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Florida Aikido Center Launces New Traditional Japanese Martial Arts Weapons Program
The Florida Aikido Center's New Program – Called Tampa Kobudo-Kai – Offers Students the Opportunity to Master Five Traditional Weapons Systems, as well as Practical Self-Defense
By: The Ad Dorks
For those unfamiliar with Kobudo, it is an ancient martial art originally founded on the island of Okinawa, halfway between Japan and Taiwan. The popular legend is that the Okinawans began using farming and fishing tools for self-defense after a Japanese samurai clan conquered the island and forbade the carrying of weapons. Those farming and fishing tools included the tanjo (a 24 to 36-inch stick used individually or paired), the bo (a six-foot staff), sai (three-pronged metal truncheons), nunchaku (two wooden sticks connected by chord) and kama (long-handled hand scythes). While Kobudo as a martial art in-and-of itself largely disappeared after World War II, its techniques and forms were preserved in many styles of Karate.
The Tampa Kobudo-Kai program is the brainchild of the Florida Aikido Center’s owner and operator, Sensei Gina Boccolucci, and Sensei Bryce Smith, a martial artist with experience in Goju Ryu, Aikido and US Army Combatives.
According to Sensei Gina, “In Aikido, we do some work with the jo (walking staff) and bokken (wooden sword), but I had a lot of students that were interested in learning to use – and defend themselves against – other types of Japanese weapons. Fortunately, Bryce – who had been a regular with us almost since the dojo first opened – had weapons experience from his Goju Karate and Army training. So, he drew up an outline for the class and got started.”
Students not only learn fighting techniques and forms with the tanjo, bo, sai, nunchaku and kama, but they get to do (heavily padded) sparring, techniques for disarming an opponent with a weapon, and how to use everyday items as tools for self-defense.
According to Sensei Bryce, “There are a lot of people that ask how it can be practical to learn Kobudo. Well, while it’s extremely unlikely someone will have a bo, or sai, or nunchaku with them in a club or walking home at night, there are plenty of everyday items readily available that have the same properties of Kobudo weapons. A trained Kobudo practitioner can use a rolled-up newspaper as a tanjo, a towel or belt as a nunchaku, a tire iron as a sai. In that way, Kobudo is just as practical as any other martial art.”
Although the Kobudo classes are currently held only two days a week, there are plans to offer more as the number of students increases. Classes are $10/week or $30/month for Kobudo training only; full dojo members ($80/month for unlimited Aikido classes) take Kobudo for free. In addition to Kobudo, the Florida Aikido Center also offers a class on Mondays in the Japanese sword art of Iaido.
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About Florida Aikido Center:
Open since 2008, the Florida Aikido Center offers an open, encouraging and respectful Aikido training environment to anybody ready and willing to learn. While the Florida Aikido Center is a “traditional”