View Full Version : Eaku <oar>

Doug Daulton
24th October 2000, 17:29
An open thread dedicated to general questions regarding the eaku or oar as used in Okinawan weapons traditions

25th October 2000, 09:49
Now for all of you guys saying weapons were weapons and not implements, what about the eku bo, or oar?

Its name and its shape sayit was an oar.

The kata aka Cho No Eku Bo, or Akasu No eku bo, say it is a kobujutsu weapon.

Were the weapons, other than bo, taught by kata until recently? No, they were not.

The bo kata were, and by villagers, too.

Who taught them? Okinawan Peichin who were also farmers and may have themselves learned from Japanese or Chinese or both.

Can a person not knowing a kata with a weapon use it todefend themselves? Of course they can, do it all the time in fact.

But the eku, that's an oar, folks. Used to paddle a boat.And to defend themselves with.

Kinda messes with all the fishermen and famers didn't have time to practice theories, doesn't it?:D

Good discussions.But don't be too sure what people didn't have time for learning with the tools they worked with all day and half the night.

back then there were many bandits, and pirates too.You needed something to even the odds. If a fisherman, you had an oar in the and, you were on the beach, and tsuna kake no eku bo(sand flip oar kata) might be the logical result.

25th October 2000, 14:54

"Kinda messes with all the fishermen and famers didn't have time to practice theories, doesn't it?"

No, not really. I don't think any of us are saying that the peasents couldn't fight or never used these items to fight with.

What some of us are saying is that the "systematic development" of technique was done by the Okinawan Bushi after they had to disperse into other livlihoods when Okinawa was taken over by the Satsuma.

There is a huge difference between someone picking up an oar and smacking someone over the head with it in a spur of the moment situation and someone devoting the time and energy to develop a "system of usage" behind it and going on to develop said system to perfection and then, passing it along to students.

Coming from a farming family, I can say that it is a 24 hour a day job if it is your livlihood. There isn't much extra time or energy at all for outside activities and I don't think it was any different in feudal Okinawa or Japan.

If I'm a farmer can I take a hoe and crack someone over the head with it? Absolutely ! Does this mean that I have developed a system of combat? I don't feel that it does.


26th October 2000, 06:43
'Systematic development of technique was done by the Okinawan bushi after they dispersed...'

Probably. But rural fighting arts and sports existed on Okinawa before that, including Tegumiwrist wrestling and Okinawan sumo, according to Shoshin Naamine most Okinawan boys grw u in villages practicing one or both of these, funakoshi's reminiscences also seem to say this.

Weapons dances with the bo were also common in villges and still are.Also okinawan folk dancing, one style of ewhich is said to be a form of karate.

Did all that come form the bushi?

I've worked on a famr too, and there is time for recreation, and even farmers have holidays.

My point is this: It did't all come from the bushi.There were two indigenous grappling arts on Okinawa known to pretty much one and all, and a system of dancing that I am really suspicious of, every time I see it.:-)

26th October 2000, 13:37

"Probably. But rural fighting arts and sports existed on Okinawa before that, including Tegumiwrist wrestling and Okinawan sumo, according to Shoshin Naamine most Okinawan boys grw u in villages practicing one or both of these, funakoshi's reminiscences also seem to say this. "

I can agree with this. You mention a system of dance that you are suspicious of everytime you see it. In what way are you suspicious?

27th October 2000, 07:14
I am suspicious of one particuar form of Okinawan meikata ofr folk dance, that it is really a form of te, or karate.

It sure as Heck looks like it, and one even sees the same movements as for instance n pinan four's beginnings done, as the song goes, get up and fight!'

Awomwn who was an expert in this type dance came to Dayton one time, and went to Frank Grant's dojo(Matsubayashi ryu) to learn karate, which she had never studied.

She learned the katas TOO fast, and sensei Grant was told this by some dan grade students, and laughingly asked the woman to demo her dances.

She did, and no one asked why she mastered kata so fast afterwards, as the movements in the dances were almost identical with some kata sequences.

Grant knew she was a dancer, and knew she would leaarn kata quickly and easily.

In fact, the girls playing Siamese dancers in a production of the King and I were having problems with a series of dance moves when I stopped by one day, and I showed them how to do the movements-front kick, hands up like in pinan four, kick again, step down, knife hand.

And I can't dance- I just recognized the moves.
Seems a lot of Oriental dance movements are suspicious.

Ever watch the male Hawaiian war Hula with spears? Shades of Naihanchi kata!

Some those dances, ain't dances!They're katas.

