Kobudo is a Japanese term meaning "old martial way". it is also a weapons system that can often be linked to the Martial Art karate.
originating on the island of Okinawa, there are 5 main weapons used (however in total the term covers around 20 weapons). Firstly you find the 'Bo', this being a straight 6 foot staff. following this is 'Sai', this being a large unsharpened dagger of sorts. you also find the weapons 'Tonfa' however this is better known for its use in police as a side handled baton. 'Kama' are another of the weapons, this originated from a sickle however the blade is shorter and the handle longer. Finally you find the final of the central weapons, the 'Nunchaku' a weapon consisting of 2 sticks connected by a chain.
There are several martial Arts disciplines that utilise the traditional method of use for these weapons (and some of the others found in the system). Typically a student would perform a Kata to display their knowledge. Kata's range in difficulty depending on the Belt the student was getting Graded for. A Kata is basicly a sequence of moves following each other that is said to be of advantage in a combat situation (however these weapons arent often used for sparring any more) and as such was taught originally, currently it is more taught for tradition that actually application, however you can still find places that spar.
As time has passed and people have found that the weapons had little practical use in daily life people experimented with different techniques. most noticeably is the use of Freestyle Nunchaku. Popularised originally by Bruce Lee in many of his martial Arts Films. Since his passing away many many people have developed Freestyle inventing many moves using as simple a weapon as Nunchucks. while Nunchucks are probably the most famous and widespread use of freestyle from the Kobudo family, other weapons have and are used for freestyle. The Bo staff has been used alot for various freestyle forms, however typically a shorter staff is preferred for this, such as a Jo, however you rarely find the pure wood renditions in use in freestyle, since peopel favour more confortable, lighter materials for ease of use. Kama, Tonfa and Sai are all also used however not nearly so widely because they awkward shape hasn't handed itself to freestyle so openly. theoretically however many of the moves used in freestyle Nunchaku and Staff can be applied to them to produce an unusual and impressive display. but as said it hasn't been developed very much.
Movies and FilmEdit
Bruce lee has already been mentioned as he has used several of the weapons not just Nunchaku in his films.
The cartoon series 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' utilises many of the weapons from Kobudo. Raphael wields a pair of Sai, Michelangelo a Pair of Nunchaku while Donatello uses a Bo staff.
there are many many movies (to many to list) that include these weapons however they are mainly oriental made Martial Arts Films.