Choosing the Correct Bo or Staff: One of the more popular weapons to begin training with in the martial arts is the Bo or staff. Popular for many reasons, the most common is the ease with which you can learn basic techniques and forms. The Bo is not as complicated as say a Kama or Sai so it makes it the perfect weapon for beginners. When you begin your search for the perfect Bo you should have a couple pieces of information available to you. The length of the Bo is key to getting the right one for you. Generally unless you are working on a specific style of form (Short Staff vs Long Staff) you would want to get a Bo that is close to your own height. Most Bo’s come in 3 standard lengths, 4′, 5′ and 6′. If you fall between one of these sizes and are uncertain of the correct length you should check with your instructor or simply go with the size that is closest to your own height. Another key factor is weight and dimension of the Bo or Staff. Bo’s can vary in thickness from 1″ to 1 1/2″ typically with a 1″ Bo being lighter and easier to handle. A half inch doesn’t sound like much but believe me when you are working with the Bo for long periods of time that slightly extra weight will begin to wear on you. While heavier Bo’s are okay for adults and larger teens, smaller kids and children should have a lighter and thinner Bo for their small hands to work with. Choosing from a straight or tapered Bo is another key factor to consider. A tapered Bo will be faster to move and spin and tapered Bo’s are normally used for forms demonstration for such reasons. A straight Bo will be heavier and a bit more durable and are used for stick to stick training. Wood choice is of course also very important although mostly for reasons of appearance and style more than any other reason. There are hardwoods such as red oak and white oak and white wax wood which are very strong and heavier than soft woods like rattan and bamboo. Bo’s can come in a variety of finishes from natural to black and you can find them with carvings and painted surfaces as well. Again these are more for appearance than for technical aspects of training so this is normally were your own personal style will come into play.
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