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Bo and Tonfa Course 2 – Mini Reviews

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Bo and Tonfa Course 2 – Mini Reviews

Friday 1st February 2013

Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre



On Friday the second bo and tonfa course to be held at the Nuffield Health Fitness and Wellbeing Centre in Rubery with Sensei Cyril Cummins 7th dan took place. This time the course was open to all clubs and associations which resulted in even more karateka gaining the opportunity to learn these weapons. The course was very well attended with the hall filled to capacity for the use of weapons with attendees from both BHSKC and other clubs and associations of all grades from beginners to senior black belt instructors. Like last time the course was enjoyed by all and again many requested that another be held. The attendance of the course was again mixed with some who had attended previous bo courses or the last bo and tonfa course but a sizeable number who had never used either.

What follows are some reviews of the course from different attendees at varying stages of their karate and weapons experience and the different perspectives these provide :-

First here is my brief mini review of the second course as someone who has done karate for many years but has only used the bo a few times in the past and the tonfa for the first time during the previous course. A review of the first course can be found here.

Preparation for the course started for me earlier that day when I was packing my karate bag before work. I picked up my tonfa and couldn’t resist the urge to make a few strikes and half swivels before packing them away and then hefting the bo and giving it a quick swing before putting it next to the karate gear. Suffice to say I was really looking forward to another opportunity to use them both. I’ll confess right now that despite my best intentions I hadn’t really practised the bo since the first course and so was struggling to remember the bo kata, shushi no kon and hoped that when we started doing it again later that evening it would all come back to me.

The evening eventually came and the time for the course was upon us. After a general warm up, those who didn’t have bo or tonfa were provided some to use and the course started with an introduction to the bo. This served as a good refresher for myself and others and a nice introduction for those who had never used one before, initially covering basic strikes and blocks and then concentrating on some of the more complicated moves from sections of the kata. Having now used the bo a few times I felt reasonably comfortable doing most of these although still was a little unsure when it came to the breakdown of some of the kata segments. Next it was the bo kata, shushi no kon, sensei Cummins briefly explained the origins of the kata and the meaning of the name before leading the class through the kata to the count, stopping to explain how to do various moves and correct people as he went. This was repeated a few times until the majority felt reasonably comfortable with the kata and the use of the bo. Finally sensei Cummins invited those who thought they could do it all the way through to a reasonably fast count to try whilst the others watched. I must admit I was unsure but decided to give it a try. The count was slightly faster than I had expected but I was able to remember the kata for the most part and only stumbled a couple of times where I missed a block before a strike but was able to continue without losing my place in the kata and fortunately finished with the correct move facing the right direction (always a bonus when learning a new kata as many people have found out over the years) .

There was a brief informal question and answer session before we moved onto the tonfa. The tonfa training started with basic strikes and blocks with the tonfa which were generally ok, and quite intuitive as the tonfa even more so than the bo is used as an extension of normal karate techniques. However I personally struggled as others seemed to when it came to the swivelling blocks and strikes. Sensei Cummins organised the class into a semi circle to demonstrate how this was done and had some of the seniors more familiar with how to use these help others to grasp this. Sensei Cummins explained the origins of the Tonfa and how these were used along with the bo in Okinawa before we moved onto basic sparring involving the kumite and the bo. This involved dealing with overhead strikes first with a simply rising block with the tonfa followed by a strike with the short end, sensei emphasising the need to push away the bo after the block so that the attacker couldn’t counter-strike. This then proceeded to more complicated cross blocks first with the short ends and then the long ends with a swivel and swivelling strikes. The last attack was a thrusting stab with the end of the bo which had to be blocked with the tonfa and immediately countered so that the attacker couldn’t switch attack. All of these were done on both the left and right sides with everybody alternating being the attacker with the bo and defender with the tonfa. The above exercises were far more difficult than they sound with the need to get the timing exactly right in order to successfully block and counter before the attacker could respond and make effective swivelling strikes and blocks. I ended up on the wrong end of the bo a few times whilst doing these. Unfortunately at that point the class ended as the time had just flown past.

It was a really good course that I found very informative and enjoyable plus it was nice to meet the people from other clubs who we may hopefully see at future events. I find that the use of weapons such as the bo really help to enhance my understanding of karate especially when you consider kata such as bassai sho and jitte which contain many movements for defending against a bo. I would recommend that any karateka who has the opportunity learn to use these weapons take it as it does enhance your karate. Weapons are not taught at many karate schools so I really enjoy the chance to learn these and look forward to the next weapons class in the future.

More pictures from the course can be found in our Flickr album here. Video from the course can be found on our YouTube channel here

Richard A. (Sandan, BHSKC – 03/02/2013)


Yet another amazing Bo and Tonfa course, with Sensei Cummins on Friday 1st February.

This is the third or fourth weapons course I have attended, and I’m still getting to grips with the basics! However, I’m happy to say that after a bit of practice on Friday, I managed to complete the Bo Kata – Shushi No Kon. It’s finally starting to sink in!

My favourite part of the evening (and of any course of this nature) was Sensei Cummins giving us more information about the history, origins and usage of the weapons. Knowing the application is great, but the history of all aspects of Karate fascinates me, so when we gather round to share in his knowledge, I’m always really pleased!

So after practising the Kata and learning some background and history, we did some basic drills to get accustomed to the weapons, before being let loose on each other!! It’s great to practise with the Bo whilst your partner works with the Tonfa and vice versa. It gives a good insight into both weapons and their application as both attacking devices and defence.

Sensei asked again at the end of the session if we enjoyed the course and would like to do more, no doubt in my mind – the answer is YES!!

Already looking forward to the next one and hoping I can remember Shushi No Kon…no count!

Holly W. (1st Kyu Ho, BHSKC – 03/02/2013)


We began the course by practising techniques used for attacking and defending against opponents. Focus was on footwork, hand placements on the bo and aiming strikes. Sensei then took us through the kata, we spent time practising the kata using the techniques we had just been practising.

I have done two of these in the past and this kata is really starting to make sense. It is not an easy kata especially with a weapon in your hands but it is a fantastic kata that I am excited about doing again in the next weapons course. We had a demonstration from the more senior students and it is inspiring and encouraging to see others who have got the moves show the rest of us that we will be able to get it soon and we just have to keep practising.

After practising a few more times we had some history from Sensei. I really enjoy being taught about the history of Karate, the weapons and the kata, I always find it fascinating to know the origin of the weapon and how it was used in the past.

We moved onto practising techniques with Tonfa. I find this weapon even harder to use but spinning the Tonfa around feels really quite powerful, so I am planning to practice so I can do it better on the next course. We practised blocks and strikes independently before pairing up with a fellow student for blocking and countering attacks from the Bo.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable course where we learned so much about the different weapons and how to use them to defend ourselves. I really hope I have the time and space to practise before the next course which I am hoping happens very soon. Big thank you to Sensei for putting the course on for us.

Emily P. (7th Kyu, BHSKC – 06/02/13)

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