This past Saturday we reviewed some of our basic (kihon) bojutsu training concepts, with bojutsu being the Japanese way of using the six foot staff.
As a training tool the bo has a number of really great movement reminders in our training which is one of the reasons why it is one of four traditional training tools we explore- hanbojutsu, kenjutsu, and sojutsu being the other three.
Training wise we explore ways of holding and moving it through a number of body postures known as kamae- seigan, jodan, ihen, chudan- all have the staff at a different position and place which open up oppotunities of movement with your training partner.
From there we explore different ways of striking with the staff- tsuki, tento uchi, do uchi, ashi barai, etc. What makes the bo unique is that both ends can quickly come into play, one after the other, opening up some very dynamic movement.
Building on that are two important fundamentals- bofurigata and ukemi; ways of spinning the stick and ways of receiving at attack with it.
In practice we are also using the bo as a training tool to understand some very important concepts of movement that are sometimes hard to see- with the bo, the concepts are physically easier to see due to the six foot length of the stick. If we can "see" it, we can understand it, and look for the movement in other movements. In this capacity bojutsu becomes a tool of self discovery.
The first is distance- the stick is six feet long, and with footwork and handwork powering it, the bo has a reach of seven to eight feet. Can we use the bo at this distance and maintain this distance with each movement? If not, what do we have to adjust in our footwork?
The second is coordination of footwork with handwork- both moving at the same time and in unison so we are moving both with power and relaxation. Bofurigata, spinning the bo is a great example of this. If your coordination/unison is "off" the stick won't spin smoothly, or it will hit your knee or side as it moves by. If it is in coordination, your body will naturally move and cycle out of the space it occupies.