Present in Okinawa and other Asian weapon arsenals, the sai (pronged truncheon) was used to stab, block, trap and punch. Practitioners often carried a sai in each hand, and a “spare”‘ at the belt. The weapon could also be thrown.
The sai is believed to have originated with the pitchfork. As a weapon, it was used in conjunction with various karate stances and techniques, and in defense against sword attacks.
With dulled points, the sai is now a karate training weapon. It tests accuracy in striking and quick block-and-counter techniques. The efficient use of the weapon is much reliant on the dexterity of the practitioner with his thumbs, which the tang is balanced and rotated on along with the loosening and tightening of the grip from the small finger for striking and consolidating power. The early use of the weapon makes the user appear stiff and robotic but as the training advances the flow and unity with body movement becomes ever more apparent. Sai is the practise of ‘Shuto’ in empty hand and emphasises the need for ‘Koshi no Chikara’ (Hip power) and ‘Suri Ashi’(sliding movement). The importance of body movement and good footwork is ever more apparent as the weapon is of a smaller classification than Bo. Advanced practitioners must learn to throw the Sai, a difficult requirement in view of the weight. The Sai explores the weakness of Bo, thus making Bo-jutsu stronger.