View Full Version : bojutsu

2nd May 2002, 08:30

I hope somebody can help me with the following question. The bojutsu style I'm training in, during for instance uchi or tsuki the middel finger and index finger of the front hand are letting go of the bo and will lay down in the lenght of the bo(??). Can somebody explain the purpose of this. Or is this way of holding the bo style specific?


John Bowden
2nd May 2002, 14:11
IMNSHO, it's a bad idea to ever extend the middle finger. I don't think this is a feature of any

If anyone disagrees, I'd be very interested to
know the rationale for ever extending the middle
finger in bojutsu.

11th May 2002, 17:30
Thank you for your reaction.
Somehow I think there is more to it than only the application of techniques. I saw more bojutsu styles that handled their bo this way.
I agree with you about the risks of extending the fingers, but still..

I hope sombody else can shed a light on it.


Tim Lively
30th May 2002, 16:39
I believe the style you are referring to is called Shintaido Bojutsu. It was created in the 1960s by Hiroyuki Aoki. There is a good book on the subject titled "Total Stick Fighting" by Aoki. I found my copy at amazon.com. I would recommend it. It contains almost 700 photographs. I definately learned a few things from it.

Doug Daulton
30th May 2002, 17:35
In RKHS, extending the finger is not permitted. The main reason is that the bo is generally intend to defend against another bo or another weapon (sai, nunchaku, etc). With this in mind, extending fingers creates the very real opportunity for them to be caught between clashing weapons.

As fingerbones are far more fragile than white oak or cold iron, it is likely that the finger will be broken and possibly severed if caught in the middle. So, the risks referred to by Mr. Bowden are very real indeed.

In my experience, most folks who extend a finger along the bo do so to stabilize or help direct the bo to the target. If attacking an unarmed man, this might make sense. But if the techniques are done correctly (from an RKHS perspective anyway) the extended finger is redundant and may actually reduce the effectiveness of the technique.

I hope that helps.


Doug Daulton

PS: Wouter/Shintaka ... please sign your posts with your full name.

Ron Rompen
30th May 2002, 21:48
I'm not totally sure what shintaka is saying here. Are we talking about extending the fingers on the underside of the bo (say, during a block, where the fingers would be protected from strikes/cuts) or are we talking about extending the fingers OVER TOP of the bo (where they would be a prime target for your opponent)?

In our school (Japanese Goju Ryu) we often extend the fingers under the bo to support it during blocks. However, placing the fingers (or other portions of the body....DON'T ask!) in the target zone is strictly verboten :)

We also have the opportunity to 'validate' what we are taught by doing full-contact sparring with 'boffer' weapons. So far, we have worked the following weapons (in all the possible combinations), bo, jo, 1 or 2 escrima, nunchuka. Still looking forward to tonfa and sai :idea:

31st May 2002, 11:05
Minna-san :nw:

Thank you for your replies.

Mr. Tim Lively, I will look your book up. Maybe it'll be helpfull.

I do understand the danger of holding the bo this way. My Master said it was for advanced students only. I wanted to find out myself before asking him again. Because training is not only physical but also studying he teaches. Kobayashi Shihan is not a very big talker.

Mr. Ron Rompen, I'm not completely sure if the fingers are on top of the bo. I will have to look it up.


Wouter Go

1st June 2002, 06:10
Wouter San,
What line of Kobayashi do you hail from? I know Iha Sensei trains
with Kishaba Sensei of Yammane-ryu.

I have heard some people advocate the grip you describe
when grappling. They claim use of the last three fingers are
stronger if you relax the forefinger. I don't have much
experience with this and I don't know if this translates at all
to bojutsu. I don't recall seeing this any of the times I was
with Oshiro Sensei.

Best regards,

Tim Lively
1st June 2002, 06:28
If you go to amazon.com and check out the book I referred to you can see a photo of the author holding the Bo on the dust cover. His index fingers are both extended into the air. Not just resting on the Bo but actually in the air. I must agree with Mr. Daulton that this seems like a dangerous technique to the practicioner. All I was stating was what I believed the technique was attributed to and not that I feel its a smart or effective technique to use. Shintaido is a very cosmic and spiritually based style. Within the book there are references to being one with the Bo and visa versa. This is called Irimukae (entering and inviting). Another practice within this style is where the person extends the Bo with out streched hands towards the sky while standing on their tip toes. This is called Hoshi-otoshi (making stars fall). As you can probably tell this style of Bojutsu is extremely spritually based. In my mind, these techniques are not always advantageous to practical Bo combat. I was just stating what I thought Shintaka was talking about. I am trying to gather all the information I possibly can on using the Bo and all other closely related information on simular weapons. Like the quarterstaff for instance. I not saying one is better than the other. Just gathering info and was trying to be helpful.

Harry Cook
1st June 2002, 12:58
For those interested in the practical use of a staff/bo it may be of interest to investigate British and European systems of the nineteenth century and earlier. Thomas A. McCarthy wrote a most valuable work Quarter-Staff: A Practical Manual London, 1883. It is quite clear from his work that extending your fingers will rresult in broken fingers. The British approach was to wear protective armour and go for impact; in fact McCarthy recommends that young boys should settle their disagreements with 6ft staffs instead of "Knocking one another's faces out of shape" with boxing. McCarthy believes that exposure to bruises, knocks, lumps etc "will do away with a very great amount of timidity found in boys." Good to see the old British stiff upper lip in its heyday!!
Certainly in my training with the bo, primarily through Motokatsu Inoue sensei's teachings via his student Julian Mead extending the fingers is not encouraged. In fact Julian has made the point many times that it is precisely the hands, wrists etc that are the actual targets for many of the strikes which are performed on the bo (see the pre-arranged sparring drills 1-10 in Inoue sensei's books).
Harry Cook

Tim Lively
1st June 2002, 15:32
Here's a link to some of McCarthy's 1883 book that Mr. Cook is referring to.

