Would you find it odd, in starting training, to be handed a bo (6-foot stick) on day one of training?
For many schools the use of “weapons” is reserved for black belts.
What thought process or flow behind this?
In taijtusu, there is just the martial movement of the body. The idea of different weapons, unarmed movement broken down into striking, grappling,etc. as all being different or separate is an alien concept.
In taijutsu we only have movement of mechanics, regardless of armed vs. unarmed.
There is also the idea of controlled chaos in training- from day one you start learning all the skills needed to navigate a situation. Of course there are basics and fundamentals to practice, a starting point, and at different levels of training as one progresses the focus will shift, but being exposed and learning everything along the way is by design- even if it is overwhelming.
Survival is survival, and awareness is KEY. Being aware of training tools, movements, situations, and what could happen with various movements- even if one can’t do them right now, makes you aware of what could happen. In terms of natural capacity, we also have the ability as human beings to learn everything- how would it play out in the moment of survival if you needed a certain skill, but it was withheld from you because you are not a black belt or a certain rank in training.
You are shown everything, it is your responsibility to to “get it”.
Learning the bo, in comparison to our other historical training tools such as the sword, spear, weighted chain, etc. has very practical returns. A long stick can be found or substituted in many places- its movements can be used in a variety of situations.
From that end our training in bojutsu can be explored in the following points:
Kamae: postures and ways of holding the stick to manipulate distance and timing.
Ukemi: ways of receiving an attack with the stick.
Uchi waza: ways of striking with the stick.
Kata: traditional training forms.
Bojutsu heiho: strategy and interacting with the stick and training partners.
Building on that the bo is also useful for understanding distance and timing. At six feet in length, it can be used to understand angles of attack, ways of keeping or expanding distance, and other movement ideas which can be directly used outside of the stick. In many ways its a physical training tool to understand the unarmed movements and isolate certain training principals so they are easier to see.
From the new member of the group the stick is also used to teach coordination and timing, and is one of the KEY reasons we start them off with the stick.
There is a training exercise called bofurigata which is spinning the stick to create distance. In order to do this correctly one has to move the upper and lower part of the body at the same time and in unison.
If the timing is “off” your knees or legs get whacked with the stick.
Very quickly one learns about the timing and unison of both the upper and lower parts of the body working together to generate power- which compliments and build on the lessons of the san shin no kata.
Grab your stick and see you in the park.