For centuries, the kama was used in parts of Asia to cut grass, rice, and sugar cane. The scythe-shaped tool became a handy weapon for farmers to defend their land. Today, kamas are used in martial arts competitions, particularly in Okinawan Karate, Taekwondo, and Silat. The modern-day kama, also known as the Japanese sickle, resembles its ancient counterpart in many ways, with a heavy, half-moon shaped blade and a thick handle for gripping. Typically, one kama is held in each hand, so it is sold in pairs.
The type of kamas you choose should depend on how the weapons will be used. AWMA offers kamas for every level of martial arts, from beginner to advanced.
Ideally, a kama handle should measure from the top of your hand to your elbow. A little longer is better than a little shorter because it will allow for greater command of the weapon.
This is often a matter of personal preference. An oblong handle's curvature aids in placing strikes with the kama. A rounder handle allows for smoother transitions. Sometimes you need to experiment with both handle shapes before determining which is best for you. You may want to consider seeking the advice of an expert in kamas.
Of course, sharper blades should be used only by advanced kama users. Many kamas offer unsharpened blades for safety. Blades can also be curved or flat, and solid or vented.
Standard vs. Tournament-Style Kamas
A standard kama follows the traditional lines of the piece. Simple and straightforward, the standard kama resembles its early tool form. Tournament-style kamas tend to be more stylized for show purposes. Choose the style that meets the atmosphere in which the weapon will be used. For practice purposes at home or in a class setting, a standard kama works nicely. If demonstrations are your thing, you may opt for a flashier, more stylized kama.
Now that the basic styles have been explained, you can choose a kama that suits your experience level and use for the weapon.
If you are new to martial arts or you want a pair for practice or to demonstrate your technique, opt for a durable yet easy-to-handle type of kama like the ProForce® Plastic Kama or ProForce® Foam Rubber Kama. Plastic demonstration/practice kamas, often referred to as kata kai, have distinctive features:
• A solid piece
• Made of molded plastic
• Easy grip
• Creates realism with a safer plastic design
Sold as pairs, the ProForce® Plastic Kama measures 11.5 x 5 inches or 13.5 x 5 inches and the ProForce® Foam Rubber Kama measures 14 x 7 inches. Keep in mind that even when using practice weapons from ProForce®, proper protective gear should be worn.
This type of kama is a sleek and professional weapon. The Natural Competition Kamas from AWMA feature 10-inch handles and 7-inch steel blades. Kamas such as the Natural Competition Kamas boast a number of features:
• Made of natural hardwood
• Vented, unsharp steel blades
• Wrist straps for extreme moves
As with any type of martial arts weapon, safety is of the utmost importance. Look for equipment that helps you to be the best at your craft while also not posing unnecessary risks to you. Consider not only how you will use the weapon, but how you will use it in the safest manner possible. Keep the kama in a case and out of the way when not in use. Ask your martial arts instructor for advice on how to get the most out of your kama to increase your skill and your enjoyment of the martial arts.