3rd June 2002, 11:55
Let me explain a little what I'm training.
I'm training a karatedo style which is called Genwakai.
It was found in the 60's by a group of advanced Genseiryu students.(under Shukumine Seiken)
Supervisor of Genwakai is Nangou Tsugumasa Shihan. My teacher Kobayashi Shihan is a direct student of Nangou Shihan. Genwakai studies besides karatedo also iaido (nihon den tamiya ha iaidou nangou jigenryu), bojutsu (..) and nunchaku (..).

Art is long, life is short.
This is why Kobayashi Shihan mostly focusses on karatedo as a physical and moral education. Bojutsu and iaidou are for the advanced only. Pure as an extra.
Nangou Shihan wrote many books on budou. In some of the books he reffered to yagyu shinganryu. But I couldn't find the right documentation on its bojutsu besides their jujutsu-book.
I also couldn't find a link between shintaido and Genwakai.

3rd June 2002, 20:09
Wouter San,
Sorry about the misunderstanding. When you mentioned Kobayashi,
I thought you were referring to Kobayashi/Shorin-ryu. My mistake.

I'm often found wrong, just ask my wife.:D

Although we share similar lineage, I must admit, I have never
heard of your discipline. Since doing a Google search, I've been
enlightened. Not alot of info unfortunately.

Good luck in your search.

6th June 2002, 07:08
As far as I've learned so far, Yamanni-Chinen style always uses the loose index/middle finger grip but the fingers don't float away from the bo. BTW, Oshiro Sensei does indeed teach this way. I believe that it is the same grip as the standard Kenjutsu grip. The idea is that by using only the bottom two fingers, you are able to make the bo come down straight or go straight in. At the instant of strike you are supposed to squeeze lightly with those fingers. Sometimes, you weild the bo with an opened handed grip if you are pressing or doing an arching deflection but it's always on the opposite side of the bo.

Doug-San, how does RKHS style grip the bo? What about other styles?

Paul Adamson

6th June 2002, 14:11
Paul San,
Thank-you for clarifying. I understand the relaxed grip, but correct
me if I'm wrong, the index finger is not extended. As pointed out
earlier, there's too much of a chance for injury.

By the way, congrats on the promotion!


Doug Daulton
6th June 2002, 15:09
Originally posted by PingAnTu ... Doug-San, how does RKHS style grip the bo?Paul,

In RKHS, the fingers never float free or run along the length of the bo (for the reasons stated above) ... at least not in the waza and kata to which I have been exposed thus far. As for grips, there are two basic grips. While Dometrich Sensei has never given them names, I will do so here for the sake of explanation. (Disclaimer: These are not official RKHS terms ... so don't use them and say "Well, Doug said these were "official". ;))

I'll call the two basic grips hon te' (natural hand) and gyaku te' (reverse hand). Students and teachers of jojutsu or other mainland koryu may recognize these grip names. While first studying jo, I was amazed at how similar the basic grips were to those in RKHS. Granted, they are used differently, but the principles transfer pretty cleanly. Each grip would be described as follows.

Hon te' (natural hand)
A relaxed grip that aligns the hand at a natural (roughly 45 degree angle) to the bo. The grip is firm, yet loose and relaxed to allow free, fluid movement. This grip (or minor variations on it) is used in almost all bo waza and kata.

Gyaku te' (reverse hand)
Another firm yet relaxed grip but this one holds the hand at a 90 degree (right) angle to the bo. This grip is mostly used in transitions.

A couple of other grips exist for specific applications and/or advanced kata, but those two make up the majority. Understanding proper grip is as equally essential as gamanku (hip power) and footwork in my book.

For a more definitive answer, I highly recommend you contact Dometrich Sensei (mailto:kobudo@fuse.net). She is the final word as far as I am concerned.

I hope this helps.


Rob Alvelais
6th June 2002, 15:41
Since Paul and I do the same style of bo....

Thank-you for clarifying. I understand the relaxed grip, but correct me if I'm wrong, the index finger is not extended.

You're correct, Doug. The finger is not extended.


Doug Daulton
6th June 2002, 16:26
Originally posted by Harry Cook ... McCarthy recommends that young boys should settle their disagreements with 6ft staffs instead of "Knocking one another's faces out of shape" with boxing. McCarthy believes that exposure to bruises, knocks, lumps etc "will do away with a very great amount of timidity found in boys."Wise man that McCarthy.

By the way, if I am not mistaken, Harry wrote a great article in Dragon Times about English Staff Fighting. I am at work at the moment, so I cannot cite the article. That said, I suggest bo aficionados check it out. Very interesting stuff.


the Khazar Kid
17th July 2002, 05:45
At the same site as McCarthy's manual one can also find R. G. Allanson Winn's advice on the use of the English Quarterstaff.

Alfred Hutton seems to have actually preferred Italian and French Grande Bastone/Grand Baton methods, under the title of "The Great Stick" one can find his advice on the Essays page at www.savateaustralia.com/.

Jesse Peters

23rd August 2003, 14:17
thank you all for your thoughts..

found this picture from Seido juku's Kaicho Nakamura

also his fingers are extended??




Gene Williams
23rd August 2003, 18:13
I have trained under several Okinanwan instructors, and none of them ever extended the fingers on any weapon except during transitions. It really isn't wise. Be aware also that Shukumine was quite unorthodox in many areas. We had a Taido nidan train with us for about a year while he was in school here and I spent a lot of time doing double takes. Gene