The bo or staff
The primitive use of long staves or short sticks (bo and jo) is appreciably diminshing as time goes by. Yet, in Japan the staff has shown considerable growth in popularity. Therefore there are a great variety of teaching methods involving an equally wide range of staves.
Ancient warriors considered the techniques of the short stick (jo) and the long staff (bo) to be of secondary importance but they still learned the method and practice. The Katori ryu raised the staff to the dignity of a true fighting weapon and have developed the staff into an effective weapon against all types of swords. The monk-warriors of the 16th century made it their weapon because they said that the staff’s humility could make it powerful and so conquer the enemy or even break the famous sword in two.
Training usually comprises of a dozen techniques taught in strict sequence, requiring several years of practice. The bo’s effectiveness in the hands of an expert is exceptional. By sliding it through the had, the length of the staff can vary instantaneously; in addtion, far from striking with the tip alone, the bo describes complex and often uncheckable figures.
Bo training takes place in the open air without any special form of protection. During the first few months the pupil must assimilate the figure (or kata) and the different positions. Two-man combat is only introduced very much later.