Bo staff help...

JLC

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I'm looking for a bo staff for Kata. I was looking at the two piece ones, thinking that they would be easier for transporting. I have only used one piece maple ones, but I see there are lots of options in both one and two piece staffs. I would really like some input/pros and cons one piece vs two and the different materials used to make them.

Thank you
 

astrobiologist

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I have a good ol' hand made octagonal 5'6" maple staff that I'm really digging right now.

I'm not a fan of the two-piecers personally. I like a solid staff, good weight, with no surface added (I hate those lacquers and other surfaces they cover some bo with). I have one of those graphite toothpicks that look cool to twist, but they really aren't worth even a tenth of what they cost.

As far as different woods are concerned, I'm not the expert. I would like to find a denser wood for my next staff.
 
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JLC

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Hey, Thank you very much for your time and input. Is the octagon bo much heavier than your other ones?

Thanks again!
 

bowser666

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Not sure if thsi will help or not. In my style ( Shaolin Northern Longfist) we use a Wax Wood staff. It is very solid , yet lightweight so you can move it very quickly, and it has a natural flex to it so you can really put some torque into your strikes and get a nice whipping type effect.

If you are doing kata's and are strictly looking to perform kata and not necessarily train with it as a weapon then stick with a hardwood. IMO wax wood is much more versatile, it cheap to replace, and its a lot of fun.
 

Aiki Lee

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I use two bo. My rattan bo I use for free response drills with training partners. Rattan doesn't hurt as much as hard wood if you accidentally hit your partner, and rattan doesn't break as easy.

I use the heavier oak bo for solo kata training. Builds some muscle.

If you need some kali sticks I think a two piece bo would be fine. Two weapons in one seems like a square deal. But if you don't need such a thing I would suggest a solid one peice bo. If you plan to use your bo against training partners I suggest rattan, if not then go with something heavier.
 

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I am operating on the assumption that you are practicing a Japanese or Okinawan or Korean method, hence your reference to bo staff, and not a Chinese method.

As was mentioned, the Chinese methods often use waxwood, which has some unique qualities that make it very effective in how it is used.

For the Okinawan based methods, you probably want a hardwood bo staff. I would recommend you stay away from two-piece models, I personally just don't trust how strong the joint would be.

I suggest you find a heavy hardwood bo. Use the bo as a tool to push the intesity of your workout. A heavy staff will make you work harder and will make your technique stronger. A light staff will not push you as hard and will give you room to cheat on your technique.
 

sparky12

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I have to agree with most of the posts. I have the wax wood and it takes much more abuse than anything else I have owned.
Regards, Don
 

searcher

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I never allow my students to use two-piece bo for safety reasons. We have had them come apart which leads to a possible injury. Plus they are lightweight and only good for open style forms practice.

My personal bo is a 6' purple heartwood by Crane Mountain. The ones my students use for practice are 5 or 6' solid oak.


The purpose of the octagonal bo is to give it cutting edges.
 

clfsean

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"Bo Staff" ... <excuse me while I channel Napolean Dynamite>
There's like a buttload of gangs at this school. One of them wanted me to join because I'm pretty good with a bowstaff.</end channel>

2 piece tooth picks are crap by design & nature. They reek of XMA-ness. Not worth the money they rip people off of... period. No beating around the bush.

If you want a serious stick to train with, you have some choices depending on money & possible usages.

I like all the reasons mentioned above for the different wood types. The biggest factor is you. What are you going to do with it? What does your teacher say? If your teacher is a serious FMA/OMA/JMA/CMA practitioner & teacher, they will tell you what you need for your own good & development. After a while, you can choose what works for you by experimenting with different woods & all. Start with your teacher. Best advice.
 

dancingalone

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I practice Okinawan karate, and I use a handmade bo made of purple heartwood. (Just noticed searcher has something similar.) It's heavier than the typical mass-produced bo made from oak, which is good for conditioning purposes. I find my technique has to be better using a heavier bo, so it's great for training in that respect.
 

Grenadier

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I'm looking for a bo staff for Kata. I was looking at the two piece ones, thinking that they would be easier for transporting. I have only used one piece maple ones, but I see there are lots of options in both one and two piece staffs. I would really like some input/pros and cons one piece vs two and the different materials used to make them.

