The kama (鎌 or かま) (sometimes referred to as the kai or double kai. Kama made with intentionally dull blades for kata demonstration purposes are referred to as kata kai) is a traditional Filipino and Japanese farming implement similar to a sickle used for reaping crops and also employed as a weapon. The kama is often included in weapon training segments of karate, silat and in some Chinese martial arts.
Before being improvised as a weapon, the kama was widely used throughout Asia to cut crops, mostly rice. It is found in many shapes and forms in Southeast Asia and is particularly common in martial arts from Indonesia and the Philippines. It is also used in Chinese martial arts but not often. From one or both of these areas, the kama was brought to Okinawa and incorporated into the martial art of te (hand) and later karate (empty hand). It also spawned the use of the kusarigama and the Kyoketsu Shoge.
The kama can be used singly or in pairs. Both the point and sharpened edge of the metal blade are called into use, Okinawan kata suggesting that it could also be used to block, trap and disarm an opponent's weapon. The point at which the blade and handle join in the "weapon" model normally has a nook with which a staff can be trapped. The edge of a traditional rice sickle, such as one would purchase from a Japanese hardware store, continues to the handle without a notch, as this is unneeded for its intended use. The hard edge of the blade would be kept razor-sharp to enable efficient cutting of crops, though this is sometimes a cause of training accidents by unskilled wielders, for whom blunt training versions of the weapon are created. This weapon not only is very sharp and can inflict damage, but is also said to hold a fear factor against the opponent.
The kama is used today in only few martial arts. The forms today in martial arts dojo have little or nothing to do with the techniques used in past battle forms. The kama can be used as a weapon in karate kata competitions but competitors often simply adapt their empty hand routine while holding kama with little actual kama technique, or employ elaborate weapon-juggling routines that differ radically from the focused Okinawan forms.
In popular culture
- Ryu Hayabusa uses a pair of kama held together by chains, called the Vigoorian Flails, in the modern Ninja Gaiden game series
- In the role-playing game Legend of the Five Rings, the Mantis Clan Champion Yoritomo was trained since birth to fight using large dual kamas.
- In the multiplayer online battle arena video game League of Legends, the champion called Akali trained with dual kamas from the age of 14, and uses them in gameplay as her weapons of choice.
- In Battle Royale, antagonist Mitsuko Souma is assigned the kama as a weapon.
- In the Warcraft universe, Akama's weapons of choice are a pair of kamas.
- A weapon type found in the game Warframe, which comes in both a single and dual form.
- Strider Hiryu uses a futuristic-looking kama to climb walls.
- Kama are a special monk weapon in Dungeons and Dragons.
- Madara Uchiha, a major antagonist in the anime Naruto, makes use of a kama along with a gunbai.
- In the anime Black Butler, trainee reapers use a kama until they are full-fledged reapers and can change their death scythes to suit their tastes.
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