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At Burlington Karate & Kobudo, we practice and teach authentic Matayoshi Kobudo. Our Kobudo programme is separate from our Karate programme and participation is not mandatory. There are separate classes for both children and adults. Classes are conducted in a safe, disciplined, structured environment. Participation is on an ‘invitation only’ basis from Sensei Savoy.


Kobudo Philosophy

Kobudo is an art of peace! The word Kobudo translates as “ancient stop shield way”. The word “shield” represents fighting but in a defensive non-aggressive manner. Therefore the true meaning of Kobudo is “ancient stop fighting way”. This can be confusing. How does the practice and study of ancient weaponry and potentially deadly techniques represent peace? It is quite simple. Having the ability to use a weapon properly creates peace. An example would be if a person was to be threatened with an attack and picked up a weapon to defend themselves. The attacker would most likely be deterred by the presence of the weapon from attacking. This “stopped the fight”. The weapon created peace! This is the true essence of Kobudo. 


The benefits from training Kobudo on a physical, mental and spiritual level are the same as Karate. Kobudo training develops physical fitness and positive character traits. The study of Kobudo also works in conjunction with Karate and balances out the Karate practitioner’s training. In ancient times, weaponry and empty hand techniques were, for the most part, studied together. Kobudo also teaches how to use everyday items as self-defence weapons and the weapon itself empowers the person using it against an attacker.

Kobudo History

The history of Okinawan Kobudo is both an ambiguous and interesting one. It is different than the weaponry arts of other countries in that the majority of the Kobudo weaponry of Okinawa developed gradually and out of necessity and not for military use. For example, the weaponry developed in Europe, mainland Japan, and in other countries was developed specifically for the military. In Europe they developed weaponry for soldiers such as swords, spears, lances, bow and arrows, ball and chain, armour, etc. The weaponry of mainland Japan such as the Katana, Wakizashi, Naganata, bow and arrow, etc. were also developed for military purposes. What makes the weaponry of Okinawa different is that the majority of the Kobudo weapons, except for a few which were imported from China, were developed from simple every day tools used by farmers and fishermen.

No one truly knows the exact history of Okinawa Kobudo. There are few written records. It is believed that the weaponry of Okinawa developed out of necessity. An example could be as follows: a farmer and his family cut down a field of sugar cane using their Kama (sickles). Bandits then come to steal their harvested crops. So the farmer and his family use their Kama as weapons to stop the bandits from robbing them. Another scenario could very easily have been that a fisherman returns to shore with a catch of fish. A robber tries to take his catch so he fights the robber off using his Kai (oar), commonly known as Iyeku.

In time, effective self-defence techniques were discovered and these everyday tools and techniques were adopted and developed by serious martial artists into schools for each individual weapon. Examples are Bojutsu, Saijutsu, Nunchakujutsu, etc. Eventually the individual weaponry arts were compiled together into systems which became known as Kobudo. Several styles of Kobudo developed; Matayoshi Kobudo, Yamani-Ryu Kobudo and Ryukyu Kobudo are examples. 

Matayoshi Kobudo

Shinko Matayoshi was born 1888 in the City of Naha, Okinawa. He started training the martial arts in his teens and had two principal instructors. He learned Bojutsu, Saijutsu, Iyekujutsu, and Kamajutsu from Agena Chokuho Sensei of Gushikawa Village and Nunchakujutsu and Tunkuajutsu (Tonfa) from Jitude Moshigwa Irei Sensei of Chatan.

Sometime around 1911, Shinko Matayoshi travelled to Manchuria via northern Japan where he joined a mounted nomadic tribe and learned the bow and arrow, lasso and Shurikenjutsu. 

In 1915, after he returned to Okinawa, he introduced Kobudo in Tokyo at a demonstration with Shotokan Karate-Do founder, Gichin Funakoshi Sensei, who demonstrated Karate. This was the first time that Okinawan Kobudo was formally introduced to mainland Japan. In 1921, he demonstrated Kobudo at a demonstration with Goju-Ryu Karate-Do founder, Chojun Miyagi Sensei, who demonstrated Karate for Prince Hirohito during the Prince’s visit to Okinawa. He later traveled to Shanghai, China where he studied Nuntijutsu, Suruchinjutsu, Tinbejutsu, acupuncture, herbal medicine and Kingai-noon Kung Fu and to the City of Foochow where he also studied a form of Shaolin Kung Fu. He returned to Okinawa around 1935 and formulated what is now known as Matayoshi Kobudo. Shinko Matayoshi passed away at the age of 59 in 1947. His son Shinpo Matayoshi carried on his legacy. 

Shinpo Matayoshi was born on December 27, 1921 in Yomitam Village, Okinawa. He began his martial arts training under his father at the age of 6. He later studied White Crane Kung Fu under Gokenki. In 1938, he moved to Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan where he taught Kobudo. He returned to Okinawa in 1957 and began teaching Kobudo at the Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Dojo of Seko Higa Sensei.

In 1960, he opened a Dojo in the City of Naha, which he named Kodokan and founded the Ryukyu Kobudo Renmei. In 1970, he renamed his association the Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei which eventually became a world wide organization.

Shinpo Matayoshi Hanshi, 10th Dan, passed away on September 7, 1997. After his death Yoshiaki Gakiya was appointed as Kodokan Kancho and Head Instructor.

Yoshiaki Gakiya was born on February 8, 1950 in Yomitan Ouki, Okinawa, Japan. He began his martial arts training in 1967 in Goju-Ryu Karate-Do under Fukuchi Seiko Sensei.

In 1975 he began studying Kobudo at the Kodokan Dojo under Shinpo Matayoshi Sensei. On February 21, 1980, he was awarded a teaching certificate in Kobudo from Matayoshi Sensei and the Zen Okinawan Kobudo Renmei. In 1980 he also began studying Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu under Yoshio Nakamura Sensei. On June 8, 1997, he received his 8th Dan in Kobudo.

After the death of his teacher, Shinpo Matayoshi Sensei, he became Head Instructor at the Kodokan Dojo and was appointed Kodokan Kancho by the Matayoshi family; a position he held until July 2001, when he resigned from the Kodokan Dojo.

On January 1, 2002, Gakiya Sensei formed his own organization, the Okinawa Kobudo Doushi Rensei-Kai and serves as President and Head Instructor of the association. The Okinawa Kobudo Rensei-Kai is an organization with branch Dojos world wide.


1. Nunti,  2. Iyeku,  3. Bo, 4. Kuwa, 5. Suruchin, 6. Kama, 7. Nunchaku, 

8. Tunkua (Tonfa), 9. Sai, 10. Tekko, 11. Techu, 12. Rochin, 13. Tinbe, 14. Manji Sai.

Click here to view the Kobudo demonstration video (5.5mb)


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