Friday 30th November 2012
Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre
The Bo and Tonfa course took place on Friday at the Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Centre and was thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended with many requests for another course to be held in the future made on the same day. The attendance for the course was good with a mixture of those who had used the Bo on previous courses and not the Tonfa and those who had used neither in attendance. For those unfamiliar this dojo it is located inside the gym complex upstairs. It is a moderately sized room with a sprung wooden floor, air conditioning and one of the walls is completely mirrored from the floor to the ceiling.
What follows is my mini review of the evening as someone who has used the Bo a handful of times on a few occasions in the past and never used the tonfa :-
The evening started with an introduction to basic techniques with the Bo including sweeping and stabbing strikes and blocks to help everyone get a feel of using the Bo. Next came the Tonfa with upper, inside and outside blocks and strikes with the edge of the tonfa along the forearm and the ends along with swivelling strikes and stabs. Using the tonfa to me felt a lot like a simple extension of standard karate techniques such as the inside and outside blocks and rising block, straight and reverse punches making their use far more intuitive than one might expect. The swivelling action however was something new having to hold the handles of the tonfa loose enough to swivel without them flying out of your hand and into the mirrors fortunately nobody lost control and the mirrors lived to see another day.
With people now a little familiar with the weapons we returned to the Bo and started with a break down of some of the key sequences in the Bo kata Shushi No Kon that we would soon be learning. Once these had been examined we moved on to the kata itself slowly building up the sequences until we had completed the whole kata and the class was able to perform the kata to a fast count.
Next up came the kumite with the class splitting into pairs to learn how to defend against the Bo with the Tonfa. First it was defending from an overhead strike with the Bo on the right hand side and then blocking with an upper block using the Tonfa against the forearm and counter striking with the edge tonfa across the throat. Once we were comfortable with this we then switched weapons so that both sides had a chance to attack and defend with the Bo and Tonfa. The key to this was to ensure that after the block you used the tonfa to push away and maintain control of the bo so the attacker couldn’t return with a counter.Just as you were beginning to think that this wasn’t too bad then came the twist, do the same thing but on the left side, all of a sudden blocking the Bo and getting in the counter suddenly became a lot harder.
Next we moved on to defending from a stabbing attack with the bo, by using the tonfa to block the attack whilst simultaneously evading the strike and then almost instantly countering with the same hand before delivering the finishing blow with the reverse hand using the end of the tonfa. This was done whilst close to the attacker so you had very little time to get your body out of the way of the strike and get your initial counter strike in rapidly followed by the finishing blow before the attacker could respond. This was a lot harder than it sounded with my partners and I ending up on the wrong end of the tip of the bo on more than one occasion. This was done on both the right and left sides for each pair.
We then returned to Shushi No Kon for a final run through and then had a question and answer session to clarify any points from the kata or kumite before our time was up and the session had to end.
I personally really enjoyed the session and thought that the use of the weapons complemented karate training very well and helps provide some insight into some of the Shotokan kata and others expressed similar opinions after the session.
I hope you enjoyed my mini review and I would definitely recommend coming the next time there is another weapons class. In my experience not many karate schools cover the use of these weapons but they do add a new dimension to your training.
Richard A. (Sandan, BHSKC – 02/12/2012)