Returning to the Bo Staff

Yesterday, my partner and I went down to the local martial arts store to purchase two beautifully crafted simple wooden 6 ft. bo staffs. And I am so glad we did. When I first began my physical training in the martial arts, the bo staff was my first and to this day, my favorite weapon. The simplicity of it is what I think makes it one of the most impressive of the martial arts weapons.

I started training 7 years ago, and at the beginning of my introduction to the martial arts, I devoured everything I could about the history and origins of different fighting styles. And I always found the histories of stick weapons to be the most noble. The various stories of staffs and sticks often go like this: a group of people were living in a place where practicing combat was outlawed, or they were too poor to afford swords and blades – so they picked up their farming tools and anything they could find and used their simple tools as weapons.

I feel like these origin stories are very noble and sort of ironic. They show that the people who created the different martial arts were filled with ingenuity and determination. They weren’t going to allow the laws or economic circumstances stop them from defending themselves and their families. Reading these different accounts of history actually inspired me to start training myself. In absence of a formal teacher and official martial arts classes, I was not going to be held back.

The simplicity of a bo staff – and the fact that it is essentially just a stick – made it the perfect weapon for me to start with. At the time, I was using a hard push broom stick to learn. And I kept multiple push broom sticks over the first few years of my training. I actually never had trained with an actual bo staff until yesterday. And when I did, it was amazing.

We bought the staffs around early afternoon and I took it straight the this park area not too far from my apartment. And in the solitude provided by the coverage of the trees, I went through all of my staff techniques and bonded with my new staff which I have come to call: Daemon.

It is important to respect one’s weapons and to understand that they are an extension of oneself.

It was surreal to train in an open wooded area on such a beautiful spring day with my first authentically crafted bo staff. Aesthetically, Daemon fit right in with my surroundings and help me to stay focused and in tune with my training. I cannot find the words to describe to you, my reader, how amazing yesterday’s initial training felt.

The bo staff is not only such a great weapon because of its simplicity, but also because it teaches the combatant everything they need to know to able to fight with proper technique. Using the bo staff demands that the martial artist maintains a proper wide and sturdy stance, as one moves from technique to technique. It also forces the martial artist to twist from the core with every strike and with every block/parry. The principles that one learns when wielding the bo staff are easily transferred over to empty handed combat and self-defense, by simply putting the staff down. Applying the same movements with slight modification, give the martial artist solid techniques and healthy drills to practice during empty handed training.

After my initial training yesterday afternoon, it took a couple hours of rest before joining up with my partner for the more acrobatic and flashy martial arts training that I have been practicing. This training started at 9:00 p.m. and lasted for around 40 minutes. Over the course of that time, we trained the Macaco, (which is a one-handed backwards flip), the back-flip, and the butterfly kick. And I was able to utilize the Macaco in combination with a side kick, demonstrating how these flashy moves can be implemented with the basic and intermediate techniques to have actual combat capabilities.

Our training was very enjoyable and tiring. And I must say that at this stage of my martial journey, the reason I’m progressing the way I am is because of my partner. I mentioned in a previous post that I saw myself begin to plateau with my skill level. Well, now, I am pushing my skills to the next level, and I am able to do that now, because of my training partner. He’s not only a companion whose joined in on my journey, but he’s a great spotter and, coming from a dancing background, he offers plenty of support for me as I increase my flexibility as a martial artist.

Our acrobatic training ended around 10 p.m. and after that we headed to the roof of my apartment’s parking garage to train with the bo staffs. I was teaching my partner the beauty of the staff and he was getting to experience it for the first time. I showed him all of the basic strikes, blocks, short-form, and long-form, along with the 6 or 7 different bo staff spins. He did very well for his first time using any staff weapon. And we are both excited for our next training session together.

In the mean time, my next immediate training goal is to master the cart-wheel and the back-hand spring. But today, I am going to rest up a bit before my night-shift at my temporary minimum wage job.

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