Sai - Japanese Martial Arts Weapon

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Sai - Japanese Martial Arts Weapon

The Sai is a three pronged martial arts weapon useful for trapping and blocking enemy attacks. As well as the blade/truncheon part of the Sai the hilt is also used in order to strike the opponent. The Sai was developed in Asia but is associated mainly with Japanese martial arts such as Karate and Okinawan Kobudo.

In ancient Japan, a variation of the Sai (called a Jutte) was often used by the feudal police in order to disarm and control criminals. Unlike Sai, the Jutte was used as a single weapon and is often referred to as the sword breaker. Like with Sai, the Jutte is very effective for the trapping swords and other weapons between its prongs. In the hands of an adept user, it can be used to actually snap a sword blade.

To learn how to use a Sai, please visit the Sai techniques section. For information on other weapons, please visit the main Martial Arts Weapons section. For Sai kata, please visit Martial Arts Weapon Katas section.

History of the Sai

Components of a Sai

A Sai consists of the following parts:

  • Yoku - These are the two shorter prongs that extend from the handle. They form a sort of 'guard'.
  • Tsuka - This is the handle of the Sai. It is e generally wrapped in leather or similar material.
  • Monouchi - This is the shaft of the Sai. It can be round, hexagonal, or octagonal. Round Sai are best for demonstration and octagonal Sai are better for training against other martial arts weapons.
  • Moto - This is where the Yoku and Monouchi converge. This component is usually a sort of round node.
  • Saki - This is the tip of the Sai. The tip is usually blunt and not pointed (as Sai are non-lethal weapons).

Tips Regarding Potential Sai Purchases

  • When you are buying a pair of sai for personal use, you must consider what you want to use it for.
  • For demonstrations, many martial artists use round chrome Sai.
  • For XMA forms, many martial artists use a pair of aluminum sai because they are lighter and thus they are easier to do tricks with.
  • Octagon Sai provide a good grip and they can be used for more heavy impact and weapons training. The facets of the octagon Sai allow for better trapping and less slippage than round Sai.
  • For a better grip, martial artists should avoid sai with a gold wire around the handle (as eventually it will come loose). In addition, martial artists should consider using hockey tape if they need to reduce slippage.


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