tonfa, for the tool is actually a true test of the karateka’s worth as it combines everything a karateman must know from kata to kumite before being used. indeed, many sensei profess that the tonfa is a “reward” for their most advanced students, those who are more adept than others in the classes. as of now , the tonfa is not readily available in the united states, but as with the ninchaku and the sai, a demand among the karate in the U.S.  and canada is expected to alleviate the problem. the biggest difficulty, however, is the instruction of the tonfa. in truth, many sensei are not proficient in the art.

is the tonfa important? the orientals who have been trained in the art generally agree that the tonfa, while not necessarily a self-defense tool(for karate is sufficient), has a value in its ability to combine all of the karate elements with the instrument. many sensei openly admit that they do net know how to use the tool, and because of this pretend that it is not important to self-defense.

it is however, fairly understood that the sensei or the karate student ho is proficient in the tonfa must be considered a serious student of the martial art of karate and its higher from, kobujitsu.