Best Kamas Reviewed & Rated for Practice and Show

The kama is something of a mystery to everyone but those dedicated to a study of bladed martial arts weapons. Few branches of martial arts involve the kama in any way and even fewer incorporate the weapon as a key part of the practice. Those few branches are often rooted in Southeast Asian culture where there are several variations on the kama. Far from being solely a martial arts tool, the kama began life as a farming implement used to harvest crops in much the same way as a scythe. Its introduction to martial arts was likely a case of improvisational self-defense as is the case with most multi-use martial arts tools. Few alterations have been made to the shape of the kama since its introduction to martial arts, save for a notch where the blade meets the handle that is intended for use in trapping staffs or other weapons. Since there is no need for this notch in agriculture, it is not present on kamas that are primarily intended for agricultural pursuits. Some feel that the best kamas are those that can be used for both agricultural and martial arts purposes

Kamas are sometimes referred to as kai or double kai depending on the origin of the particular weapon and which portions of the blade are sharpened. The sharp tip and one side of the blade are the traditional sharp segment of the kama, but some regions vary from this pattern. Yet another variation is a kama with no sharp edge at all. These are most often used by students when they practice using the kama as a weapon. One of the most common examples of this is the kata in karate, patterns of motion that help train a student’s coordination and muscle memory. The dull-bladed kama used in these practices or demonstrations are called kata kai.

Featured Recommendations

ARS Nejiri
  • ARS Nejiri
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Comfort Grip Handle
  • High Carbon Steel
  • Price: See Here
Pro Force Competition
  • Pro Force Competition
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Solid Practice Weight
  • Vented Metal Blade
  • Price: See Here
Tomita Knife Grass Sickle
  • Tomita Knife Grass Sickle
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ships Sharpened
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here

This list is comprised of both martial arts and agricultural kamas due to the heavy crossover between the two categories. These selections could be used for practice, most competitions, or some cosplays based on the many pop culture characters that use kamas. It is incredibly important, however, to remember that the kama is not a toy. Unless the kama purchased is a dull kama intended for practice, there is a very real chance of injury when using these weapons. Users must always be mindful of safety, both their and their opponents. They must also be mindful of caring for the equipment. Even the best kamas will dull or knick over time and must be properly maintained.

 

10 Best Kamas

 

1. ARS Nejiri

ARS is a company with singular focus. Unlike most of the companies mentioned in our articles, however, their focus is not martial arts. It is on gardening equipment. This may seem an odd company to have listed, but the history of the kama changes the odd into the ideal. Their products are highly rated across the board, promising quality whether their kamas is used for gardening or martial arts.
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Comfort Grip Handle
The ARS kamas' handle was designed for long-lasting comfort. Since the kama is intended for hours of gardening work, it is almost guaranteed to be comfortable in the user's grip during a kata or practice session. It may not be allowed in all classes or competitions due to its sharp edge, however.

High Carbon Steel
Anyone who works with weapons will tell you that not all steel is created equal. Some steel can last forever while other types will warp and lose its edge within a few months of use. ARS opted for higher-quality high-carbon steel for the kama blade. This ensures that the blade will keep its edge and stay sharp through hours of harvesting or practice.

Cost and Value
Overall, this kama is incredibly affordable. It has a higher than average price-point for a gardening kama. Compared to the highlight decorated practice and competitions kamas, however, the price is astoundingly low.
Pros
  • Comfort Grip Handle
  • High-Carbon Steel
  • Twisted Shank
Cons
  • Primarily Designed for Agriculture

2. Pro Force Competition

The first set of martial arts-specific kamas on this list come to us from Pro Force. Pro Force is a company built on the idea of bringing quality martial arts supplies to students at affordable prices. They offer an array of products, most of which come highly rated with assurances of quality and durability. Their kamas are intended solely for competition or practice rather than gardening or agriculture, which gives the company some room to employ interesting aesthetic options.
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Solid Practice Weight
These kamas are relatively heavy when compared to dual-purpose or agricultural kamas. Pro Force highlights that a benefit to this higher weight is that anyone who practices with these kamas will be even faster when they switch to a lighter-weight option. It is a common practice technique in many martial arts circles and certainly holds true when applied to kamas.

Vented Metal Blades
The vents on the blades of this set of kamas straddle the line between aesthetic and useful. Some users insist that the vents allow the blades to move faster by reducing the amount of resistance when the blade swings through the air. Other users point out that most routines employing kamas do not require particularly fast motions, making the vents nothing more than aesthetic choices that make the kamas look more martial or aggressive.

