What type of Bo for kata?

I’ve been given permission to start practicing my black belt kata for my black belt test. I’ve selected the Bo as my weapon of choice. I’m about 6 ft tall, so I’ve been told to get a 72″ Bo. Now I need to select a which type of wood to use. There’s red oak, bamboo, rattan, wax wood, etc.. I know all about the different weights, and I’m not concerned about the Bo breaking since I will not be striking it on anything too often. Also, should I get a tapered Bo? Thanks in advance.

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4 Responses to What type of Bo for kata?

  1. Raven2099 says:

    The Classic Wax-wood Bo Staff is usually the best and most popular choice in any Martial Art
    because of it’s light weight natural durability and springiness enable any fighter equipping it properly to inflict maximum damage with little force or effort

  2. possum says:

    If you’re not going to strike anything with it, why use it? The weapon is MEANT to strike and be stricken. If you are going to just do a kata and then no sparring with it, then you’re really not demonstrating anything except that you can do movements without a partner. That doesn’t sound like learning to me. A black belt ought to be doing contact sparring with any weapon they’re doing a kata with. Otherwise, you’re not demonstrating any understanding of the weapon.

    I will say that some are meant only for razzle-dazzle crowd appeal, like the tapered blinged out ones. They are trash and I haven’t seen anyone who uses them show anything relevent to martial arts, let alone something they can use to defend themselves with.

    I will also say that some are meant to be trained with to develop muscles – like the heavy wooden ones. An oak bo would be extremely heavy. Red oak is brittle, white oak is expensive. Hickory and ash are good ones (also expensive), as are rattan and bamboo. People swear by wax wood. It usually comes down to personal preference. You should get several: a heavy wood one for practice and conditioning, bamboo which can take the sparring and is relatively cheap. Rattan is also fairly cheap, but doesn’t hold well under sparring pressure.

    Bamboo is the only one that doesn’t normally come perfectly shaped. All others can be lathed into a perfectly round bo. Advanced students will occasionally opt for a bo that is odd-shapped, since the heavier end can be used in different ways. These are naturally tapered on one end. It’s funky to use, but you can develop a personal style with it.

    Now I’m also curious… why isn’t your instructor telling you which bo you should be practicing with?

  3. LIONDANCER says:

    If you are not hitting anything with it and just want to look pretty doing some movements you can get anything you want that looks pretty. They come sparkly and with all kinds of pretty designs. It does not matter. If you are looking for functional or even semi functional (light contact techniques with a partner) then you have to be a little more picky. Right off the bat the commercial ones are not functional except the White Wax wood ones you use in Kung Fu and they are odd shaped (one end thicker than the other) as they are made from a branch they have a single straight grain which makes them durable and flexible. Since you are not doing Kung Fu these would probably not be acceptable for you. Another reason you should talk to your teacher about your choice. The Bo that are sold commercially as White Wax wood (as the poster above me recommended) and are painted white are trash as we have broken them just doing Kata and not even any contact. I think they dry out and get real brittle or something but they don’t last long.
    After having gone through a series of different bo different woods etc I opted to have mine custom made. It was a little more expensive at first but a lot cheaper in the long run than replacing my bo every few years. If you have one custom made make sure it is made from a piece of wood with the straightest grain you can get. You won’t get the pretty wood grain patterns but you you will have a bo that will last you for decades. Which wood is personal preference. Some people do better with a little weight to the bo while others like them as light weight as toothpicks. Warning though, a lot of tournaments do not allow the toothpick editions anymore and the bo has to have some reasonable weight to it.
    For the most part a bo is personal preference. I have 4 I train with. One very heavy one I train with for strength. If I can do it with a heavy bo it will be a lot better when I switch to the lighter weight one for demos and competitions. I have one that I spar with and it is all beat up, one nice one for the demos (it’s wood, so still functional and engraved and not beat up) and I have a white wax wood Shaolin Kung Fu staff (odd shaped) I do my Kung Fu forms with.
    My advice, borrow a bo or start with a cheap one and learn your forms. Then when you see what your moves are choose a bo that fits your moves. If your forms are strong and have much striking you might want to go with a heavier bo and tapering is optional. If your forms are fast and flowing and power is generated with speed then go for a lighter weight one and then the tapering is nicer as there is less weight on the ends.
    We usually pass our weapons around and let our new class mates try them so they can see the differences and make better choices when choosing their weapon. This is true for all weapons including swords as there is so much variety out there.

  4. samuraiwarrior_98 says:

    Well if this is TMA and a traditional type kata then I would select a bo that was constructed out of material for that. What better way to display your power and strength in the movements of your technique than with a traditional bo. One that is slightly tapered would be fine for that but I would not recommend a light weight, competition type bo as they can get broken pretty easily if you are able to execute traditional type movements and techniques with good speed and good power. I can literally snap one of those just from the stress and torque when doing some things in my katas which are traditional for that weapon. So for a traditional type kata and style you will want a heavy, close grain hardwood like red oak.

    If we are talking about something that is not traditional with flash and such then a lighter weight bo would probably be alright although you want to keep in mind what I said above as they can get broken without ever touching another weapon just from the power that you can execute things with. Some of them are that light and fragile and strictly for show and nothing much more than that or for use by adults who have power in their techniques.

    If your style of martial arts is Chinese then you should be using wax wood as that has flex to it as well and there are some things that are particular to that type of martial arts and the techniques that you are taught and execute in their forms.

    bamboo I don’t generally recommend. It does not stand up very well and starts to splinter sometimes without the proper care and I have seen more than one person having to dig splinters out of their hands and fingers before from using and practicing with one.

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