Are you one of the thousands of people in the US and throughout the world who trains in using the rokushakubo, or bo staff? It’s a popular weapon for karate practitioners, and for good reason. Training with a bo staff is great conditioning for the upper body, and there are an almost infinite number of bo techniques and tricks that beginning and skilled practitioners can learn.
Or maybe you don’t train with a bo staff but you want to learn. Stop thinking and go for it! There’s no better time to start learning a new martial art form than the present. Here are some tips to start your bo staff journey off right:
Choosing a Bo Staff
There are four big factors that you should consider when picking a bo staff. That sounds more daunting than it is – as you’ll see, they all tie in pretty closely to each other. They are: Length, Weight/Material, Appearance and your Intended Use.
Length: As sport karate competitor and Team Paul Mitchell member Jackson Rudolph explains in this video, the correct length for your bo staff depends on your height. As a general rule of thumb, when stood upright on the ground, your bo should be about the same height as you. For creative competitions, you may want it a little bit shorter.
Weight/Material: Heavier bo staffs are great for traditional or strength training. These tend to be made of hardwood, like oak, and were originally designed for use in combat. Only use bo staffs like these with the supervision of your martial arts instructor. Then there are lightweight bo, made of materials like lotus white wood, bamboo, or even graphite.
Appearance: Most people who train with bo staffs use them in competitions. Therefore, in addition to the length, you might also want to consider the look of the staff. Many competition bo staffs have eye-catching designs that draw attention to the performance. The Jackson Rudolph Signature Bo Staff and Jackson Rudolph Professional Bo Staff are the some kind of staff Rudolph uses in competition. Always be sure to use a bo staff case to securely carry your bo.
Use: Use is determined by a combination of the other factors. If you want a bo for sport competition, you will want a light, shorter bo that is easy to manipulate for tricks. For traditional competition and training a longer bo with heavier material is recommended.
FOR SPARRING: One important use we haven’t covered yet is live sparring. If you are going to use your bo for partner training with full-speed movements and striking, you should not use a wood or graphite bo. Instead, use a padded bo like the ActionFlex or foam bo staff.
As we’ve said, there’s no time like the present to start learning! Now that you know the right bo, here are some tips and techniques to start working on.
Instructors: These would be great tricks to teach in your weapons classes. If your students want to practice after-hours, they’ll be able to use these videos for reference. If you have tips and techniques you want to share, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.