I had intially put off buying this book as I wrongly believed it to be simply an updated version of Zen Kobudo, an earlier work of the author. This book is an essential addition to the library of any serious student of Kobudo or indeed any of the Okinawan martial traditions. The insight into each weapon is nice, but for me the real value is found in the obscure weaponry and the historical information which is quite intelligently hidden within the various sections. For example, this work contains to my knowledge, the first real information concerning the use of spies or 'ninja' by the Ryukyu kingdom. Armed with such information, when you read the accounts of Basil Hall's stay on the island and the various diplomacy tactics used by the Ryukyu government, it is clear to see how intelligently the Okinawan bushi were able to conceal their true identity in order to gather intelligence and use clever tactics to stall and hinder any advances of the superior force. The book also firmly dispels the rather ridiculous claims that Karate and Kobudo were created by peasants in order to resist against the occupying force of the Satsuma. The information presented is compelling and thought provoking. The military ability of the Ryukyu Kingdom has been downplayed rather somewhat by modern historians despite stong evidence to suggest familiarity with the use of sword, spear and even firearms, pre-dating their introduction to mainland Japan. This work gives Ryukyu the credit it deserves and is a fine contribution to her martial traditions. Of particular interest is the use of clandestine or improvised weapons and this should get the imagination wondering how to make use of everyday modern objects carried about your person which could be used in similar ways. Once again, an excellent contribution to the Ryukyu martial traditions by the author.
I got this more out of interest in unusual weapons then the history and there certainly were a few I had not heard of before. A couple of nunchuck and staff variations that I had not seen look very interesting.
The history side looks to be very well covered with lots of examples of who used what and when and theorys on the origins.
As for hidden methods, theres not really any instruction on how to use anything, only stuff on what the weapon may have been used for or how it was concealed.