History: Perhaps more clearly than any other weapon, the Yamanni-ryu Kama (or Hand Scythe) can trace its origins for centuries in Okinawa and Japan back to farming, with routine uses including the cutting of grass, weeds, rice and sugar cane. It is still widely used as a farming implement today, and in fact, the best quality kama can be purchased at ordinary hardware and garden supply stores in Okinawa. They look and feel very different from the flashy aerodynamic titanium and aluminum varieties seen in flashy demonstrations at tournament competitions. Kama were one of the first weapons utilized by the Okinawans after the confiscation of their other weapons, and have in fact long had the secondary use of fighting blades. It’s original structure made it very weak when attacked with heavy blows directly to the blade.
Description: A razor sharp sickle (the outside edge is blunt) with a half-moon shaped blade and wooden handle. The weight of the shaft is dependent upon the strength of the user and should be tapered to the butt end with increasing thickness. This allows for ease of catching and sliding when changing grip. The blade should add sufficient weight to ensure it is the heaviest point in the weapon. This also allows for ease of usage. The length of the weapon should extend to about 3cm passed the elbow when held in reverse grip. In its true sharpened form, this is a very dangerous weapon to learn how to use. There are all-wooden and unsharpened versions to make this process safer. The corner of the blade to the shaft should have a groove cut into it for catching the Bo and other weapons without the blade digging into and getting stuck into the attacking weapon.
Another version of this weapon, the kusarigama, had a length of chain attached to it to increase it’s length. However, since chain was in short supply on Okinawa and the addition of the chain made the kama more clearly a weapon, it’s use was limited.
1 SOKO – Bottom
2 NIGIRI – Grip
3 HA – Edge
4 KISSAKI – Tip
5 MUNE – Spine
6 KASHIRA – Head
7 HIMO – Rope
There has been a redesigning of the weapon, called natagama, which is stronger in its construction, because the blade runs through past the curve of the normal kama and all the way down into the handle. This makes the cutting edge bigger, and above all removes the previous weak point where the sickle was attached to the stick.
Wooden Practice Yamanni-ryu Kama
Technique: The weapon can cut, slice, block and strike. One of its better qualities is that it can be used to simultaneously block a punch or kick while slashing deeply into the arm or leg. The handling of the weapon is the same as the Sai with the following grips, ‘Honte-Mochi’ (Natural), ‘Gyakute-Mochi'(Reverse) and ‘Tokushu-Mochi’ (Special grip). Kama is the practice of ‘Kuride’ and ‘Kakede’ (hooking and gripping.) Kamas are used in pairs. Some practitioners have a rope or leather cord strung through the base of the handle. This cord wraps around the wrist, allowing the kama to be twirled in motions similar to nunchaku. The kama tends to be employed close to your opponent. Kamas use much more sweeping motions then other weapons. These motions include: hooking, hacking, and chopping. Not all of these slashing motions have direct counterparts in karate. The blades add an extra deadly feature to this weapon. The practitioner may block a technique with the wooden shaft, only to shift the kama, pulling the sharp blade across the opponent’s arm or leg. What’s more, one kama could be executing a block, while the second kama is slashing at the opponent. Finally, both kama could be swung simultaneously, creating a sort of propeller effect. In close range fighting, the sickle could be used to trap an opponent’s weapon, or for striking. The forms include circular movements which improve blocking and countering techniques. This weapon will strengthen the wrist and forearm. The Kama is a defensive weapon that was used against sword and Bo attacks. It can become deadly when used as an extension of the users hands. In hand to hand fighting, the Kama is used to block a punch or kick but as it does so, the sickle blade can slash deeply into the arm or leg.
Yamanni-ryu Kama Kata
1) Kishaba no Kama Ichi
2) Kishaba no Kama Ni
3) Kishaba no Kama Sho
4) Kishaba no Kama Dai