The Japanese Kama

I’m sharing this for not only those familiar with the kama but also those who’ve never heard the word “kama” without the word “sutra” at the end.

Before I get into the history of this weapon and its functions, here’s a little personal context.

Earlier this year I bought my first pair of kama. I decided to go for a wooden pair, as my plan was to learn and practise techniques and applications and then later test them out in sparring, my goal was never mastery, but simply to learn something new and enjoy the process.

I’ve only sparred with the kama once and luckily I got to record the session. No one got hurt (aside from a few bruises) but the sparring did take a toll on the weapon itself.


I’ll put the video at the bottom for those who wish to see the sparring in which my wooden pair of kama were used against a wakizashi bokken.

Plus a video of me freestyling a bit with the weapon to show my skills with the kama (or in comparison to true masters of the weapon, my lack thereof).

But first here’s some information on the kama, if you already know a lot about the kama, you can simply scroll to the bottom for the videos.

The kama is a weapon used in a variety of Japanese, Filipino, Indonesian and Chinese martial arts styles. However it is most commonly associated with Japanese martial arts, as it is sometimes claimed that the samurai were the first to use the kama as a weapon. The kama was originally used only as a farming instrument, a small scythe used for cutting rice.

In Okinawan Kobudō, the kama are traditionally used in pairs. In basic forms, the kama are held towards the bottom of the handle and are often used to defend against opponents armed with long range weapons. Kama techniques often involve blocking oncoming strikes with one kama while using the other four counterattacks. But using both kamas in a similar fashion simultaneously is also done defensively (for blocking or trapping weapons) and in offense (for double slices). A third way is to let the momentum of one strike with the kama lead into the next strike with the other kama.

A more advanced version of this weapon exists, where the pair of kama have chains attached. This is called the kusarigama. It is a good idea to master both the kama and nunchaku before practising with this weapon and to not use a sharpened pair – unless a zombie apocalypse happens, then get your self a pair of sharp ones and hope you slice thru the ZOMBIES and not your OWN limbs!