Kama Sickle

Kama Traditional Martial Arts Weapon

The Kama is a traditional Japanese and Okinawan weapon that was initially developed as an agricultural tool for reaping crops. It consists of a sharp blade, which is attached to a wooden handle. It is widely used in martial arts such as Karate, Kobudo and Ninjutsu and is often referred to as the sickle sword.

History of Kama

The Kama has a long and fascinating history that dates back to ancient times. It was initially developed by farmers in Okinawa, who used it as a farming tool to harvest rice, wheat and sugar cane. However, as Okinawa was occupied by Japan, the Kama began to be used as a weapon in martial arts.

Much like other Okinawan weapon origin tales, the Japanese Kama’s transformation into a martial instrument occurred when the Samurai elite prohibited and seized weapons from the commoners. Left with no other means of defense, the sharp, scythe-like blade of the Kama proved to be a convenient alternative. These agricultural implements required minimal modification to serve effectively as instruments of combat.

In ancient times, the Kama was also used by rebels and bandits to fight against the authorities. Over time, it gained popularity among martial artists and was incorporated into various forms of martial arts. Today, the Kama is used in competitions and demonstrations to showcase the art of Kobudo.

The Kama, though modest in size was easily hidden and served as a formidable tool of defense. Commonly employed in twos for dual-handed use, these weapons were favored by Okinawan farmers for their adeptness in warding off adversaries wielding extended-reach arms, such as Bo staffs or Samurai’s Katana swords.

Designed with the capacity to ensnare and divest an opponent’s weapon, some Kama feature a specialized notch at the juncture of blade and handle tailored for this function. The blade itself is capable of inflicting significant lacerations, while the tip is suited for executing hooks or jabs through a sweeping motion. In combat, the lethal efficiency of both the pointed tip and the honed edge of the Kama’s metal blade is leveraged, maintaining a razor-sharp condition to deliver grievous wounds. Typical maneuvers encompass parrying an assailant’s strike with one Kama while launching a swift counteroffensive with the other.


The Kama consists of a wooden handle that is approximately 15 inches long and a blade that is approximately 7 inches long. The blade is made of steel, and the handle is made of wood or bamboo. The blade is typically curved and sharp, and the handle is designed to provide a comfortable grip.

The Kama is usually paired with another Kama, making it a dual weapon. However, it can also be used as a single weapon. The design of the Kama allows it to be used for both offensive and defensive purposes.

Kama Construction: Understanding the Anatomy of a Traditional Martial Arts Weapon

The Kama is a traditional martial arts weapon that is widely used in Karate, Kobudo, and Ninjutsu. It is a versatile weapon that can be used for both offensive and defensive purposes. In this section, we will discuss the construction of the Kama and its various components in detail.

The Kama consists of three main components: the blade, the tang, and the handle. Each of these components plays an important role in the construction and performance of the weapon.


The blade of the Kama is the most important component of the weapon. It is made of steel and is typically curved and sharp. The blade can be made from various types of steel, including high-carbon steel, stainless steel, or Damascus steel.

The shape of the blade is designed to maximize the weapon’s cutting and slicing power. The curved shape of the blade allows the user to deliver powerful strikes and cuts while maintaining a safe distance from the opponent.


The tang is the part of the blade that extends into the handle. It is typically made of the same material as the blade and is designed to provide stability and balance to the weapon.
A full tang Kama has a tang that extends through the entire length of the handle. This provides the weapon with increased strength and durability. However, a partial tang Kama has a tang that only extends partially into the handle, which can make the weapon less stable and more prone to breakage.


The handle of the Kama is typically made of wood or bamboo. The handle is designed to provide a comfortable grip and a secure hold on the weapon. The handle is often wrapped with cord or leather to provide additional grip and protection.

The length of the handle can vary depending on the user’s preference and the style of martial arts being practiced. A longer handle can provide increased leverage and reach, while a shorter handle can provide increased control and maneuverability.

Other Components

In addition to the main components, the Kama may also have other components that can affect its performance. Some Kama have a guard or Tsuba that is designed to protect the hand from sliding down onto the blade during use. Others may have decorative or ornamental components that are used for aesthetic purposes.

Understanding the construction of the Kama is essential for anyone looking to use this traditional martial arts weapon. The blade, tang, and handle all play important roles in the weapon’s construction and performance. By understanding these components, martial artists can select a Kama that is best suited for their individual needs and preferences.

Kusarigama or Chain-sickle

The Kusarigama, or “Chain-sickle,” represents a quintessential traditional Japanese armament, comprising a Kama linked to a lengthy chain that terminates in a dense iron mass. Typically, the wielder grips the Kama in their left hand, while the right hand is tasked with swinging and projecting the chain towards the adversary, aiming for the face, arms, or legs to strike with the weight. The chain’s purpose is to ensnare the opponent’s wrist or leg, restricting their movement and subsequently delivering a slicing attack with the Kama’s blade.

The Kusarigama stands as a versatile weapon in the hands of adept practitioners. Owing to its limited defensive utility, if an adversary evades the initial assault and launches a counterattack, the user might find themselves in a precarious situation as reeling in the weighted chain consumes time. Mastery of the Kusarigama is thereby known to be challenging, demanding rigorous and dedicated training.

Techniques and Training

The Kama is a versatile weapon that can be used in a variety of ways. It is typically used in close combat situations, where the user can take advantage of its sharp blade and quick movements. The techniques used with the Kama are often swift and precise, making it a challenging weapon to master.

Training with the Kama involves learning various strikes, blocks, and counters. The user must also learn how to maneuver the weapon and maintain proper form. Advanced training may involve sparring with other martial artists using the Kama.

Kama, traditionally wielded in pairs, are handled primarily at the base of the grip during basic exercises. These implements are effective for defense against adversaries wielding longer-range weaponry. Kama methods frequently include intercepting incoming blows with one Kama, while the other is utilized for counterstrikes.

Also, both Kamas can be employed in unison for defensive maneuvers (such as parrying or ensnaring weapons) as well as offensive actions (executing simultaneous cuts). Another technique is to capitalize on the momentum generated from a strike with one Kama to seamlessly transition into an ensuing blow with the alternate Kama.

Benefits of Training with Kama

Training with the Kama has many benefits, including improved hand-eye coordination, agility, and flexibility. It also provides a great workout, as it engages the entire body. Additionally, training with the Kama can help develop mental discipline and focus.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Kama is a fascinating and versatile weapon that has a rich history in martial arts. Its unique design and construction make it a challenging weapon to master, but the benefits of training with it are numerous. We hope that this article has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of the Kama and its significance in martial arts.

Eager for More Details?

We hope this article was insightful. If you’re hungry for more knowledge about traditional martial arts weaponry, please refer to the articles listed below.

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Updated: February 2, 2024 — 3:07 pm