Buying a bo and a bokken

Discussion in 'General Weapons Discussion' started by SuperFLY, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    Hi all,

    We're pretty short on spares at my Aikido dojo so I'm going to get myself my own Bokken as my Sensei said he'd like to start doing a lot more cutting techniques in lessons and additional to that my Karate sensei has mentioned it might be a good idea to get myself a bo.

    There's a company I've used in the past for bits and pieces so I'm set on that, its just deciding on the one I want.

    As far as bokkens go i dont need anything specialised so i'll probably go with a standard Oak Diato with a cheap tsuba for the sake of it.

    http://www.ninecircles.co.uk/Wooden_Weapons__Shinai/Bokken/Standard_Bokken/Oak_Daito_-_102cm.aspx

    But with the bo, there are a few options

    there is the Oak Bo - http://www.ninecircles.co.uk/Wooden_Weapons__Shinai/Jo,_Bo__Naginata/Oak_Bo_-_182cm_x_3cm.aspx
    the Koryu Oak Bo which seems more popular being slightly thinner - http://www.ninecircles.co.uk/Wooden...o__Naginata/Koryu_Oak_Bo_-_182cm_x_2.6cm.aspx
    and a tapered version - http://www.ninecircles.co.uk/Wooden_Weapons__Shinai/Jo,_Bo__Naginata/Tapered_Oak_Bo_-_182cm.aspx

    i guess the tapered version is just an aesthetics thing so my question is, what is preferred? the 3cm or 2.6cm?

    i did expect more range in sizes but it seems pretty standard as far as a Bo goes.

    im leaning towards the 2.6cm. seems to be the more popular but i just wanted to get your thoughts.

    also, out of interest. with the colours. is there any general accepted preference or is it just down to personal taste? i prefer the darker colours so would probably get a stained one. this has the added bonus of being a lot cheaper but is this a less desirable option as i wouldnt have thought a less than uniform grain would drop the price that much!

    any info welcome

    cheers

    Dave
     
  2. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Stains make it look good but dark stains can also hide imperfections in the wood and "mottled" natural color patterns. As long as the integrity of the grain is good then it shouldn't be a problem. However, turned wood usually has "grain run-out."

    Thinner bo move faster and look cooler while moving but are more fragile and vulnerable to damage from accidental drops and other impacts.

    Ask your Sensei for his recommendations on where and what to buy. He may have a wholesaler discount or prefer a specific product.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  3. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I can only offer this - a bo that is used in kumite gets thrashed fast. I recommend rattan for your beater bo to use in the dojo. Who cares what it looks like? A nice bo is good for doing bo kata in competitions. And if you don't do bo kata for competitions, you don't even need that. Hope this helps!
     
  4. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    Thanks for that guys :)

    the Bo will mainly be used for kata with the potential to be used in competitions. I dont believe i'll be doing any kumite using it. If I end up doing so I can always get another one for that.

    i'll ask my sensei what he recommends and what he has in store for me, heh. that'll help make the decision.

    cheers
     
  5. Grenadier

    Grenadier Administrator Staff Member

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    When I see listings for oak bo / kun, there are simply too many varieties of oak to be certain as to whether or not it will be acceptable for use.

    There are some truly excellent varieties of oak, such as Japanese Kashii, as well as some of the really nice, higher density, tighter grain red oak that Shureido uses.

    However, for most listings of "red oak," you're going to end up with cheap, porous North American or East Asian red oak. A lot of unscrupulous vendors smooth them out by filling up the pores with wood putty, and then using a varnish that covers up these awful flaws. This is why red oak bokken will splinter even after a light to moderate amount of contact.

    I prefer a non-tapered bo, simply because it feels more uniform in my hands.

    At my school, people who start kobudo practice usually buy 1" (2.54 cm) diameter hickory bo, untapered. The hickory wood offers an excellent combination of strength, resilience, flexibility, and durability that's really hard to match at that price. Often times, folks will buy two bo / kun from us: one 1" diameter hickory one for general use, and then another one made of more exotic wood for show / presentation, such as jatoba, purpleheart, wenge, or cumaru. While the more exotic woods are perfectly good for impact, they're not as cheap, nor are they as resilient as hickory.

    I personally have three. One is my tropical olive bo, which I use for general instruction as well as for kata performance. It's more of a medium density wood. My second bo is my beater, which is made of 1" diameter hickory. My third bo is an octagonally cut 1" diameter bo made of Brazilian Rosewood, which I use as my high density, heavy bo. I use this one for practicing various kata that force you to not rely on more of the lower body, since your arms get awfully tired if you try to use them too much with this bo.
     