27th October 2000, 13:42

Yes, I know what you mean. A couple years ago I had an oportunity to participate at a local Okinawan Cultural festival. There was one woman who I would say was a master of thier folk dances and performed several. One she did was no dance! It was Karate!

I also have seen a Hawaiian dance performed with sections of bamboo (bo). Many movements were nothing more than bo technique although not done with as much precision. I saw this on a TV special on the Discovery Channel I believe.

27th October 2000, 17:00
"If a fisherman, you had an oar in the and, you were on the beach, and tsuna kake no eku bo (sand flip oar
kata) might be the logical result."

I have played with my bo kata on a beach and I found that the sand-flip moves are totally useless when done with a bo or jo, you really need an oar. I wonder why they are in the bo kata or if they are in fact oar moves in bo kata just in case.

Note of interest: Living up in the Pacific Northwest, it came to my attention from a fellow student who was of Haida heritage that the tribes used their paddles as weapons, especially as a "slice" horizontaly at shoulder height attacking the neck. These tribes had no organized "police" or militia system, everyone just learned what was necessary as part of their life and that did include the fighting arts with their tools.

I know Patrick McCarthy has propounded the civil authority / upper class as the developer of the various weapons systems contra the older idea of a natural growth from the peasantry but in this case, there is only a peasantry with the same skills....peasantry meaning that everyone, rich and poor, (except carvers) worked at the same jobs, with no professional class...

It took a totem carver over a year to do up a good appropriate pole for an important person...the person commissioning the pole had to pay for a year's livelihood for the carver and all his dependants because he couldn't go out and hunt for himself, being too busy carving. Perhaps if the culture had gotten "rich" enough to afford the upkeep of a group of professional body guard /militia types, a system or two of their fighting styles may have developed along the line Mr. McCarthy suggests.

27th October 2000, 18:22

Just out of curiosity, are the sand throwing moves which you mention in your bo kata accompanied by one of your feet following the movement of the bo ? If so, I would suggest that you are really throwing the sand with your foot. There are movements where the foot rather than the weapon is used.

The other thing I would ask is are you performing an authentic kata rather than something that someone has just "made up" who really didn't understand what was going on? Has your sensei actually told you that this was the interpretation of the move?

Other than these two possibilities, I don't know. You are correct tho in that you can't throw sand with a bo too well.

28th October 2000, 02:52
I betcha Ted's right. And you are, too. Can't flip sand too well with a bo or jo, but with an oar, you can.

The foot assist is used in the oar kata to really accelerate the sand.I don't know if you coud be sure of hitting the face with just sand kicked, and then it would be tsuna geri no kon, not tsuna kake.:0-)

I understand that since McCarthy, everyone'wants to believe' the fishermen and farmers had notime t do martial arts,but in the West, fishermen and farmsers, boxed, wrestled(see Abe Lincoln), threw hatchets and knives, fought occasionally with Bowie Knives,and in general were no one to mess with, as well as served as militia( minutemen).

Maybe we should look at the possibillity that in the Orient, things weren't all that different.

Folk dancing, weapons dances,Okinawan sumo, tegumi,oars, anchor chains, rice flail/horse bridles,frog gigs and tortoise shells,horse stirrups, and mill handles, seem to indicate that maybe, peasantry did have some input into the martial arts.

In the West you had your aristocracy, and they had their refined sabres and rapiers, but you mght not want to take on a farmer with a ptchfork.You might lose.

Someone thought the Okinawans did not know sword usage.They, the nobility, certainly did, Jigen Ryu Kenjutsu among others.

Farmers would have had to make do with what they had.When the peichin also became farmers, there was an admixture.

In other words, history just isn't as neat and categorized as we would all like it to be.Okinawans went to Japan and China, Chinese, Japanese and Coomodore Perry went to Okinawa, along with many another British, Portuguese, Dutch, Thai, and Indonesian ship.

All this had an influence on Okinawan martial practices.

Instead of a series of civil fighting traditions developed by the peichin and only the peichin, we see, examining what historical evidence available,villagers practicing a form of jointlock wrestling called tegumi ,also a form of Okinawan Sumo as their main two sports,Chinese immigrants living in Kume Miura teaching Lord knows who and what, Okinawan families living in Okinawa , possibly descended from Chinese families(Kojo or Sai family) , also teaching Kung Fu in China(!)like Kojo and Uechi,farm implements and fishing equipment being adapted ads weaponry, and bo weapons dances being done throughout the Okinawan archipelago in villages, islands and other places.

