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Toyama Kanken and his methods of the stick

posted Nov 14, 2012, 11:52 PM by Daniel Wilkins

Found this posted on a bulletin board of a dojo on Okinawa. It was entitled, 'Bojutsu.'
"With bare fists, watch out for the young. They're stronger and can beat up the old. But with the BO, watch out for the old. They're wiser and more experienced and can beat up the young."

Toyama Kanken (1888-1966) was an Okinawan who had migrated to Tokyo and founded the Zen Nippon Karatedoh Renmei (All Japan Karatedoh Federation). He received a bulk of his training from Itosu Ankoh and was a noted pratitioner of Okinawan style bo. Toyama Dai Sensei often stated that there were only two styles of bojutsu - the Tokyo style and the Naha style. In 1936, Toyama Dai Sensei identified the Tokyo style as having a thinner, lighter and tapered bo. Further, that many of the techniques of the Tokyo style mixed with the Japanese spear techniques. With the left hand forward, they would poke with the right hand (like a spear). The Tokyo method was a single end weapon with the length of the bo measured by extending the arm over the head and measure the length to the tip of the middle finger (long, like a spear).

The Naha method showed the bo was not tapered and stressing the right hand forward. The Naha bo was usually practiced by the commoner with the the poke being done with both hands stressing the power aspect. The Naha style showed it to be a double ended weapon with the length of the stick being measured to the tip of the practitioner's ear.

It was felt that since the Naha style bo was a commoner's weapon that the practitioner had very little exposure to the Japanese spear methods. So the tendency was to use the Naha style bo as a cudgel.

Presently, the Tokyo style and Naha style may have merged and it may be difficult to recognize the style. All bo's appear to be six foot in length and either tapered or un-tapered (depending on one's likes or dis-likes). Many of todays older karate practitioners have received most of their schooling on mainland Japan and have brought the Tokyo style to Okinawa on their return.

More later...