Subscribe to Black Belt at Home Blog!
Be the first to know about new blog articles. You won't be roundhouse kicked in the head with spam and pointless promotional emails. Thanks for being a reader!
Here I would like to answer some common questions I receive about the style of Ultimate Bo and about bōjutsu in general.
Ultimate Bo is a recognized martial arts style; it can also be referred to as Hodge-American Style Bōjutsu. We tend to use the name Ultimate Bo frequently, as it is less of a mouthful, and easily describes the style which we learn and train. The style is derived from Okinawan weaponry, specifically the style known as bōjutsu, which is the art of the staff in Japanese. Currently, the Ultimate Bo style is broken down into two sections: Freestyle Bo and Sparring Bo. Freestyle bo refers to our forms (kata) and technique (kihon) practice. Rather than being pure bōjutsu katas, our style also integrates a small number of American freestyle movements, which may appear somewhat flashy or stylized. These elements do not take away from the total goal and usability of kata training, which was originally designed as a solo combat training drill, in pre-arranged sequences. By adding a few modernistic elements, our katas have a unique flavor and style, which create a high energy flow and aesthetic beauty, without degrading the real combat sequence arrangements within the katas.
It is not unheard of for traditional Okinawan and mainland Japan karate styles to include artistic elements within their katas. Some movements are power building techniques, which stem from Zen Buddhism mediation and breathing exercises, which are initiated before an explosion of power or combat engagement. It is also worth noting that our katas include a few elements borrowed from Chinese staff styles. You will notice a few of these techniques which are very different in nature in our brown and red chevron katas.
The other section of Ultimate Bo is Sparring Bo. In the current edition of the Ultimate Bo course, we do not go into great detail and specificity in the realm of combat. The focus of our sparring techniques revolve around bo vs. bo confrontations. I am not condoning that you should train and work on sparring with a staff every day, in case a mugger gets the drop on you with a 6 ft. rattan staff. Our sparring practice and point competition matches simply allow us to develop a better working understanding of footwork, angles, blocking, counter-attacks, and strike points while engaging with an opponent/partner. Ultimate Bo sparring is fun, a great workout, and develops good reactions. In the next iteration of the Ultimate Bo program, which is set to release later this year, we will expand the sparring bo section considerably, to delve deeper into how the staff can be useful in defensive circumstances, as well as taking into account ippon kumite of traditional bōjutsu.
All in all, Ultimate Bo is meant to live up to its namesake – the “ultimate” in learning how to use the “bo.” Rather than just learning pure Japanese staff, Chinese staff, or even modernistic American style competition Bo – we take all into account. I am even learning more about European pole arms, fencing concepts, the jo, kali, and some sword principles in my study and preparation for the next iteration of Ultimate Bo.
Yes and no. There are certain basic concepts which, if learned and trained enough, can serve you well in an unexpected scenario. But, let’s get real. We live in the 21st century; this is not 15th century feudal Japan. Many things have changed. The focal point of our bo training is not combat, fighting, defense, killing, and war. That is almost like training to be an online journalist with a quill and ink. I realize that being a master fighter with a staff would not serve you greatly in this day and age, but there are obviously benefits. Teachings which benefit you whether you are alive now, or in the days of Miyamoto Musashi. When you practice combat and sparring with a staff, you develop an understanding of a weapon art. The reactions, stances, footwork, angles of attack, blocks, and principles carry over to sword practice, nunchakus, and other weapons. Being able to pick up a crow bar, lead pipe or whatever, and striking vital points with proficiency and without hesitation could matter. Grabbing a broom stick in a knick of time to parry a projectile or whatever could matter. Using a walking stick in defense of an animal on a hike through the mountains could matter. So, there are clearly some combat type benefits which can be realized. But again, that is not really our focal point.
Yes it will. I started training with the nunchakus and bo right after earning my 1st degree black belt in song moo kwan. We tend to use similar stances and concepts in the bo katas, as with most traditional systems. The bo training will benefit your upper body flexibility, strength, endurance, and mobility. This is a surprising benefit of using the bo, you get a really good cardio workout, and upper body specific strengthening.
Ultimate Bo sparring will allow you to discover new angles of attack, defense, and footwork; which can be translated into empty hand sparring. I think the largest way that is compliments your current style, is through creating a new love and excitement for the martial arts. Sometimes, especially when students reach advanced ranks (around brown belt), or even after finally achieving a 1st degree black belt, a student can get the feeling that they have already learned the bulk of what their school has to offer. In this case, it can be great to start learning something new, which compliments rather than diverges your attention from the traditional martial arts.
This depends on why you are training and how experienced you are. Here is my recommendation for Ultimate Bo students:
I have answered this question before in my popular post, The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Bo Staff. I would like to expand upon my answer. The size of your bo depends on the purpose of your training. Traditionally the bo has been 6 ft. long. Bo comes from the word rokushakubō, which refers to a staff which is about 6-shaku (1.82 m; 5.96 feet) long. Traditionally a bo has been used for combat as well, but we live in a day and age that has different uses for this quarterstaff.
I do hope that my answers have been helpful. I love practicing with the bo, and am always learning more. I do not claim to be a master or the greatest teacher of the staff, I simply have a love for learning and exploring it; and have dedicated a great deal of time in creating a truly organized way to train, progress, and earn rank through the study of this weapon.
If you are interested in learning this weapon with me, I do urge you to join the Ultimate Bo Home Study Course. This course will teach you the entire style from white to black chevron, and I will be there for you along the way. I answer my students’ questions personally, or on the student forum. I also film a personal feedback video with every rank exam grading that I do, which allows me to give you detailed guidance and feedback; just as if you were coming to train with me locally each week.
I am also working on the next iteration of Ultimate Bo at the moment; it will be out later this year. You can purchase and join the course with full confidence now, to start learning, ranking, and laying a strong foundation. Once the new material comes out, you will have more tools and knowledge available for a more extensive study of our art.