The Eku Bo (aka Eiku Bo, Ekku Bo, Kai Bo) is a very interesting weapon. It is a traditional implement of Okinawan Kobudo, but not many systems have passed down its proper use and technique.
I’d like to share with you a video I created describing Eku Bo combat theory and application. In the video I talk about handling the weapon, how it differs in usage from other weapons, controlling it properly, and more. I also demonstrate at the end a bit of randori (freestyle kumite) to show how the blocking and attacking movements can be utilized.
Throughout the video you’ll hear the lovely pitter patter of Danzan Ryu Jujutsu in the background. This is a live working dojo alright!
The Eku is a devastating weapon and can generate astounding amounts of power!
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I hope you enjoyed the video, and please help me decide if I should continue integrating these into my normal writing routine. Vote in the poll below as to whether or not this was interesting and helpful, and please include any thoughts and questions in the comments section.
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**I’d like to send some initial credit to Kris Wilder at The Striking Post for exposing me to the video in this post. He and I share some similar ideas in our analysis as well, so credit to him and his commenters for a thoughtful discussion.**
As society continues to grow and mature, there is more and more emphasis on anti-violence. This, of course, is good in theory. In a perfect world there would be no violence thrust upon anyone and no need for anyone to know violence.
We don’t live in a perfect world though and the struggle to balance violence against non-violence is messy.
Interestingly, we are told (as proper citizens) to not take matters into our own hands. We are prompted not to fight back and instead seek out authority figures who are authorized to deal with bad situations. Furthermore, as technology and communication increases, it is expected that we be in quicker contact with the authorities (and thus have less reason not to rely on them).
In an effort to drill violent behavior out of the minds of children, schools have enacted severe rules and regulations both for students who fight and for students who defend themselves. Frequently if two youths get into a fight they are both punished equally, regardless of circumstance. Teachers are put into an equally awkward position as laying a finger on a student, even if trying to break up a scuffle, can potentially land them in hot water. Children and teachers alike are often resigned to become watchful bystanders.
Bystander freeze (similar to the bystander effect) extends to more than just schools – people everywhere understand the trouble with getting involved in a violent altercation.
When all of these factors come together, you end up with situations like in the following video. A young girl spending time in a Metro Bus Tunnel gets attacked. Meanwhile, three security guards who are literally five feet away do nothing to intervene, and neither do any bystanders.
On an individual basis, it was probably “smart” for people not to intervene because now they can’t be held liable. Imagine if you pulled the attacker off the other girl and hurt her in the process. Let’s assume you have martial arts experience and she has a semi-decent lawyer. You can bet you’d be in trouble for assaulting a minor, using excessive force, etc etc.
This is reality and it is a part of our culture. That’s why it has never been more critical to develop high levels of self defense skill. You need to rely on yourself for protection as bystander freeze is a strong phenomenon. Even security and authority personnel are not immune.
I also recommend people learn non-fistic forms of self defense in addition to percussive striking. From a legal standpoint, closed fisted strikes are often equated with willing violence and receive repercussion, but controls/locks/subtle-strikes are less obvious.
Of course you also need to make sure you have the ability to cause destruction quickly. As Shaka Zulu (the martial artist) said: “I will start with the mindset that I am going to kill you. Then, if I don’t have to, I will de-escalate”. I believe it’s necessary to have the ability to both maim and control, and have it be a naturally integrated form of self expression.
It is possible to look passive and yet be devastating.
Everybody has to decide for themselves what they are willing to risk to defend themselves, their loved ones, and complete strangers. But it’s wise to understand the possible ramifications of relying solely on others for that protection.
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Whenever I am teaching bunkai and self defense I advise students to “create a disturbance” before applying a joint lock.
A disturbance could be a strike to the body or face that causes the attacker to focus on the pain instead of you. It could mean a subtle pulling off-balance that puts the opponent in a position of weakness. It could also be as simple as a movement of your body and hands that causes the attacker to critically expose his/her body.
By utilizing disturbance you can circumvent the strength, focus, and potential counterattacks of a live attacker. Often in the vacuum of a dojo we can apply punishing joint locks that make our partners whimper. Unfortunately we are working with a level of compliance that ignores the power of adrenaline charged muscles (which can ignore pain and significantly resist your efforts) and the volatility of swinging fists, feet, and forehead of an opponent that wants to take you out.
There is a great video of Taiji (tai chi) exponent Yang Hefa demonstrating what can happen to an attacker who is trying to apply various locks and maneuvers without doing anything else to create an initial disturbance. Yang is free to think and react naturally, and the results for the attacker are unimpressive and sobering.
As you were watching you probably had the instinct to say “just elbow him! punch him in the face! Perform KoshiNage! etc”. But that’s not really the point of the video as I’m sure Yang Hefa could have performed plenty of nasty techniques himself. What Yang is really showing is the ability to weave, bob, and slink his way out of some of the most commonly used grappling techniques.
Yang’s tricks are really not that hard to understand -
- first, he is staying very relaxed. Many joint lock techniques are exacerbated by tension in the defender rather than sheer skill of the attacker.
- Second, he keeps himself perfectly balanced and his weight underside, which makes off-balancing techniques for his opponent very difficult.
- Third, Yang knows how to move with the force of his opponent, accept it, and redirect it when the attacker over-commits.
Is this video just a demonstration? Of course, but there are a lot of valuable takeaways. Next time you find yourself in a grappling or tegumi situation, take note of the amount of tension in your body. Figure out how your weight is distributed and if it is vulnerable to over-exposure.
If you feel yourself being put into a lock or bar, instead of resisting it with muscular strength experiment with rolling your body and moving with the motion. Find some willing and good humored training partners and see if you can frustrate them.
Finally take note of the possibility of failure when grappling and the need to move quickly to other techniques and methods. I personally recommend creating a disturbance in the opponent to distract his mind so that he can’t resist, or worse yet, show off skill like Yang’s.
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