Bo-taoshi (Japanese: 棒倒し Hepburn: bōtaoshi , "pole bring-down"), is a capture-the-flag-like game, played on sports days at schools in Japan. The game is played by cadets at the National Defense Academy of Japan traditionally on its anniversary. It is famous for its size, wherein two teams of 150 individuals each vie for control of a single large pole. Each team is split into two groups of 75 attackers and 75 defenders. The defenders begin in a defensive orientation respective to their own pole, while the attackers assume position some measure away from the other team's pole. A team is victorious if it is able to lower the pole of the opposing team (which begins perpendicular to the ground) to a thirty-degree angle (respective to the ground), before the other team reaches this goal. Until a rule-change in 1973, the angle of victory was only forty-five degrees.
Although bo-taoshi may look like all out chaos, there is actually strategy involved.
On the defensive half, positions include: pole support, barrier, interference, scrum disabler and the ninja. Offensive positions include: springboard/scrum, pole attackers and general support attacks.
- Pole support - to hold the pole in the upright position.
- Barrier - the largest part of the defense, their job is to protect the pole.
- Interference - harass and interrupt attacks that get within the barrier.
- Scrum disabler - scrum is the offensive strategy in which the attackers use their teammates back to spring themselves over the barrier and onto the pole. The scrum disablers do whatever they can to eliminate this attack.
- Ninja - this is the single man at the top of the pole. This is one of the most important positions on defense. The ninja must lean to the opposite side if the pole is being tilted to counteract the weight.
- Springboard/scrum - the scrum acts as stepping stones so their offensive teammates can jump over the barrier and have easy access to the pole.
- Pole attackers - in charge of taking the ninja down and using their weight to bring the pole down.
- General support attackers - Do anything to make it hard on the defense.
- Bodlak, Tyler. The Scribe November 12, 2011. Obscure Sports: Bo-Taoshi. This article on bo-toashi describes the rules, objectives, and some history of the sport.
- Viet. Tofugu. undated. Is This a Sport or is this War? (Bo-Toashi). This article talks about traditions, history and rules of Bo-taoshi. It is a sport native to Japan and is played by cadets in the military academy. The writer has a bachelors of science degree in chemical engineering (2009) from the University of Washington in Seattle.
- National Defense Academy of Japan official website. Regular Annual Events. This source is the National Defense Academy of Japan's official website. It contains schedules, classes, professors, activities, traditions, and sporting events. Bo-taoshi is traditionally played on November 1 which is also Self Defense Forces Day.
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