Cost and Value
This set of kamas is incredibly affordable, particularly when their price is held up in comparison to other martial arts-specific kamas on the market at the moment. The set costs a little bit more than most of the agricultural kamas on this list, but their design and appearance account for the difference more than any change in functionality.
Pros
  • Solid Practice Weight
  • Vented Metal Blades
  • Sharp Edge
Cons
  • No Hooking Notch

3. Tomita Knife Grass Sickle

Tomita is a brand sold through Nissaku. Nissaku, as a company, is unique among the companies usually featured on this site in that they are not a martial arts company, a mixed-inventory company, or a gardening company. They are a knife company and their entire inventory consists of bladed tools designed for a range of uses and at a range of prices.
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Ships Sharpened
Some buyers might be hesitant to buy a bladed kama for fear of destroying it when they have to sharpen it. Nissaku resolves this issue by sharpening their kamas in the factory prior to shipping. This means that extra care must be required when removing the kama from its packaging, particularly because Nissaku sharpens their blades to fine edges prior to packaging.

Lightweight
Unlike kamas designed solely for martial arts use, this multi-use kama is incredibly lightweight so as not to tire out gardeners and farmers. One user described the kama as being about the weight of a banana. While the weight of this kama may not tire users out, they must be particularly careful to keep a tight grip as lighter-weight weapons have a tendency to go sailing if not held properly.

Cost and Value
Nissaku's kama holds the title of Best Value for this list. It is the most affordable kama both among tools and martial arts weapons. The low cost does not seem to denote a lack of quality, however, as the vast majority of users have nothing but praise for its solid construction, lightweight, and incredibly sharp blade edge.
Pros
  • Ships Sharpened
  • Lightweight
  • Multi-Use
Cons
  • Designed Mainly for Agriculture

4. Pro Force Champion

4. Pro Force Champion
Pro Force makes their second appearance on our list with their Champion kamas. They resemble their competition kamas quite a bit, but the styling options are much more varied and the weight balance is often reviewed as being different. Some may find the handles of these kamas too sparkly, but the inset crushed glass and polished blades are sure to stand out and make an impression.
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Polished Aluminum Blades
Unlike most of the kamas on this list, the blades of the Pro Force Champion kamas are not made of steel. They are made of highly polished aluminum. Aluminum will not hold as well under agricultural use of heavy practice use. But it is a lighter material than steel and will allow the user to move faster during competitions or practice.

Vented Blades
Pro Force's champion kamas feature vented blades, much like their Competition kamas. And, as with the Competition kamas, there is some debate as to whether the vents are more functional or aesthetic. As most routines involving kamas do not involve rapid movements, the vents are likely to be aesthetic for the most part. Should a practitioner want to perform a high-speed routine, however, the vents will reduce the amount of resistance the blades encounter.

Cost and Value
The Champions come in at a slightly higher price point than the other Pro Force kamas on this list, likely due to their more ornate appearance. Compared to other kamas designed exclusively for martial arts, however, the Champions are far and away among the most affordable kamas on the market.
Pros
  • Polished Aluminium Blades
  • Vented Blades
  • Pre-Decorated
Cons
  • Mighty Be Too Sparkly for Some

5. United Cutlery M48

5. United Cutlery M48
United Cutlery might sound the name of a mild-mannered silverware company. It is, however, misleading. United Cutlery is a company that has built its client base around bladed tools that look as aggressive as possible without losing all utility and their kamas are an excellent example of this.
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Cast Stainless Steel Blade
United Cutlery made sure that their kamas could handle business by forgoing the lightweight metals such as aluminum and opting for stainless steel instead. This material will hold an edge for some time and will resist rusting under most conditions.

Fiberglass and Nylon Handles
The blade is not the only part of a kama that needs to be durable, a fact that United Cutlery is clearly aware of. Their handle is constructed of both fiberglass and nylon. This effective combination has been popular among construction companies for some time. And though it might add extra weight to the kama, it provides an incredibly durable handle.

Cost and Value
This kama is by far the most expensive on this list. It is somewhat uncommon which accounts for part of the price. But another equally influential factor is the kama's appearance. It has a uniquely aggressive design that gives it added appeal to certain customer demographics which means an increased price as well.
Pros
  • Cast Stainless Steel Blade
  • Fiberglass and Nylon Handle
  • Sheath Included
Cons
  • Designed More for Show than Use
  • Heavy

6. Tiger Claw Pheonix Blade

6. Tiger Claw Pheonix Blade
Tiger Claw is a relatively unique company in that their product line is very focused, but the focus is on both martial arts supplies and certain branches of construction. This does not seem to affect the quality of their products, however. Their martial arts supplies are highly rated though fall towards the pricier end of the price spectrum.
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Unique Blade Design
Most kamas have solid blades with little detailing. A few companies put ventilation holes in the blades. And then other companies take a more unique track. Tiger Claw is part of this third group. Their Phoenix bladed kamas are shaped with harder angles than traditional kama blades as well as gaps in the flat of the blade that create intricate ventilation shapes.

