One of my favorite martial arts weapons that we train with at Samurai Karate Studio is the Bo Staff.
Students usually start to work with this weapon a short time after they have joined our leadership program.
The reason the Bo Staff is one of favorite martial arts weapons, is it provides such great reach and is an excellent tool to keep your armed (sword, knife, bat) assailant away from you.
Martial arts Bo Staffs come in many different styles and shapes, and can cost anywhere from $20 to $225. The Bo we recommend is the Crackle Bo that comes in 3 sizes: 50″, 5′ and 6′. We use this Bo because it’s lightweight, durable and affordable. Students are welcome to purchase a more expensive Bo if they would like, just come see me.
For our younger leadership students, we use a foam covered Bo that is easier to hold and in the event of accidental contact, no one gets hurt.
The history of this weapon is pretty cool. When Japan occupied Okwinawa, the locals were banned from carrying any weapons. The Bo staff was often used as a walking stick or would be carried across the shoulders to carry buckets of water or rice. In the event a weapon was needed, the Bo Staff was readily available.
What length bo staff do I need?
The bo staff is traditionally 6′ long. Most modern bo practitioners use a bo a few inches longer or shorter than they are. A longer bo extends your reach, while a shorter bo is easier to manage.
How wide a bo staff do I need?
You should be able to make a solid fist gripping the bo at its widest point. Tapered vs. straight is more a decision about weight vs. strength than a grip size issue.
Which bo staff is right for me?
That depends on what you are using it for.
For Demos you want as light a bo as possible, allowing you greater speed and control and preferably a bo with flash.
For Combat Training:
Accidental combat during bo training hurts and unintentionally hard strikes can result in broken ribs and other serious injuries. Softer woods such as White Wax and Rattan are preferable to Oak or Hardwood staffs and the foam covering of the Rubber Foam Bo can reduce the force of the impact.
For Strength and Speed Training:
Training with a heavier bo helps you increase your strength and stamina, giving you an edge during combat or competition. We recommend the Hardwood Bo Staff, Tapered Hardwood Bo Staff and the Youth Hardwood Bo Staff for their heavy weights and affordable prices.
I found this very useful video from Karate Depot that does a very nice job explaining how to select the right Bo for your needs and the correct size.
As you learn how to use the weapon and become more advanced in it’s use, that’s when you would purchase a weapon similar to what is shown in the above video.
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Sensei Chris Feldt is the owner and chief instructor of Samurai Karate Studio, a leadership academy located in Northeast Columbia, South Carolina. His school teaches karate to children and adults ages 4 and up. SKS specializes in self-defense, anti-bullying, stranger danger and character and leadership development.
Mr. Feldt was an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina for college credit in karate and self-defense.
Samurai Karate Studio has been recognized as a leader in martial arts instruction by being honored with the Best of Columbia Award for 5 consecutive years in a row.
Sensei Feldt has been a guest speaker in the Richland 2 School District covering school talks on stranger danger, anti-bullying strategies, kindness, and making good choices. He is available for both private and corporate self-defense seminars.