Kobujutsu means “Old martial skill or art. Kobudo literally means “Old martial way or path”. Both refer to the study of weapons and when Ryukyu is designated they refer to the weapons of Okinawa, formerly known as the Ryukyu kingdom.
The history of Ryukyu kobudo has been handed down orally and no one knows its exact history. However there is documentation dating back to the 14th century relating to fighting with the bo as well as historical evidence of the cultivation of Okinawan martial arts along with the banning of swords during King Shoshin’s fifty year reign as the Ryukyu king. During this period starting in the late 15th century, techniques developed using common articles as weapons, such as sickles, boat oars, farming tools, wooden staffs, etc. Also, the unarmed martial arts of Okinawa, now known as karate received more emphasis.
Many of the weapons kata still practiced are based on the names and teachings of various sensei that lived more than a hundred to two hundred years ago.
Born in 1882 Moden Yabiku became a disciple of karate master Anko Itosu sensei as well as studying Yamani type bojutsu from Sanda Chinen, sai from Sanda Kanagusuku, and other weapons from Tawata Pechin. Yabiku sensei founded the “Ryukyu Kobujutsu Research Association” around 1911. He also taught kobujutsu on the Japanese mainland.
After Yabiku’s death and the end of the Second World War, one of his senior students, Shinken Taira continued his teacher’s work by forming the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai. Shinken Taira is considered by many to be the most influential figure in the development and spread of Ryukyu kobudo in modern history. Grand master Shinjken Taira made tremendous efforts to promote and restore the disappearing arts of kobujutsu and is known to have compiled and authenticated 42 weapons katas spread out among 8 weapons.
Taira left Okinawa in 1922 and began training karate with Ginchin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan karate), who introduced Taira to Moden Yabiku in 1929 and Kenwa Mabuni in 1934. Mabuni influenced Taira’s karate and kobudo, teaching him katas as well as techniques of bo and sai.
Three of Master Taira’s most notable students were Motokatsu Inoue, Eiisuke Akamine and Ryusho Sakagami, all of whom have sadly passed away but their organizations under the guidance of their sons still continue to research, refine and promote Taira’s work.
As the direct successor of the Ryukyu Kobujutu Hozon Shinkokai, O'Sensei Gansho (Motokatsu) Inoue continued to develop the organization until his passing in 1993. Since then his son, Kisho Inoue Hanshi has served as president and continues to promote and spread the information and training throughout the world.
Our school is a member of the Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai USA under the direction of USA Branch Chief Bernard Edwards Shihan. As the USA Branch Chief, Shihan Edwards is directly under the supervision of Kisho Inoue Hanshi.