Lighweight
These kamas are by far the lightest on this list. The handles are ultra-lightweight wood and the blades are plastic which trades in heavier metal blades for a non-functional yet relatively safe blade that is light enough for users at almost any point of the strength spectrum.

Cost and Value
Tiger Claw is relatively expensive, given the materials used in their kamas. The blades are plastic and non-functional except as display or safe practice options but they easily outpace steel and aluminum-bladed kamas in terms of price.
Pros
  • Unique Blade Design
  • Safe Plastic Blade
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • No Sharp Edge

7. GTMA Plastic

7. GTMA Plastic
GTMA is a dedicated martial arts company with a little twist. Not only do their carry uniforms and guards, but business card holders and belt display racks all decorated with motifs from an array of martial arts branches. They also carry several unique pieces of equipment, including their hard plastic kama.
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Hard, Durable Plastic
Most kamas come with a sharpened metal blade, but these kamas are the exception. They are constructed entirely of hard, durable plastic that makes them perfect for practice drills and katas. This construction choice also means that they are lightweight and require less maintenance than metal-bladed kamas.

Sold in Pairs
These kamas are not the least expensive on our list but they are very nearly the best value because, for the price of many single kamas included on this list, buyers receive two practice kamas. They are not suited for cross-use in gardening but they are ideal for those seeking a realistic weight and design for their practice kamas.

Cost and Value
These kamas are a great value for those seeking practice martial arts kamas. They lack usability for gardening or other similar uses but they are ideal as practice tools. Their durable construction and low-maintenance composition mean that they will last longer with less work than metal-bladed plastic kamas which will greatly increase their value for those who want their kamas to go the distance.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Hard, Durable Plastic
  • Sold in Pairs
Cons
  • No Metal Blade

8. TMAS Sharpened Steel

8. TMAS Sharpened Steel
TMAS is a martial arts company, through and through. Their products are almost uniformly highly rated and their prices are some of the best on the market. They offer everything from patches to leg stretchers to martial arts uniforms. Their kamas are an excellent example of the quality they put into their products, a quality that they do not use to inflate their price tags.
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Long-Handled
Most kama are designed with relatively short handles as they do not have to be swung in wide arcs to harvest the most common crops they are applied to. The TMAS kamas, however, are designed with slightly longer handles to improve their usability in martial arts routines as well as broaden the range of gardening uses they are suited to.

Sold as a Pair
Many of the kamas on this list are sold individually but TMAS chose to go a different route. Their kamas are sold in pairs, adding an extra burst of value to an already reasonable price. This choice also makes TMAS' kamas particularly well suited to martial arts routines, as most branches with such routines require two kamas to be used.

Cost and Value
TMAS has their kamas listed at an amazingly affordable price point. Their prices would be some of the most affordable on this list even if they sold each kama separately. But, since the kamas are sold in pairs, the price tag is almost unbelievably good. The kamas lack a staff notch and are slightly less curved than most traditional agricultural kamas, but they are well-designed for cross-over tools that pay due respect to the origin of the kama.
Pros
  • Long-Handled
  • Ships Sharpened
  • Sold as a Pair
Cons
  • No Hooking Notch

9. Buki Yuushuu Red Racing

9. Buki Yuushuu Red Racing
Buki Yuushuu is a company that sells one thing and one thing only: kamas. They have developed their own unique style both in the usability and the appearance of their kamas. Buki Yuushuu nearly always sells their kamas in pairs and the array of design choices is almost dizzying! Their price point might be a little higher than most, but if someone is in the market for something a little flashier than normal, Buki Yuushuu is the company to buy from.
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Sold in Pairs
Buki Yuushuu's prices would be outrageous if they sold their kamas individually. Since the kamas are sold in pairs, however, the prices are much more understandable. These are not gardening kamas and they're not meant to be used for actual fighting. But they are gorgeously designed and wonderfully eye-catching, which makes them ideal for form competitions, skill displays, and any costuming needs that someone may have.

Extremely Lightweight
Kamas are lightweight by nature. They had to be so that farmers did not exhaust themselves from simply hauling their tools around. But Buki Yuushuu proudly proclaims that their kamas are the lightest on the market, coming in under four ounces each. This is an amazingly low weight and adds a great deal of appeal for those who use kamas in skill displays or form competitions.

