Hajime Bō

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Since armed combat drills are probably unfamiliar to you, our first weapons form, Hajime Bō (“Beginning Staff”) is a re-imagining of our first kata, Hajimete Undo no Karatedō. Hajime Bō uses the same footwork, along with a modified version of its repeated evade-block-counter combination. By relating the unfamiliar to the familiar, these new skills will be easier to learn. If you are not intimately familiar with Hajimete Undo no Karatedō, take this time to revisit it. Skipping ahead won’t make you better any faster -- quite the opposite -- because there are no secret techniques. There are only basics, and diligent practice.

Directions

[video of HajimeBo, performed fast and slow, viewed from cameras at #1, 3, 7, 5. Be sure that you take up the whole frame. A lot of our old kata videos are from too far away, and it hides some detail. ]

Points of Harmony.png
  1. Bō bow.
  2. Quickly look to #3. Step your right foot to #8, briefly entering a right front stance facing #1, pulling the bō in to your solar plexus. Snap your hips in order to twist into a right back stance, facing #3 with a high horizontal block.
  3. Pull the bō in to your solar plexus, and drive forward with the hips, entering a left front stance with a low horizontal block. Execute right and left horizontal strikes.
  4. Quickly look to #1. Pull your right foot up into a left cat stance, and hold the bō horizontally, with its center on your left hip.
  5. Step your right foot to #8, twisting into a right front stance, facing #1, with a high horizontal block.
  6. Pull the bō in to your solar plexus, and execute a low horizontal block, then right and left horizontal strikes.
  7. Quickly look to #7. Pull your right foot into a left cat stance, and hold the bō horizontally, with its center on your left hip.
  8. Step your right foot to #6, twisting into a right front stance, facing #7, with a high horizontal block.
  9. Pull the bō in to your solar plexus, and execute a low horizontal block, then right and left horizontal strikes.
  10. Quickly look to #5. Pull your right foot into a left cat stance, and hold the bō horizontally, with its center on your left hip.
  11. Step your right foot to #4, twisting into a right front stance, facing #5, with a high horizontal block.
  12. Pull the bō in to your solar plexus, and execute a low horizontal block, then right and left horizontal strikes.
  13. Quickly look over your right shoulder to #1. Pull your right foot back into a left cat stance, and hold the bō horizontally, with its center on your right hip.
  14. Step your right foot across your body to #6, twisting into a right back stance, facing #1 with a high horizontal block.
  15. Pull the bō in to your solar plexus, and drive forward with the hips, entering a left front stance with a low horizontal block. Execute right and left horizontal strikes.
  16. Slide your right foot up to attention stance, bow.


Notes

The bō has two ends. Accidents and injuries are caused when students forget that the trailing end of the bō is also in motion. You must be mindful of what both ends of the bō will do at all times. This is kobudō, not Stoojitsu.

Your hand placement should divide the bō into thirds. We will block with the center portion and attack with the ends. While there is more to bōjutsu than this, we can take these training wheels once you prove you are ready.

The high block and low blocks are two distinct moves. Like all techniques, they must come in before they can go out. As such, when viewed from the side, the high-block to low-block transition should trace a path resembling the “greater than” or “less than” signs (>, <), and not an arc.

Bō strikes are powered by reciprocal action. Do not push the striking end out, pull the opposite-side in. It is important that you trap the bō in your armpit at the end of the swing. Otherwise, the strike will jam up, and not pass through your centerline, as demonstrated below.

[Overhead photos of proper and improper bo strikes]

A common tactic against a staff-wielding opponent is to attack their hands. By breaking the hand and finger bones renders the opponent unable to hold a weapon, effectively and literally disarming them. This is why the bō is normally held with palms facing outward, because you can quickly release and grab the bō. The best defense is to not be there. This gripping scheme may be awkward when striking, but it is acceptable to switch the leading hand from an underhand to an overhand grip in the middle of a strike. Recall, the reciprocal hand generates the power; the leading hand only guides the strike to its target. The video below will demonstrate.

[striking from side to side repeatedly, from the front and side. Pay attention to the leading hands]


Bunkai

Shomen strik and thrust.