At the Illinois Martial Arts Academy, we offer a variety of weaponry courses that are taught periodically throughout the year. Each course involves traditional lessons on the use of each weapon. However, we focus heavily on practical applications of the weapons in today’s world. The following provides a brief description of the weapon programs we offer:
The Half Staff is a 3 foot long stick that can be used with either a single hand or both hands. This is a very effective weapon to use for joint manipulations such as locks and chokes. Striking ability is good until the attacker moves in close at which point it is used more for locks, pressure points, chokes and throwing techniques. One of the best things about the half staff is that it can easily be used as a hiking stick or cane, without having the appearance that you are carrying a weapon. Training for this weapon is based on striking principles, joint manipulations and other grappling techniques.
Knife training involves cutting techniques in addition to disarming skills to be used when a knife attack comes at you whether or not you also have a knife. Having the ability to use a knife is very important even if you don't carry one. Once you disarm an attacker’s knife you better know how to use it!
Rope / Flexibles (Kusari Fundo)
A combat rope is typically around 3 feet long. Its primary use is to entangle and/or entrap an attacker, by wrapping it around his arms, neck or legs in an effort to either submit or subdue them. When held by one hand it can be used as a distraction by whipping it towards the attackers face. Every day items that could be used as a “flexible” weapon are a belt, rolled up T-shirt or a Scarf.
Projectile weapons vary in style and use, but the most commonly seen are the throwing star, spike or knives. Contrary to what is portrayed in movies they are not intended to "take out" an attacker by simply throwing and hitting them. However by using various throwing techniques it is a great way to distract an attacker to cover your escape, or hinder his movement if struck in the leg, for example. In addition to throwing, they can also be used as a grappling weapon. Everyday items that can be used as projectile weapons are Kitchen Knives, Screwdrivers and Pocket Knives.
Long Staff (Bo)
Typically a 6 foot pole (it can be less for a shorter person), that should be about the height or just a few inches taller that the person using it. The long staff is mostly for striking, and keeping an attacker at a distance. Although we do cover some techniques that involve using the staff against grabs in our curriculum. We take a practical approach to the use of the long staff rather than spending a lot of time with fancy and flashy movements that look good in the movies. This weapon is more along the size of a walking stick. Daily items that can be used like a staff are Mops, Brooms or Rakes.
For in class training we use a wooded sword called a Bokken. Despite being a more "traditional weapon" the sword does help teach better footwork and striking skills. It is also used to teach the history and tradition around the warriors of the past. Training with the sword covers proper sword use, drawing the sword, cuts and defending with the sword against an armed attacker. Sword disarming skills are also important and can be related to disarming other more practical weapons such as a Baseball Bat or Heavy Club.