In many ways much of what applies to karate kata applies to weapons kata with the exception to the training. In weapons kata you are now wielding a foreign object in your hands. Key to making the weapon effective and the kata strong is making the weapon an extension of your own body.
Through continual practice the weapon becomes a part of you and takes on the appearance that it is alive. One that has mastered a weapon shows total and complete integration of body and spirit with the weapon. Once this integration takes place then the full potential of the karateka and the weapon he or she wields flourishes.
The way to make a weapon a part of you is to focus on a single weapon first. All too often weapons training encompasses multiple weapons at the same time. The result is a person that knows how to wield many weapons but none of them to any level of proficiency. If a single weapon is focused on the practitioner then can focus their energy on a single weapon. The proficiency on this one weapon will soon accelerate to the point where it becomes an extension of the hand. The body and mind need to be trained to accept this foreign body as a part of the whole. Once you are able to do this with one weapon, it becomes much easier to become proficient at other weapons. Soon you will be able to adapt weapons techniques to many everyday items found at home or on the street that can be utilized as effective fighting weapons. This ability of adaptation comes first by mastering a single weapon then by exposing yourself to other weapons. Each weapon has it's own strengths and weaknesses and by diversifying your training you soon will be able to effectively wield any number of weapons by instinctively being able to feel the power and weakness of each weapon and using it accordingly.
By integrating the weapon with your body and spirit you diversify your mind to accept this foreign body as a part of you. This diversification taps into a part of the mind that builds not only physical strength but the spiritual strength and the power of Ki as well.
Weapons and Competition
It has been my experience that a little flash in weapons kata during competition is good but too much is detrimental to obtaining a good score. A little flash I consider adds dynamics to the kata thus increasing it's presentation value. By overdoing this as many people do when performing weapons kata you take away from the origin and the practicality of the weapon of what is was intended to be from it's inception: that of increasing the killing potential of the human body. The extra flashy moves may look good on film but a true martial artist (as your judges will likely be) will see through the flash and see the true essence of the moves or lack thereof. Therefore it is important not to be too flashy yet dynamic enough to show the true potential of the weapon as a fighting tool. One must be continually conscious that the weapon must not take center stage but that the weapon accentuates the human body that wields the weapon. This in mind will help you to perform a kata that is true to the origin of the weapon and make you not only proficient in the weapon but will also secure a high score in competition as well.
When starting out, select the most simple weapon first as your weapon to master. The simple bo or shorter jo is the ideal weapon to start with. All too often a beginner will be enamored with a flashy weapon like the nunchaku or the kama and start there. Again the principles of mastering a single weapon first then train with the other weapons applies. Starting with a difficult weapon first increases the time that it takes for one to become comfortable with. The more difficult the weapon, the longer it will take for one to make the weapon an extension of the body. Since I feel that the second and third weapon comes much easier than the first once the first weapon becomes an extension of the hand, I would suggest picking a simple weapon as your first weapon and then embracing the more complex weapon. I feel that you may even become more proficient faster by training with a weapon such as the bo first and then training with a complex weapon than if you trained only with the complex weapon to begin with.