Sai Kata Introduction

The two Sai Kata in our curriculum were created by Richard Munson. These Kata focus on development of Sai usage and handling skills as well as practical considerations when the weapon is used in conflict. Like all Tensoku Ryu Kata these forms should be thought of as a baseline. You may, after you are quite familiar with the forms, think of practical and useful Bunkai for various sequences in these Kata. This would naturally lead you to modify a series of movements somewhat in order to best accommodate your Bunkai. It is hoped that this practice of adaptive learning will become instilled as a perpetual means of self-development and self-learning that will remain with you throughout the remainder of your life.

Both of the Kata below require the use of two Sai. One weapon is normally held in each hand. Some Kata from other styles require the use of three Sai, where a “spare” Sai is stored between the Obi and the small of the practitioner’s back. Invariably this third Sai is used when one of the other two Sai has been thrown at an adversary. The third Sai is then retrieved from the Obi and employed in place of the thrown weapon. Neither of the Kata below involves throwing a weapon, so only two Sai are used. This does not mean that we think throwing the weapon is a useless or invalid technique. But for practical reasons (who likes holes in their Dojo matting) and financial reasons (having three Sai requires students to purchase two weapon sets) we do not stress or practice this method much in formal training. You are, of course, free to explore this technique or other Kata that employ this technique at your discretion. Just be sure to work with your Head Instructor before you start throwing a weapon around in his or her Dojo.

As with all Kata that involve weapons, begin learning these forms slowly. Do not be in a hurry to do them at high speed. If you attempt high speed movements before you are Very familiar with weapon handling then damage will occur to nearby facilities, objects, observers or innocent bystanders, pets, and/or yourself. Resist the temptation to do things quickly and save yourself from a host of unintended consequences.

The Tensoku Ryu Sai Kata often involve complex movements and transitional sequences that can, if not well practiced, cause the weapon to move in unexpected ways. Make certain you understand how a movement should be performed and the nature of any problems that may occur during each movement. There is significant risk of impalement when using any weapon with tapering ends. This weapon is also made of unforgiving metal. Either of these features may lead to a painful or serious injury should you lose control of your weapon or move it in an unexpected manner. Dropping a weapon onto bare feet with the Saki pointed downward  usually does not feel so terribly good.

As you begin feeling quite confident with your weapon handling skills you should begin to experiment with speed changes. Not everything is most-effective when it is done quickly. Often a slow or subtle movement is quite beneficial. Try different approaches to timing and speed to appreciate how these differences could be effective in various circumstances. And note, that if you drop the weapon during these experiments then you need to slow down and work more on general weapon handling skills. If you proceed without improving your handling skills you are perhaps moments away from an accident.

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