Cost and Value
Buki Yuushuu does not sell their kamas cheaply. The price is a little more bearable, however, when one considers that the price is for two kamas instead of one. The nearly feather-light weight of the kamas and the huge array of design options add further value to these competition-ready beauties.
Pros
  • Sold in pairs
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Unique Design
Cons
  • High Price Point
  • Not Intended for Contact

10. Macho Martial Arts Studded

10. Macho Martial Arts Studded
Macho Martial Arts is the kind of martial arts company that likes to cover as much of their market as possible. They offer everything from foam rubber bo staffs to padded helmets to kamas designed specifically for competition. Their kamas feature several unique design features such as handle studs and vented blades that make it a good candidate for form competitions.
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Sold as a Pair
Macho Martial Arts favors affordable prices over cleaning out their customers' pockets. This is especially true of their kamas, as the affordable price tag applies to not one kama at a time but a pair of kamas. Macho Martial Arts is clearly a company that knows the needs of their customers and wants to meet them as effectively as possible.

Planed Handle
This pair of kamas is unique for several reasons, the most important of which is the fact that one side of the handle has been planed. This means that the handle has a flat side which allows the user to grip the kamas with more confidence.

Cost and Value
The price tag on this pair of kamas would be reasonable even if it applied to only one kama. The fact that buyers get two kamas for such a reasonable price is astounding. Additional value is added by way of the planed handle, vented blades, and unique studs that decorate the bottom of the handle shaft.
Pros
  • Planed Handle
  • Handle Made of Red Oak
  • Sold as a Pair
Cons
  • Not Designed for Dual-Use

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Kamas

Usability

Kamas are not particularly common in martial arts. Very few branches incorporate the weapon at all. Those that do use kamas often have little use for them beyond visually striking routines and skill demonstrations. For this reason, usability was at the top of the criteria requirements when compiling this list. Kamas that could be used for both martial arts and agricultural purposes were favored over those that had only use kind of utility. The actual usability will vary depending on the school or competition that the kama is being used in, but most of the kamas on this list could technically be used for both visual and practical purposes.

Aesthetics

The use of kamas in martial arts is largely for visual effect. While traditional kamas were very practical tools and likely featured little unnecessary decoration, martial arts kamas have developed a certain style of appearance that is often both beautiful and aggressive. These are the kamas most often chosen for use in competitions or demonstrations as they are more likely to catch the eye than kamas built in the traditional style.

Weight

Kamas have historically been very lightweight tools. This is likely because a heavier tool would be harder to swing and ultimately less effective for harvesting crops. In martial arts, however, heavier weapons amount to slower motions. Slower motions can cost practitioners points in competition and reduce the visual impact of a demonstration. Most of the kamas on this list are among the most lightweight on the market, with one or two exceptions. These exceptions were no accident, however. They were chosen to exemplify the benefit of having training weapons that are lighter than the competition weapons. Namely, that practitioners used to heavier weapons will have even more power and speed behind their motions when they switch to the lighter competition weapons.

Additional Content

There is, generally speaking, very little additional content that could come with a kama. For the purposes of this list, additional content includes such things as cases, sheaths, or a second kama. Such add-ons are so rare that less than half this list features kamas with additional content. Among the kamas with additional content, the most common type is a second kama so that the buyer receives a pair with which to practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Can I use these kamas in my martial arts class?
A: Kamas are likely not allowed in general martial arts classes unless the instructor has made it clear beforehand that students can bring them in. If the teacher has stated that kamas are allowed, it is important to make sure that the appropriate kind of kama has been purchased. Many classes will require dull kamas or plastic-only kamas to avoid the risk of injury.

Q: Can I use these kamas in competition?
A: As with using kamas in martial arts classes, permission from the instructors or organizers in charge of a competition is required to properly answer this question. Competitions are more likely to allow sharp-bladed kamas, however, if only for skill demonstrations.

Q: What is a dual-use kama?
A: Dual-use kamas are, for the purpose of this list, kamas that can be used in either an agricultural or a martial arts setting. Single-use or single-utility kamas, on the other hand, are kamas that can only be used in one field of use or the other.

Q: Are kamas used one or two at a time?
A: Kamas are traditionally used one at a time, but that is in an agricultural sense. Because the first use of kamas in martial arts was likely through improvisation, it is most likely that traditional martial arts kama use also relies on one kama at a time. The branches of martial arts that employ kamas today, however, typically use two at a time for the visual impact of it.

Q: How heavy should a kama be?
A: Kamas are very lightweight, typically under seven ounces. Heavy kamas are considered to be undesirable for anything but resistance training because they are harder and slower to move.

 

Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama_(weapon)