We see a pervasive 'underground' white crane tradition on Okinawa in and throughout villages, as well as secret village styles and family styles of karate, on an island where eighty percent of the male population , it is said, practices or has practiced some karate.

For an art supposedly developed and restricted to the aristocracy, that stuff sure got around on Okinawa, while in Japan, where the aristocratic Koryu were and are restriced, most of the public doesn't even know these things even still exist, even Jiujitsu.

I submit that some Okinawan arts , like Udundi(Gotente or palace hand, the Okinawan torite) was created by the nobility, and was restricted thereto;also swordsmanship and other samurai type bugei, often learned from Japan, was too;but the Chinese arts seemed to be taught pretty well to villagers, of good character, byt the teachers, and the Okinawan popular artts of tegumi and sumo and bo dances were widespread at the village levels, and this means karate and kobujutsu.

The peichin, it is true, had the leisure time to develop ryu of these arts, but the techniques, were out there, and I suspect, some of the kata as well.

30th October 2000, 00:58
Hi Steven,

You asked: "The other thing I would ask is are you performing an authentic kata rather than something that someone has just "made up" who really didn't understand what was going on?"

Well, I don't know the history of the weapons kata like I do our empty hand kata but let's see, out of the 8 or 9 bo kata I do, Matsu Higa no kon, Shiro taro no kon, have such moves and No Bori Ryu no jo dai and sho also... may be others too.

Ken Allgeier
9th February 2001, 04:16
Seems that this discusion has forgoten to mention the Okinawan Kobuki kata - Tsuken Akachu-nu-Ekubo ( the oar of red-haired Tsuken of Tsuken island),Akachu lived about 150 years ago.The Tsuken Akachu nu Ekubo has some unique waza in it,which includes the defender hooking sand with the oar into the attacher's eyes while simultaneously jumping above the fish spear that the attacker is thrusting at the defender's feet,considering that their was no tetanus vaccine known at that time.

Considering the Ekubo weight,thin edge, and the speed with which the oar can be wielded is vary effective.The knee strikes will problemly leave the attacker criped for life.The throat thrust is vary destructive, a indivdual with a crushed windpipe may not last to much longer.So who created this kata commener or Okinawan Bushi, was not some form of a platitude of frolicing on the beach,but a serious endeavor of a fighting skill.


Hank Irwin
22nd February 2001, 22:32
The "older" eku had a curved end "lip" at the bottom of blade also. This helped the scooping of water as one rowed, not to mention you could hold sand on it, push with foot as you throw it, step in and actually grab your opponent with the lip. If hitting the bottom of jaw, can penetrate and pull jawbone out of place. Under the armpit, real nasty, 'specially with barnacles on the end, Yew!!

23rd February 2001, 04:40

Do you have an older style eku? I wouldn't mind seeing one. I have a picture of eku in actual use. It dates to around 1915. I can't see the back though.

Tommy Lane

Hank Irwin
23rd February 2001, 20:53
Hey Tommysan! How are you my friend? Good to hear from you. Have Chucksan's Eku almost done, it has curved tip on it. Only difference is it being an Eku developed explictely for combat. Is not as wide as Koryu Eku either. Will drop a photo of it here asap. You going to Lake Lure seminar? Don't know if i will make this one.

Hank Irwin
23rd February 2001, 20:56
Tommysan, would you send me the photo here to look at? Some of our other Budo Brothers might like to see it also. Thanks much!

24th February 2001, 05:49
Hi Hank-san,

I will be at Lake Lure; it's only 45 minutes from my house. I hope you can make it. I can't wait to see the eku when your done.

Tommy Lane

Hank Irwin
24th February 2001, 15:12
Jimsan, I have a little bit of video of "Ti" dancing I have been trying to learn to teach my 18 year old daughter. It ain't easy. I don't know where the video came from and don't know who the LadyKa is that is preforming the dance. She is dressed in Okinawan garb mostly blue and white, at one point she pulls a cloth band and wraps it around her head as she is going through the moves. It is very soothing to watch and the music in background, I think is Okinawan, is real good too. Sounds a little like the Warrior Song from Oyata Sensei's video and some of the Tsunami video. The Japan Fest here in Atlanta(Sept.or Oct. of the year) has Odori? dancing and Kodo drummers are usually there. It is a great time. The ShinkenDo folks do demo's and the Aikido folks do a little demo stuff. It has been getting bigger and better each year. This year I believe is their 5th? year. I could be wrong on that. I make my students walk on their tiptoes whenever possible. Even when they are not in class. I stress this to be very important to younger students. Builds "shuffling" speed and jumping capabilities. My nephew, Justin, is 26 this year. I started him walking on his tiptoes when he was 2, you should see him now. When he was 15 he could dunk a basketball from right under the goal, he was 5'5". His calf muscles are the size of footballs now and the leg strength he has is unbelievable. I could see how O'Sensei Kyan could have had the jumping power he had just in my experiences with my nephew alone. I am starting to wander off the original subject, Eku. Sorry guys. But when you use weapons you must be light on feet, kinda like what tiptoe training does, no?

