A Shovel Kata? Why Not?

Shovel A shovel kata? Why not?

I saw a news item the other day about a boy whose mother was being attacked by an intruder. He tried to stop the man and was knocked down. His mother screamed at him to run to his grandfather’s house down the street. The boy ran to the backyard, where he grabbed a shovel. He came back in the house and slammed the man in the face with the spade, allowing both he and his mother to escape.

The attacker was arrested and proceeded to spit on the police, and kick out the back window of the police car… Who knows what he might have done to the woman. That boy is a hero in my book.

It occurred to me that the shovel could be incorporated as a martial arts weapon. Every house dweller owns one, it’s legal to carry, and it is a devastating weapon in the right hands.

Military shovel

The soldier on the left is wielding a military shovel or entrenching tool. These have long been used as weapons in hand-to-hand combat.

So I have begun creating shovel techniques. As a starting point, I am using Okinawan techniques that I learned for the bo (long staff) and eku (boat oar); and also some Silat spear techniques; but I want to explore the shovel’s unique properties and create specialized techniques for it. For example, the blade of the shovel has corners that can be used to trap and hook.

In¬†experimenting with my students yesterday, three things became clear. One, the shovel is much heavier and slower than a bo staff, so it needs smaller movements. Two, smaller movements suffice, because the blade of the shovel is so deadly that even a short thrust or stab would be utterly disabling, especially to the face or throat. Three, the shovel is a battlefield weapon. A bo might be used in a friendly bout between two country boys; but a shovel is so destructive that it’s only useful in life-or-death situations.

I’m excited because I’m creating something original. It seems to me that creating something new is a part of a martial artists’s mission. After all, times and laws change, new weapons appear, and we must adapt.

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