Bo Staff

The Bo staff is an ancient weapon used by those who practice the Japanese martial art of bojutsu as well as by many who study a range of Okinawan, Chinese, and Korean combat arts. Chinese monks were known to have spread the art of staff fighting throughout Okinawa, which led to different varieties of weapons over time.

How long is a bo staff?

Most staffs are approximately 71 inches long though they might differ slightly depending on the type of material they are made from. Some staffs have been extended so that they are a full 6 feet in length, which are known as rokushakubo. Han bo style equipment made for those who practice the Korean martial arts are usually around 35 inches long. These are sometimes known as half bo staffs as a result.

What are some materials that make up these weapons?

While the most traditional types of weapons are made from hard wood, the fact that these martial arts styles have been embraced by so many different cultures has led to a variety of materials used in their manufacture. You are likely to see staffs made from any of the following matrials:

  • Red Oak, a flexible wood
  • Bamboo, which has a light nature
  • Rattan
  • Metallic compounds
  • Pine
What shapes do bo staffs come in?

Bo weapon design has changed in a few ways over the years, but the shape of most weapons falls into one of five categories:

  • Kaku-bo - Square
  • Maru-bo - Round
  • Hakkaku-bo - Hexagonal
  • Demonstration-style - Striped or ridged
  • Tapered - Thicker at the center or chukon-bu than it is at the kontei, or ends
What style of martial arts are these staffs made for?

Any style of martial arts that focuses on using pole weapons may make use of the bo. This makes it useful as a complement to open-hand training in karate or judo as well as part of dedicated pole arm training. Aikidoka often incorporate defensive bo techniques into their repertoire as well.

What other names does the bo go by?

Depending on the style of martial arts you are training in, you might have come across other names for it, all of which are used by different manufacturers to describe this pole arm. Chinese martial artists often refer to it as the bang while it is known as the joong bong by those who study Korean defensive techniques.