The Kamae are traditional stances and postures that position your body in the most efficient way for the technique that you are about to perform. This is particularly important when using weapons like the Katana so that you do not cut yourself with the blade by having your leg in the wrong place when performing Chiburi for example.
These Kamae should not be thought of as static positions that you assume and stay in throughout the duration of the fight but they are more a still frame in a fight sequence and assumed when needed. Some Kamae are an exception to this rule such as Seigan No Kamae in Kenjutsu which generally you would assume and then transition into the other Kamae as needed.
It’s important to develop the ability to transition through the Kamae seamlessly so you should practice moving through them with the Kamae No Kata and learn each one for each of the weapons. Many of them are similar for example Seigan No Kamae with a Katana and Seigan No Kamae with a Bo.
It’s important to understand why you are assuming the Kamae and are not just moving through the motions. Many of them serve a specific purpose such as concealing your weapon behind a part of your body or positioning yourself effectively to perform a devastating strike.
The Tanto Kamae are a prime example of what i was talking about with regards to concealing the weapon in certain positions with Havemuki and Hashitamuki. You don’t want to give your intentions away when it comes to something like knife fighting (Tantojutsu), It’s a more subtle art than Kenjutsu for example where it’s quite clear that your opponent is wielding a large razor blade above their head (Daijodan No Kamae).
You should also have the ability to be adaptive and consider key points in your Kamae such as whats exposed? Is your chin protected? Is your body exposed? Don’t just do Kamae for Kamae for the sake of doing Kamae. It could be argued that a decent boxing stance is a good place to start from and then should you need to block or perform a technique like Irimi Nage you assume Ichimonji No Kamae.
The footwork (Tai Sabaki) and angles are extremely important when assuming Kamae with the Hanbo.
Bo Kamae are fundamental for understanding how to position your body when performing the Keiko Sabaki Gata (Kata). Without knowing the Kamae, The Kata in the Seal Martial Arts Kobudo and Seal Martial Arts Weapons Waza books won’t make a great deal of sense.
It is much the same for the Yari (Spear) when practising Sōjutsu (Spear Fighting). You need to know the Kamae like the back of your hand to understand the Kata properly. The beneficial thing about the Bo, Yari and Naginata Kamae is that they are all quite similar with only a few differences in names and positioning.
The Naginata is an extremely versatile weapon that is a combination between the Katana and Bo. It gives you reach and devastating cutting power! It is a common misconception that the Naginata was only used by the Ona Bugeisha (Female Warriors) but it was a very common weapon used by everyone. The key characteristics of the Naginata is that it has a oval shaped shaftbin comparison to the circular shaft of the Yari, This is so that you know which side in the cutting edge when using the weapon.
Kusarifundo is an excellent form of Kakushi Buki (Hidden Weapon) and can be easily concealed in your hands or in your Obi (belt). It’s also an extremely effective impact weapon should you get hit with one of the Fundo (Weights).
The Jo is an extremely effective weapon, it’s used as both a staff and a sword and is one of the penultimate weapons in the Seal Martial Arts Kobudo system.
The Yumi (Bow) is an extremely versatile weapon. Conventional western archery is slow and cumbersome with the arrow always positioned on the left hand side of the riser. Kyujutsu (Japanese Archery) is a more fluid technique used by the Ninja who used the shorter Hankyu (Short Bow). The arrow (Ya) is positioned on the right hand side of the riser which enables a more natural draw and prevents the archers paradox. This makes loosing arrows a more natural process more like throwing a ball than firing a weapon. You should endeavour to loose arrows quickly from the bow at a rate of at least 3 within 10 seconds. As a last resort you can use the bow as a weapon but it’s not particularly heavy so doesn’t make a great impact weapon, it would be far more practical to ditch the bow and revert to another weapon.
That’s a quick overview of the Kamae we practice in Seal Martial Arts Kobudo. As i said it’s important to remember they should be utilised when needed like a still frame in a fight sequence, Not a pose that’s assumed statically to fight in.