Can a Jo staff be used instead of a Bo?

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  • #6105
    michaellee1983
    Participant

    Hi Sensei Michael, up until recently I have never been interested in learning to use weapons but I have really enjoyed training with your DVD’s & have just enrolled in the Ultimate Chucks program which is very well put together. I have the beginners Bo DVD but have not yet had a go at it because I have had no staff. My ceiling is not high enough to swing a 6 foot staff so I have ordered a Jo staff. I was just wondering if a Jo can be used instead of a Bo? & would training with a shorter staff be detrimental to my progress?

    #6108
    Dick R.
    Participant

    The question of using a jo staff is of interest to me as well. Unlike michaellee1983, I have multiple bo staffs of various materials, 5.5 to 6 feet in length, with which I train. I also have a jo of 4.5 feet, given to me as a gift. I have considered asking Sensei Michael about possibly using the jo for part of my testing, especially for Form 2. I would prefer to test in my garage, rather than outside on an uneven lawn. With a longer staff inside the garage, I have to be cautious about hitting the overhead door opening mechanism — with a jo, I could be somewhat less cautious, and perhaps demonstrate greater intensity for parts of Form 2. [As the result of a degenerative neurological condition, I have a balance disorder, which affects me more with karate kicking than with weapons.] For Form 2, this affects me with balance on the 270 degree turn. The turn is easier for me on the even garage floor than on uneven ground. (For testing, I could actually try to demonstrate Form 2 both ways, with the understanding that I’m more likely to stumble on the 270 turn outside). My issue is a distinguishable from micallee1983’s, in that he is asking about doing all of his training and testing with a jo. And with caution, I AM able to use a longer bo in the garage, and may do so regardless of how the issue is determined.

    #6133
    GMAU
    Keymaster

    Thanks for this question. In short, a Jo can be used instead of a Bo for training/practice. Let me dig a bit deeper here.

    When you are in a room with limited space (low ceiling, furniture, etc.), and perhaps during the winter when it is too cold to practically train outside – I advise to train with a Jo indoors. In lieu of a Jo, an escrima stick is even possible, although if you have the proper space and reach, a Jo is much closer to the physics of a Bo.

    What is the difference between a Jo and a Bo? How would your training be detrimental or possibly lack?
    The Bo has traditionally been 6 feet long (rokushakubo) — roku: six, shaku: feet, bo: staff (roughly). Sometimes even a bit longer and it has been used as a basic transition piece to longer pole weapons in Europe (Quarterstaff) or to the naginata in Japan. When you train with a Jo of 4′ – 4.5′ length, you will not be able to simulate the correct balance, spatial awareness, thrusts, and certain blocks. However, the difference is related to the weight of the staff in your hand, the creation of habit in your bodily movement, and proximity awareness.

    Overall, the training can be done in a very similar manner. There are just certain things that you would do with a Bo, that you would not do with a Jo. You would not do as many thrusting and long range attacks of course, you would also have less choice in your blocking; as the Jo simply covers less of your body.

    To conclude, my thought is that training with the Jo most of the time rather than the Bo is a fine idea (if that is the only option). But, going outside, to a park, etc. every once in a while to get a feel for the difference in lengths will serve you quite well.

    I assume someone could also tell me — why are you training with a 6 ft. bo — you should be using an 8 ft. quarterstaff! The length of the weapon changes in your body’s muscle memory and habitual control of the weapon. The more you practice with a specific length, quite simply, the faster you will master the proper abilities – with that specific length.

    • This reply was modified 7 years, 2 months ago by GMAU.
    #6134
    GMAU
    Keymaster

    Dick R.,

    In your situation, I recommend using an actual 5.5 or 6 ft. bo outside most of the time. The full range of motion will serve you well. In the 270 degree turn and other problematic areas, do you best on these.

    I would also practice inside with your Jo when you want to. When you take your rank exam, demonstrating Bo form 2 once inside your garage with the Jo, and once outside with your Bo. Thank you for making me fully aware of your balance situation. As your grading instructor, I like to know your abilities and potential challenges before you even test, so that I can fairly evaluate your performance based upon these parameters.

    No two students are alike, and I think it is only reasonable to take into account things like this. I am also still learning more about trying out Jo, escrima, and other lengths — as for the last 10 years I have mainly used a 5.5 or 6 ft. staff. I look forward to more feedback on this.

    #6143
    michaellee1983
    Participant

    Hi guys, thanks for the replies. I got my Jo today and it does feel very small and light and has made me think that I may be able to train indoors with a longer staff(for most of the techniques). I am not enrolled on the Ultimate Bo course yet(I just have the first disc) but when I am then if I decide to grade then I have every intention of using a 6 foot Bo for the grading assessments. I went over the techniques taught in the Beginners Bo DVD today and then my friend who studies Bujinkan Budo Tai Jutsu (Ninjutsu) came around and showed me how to do some basic spins and I’ve hardly put my Jo down all day. Thank you Sensei Michael for the detailed advice. I will practise with both a Bo & a Jo, I purchased a Hanbo aswell and my friend showed me some joint locks with it.

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