Okinawan Farming Tools Used as Weapons
When Japanese aggressors invaded Okinawa
the Okinawans used farming tools as weapons to defend themselves
against the Japanese steel weapons. The wooden farming tools became very
effective weapons. The farming tools (American name), there
descriptions and there uses as farming tool and as a weapon are as
(Staff) – A short or a long tapered stick. Short one used as a walking
stick. The long one used to carry buckets of water up and down the
mountain path for cooking. The Bo is an effective weapon due to its
reach. As a weapon a strike to the tempo can kill. One can fool the
enemy with the spin of the Bo.
(Chucks) – Two short sticks attached by one end with a rope. As a
farming tool it was used to crack wheat. As a weapon it is the most
dangerous and deadly. The swing of the stick produces up to 1200 pounds
per square inch. It only takes 8 ½ pounds of pressure per square inch to
crack to human skull.
(Scythe) – Looks like a long steel pin, except it has a handle at the
end. The Sai was used as a pin for the oxen yoke. It was, also, used as a
digging tool to plant seeds in the farm fields. As a weapon it is used
for two things: a blocking defensive hooking weapon against swords, and
an offensive stabbing weapon.
(4) Kama (Sickle) – A short wooden handle with a curved blade at one end. As a farming tool the Kama was used to cut down crops. As a weapon it was used for slicing off the enemies limbs, so they couldn’t attack again.
(Wooden Sword) – A weapon designed from the Samurai sword. The
Okinawans used the Bokken against the Japanese aggressors with steel
swords and successfully defeated them with blows to the head.
(Handle) – The Tonfa was originally the handle of the grinding stone.
The handle was taken off and used as a quick defensive weapon. It was a
great extension of the hand for striking the opponent. For blocking it
provided protection of the arm. An effective tool.
(Spear) – The Okinawans used the spear for hunting. As a weapon it was
great for reach against the sword and for men on horseback. The spear
penetrated the enemy’s throat easily.
(Oar) – Obviously the oar was used for rowing the Okinawan fishing
boats. When the fishermen went ashore and saw the Japanese aggressors’
on the beaches, they used the oars to defend themselves. The handle of
the oar had great reach, while the heavy rowing end struck the enemy
(9) Kusugami – A weapon created from the Kama. Basically it was a Kama
with an attached chain on the handle. The chain was a fathom (6 feet)
long. On the end of the chain was a small iron ball. The chain gave the Kama an extended range as it was swung around the head toward the Japanese enemy. Another use for the Kusugami was that the Kama
part was held in the hand while the chain and ball was swung in the
other – keeping the enemy at a distance for the Okinawan archers’. This
tool was only used in combat.
(10) Long Bow – The Okinawan long bow was mostly used for Zen practice and
Meditation. The Okinawan monks practiced the bow in their temples. As a last
desperate resort they had no choice but to use it in combat for the defense of
their country. During the final battle between Okinawa and Japan the Okinawans
finally surrendered which is why Okinawa is now part of Japan.
Okinawa at the time was known as the Ryu Kyu Islands.
About the battle between Okinawa and Japan:
During the year 1609 the Japanese Warlord ordered his Shimazu Clan warriors to invade the Chinese Kingdom of the Ryu Kyu Islands so that he could expand Japan. He underestimated the Islanders and their fighting spirit. The Okinawans were extremely hard to defeat.
the Japanese warriors invaded the beaches the fishermen got off their
fishing boats on the beach and fought with their oars. The Okinawans
held their own as they defeated the Japanese warriors against their
swords with simple boat oars. After months of fighting on the beach the Japanese lost, so they regrouped.
Japanese gathered more troops and moved inland toward the farmers. The
farmers were prepared – using every farm tool to their advantage. At
first the farmers used their basic staff – spinning it to confuse the
enemy then striking him with a deadly blow to the tempo. The other
farming tools being used during this time were the Nunchaku in which the
whip was quicker than the Bo Staff and more deadly. The Sai was very
effective for blocking the sword and since it was steel as well it would
penetrate the Japanese armor. The final weapon being used at the time
was the Kama which would disable the enemy by cutting off his limbs. These tools where effective for awhile.
awhile the Okinawans took a Japanese sword and tailored a Bokken after
it. The weight of the Bokken was lighter than the steel swords of the
Japanese. This was a great advantage to the Okinawans. They would strike
them just like with a real sword. Though the bamboo Bokken would not
cut like the samurai sword, it would shatter their bones. The Okinawan
farmers defeated the Japanese warriors.
years of fighting the Okinawans believed that their Japanese enemy was
defeated. That was until the Japanese archer’s attacked. When the
Archers on horseback attacked the simple Okinawan Islanders the
Okinawans began to fall – losing battles. They had to come up with more
reach, so they used their spears and killed the horsemen by stabbing
them in the throat. An ingenious Okinawan warrior, in whom no one knows
his name, invented the Kusugami – the Kama with the long chain. This was
effective striking the Japanese warriors off horseback. The Okinawans began to gain control again. Months of fighting went on.
Finally during the last battle of the Edo
period the Zen Masters would use their long bows to shoot the enemy off
their horses. The Okinawans kept control of their country. That was
until a final desperate surprise attack by the Japanese Warlord in which
after years of fighting the Okinawans finally surrendered to Japan. Afterwards, it became known as Koza Japan, but remained partly in control of the Chinese Kingdom. After the Chinese Meiji restoration, 1868 to 1912, the Japanese island of Okinawa – partly under Chinese control – became independent from China.
There was peace in Okinawa
until the Japanese used it as a fortress during world war two. Of
course during that time the Japanese and Okinawans received more
modernized weapons like guns and missiles. Farm tools as weapons are no
longer used except in the practice of Budo just to honor the Okinawan
traditions. When the Americans made an amphibious assault of Okinawa in April 1945 it became the bloodiest campaign of the war. Okinawa was heavily defended by the Japanese who killed 12,000 Americans and wounded 36,000 others. Even with such losses the United States was able to gain control of Okinawa.
They in turn killed 100,000 Japanese soldiers. In 1949 the United
States Army Air Force established Kadena Air base outside of Tomah
village. This air base was effective in our wars that followed.
Kadena is a central Pacific region base which was effective for us in the Korean War in the 1950’s and the Vietnam War in the 1960’s. In 1972 the United States gave Okinawa back to the Japanese control, however the Japanese allowed us to keep Kadena Air base which is still under our control today.
Finally in 1975 Okinawa became its own independent City from Japan.
More about Okinawa:
Note: Information taken from the encyclopedia Britannica.