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A traditional rokushakubō is 1.82m (6 shaku) and wielded with both hands, due to its weight and size.

A (), pong (Korean), pang (Cantonese), bang (Mandarin),[1][2] or kun (Okinawan) is a staff weapon used in Okinawa. are typically around 1.8 m (71 in) long and used in Okinawan martial arts, while being adopted into Japanese arts such particular bōjutsu. Other staff-related weapons are the , which is 1.2 m (47 in) long, and the hanbō (half ), which is 90 cm (35 in) long.[3][4][5]


The is usually made with unfinished (no varnish, stain, etc) hard wood or a flexible wood, such as red or white oak, although bamboo and pine wood have been used; more common still is rattan wood for its flexibility. The modern may be tapered in that it can be thicker in the center (chukon-bu) than at the ends (kontei)[6] and is usually round or circular (maru-bo). Some bō are very light, with metallic sides, stripes and a grip which are used for XMA and competitions/demonstrations. Older bō were round (maru-bo), square (kaku-bo)[7] (rokkaku-bo) or octagonal (hakkaku-bo). The average size of a bō is 6 shaku (around 6 ft (1.8 m)) but they can be as long as 9 ft (2.7 m) (kyu-shaku-bō).[2]

A 6 ft (1.8 m) is sometimes called a rokushakubō (六尺棒). This name derives from the Japanese words roku (), meaning "six"; shaku (); and . The shaku is a Japanese measurement equivalent to 30.3 centimeters (0.994 ft). Thus, rokushakubō refers to a staff about 6-shaku (1.82 m; 5.96 feet) long. The is typically 3 cm (1.25 inch) thick, sometimes gradually tapering from the middle (chukon-bu) to 2 cm (0.75 inch) at the end (kontei). Traditional bō are not tapered. This thickness allows the user to make a tight fist around it in order to block and counter an attack.[2]

In some cases for training purposes or for a different style, and in more recent years, rattan is used.[8] Some were inlaid or banded with strips of iron or other metals for extra strength.[7] range from heavy to light, from rigid to highly flexible, and from simple pieces of wood picked up from the side of the road to ornately decorated works of art.

Martial arts[edit]

Japanese wooden staff "bō" weapon made in the shape of a walking cane, 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in) tall and 15 cm (5.9 in) circumference
Two Japanese bō; one is 140 cm (55 in) tall and 15 cm (5.9 in) in circumference in the form of a walking stick, the other is 180 cm (6 ft) tall and 1 in (25 mm) in diameter in the form of a staff.

The Japanese martial art of wielding the is bōjutsu. The basis of technique is te, or hand, techniques derived from quanfa and other martial arts that reached Okinawa via trade and Chinese monks. Thrusting, swinging, and striking techniques often resemble empty-hand movements, following the philosophy that the is merely an "extension of one’s limbs". Consequently, bōjutsu is often incorporated into other styles of empty hand fighting, such as karate. The "bō" is also used as a spear and long sword in some of its motions, such as upward swing and slashing motion across the body as well as extensions by gripping one end and thus increasing its length as thus making it similar to a spear.

The is typically gripped in thirds, with one palm facing the opposite direction of the other palm, enabling the staff to rotate and to secure the weapon when blocking. The power is generated by the back hand pulling the staff, while the front hand is used for guidance. technique includes a wide variety of blocks, strikes, sweeps, and entrapments.


The earliest form of the , a staff, has been used throughout Asia since the beginning of recorded history. These were hard to make and were often unreliable. These were also extremely heavy. The konsaibo was a very distant variant of the kanabo. They were made from wood studded with iron. These were still too cumbersome for actual combat, so they were later replaced by unmodified hardwood staffs. Used for self-defense by monks or commoners, the staff was an integral part of the Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū, one of the martial arts oldest surviving styles. The staff evolved into the with the foundation of kobudō, a martial art using weapons, which emerged in Okinawa in the early 17th century.

Prior to the 15th century, Okinawa, a small island located south of Japan, was divided into three kingdoms: Chuzan, Hokuzan, and Nanzan. After much political turmoil, Okinawa was united under the Sho Dynasty in 1429. In 1477, Emperor Sho Shin came into power. Determined to enforce his philosophical and ethical ideas, while banning feudalism, the emperor instituted a ban on weapons. It became a crime to carry or own weapons such as swords, in an attempt to prevent further turmoil and prevent an uprising.

In 1609, the temporary peace established by Sho Shin was violently overthrown when the powerful Shimazu clan of Satsuma invaded and conquered Okinawa. The Shimazu lords placed a new weapons ban, leaving the Okinawans defenseless against samurai weaponry. In an attempt to protect themselves, the people of Okinawa looked to simple farming implements, which the samurai would not be able to confiscate, as new methods of defense. This use of weapons developed into kobudo, or "ancient martial way" as known today.

Although the is now used as a weapon, its use is believed by some to have evolved from the long stick (tenbin) which was used to balance buckets or baskets. Typically, one would carry baskets of harvested crops or buckets of water or fish, etc., one at each end of the tenbin, which is balanced across the middle of the back at the shoulder blades. In poorer agrarian economies, the tenbin remains a traditional farm work implement.[2][9] In styles such as Yamanni-ryū or Kenshin-ryū, many of the strikes are the same as those used for yari ("spear")[10] or naginata ("glaive").[11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kim, R. (1974). The Weaponless Warriors. Ohara Publications. p. 26. ISBN 9780897500418. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  2. ^ a b c d Demura, F. (1976). Bo, Karate Weapon of Self-defense. Ohara Publications. p. 10. ISBN 9780897500197. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  3. ^ Hayes, S.K. (1990). The Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art. Tuttle Publishing. p. 79. ISBN 9780804816564. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  4. ^ Draeger, D.F.; Smith, R.W. (1980). Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts. Kodansha International. pp. 1–117. ISBN 9780870114366. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  5. ^ Hassell, R.G.; Otis, E. (2000). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Karate. Alpha Books. p. 204. ISBN 9780028638324. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  6. ^ Demura, F. (1976). Bo, Karate Weapon of Self-defense. Ohara Publications. p. 19. ISBN 9780897500197. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  7. ^ a b Lowry, D.; Lee, M. (1987). Jo: Art of the Japanese Short Staff. Ohara Publications. p. 22. ISBN 9780897501163. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  8. ^ Ollhoff, J. (2010). Weapons. Abdo Publishing Company. p. 14. ISBN 9781604532876. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  9. ^ Black Belt. Black Belt magazine. Active Interest Media, Inc. December 2003. p. 22. ISSN 0277-3066. Retrieved 2015-09-13.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. ^ Campbell, S. (1999). Exotic Weapons of the Ninja. Carol Publishing Group. p. 17. ISBN 9780806520636. Retrieved 2015-09-13.
  11. ^ Demura, F. (1976). Bo, Karate Weapon of Self-defense. Ohara Publications. p. 18. ISBN 9780897500197. Retrieved 2015-09-13.

External links[edit]