Mary wrote:My karate teacher insists that we aren't allowed to learn weapons, since he thinks they make you weak. He says if someone attacks you with a weapon they are admitting to themselves that they need that weapon - that you are stronger than they are. Same goes for when you are attacked by more than one person.
No offense is intended to your sensei but this is quite often the difference between those training with a more martial arts mindset and those training with a more self-defence mindset. Weapons are a necessary part of any street effective self defence system. In a real self-defence situation if a person is trained in a wide variety of weapons then they are more likely to have an awareness of those "incidental weapons", common everday objects that can be utilised in a combat situation. This kind of awareness means that you can take control of such weapons which both improves your chances of success and stops your attacker using the said weapons.
Another advantage to using a weapon in a self-defence situation is that if you hit someone with any part of your body there is a chance that you will hurt yourself, no matter how well trained you are. Even professional boxers break their hands and they are well-trained and wearing protective gloves. On the other hand if you get hold of some kind of weapon you could probably hit someone all day and not hurt yourself.
Now, my favourite martial art is Kali which is of Filipino origin. It is one of the least sanitised of the martial arts. Kali is most famous for it's weapons training. The weapons training in that martial art is taught to beginners and the empty hand stuff is taught at advanced levels. The weapons work teaches the student the correct body mechanics and other skills for the various techniques of the art. Also nearly every technique performed with a weapon is designed to be equally as effective when performed without one.
Weapons work in Kali also increase hand speed dramatically. Knife work in particular makes your hands fast. You have to be able to quickly get in your little slashes while moving fast enough to avoid counter-sashes from your opponent. When you do that for a while then go back to empty handed sparring your hands seem like lightning.
As you can see I love weapons training and think it has a lot to offer but it does depend on what your main reason for doing martial arts is.