Bo staff techniques

A traditional bō is exactly 1.818 meters and wielded with both hands, due to its weight and size.
This exercise is part of Divine Body Practice
Exercises by or assembled by John Eagles.

Bo staff exercises are really pleasant to do. You don't need to be a fighter to enjoy this. It's a pleasure to be able to move the stick around in many ways. It trains your coordination and flexibility and strength in many muscles.

Training methods

Techniques in Slow Motion

You can largely improve any technique by performing it in slow motion. This is often rather difficult. You can concentrate on the details of the technique such as adequate body posture, correct standing, balance, energy flow.

Attack techniques

Striking techniques

Simple striking techniques. Note that the hands slide over the staff but keep the same vertical position (hand palm up or down) regardless what kind of move is made.


A simple attack technique with the bo staff.

Defense techniques


Blocking & moving

Full moon move

A defense technique after which you can control your opponent.


Note that in one full cycle there are two moments that your stick guards in a downward movement, and two moments that your stick guards in an upward movement. When you practice it is good to single out these different types of guards so you get more awareness of how this defense can be effective.

You can also twist the staff in front of you without moving it to the right or the left side of your body.

Guarding while walking

This exercise is the same as the one called 'Guarding' above. It's a guarding technique, but here it's done while walking back or forth.

More defense techniques

Defense Against Attack With Long Stick

The enemy attacks you with a long stick held high. You practice to very quickly jump forward. When your enemy attacks you from the right side, you jump to his left side. When he attacks you high from the left side, you jump to his right side. You must do it very quickly and your ending position is very near the leg of the enemy or else he can still hit you.

Rotating and passing techniques

Jo technique

One-handed twirl


One of several passing techniques using the bo staff. Passing the staff from one hand to another, in various ways, is done to confuse the opponent and to have the staff quickly in a changed position to deal with possible attacks or to make a surprise attack yourself.


The staff is also used in Shaolin Kung Fu. Here a basic rotating technique. Note that the staff is different from the Japanese bo staff. The shaolin staff has one thicker and one thinner end.

Under the legs pass

Slide staff down shoulder

Handy technique. Not sure how this could easily be used in a real fight but all exercises to increase your skillfulness with the staff are good.

Strengthening techniques

Poling to the ground in horse stance position

Poling to the ground in horse stance position, to strengthen your arms and shoulders.

Slamming the staff


Practice combinations of exercises for all bo staff techniques. First combine two different techniques flowing from one into the other and vice versa. Then add a third technique and practice until you don't need to think anymore how to do it, that is until your body knows by itself how to do a series of movements.

You want to build up learned reflexes. You do this by many repetitions of first simple and then more complex moves.

Additional bo staff exercises

  • Massage your feet with the staff - Sit down and roll your feet over the bo lying on the ground.
  • Jumping exercise for bo fighting - For bo fighting you need to have much jumping power. To practice, jump from squatting with your hands on the floor and then jump as high as possible.
  • Strengthening the wrists - Hold a bo at the tip with one hand and make all kind of movements, circling, up and down, right and left.
  • Jumping with the staff as support - You can use the pole as support for jumping higher or farther (pole vaulting & fierljeppen).

External links

  • Bo staff A bō is a long staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan. - Wikipedia
  • Gun (staff) A long Chinese staff - Wikipedia


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