  6. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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  7. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Talk to your sensei -- but I'd avoid the tapered or thinner ones if you're looking for competition, unless your absolutely sure that the stick will be acceptable. More and more traditional tournaments are prohibiting "toothpick bos" that are too thin and too light to actually even pretend to be a functional weapon.
     
  8. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    I dont think a 4mm difference (3cm vs 2.6cm) in diameter constitutes 'toothpick' but I see your point :)

    I'll be training tomorrow so I'll ask him then, cheers for the replies all.
     
  9. Grenadier

    Grenadier Administrator Staff Member

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    USA-NKF tournaments state that bo's must be at least 1" in diameter at the center, and that if they're tapered, they can't go any more narrow than 7/8" at the end. That, plus they must be made out of hardwood. I've personally forbade some folks from using their own "special" bo's for competition, since some were made out of broomsticks, some were made from pinewood dowels, and others from bamboo. I'm actually pretty forigiving, though, and let them use my hickory beater bo in such cases if they do not have a legal bo.

    It was rather amusing to see some of these folks trying to do a kata with a "real" hardwood bo that complied with the rules. Suddenly, the ones who were spinning the bo rapidly in one hand, and twirling it around their heads and bodies, were now struggling to generate decent power. :)
     
  10. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    in case anyones interested :)

    i spoke to my sensei about it and he said he had 2. a tapered 'toothpick' for kata and a thicker one for kumite.

    so thats exactly what i've got too. 3cm centre to 2.2cm tip tapered one for kata and a 3cm straight oak for kumite.

    coupled with that i've grabbed a standard brown oak bokken for aikido.

    job done :)
     
  11. Grenadier

    Grenadier Administrator Staff Member

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    Just be careful about the standard oak bokken. Unless you're sure of the wood source, it's probably going to crack with even a moderate impact.
     
  12. chinto

    chinto Senior Master

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    no the taper is not just for ascetics!! the taper helps you keep track of your hand position on the bo, and makes the ends put more force in a smaller aria. I think you will find a good red oak bo very nice to have. a good hard wood, normally of a species of oak is preferred for a boken. In either case when you get the weapon sand it so you take the varethane or varnish on it off. Then rub boiled linseed oil into it or soak it in boiled linseed oil for an hour or so and wipe it off. this will make the weapon a lot stronger, less likely to splinter and a little heavier. the last is not really noticeable. but it will hit a lot harder as you will know that it will not brake or splinter.

    go with the 3 cm I would say.
     
  13. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    If you do this, burn the oily rags or run the risk of them spontaneously combusting.

    Peace favor your sword,
    irk
     
  14. Zealot

    Zealot Yellow Belt

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    When in doubt trust your sensei. I know that doesnt help at all but let me add this.... The bokken is just like a blade. The colour, the shape, it all matters not at all if form doesnt follow function. Dont worry about stain and what not, thats all trivial. Your bokken will become part of you just as a blade will. i will warn you away from exotic wood wapons unless you are looking for something to work out your arms. Ironwood and Ebony being popular are also insanely heavy. Good luck mate and I hope you find a good fit. Myself I just went up and picked a few and swung them until I found the one that talked to me.

    By the by I am not insane, it was a spiritual alliteration.
     
  15. Grenadier

    Grenadier Administrator Staff Member

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    Another way that I use, is to take the oily rags, put them in a Ziplock bag filled with detergent + water, and then toss them out.
     
  16. clfsean

    clfsean Senior Master

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    Seriously?? I'm a total newb in this topic, but they'll *poof* by themselves?
     
  17. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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  18. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Yup. As has been pointed out, lots of things can spontaneously combust, but linseed (aka flaxseed oil, flax oil) is especially vulnerable. This is the stuff that the original Linoleum was made from. As it dries, it hardens. The hardening process is exothermic. Combine exothermic linseed oil on cloth rags and it's a recipe for bad juju if you're not careful.

    A lot of other common wood treatments are much less vulnerable, to the point of it being a non-issue. Polyurethane, for instance. Not a problem with that stuff.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  19. Grenadier

    Grenadier Administrator Staff Member

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    Indeed. A lot of the older paints also gave off lots of heat as they cured, which is why we were always told to never store oily or paint soaked rags together in pile.
     
  20. SuperFLY

    SuperFLY Green Belt

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    thanks for that :)

    i ended up getting a standard bokken. i know 'colour' shouldnt matter but it certainly looks nice in a nice deep brown stain :D

    very well weighted, not too heavy and most important of all appears very good quality (there is a heavy spare one at the dojo that ive used and it really takes it out of you after a while)

    came with a plastic tsuba but it doesnt quite match the stain colour and to be honest im not sure if i want to put it on. its not necessary for what we're doing.

    havent had much opportunity to 'play' with my bo's but they look great, really good quality. looking forward to working with them soon.
     

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