This article is from the Martial Arts FAQ, by Matthew Weigel email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
(Contributors: Steve Gombosi - firstname.lastname@example.org,
John Simutis - email@example.com)
"Kobudo" literally means "ancient martial ways". In the karate world,
it generally refers to those traditional Okinawan weapons whose
history and practice has been linked to that of karate.
Most Okinawan styles have at least some kobudo/kobujutsu curriculum.
In addition, there are at least two major Okinawan organizations whose
primary focus is these weapons arts: the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon
Shinko-kai and the Okinawa Kobudo Renmei. In the US there is 'Okinawa
Kobudo Association, USA'; the shihan in the US is in Citrus Heights,
CA. There may be other US Kobudo organizations.
The most common kobudo weapons (and the ones most often taught by
Okinawan karate systems) are:
bo - staff, usually a rokushakubo or "six foot staff", although 4, 9,
and 12 foot staffs are also used.
sai - three-tined iron clubs, usually carried as a set of 3.
nunchaku - two short tapered wooden clubs, connected at the narrow
ends by a short rope or chain (a flail, as well as other uses).
kama - a sickle, used singly or in pairs;
tuifa/tonfa - a club with a hand-length perpendicular handle, the
ancestor to the police PR-24; usually used in pairs.
Less common weapons are:
koa - a hoe.
eku - a boat oar.
tekko - essentially brass knuckles.
shuchu - a small kubotan-like thing about 5" long.
san-setsu-kon - the 3-section staff.
surujin/suruchen - a weighted chain with a spike or blade on one end -
similar to the Chinese chain whip or the Japanese manrikigusari;
tinbe - actually, this is two weapons...the tinbe itself, which is a
small shield traditionally made of the shell of a sea tortoise, and
the rochin, which is a short spear with a cutting blade - the weapon
actually resembles a Zulu spear more than anything else.
kusarikama - a kama on the end of a rope or chain.
nunti - a short spear.
and a few other oddball implements of mayhem including spears and the
occasional pilfered Japanese sword ;-).