I train in Yamanni Ryu Kobudo, where the bo is the main weapon. Given how the system strongly emphasizes long, flowing strikes, and continuity of bo movement, I have my own preferences.

I strongly recommend against using any of the multiple-piece bo, since each connection produces a weak link in the weapon.

Also, the uniformity of the bo is compromised, since they'll add metal inserts to reinforce the connections. That, plus seeing the shiny metal on a wooden weapon, looks cheesy...

A one piece bo is the best choice. There are many excellent choices for hardwood that you can use with a bo, and many of them aren't that expensive at all.

Inexpensive:

Hickory - Inexpensive, yet also really durable and resilient.

Medium price:

Brazilian Cherry - Also known as Jatoba, really hard and dense, beautiful wood.

Purpleheart - Beautiful purple color, really hard and dense, although if cut to 1" diameters, might experience some warping.

High price:

Brazilian Rosewood - A bit of an oily wood, hard and dense, but also has a really nice resilience to it.

Cocobola - Probably the most desired wood. Unfortunately, extremely rare and expensive.


My personal favorite is my Brazilian Rosewood, octagonally cut, 1" diameter bo. I've sanded it down with extremely fine grit sandpaper, and polished it up with some 000 steel wool. Right now, the finish is smooth, yet grippable.

Again, 1" may, or may not, be an optimal diameter for you. It all depends on personal preference.
 
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JLC

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Thank you all for your input, so much great information and perspective. My intent is for use mostly in Kata.

Thanks again for all the info!
 

Josh Oakley

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Cocobola - Probably the most desired wood. Unfortunately, extremely rare and expensive.

But man, it's a great wood to work with. I sparred with my cocobola 4' jo against my buddy's Japanese red and white oak laminate octogonal 6' bo, and now he needs a new bo. I cracked and dented his. He was not happy about that. Now he's getting a cocobolo bo.


but really the best for condition is a 6 foot steel rod. They sell them at home depot for $20. Just don't train barefoot or drop the thing on your foot. They leave a nasty scar.
 

Flying Crane

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use caution with exotics, particularly cocobolo. Many of these can cause an allergic reaction and you can get a nasty, uncomfortable rash that doesn't want to let you go.

Once it's finished, it's probably OK to handle, but if you sand it and expose yourself to the dust, you can have problems. And it might not happen until after you have been exposed several times, over a period of time.

So wear gloves and coverups when you sand or otherwise work with these. Save yourself some troubles. Trust me, it sucks.
 

tellner

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Cocobolo is also prone to shattering.

Flying Crane is right about the exotics. Ken Koenig of Tiger Mountain Woodcrafts was working with these decades back. He started wearing a respirator after he put himself in the hospital breathing in the sawdust from Purple Heart and a couple others.

While I'm thinking of it, Osage Orange, Tan Eucalyptus and Ipe are very strong and reasonably priced.
 

Grenadier

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use caution with exotics, particularly cocobolo. Many of these can cause an allergic reaction and you can get a nasty, uncomfortable rash that doesn't want to let you go.

Yup. The inhalation of such sawdust can be even worse, as there is such a thing as carpenter's cancer. That's why I also recommend a mask when sanding down exotic hardwoods.
 

Flying Crane

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Yup. The inhalation of such sawdust can be even worse, as there is such a thing as carpenter's cancer. That's why I also recommend a mask when sanding down exotic hardwoods.

Yes, good point, I should have included that in my earlier comment.

Really, a mask should be worn when sanding ANY wood, not just the exotics.
 

Grenadier

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Thank you all for your input, so much great information and perspective. My intent is for use mostly in Kata.

Out of curiousity, which system of kobudo do you study? We might be able to narrow down the recommendations based on the system, too.
 

Aniela13

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My bo is ~6' redwood (almost 8 inches taller than me...my roommate dropped the ruler on my head while measuring for this post lol!), a little more than 1" diameter around the center, and tapered slightly at the ends. I find it to be great for kata work...it's not feather-light like some others I've worked with, but it's not cumbersome either.

Now to go nurse the egg growing on my head from that ruler... ^_^
~Ani
 
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