Bo and Staff Buying Guide

Martial Arts Bo Staffs

The bo staff, also known simply as the "bo" is a traditional martial arts weapon that originated in East Asia. It has a rich history and has been used for both combat and self-defense, as well as in various forms of martial arts practice and performance.

The bo staff originated in Okinawa, where it was used as an alternative weapon. When Emperor Sho Shin took control of the island in 1477, he banned weapons to keep the peace. However, this ban proved impractical when the Shimanzu clan invaded in the 17th century. Since the Okinawan people lacked other weapons, residents picked up their farming tools and began to use them to defend themselves. The bo staff as martial artists know it today was born as a result. 

What Are The Different Types Of Bo Staffs?

Staffs are made with a wide variety of materials. The right choice for you depends on a number of factors, including what you want to use it for and your skill level. Curious about some of the different types of bo staffs? Here are a few common types: 

  • Jo: A jo is another type of Japanese staff. It is shorter than a bo and usually measures around 4 feet long. However, many modern products still use the term "bo" to describe this length. You can use it in martial arts such as jojutsu.
  • Sectional Staff: A three-sectional staff is usually called a “sansetsukon” in Japan and a “sanjiugun” in China. It originated in China, where warriors originally used it in combat. Its chained joints let the different parts move around during use, which creates more dynamic combat conditions.
  • Gun Staff: The Chinese gun staff is similar to a bo, but is usually constructed with lighter materials such as rattan, making it perfect for beginners or training-only sessions. It is used in martial arts such as kung fu.


What Are Bo Staffs Made Of?

Based on your comfort with training weapons and the intensity of the training you are doing, the construction of the bo staff you choose is going to vary. 

Some staffs feature foam coating over harder materials, which offers a layer of padding between you and your opponent. This padding helps reduce bruising and injury, which makes it ideal for beginners. If you're an absolute beginner, you may want to consider training with a flexible staff made entirely of foam, as this will lessen the blow when it makes contact with the body. Another good choice for beginners is rattan bo staffs. Rattan is a stem, which makes bo staffs made of this material much lighter in weight than hardwood. Rattan’s low weight makes it easier to train with, and it is a better choice for novice martial arts practitioners.

For more experienced martial artists, wood staffs are the way to go. Traditional staffs such as the bo were originally constructed from wood, and modern-day staffs are often made of this material too. Oak wood is usually the material of choice for traditional practitioners of Japanese martial arts. Hardwood is also a good material for strength training, as it is heavier than many other materials.

Whether you are practicing martial arts at home or on the mat, and whether you train alone or with peers, having the right equipment for your experience level and specific martial art of choice can help you be successful and comfortable.


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