The Kama is a traditional Japanese agricultural tool that can also be used as a weapon. Used daily in the fields the kama was always close at hand. Every inhabitant of the village was familiar with its use making it a logical choice for self-defence when a farmer's life, family or property was threatened.
The kama was widely used in Asia to harvest plants, particularly rice. In countries outside Japan its name and shape may differ. It is used as a martial arts weapon in Malaysia, Indonesia, China and the Philippines. The kama arrived in Okinawa from South East Asia and was incorporated into traditional martial arts or Te.
In training kama can be used individually or in pairs. A kama may also be combined with another weapon such as a tanto knife. The kama can be used not only for slashing and cutting but also for blocking and striking.
A real kama is razor-sharp for efficient crop cutting. Advanced practitioners train with great caution to avoid accidents. For beginners and intermediate practitioners a blunt replica is more suitable for training.
The kama gave rise to several variants of the weapon. Best known is perhaps the kusarigama meaning literally chain and sickle. At the end of the chain was a weight that was used for striking, whilst the chain was used to entrap the neck or limbs prior to throwing an opponent to the ground.
Another weapon similar to kusarigama was the kyoketsu-shoge. This weapon had a second straight blade in addition to the curved blade characteristic of kama. The weapon was attached to a cord ending in a metal ring.
Another variation was the kama yari. This spear incorporates the sickle blade of the kama. The weapon was mainly used to hook the limbs of an opponent. In the battle it was also used to pull riders from their horse. This tool also was also used by firemen to dismantle burning buildings.
Training exercises with the kama's sickle are closely related to those for the sai, stick and tanto.