17th August 2005, 13:30
In the Kata Akacchu Eku performed by Shinyu Gushi the last thrust is a high above jodan in height. Is this against someone on horseback perhaps? Does anybode here know whats it for? And is that the same Kata as Chikin akacchu ekudi?

17th August 2005, 14:53
We had traditional Okinawa dancers perform for us at our National Training Seminar a few years ago. One of the ladies performed a dance with an oar. No doubt in anyone's mind that she knew kata!

A high thrust could be someone on horseback. It could also be someone on a taller boat, or on a pier, or in the rigging.

I think there is a great deal to be said for proficiency with the tools of one's trade. Anyone doing things repetatively gets good at it, and gets to the point that they don't even think about it. Watch a skilled mason, a carpenter, a blacksmith. They use their tools as an extension of their bodies. It would be very natural to use the thing that is always in your hand as a weapon or shield. And the item is so familiar that it is light and easily maneuvered. A farmer that uses the carrying pole on a daily basis becomes familiar with its weight and length and the most efficient way of doing things with it. I think the oar is the most natural weapon used in kabudo. Once I have a few more bo kata learned to a comfortable level, I will be working on an eku kata.

Hank Irwin
17th August 2005, 16:55
A high strike, is a high strike. Could be attacking horses head, an extremelly large person, many things it could be.

18th August 2005, 22:54
This may be a stupid question since I already now THINK I know the answer. Were traditional eiku about 6 feet? As I understand their lenght was to match the boat and fishermen, so there are no exact measurements for the eiku historically.

Its always made in different dimensions, or are they always 6 feet? Sources anyone??

Hank Irwin
19th August 2005, 03:28
Farm tools and weeaponry were almost always tailored to fit the individual user. Most of the old photos I have seen show ekude looking long, but, each one looked slightly different in length. The ekude we use nowadays is a developmental one, by way of traditional ekude, which were much smaller in length. Most Okinawans were about the same size, so the 6' length, as it turns out, was pretty common. The average height here in US is 6'-6'3", so, the common length here would be around 6'8"-7'.

19th August 2005, 09:17
It may be possible that the 20.th century Okinawan Budka in their research on fighting techniques someday noticed that the Eku also seemed to have been used as a weapon, as seen in traditional dances and stage performances. In "Karate-d Taikan" of Nakasone 1938, Taira only mentions B-kata, among them Sunakake no Kun. In "Ryky Kobud Taikan" of 1964 he doesn't mention the Eku either, and in the four planned, but never published remaining volumes, it was not planned to incorporate an Eku-kata.

So the Eku may only have been re-martialised from the traditional performances in the second half of the 20.th century.

However, in Matayoshi tradition it is said that "Tsuken Akanch no Kaijutsu was Matayoshi Shinchins tokui and this Kata is representative for the Matayoshi-family." [KO MATAYOSHI SHINP TSUIT. Matayoshi Kobud Tde-d Kokusai Enbu Taikai, p. 20]

And as is pointed out in "Ko Matayoshi Shinp Tsuito", the Eku-techniques were used in China: "This weapon had been in general use in Shanghai within the Bujutsu."

The Hr boat race had been an official performance on occasions like Sappshi coming to Okinawa for some hundred years. And of course the Hr boat race came from China also.

By the way; I participated in the Dragon-Boat race in Duesseldorf last year. Our drummer was Woelli, Ex-drummer of "Die Toten Hosen" :p

Old Chinese picture of Hr.

The Eku seem to have been colored for the most part.

Hank Irwin
19th August 2005, 16:22
Very nice Andreasan, very nice.

1st September 2005, 10:40
Here's a little video of the 29.the Naha Haarii boat race. Notice the two standing "Karate"-guys in the left boat:
29.th Naha Haarii boat race (http://www.quastl.de/Haari.wmv)
Haarii racing is a very good training. Will there be an E-budo-Haari race??? :rolleyes: