Why do we use standard size of hanbo?

DuskB4Dawn

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Hi everyone.
Something I have noticed while training is how everyone uses a standardized size of weapon when training, for instance the hanbo is a recommended height of 36" according to Japanese tradition.

for me the Hanbo is a very Ninja type of weapon. It has a hidden element of being easily disguised as a walking stick. And there is the Shikomi Zue which had a hidden blade. I love learning kukishinden Ryu Hanbojutsu. especially the backhand strikes and ability to change direction and strike from different directions.

The problem for me is when doing the fudo no kamae or walking stick posture when the hanbo is held to the side like a walking stick I can barley hold the end of it properly. maybe a Japanese person would be able to do this kamae comfortably but most people struggle with this trying to hold their hanbo with bent wrist it looks unnatural and it would be difficult to use properly as a walking stick.

Do you think it is okay to get a hanbo a little bit longer say 40" so that you can properly use it, would it stop you learning the techniques properly?

another thing worth mentioning is that some people recommended getting a hanbo height that reaches to your waist. I think that in Aikido they usually recommend Jo and Hanbo that matches your height of body.
 

Chris Parker

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Because that's what it is.

A Hanbo is literally a "half staff", referring to "half a six foot staff", so three foot is standard, as that's half the length. Additionally, many of the actions/techniques taught take advantage of this length, being faster and more maneouvrable in close quarters than, say, a Jo, allowing for easy switching between single and two-handed usage, and more. The respective measurement compared to long and short swords is important as well, so lengthening the weapon to 40 inches removes that aspect.

There are some that use personal measurements for items such as Jo and Hanbo (for the record, Aikido doesn't use a Hanbo at all, and I haven't come across such suggestions for a Jo for them, but some instructors may have a personal take on such ideas), but we don't, as the dimensions are pretty well prescribed by our system.

Oh, and the kamae you're talking about is Munen Muso no Kamae... I have no idea where you got "Fudo no Kamae" from.
 

Aiki Lee

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If the kamae you are referring to looks like shizen no kamae if you were unarmed, then I too have heard it called fudo no kamae, but I can't recall from what source.
 

Hatsie

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Hi dusk,

The length of the Bo was 1 'shaku' more than your height, and a jo 1 shaku less, as the average height was probably closer to 5' the Bo ends up being 6'. I would argue if you are say 6' your Bo should be closer to 7' and therefore your hanbo 3'6" or 42".
 

Sanke

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Hi dusk,

The length of the Bo was 1 'shaku' more than your height, and a jo 1 shaku less, as the average height was probably closer to 5' the Bo ends up being 6'. I would argue if you are say 6' your Bo should be closer to 7' and therefore your hanbo 3'6" or 42".

Having a 42" hanbo kinda takes away the advantage of it being a shorter and more maneuverable weapon. I'm 6"4', by that logic I'd need something even longer than Dusk, and by that point it's more like a short jo than a hanbo, which makes it a different weapon entirely. At least, that's the way we train with it, I can't speak for the Bujinkan, but that honestly just doesn't make sense to me.
 

skuggvarg

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Dear Sanke, can you elaborate on why it doesnt make sense to you?
Regards / Skuggvarg
 

Hatsie

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Well if your 6'4" and training with a 6' Bo , that doesn't make much sense, pretty much a Jo. It's all relative. My theorie is if you divide your height by 5, and multiply that by 6, you will get your optimum Bo length.

Relative to that, your hanbo Will be faster and shorter.

Hope that makes sense, think about say in a few 100 more years if people's height was 10', should they still use a 6' Bo ? It's rokushaku Bojutsu, where the shaku is a measurement of part of your body. And a then a multiple of that. Think about you jumping into your 5 foot tall mothers car, do you adjust the seat? Why?.
 

blackswordshinobi

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i use 36inch is the crected sizd of hanbo but other say might 42 but it 36 ing to hip to foot
 

Meitetsu

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I was always under the impression weapons should match your body. Tozando has that blade length calculator for when you order an iaito, but i wouldnt say that is a carved in stone rule. That being said its kind of hard to find a 7 shaku bo.
 

Chris Parker

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Hmm, while a sword can be very much personalized in terms of length, the reasons are more about proper sayabiki, noto etc, and can also be rather varied depending on the Ryu in question (some preferring longer blades, others preferring shorter ones), but from my experience the range of the staff weapons are specifically sized, not necessarily to be in relation to each other (although that is part of it), but to do with the relationship to the weapons they are going up against.

To take them in order, rokushakubo is basically a long weapon used against either other bo, or sword. As a result, it's primary used with the idea of maintaining distance, and striking beyond the reach of the swordsman. Yonshakujo is only slightly longer than a sword, giving a slight reach advantage, but needing to deal with a swords "edge" advantage. As a result, the primary tactic is pressuring the swordsman, not allowing them to find a gap for a cut. Then, when we drop to Hanbo (Sanshakubo), when against a sword, as the sword now has both an "edge" advantage, as well as a reach advantage, the primary lessons are in angling, using the correct positioning to ensure that you are not in a position to be cut, but are in a position to strike. It is also taught against a short sword, where the idea is more about basic handling of the weapon. As a result, if you're going to increase the size of the staff weapons, then all the weapons used in conjunction need to be altered as well.

When it comes to the different lengths looking at each from one to the other, the relative gaps between each is also fairly important... by going from sanshakubo (three feet) to yonshakujo (four foot), you're adding a third of the overall length... then you add half the overall length again to go to rokushakubo (six foot). This relative alteration makes each rather unique, and is a major reason I'm not fond of five foot Jo... it's adding two thirds to a hanbo, which is almost bringing it to rokushakubo size... and to then go from a five foot Jo to a six foot Bo, you're only adding a fifth of the overall length to a five foot Jo, meaning there isn't much alteration between their ranges and uses.
 

Aiki Lee

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As a result, if you're going to increase the size of the staff weapons, then all the weapons used in conjunction need to be altered as well.

So, the design of the staff weapons are not so much dependent on the size of the practitioner, but rather the size of the weapon they were designed to be paired against?
 

Chris Parker

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No, not quite. It's more that the usage of weapons (the tactics employed) are dictated by the comparable sizings. If you're using a five foot jo, and training the Kukishinden Ryu Jojutsu kata, then you've missed the point of the usage of the Jo there. That's the real distinction between the weapons, when you get down to it.
 

Troy Wideman

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No, not quite. It's more that the usage of weapons (the tactics employed) are dictated by the comparable sizings. If you're using a five foot jo, and training the Kukishinden Ryu Jojutsu kata, then you've missed the point of the usage of the Jo there. That's the real distinction between the weapons, when you get down to it.


Hello,

I think Chris has summed it up very nicely. However, for my own students that are 6ft and taller I usually suggest they get a hanbo a little longer but not by much. The main reason for the change in length, was for exactly what was brought up. In Munen Muso No kamae, if the hanbo is 36inches it can be a real struggle for the taller student. I actually gave all my higher ranks hard wood hanbo's as christmas gifts and custom fit them to each student.

To sum it up, I don't feel there is a real big problem with increasing the size a little if the student is over 6 feet. However, the shorter student should not increase the size of the hanbo to give them an advantage because then they compensate and don't work on the proper distancing and angling to employ the weapon.


Kind Regards,

Troy Wideman
 

Chris Parker

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Hello,

I think Chris has summed it up very nicely. However, for my own students that are 6ft and taller I usually suggest they get a hanbo a little longer but not by much. The main reason for the change in length, was for exactly what was brought up. In Munen Muso No kamae, if the hanbo is 36inches it can be a real struggle for the taller student. I actually gave all my higher ranks hard wood hanbo's as christmas gifts and custom fit them to each student.

To sum it up, I don't feel there is a real big problem with increasing the size a little if the student is over 6 feet. However, the shorter student should not increase the size of the hanbo to give them an advantage because then they compensate and don't work on the proper distancing and angling to employ the weapon.

Kind Regards,

Troy Wideman

Hi Troy,

You are a generous soul, aren't you? Nice gifts to give, I'm sure they appreciated them.

With the length of a hanbo, we've been known to allow such variation as well, but the catch is they can't be any longer than a bokken... in fact, they should be slightly shorter. More commonly, I teach my guys to change the kamae, so that the hanbo is held above the ground (but still in the correct position, straight up and down, and so on), or hold it higher (near the top of the hanbo), then push down to slide their hands to the correct position to begin the kata.

Sorry, missed a few bits earlier....

Hi dusk,

The length of the Bo was 1 'shaku' more than your height, and a jo 1 shaku less, as the average height was probably closer to 5' the Bo ends up being 6'. I would argue if you are say 6' your Bo should be closer to 7' and therefore your hanbo 3'6" or 42".

Is there anything to back this up, Darren?

Well if your 6'4" and training with a 6' Bo , that doesn't make much sense, pretty much a Jo. It's all relative. My theorie is if you divide your height by 5, and multiply that by 6, you will get your optimum Bo length.

No, that wouldn't make it a Jo, it would make it a rokushakubo. At least, in Kukishinden Ryu terms. I am intrigued by where this theory of yours came from, though.
 

bwindussa

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My instructor allowed me a somewhat longer staff than his because I was about 8 inches taller than him. His school of thought was the weapon should be proportionate to the practitioner in order to learn correct technique.

But that was a long time ago.
 
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