Updated: Aug 11, 2019
Those of you that were listening to the pod cast back in winter will perhaps have heard the New Years revolutions,. (you can find the episode #19 here)
Well I thought I'd put together a little update for you guys on my plans and progress in learning the martial art of Bojutsu. That is the use, and application of, the "bo staff", a weapon that was considered one of the best ways of countering the Samurai Katana Firstly .. we have to choose a staff. These come in a couple of sizes and thicknesses, and are usually longer than the "jo staff" that is approximately the length of a typical sword. Bo staff's are either 60 inch or 72 inches in length and either 1 or 1.25 inches in thickness. I chose the 1.25 72 inch staff in red oak, because I am a shade under 6 foot tall and a pretty "chunky" build"
I really was quite excited to see what it would be like when it turned up. I mean on one level its a wooden stick and on another .. its something else .... The finish on mine is satin, which makes it quite easy to grip even though its smooth. Be warned though , I was surprised at the weight of the staff once it gets some momentum behind it. If you're of slim build or shorter stature, maybe pick the 1 inch diameter 60 inch version. I bought the staff from "playwell martial arts" online store for about £17 GBP and although postage did almost double that price its still a pretty low barrier of entry for a piece of equipment. I have a friend who recommended a teacher but as yet we havent managed to get any lessons set up. However pending getting that organised, online chats and youtube is your friend.
I'll link a few great videos in the reference list below.
First things first, the bo staff when it spins is LONG so when you're spinning it you're gonna need ALOT of room. However some of the simple spins are more about hand to hand coordination and if you're short on space as I am then I have cheap and cheerful solution. Get yourself to B&Q and grab a cheap curtain rail. The wooden ones with the rings. or maybe raid a relatives house and nick one, but which ever you do, make sure it's about 2/3rds the size of your bo in length. Then for static spins, like the butterfly or the assisted wrist role you can use this shorter staff indoors and even seated, which will help with coordination so that when you do get chance to spin the full size one you at least have the move dialled in and its just a strength and control exercise at that point. Plus it's a useful tool when going through new moves via video and the pause button to slow time run through position and hand placement. So far I've learnt:
The butterfly spin both left and right handed
This is simple once you get the timing in your head.. and a good starter to get the fingers and arms warmed up.
The across body figure of eight There are 4 variants of this two with each hand. One can lead with the thumb or the back edge of the hand and the staff spins in different direction accordingly .. its tricky but if you get your dominant hand and arm dialled in then you can move the other arm with at least an idea of the form you're wanting create. Assisted wrist roll Wrist rolls bug me. Taking the staff and rolling it over the back of the hand, effectively letting go of it and catching it in one smooth motion. Its always been difficult for me. The assisted wrist roll is great for this cos it is exactly what it sound like. you use your other hand to guide the staff over the back of the wrist that is spinning it. Its handy to learn the butterfly first because the catch on the spinning hand is identical to the lower hand on the butterfly.
The two handed downward flower. Essentially a cross body spin and strike with the bo starting and finishing under one arm. you can move from this into continuous spins but I aint there yet.
So that's where I am at. Over the next few days I'll get a video together of me dropping .. er I means practicing with the staff so you can see for yourself and if you fancy having a go then why not watch a few videos and get started ?