The Bo Staff – All You Need to Know…

bo staff fighting

The Bo staff has been around for pretty much as long as anybody can remember. After all, it is a fancy name for a long, hard, and somewhat flexible stick used for combat. Heck, at first they were most likely used as carrying tools and farm equipment, but when push came to shove, anything was fair game as a weapon. Some people might think that there is no point in fighting with a stick seeing as weapons have made significant advancements.

However, any trained martial expert knows just how valuable the Bo staff can be. It’s a great offensive and defensive weapon, and when wielded with proper skill, it can definitely cause a whole lot of damage. Let’s talk about some of the most important aspects of the Bo staff and then we’ll talk about some of the best options out there. Keep in mind, the staffs we’re checking out today are all training staffs, not real ones. With that said, if you’re looking for other staffs for competition or fighting, this link should help.


The Bo Staff – Origins

The Bo Staff originated in ancient times and was used all throughout Asia as a primary weapon. Back in the early days Bo staffs were often made of nothing more than tree branches. These could be very heavy and fairly unreliable too. They seemed to have a tendency to break. Later on, various versions of the Bo staff emerged, with some being studded with metal or being completely made of metal. These were often still too unreliable for real combat.

It is believed that Bo staffs were originally meant to be used as long balancing sticks to balance buckets and other items for carrying. It is believed that farmers and common folk used these carrying sticks as a means for self-defense. Eventually these staffs were modified, made of lighter wood, treated for durability, and have become a mainstay weapon in many different martial arts.


Bo Staff Types

Most Bo staffs are now made out of a semi-hardwood, usually something fairly hard as well as flexible. Woods like bamboo, pine, and white and red oak are some of the most common types of wood used in the building of Bo staffs. Rattan wood is actually one of the most popular ones because it is both fairly hard and flexible at the same time. There are some older Bo staffs which were round, square, hexagonal, and octagonal too. Some Bo staffs are perfectly straight while others can be thicker in the center than they are at the ends. Bo staffs can be anywhere from 5 feet to 9 feet in length, with the average being around 6 feet in length.


World Stick Fighting Techniques

Bo staffs are of course a specific type of stick, one that is often used in Asian martial arts. That being said, there are many different stick fighting styles out there, which range across a plethora of martial arts styles. Bo staffs as we know them are most often associated with various style of Karate and Kung Fu, but there are so many other martial arts and fighting styles in the world which utilize something that resembles a Bo staff. After all, the point of the staff is that it is a long and slender stick used to block strikes, strike, and poke people with. Other styles may not call them Bo staffs, but stick fighting is very prevalent across the world nonetheless.

There are Ethiopian styles of stick fighting where people used flexible whipping sticks to fight each other in semi-friendly combat. There are also various European styles of stick fighting including Jogo Do Pau of Portugal, Canne De Combat of France, Palcaty of Polan, and Sherma Di Bastone of Italy. There are so many more out there, with another popular one being Eskrima, which has its origins in the Philippines. The point is that while the Bo Staff may be seen as a strictly Asian weapon, there are many cultures in the world who practice fighting with long sticks.


Macho Martial Arts Rubber Foam Practice Bo Staff – 6′

The Macho Martial Arts Rubber Foam Bo Staff is a great option to go with for all of your training purposes. It’s a great way to practice all of your Bo staff techniques with much less risk of injuring yourself or someone else. This is a great teaching tool for beginners as it features a ¼ inch plastic core with a quarter inch of rubber foam coating. It has a total diameter of 1-3/4 inches and is 6 feet long. It’s a great lightweight option that will allow you to practice and master your technique in no time at all.


Tiger Claw Foam Bo

Another great option to go with, the Tiger Claw Foam Bo is built for practice sessions. What is neat about this particular Bo staff is that it comes available in three different sizes to suit various people. Children and adults can use this Bo staff with ease. The Tiger Claw Foam Bo is made with a 1 inch PVC tube in the center. The center is covered with an 1/8 inch coating of foam for softness. You can easily us the Tiger Claw Foam Bo to train without risk of injuring others or yourself.


Tiger Claw Foam Bo Staff – 60″

This third and final option is yet another prime choice to consider. It is a classic 60 inch long practice Bo staff. This is a super lightweight option to go with, one that features a hollow plastic rod surrounded by foam padding. It’s a really safe option that will not injure you or those around you. The foam padding is just a tad thin, so don’t hit others too hard with it. Thanks to being hollow it is also very versatile and easily maneuvered. It does have a little bit of wiggle and flexibility, which is something that some people really like.



We hope that we were of assistance in terms of helping you find a reliable Bo staff for your training purposes. Remember to train hard and practice everyday. You will become a Bo staff master in no time at all!


I'm Steve D'Agostino, founder of Martial Arts Weapons and Training. Thanks for visiting and reading my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Tara Wade

    After reading your article I think the best Bo staff for me would be the Tiger Claw. I like that it is made out of 1″ PVC and won’t break if I abuse it by mistake.
    My niece is in college and this might make a nice Christmas gift for her. She walks a lot at night and has considered carrying a walking stick. She likes to do Tae Bo workouts. I think she would love this type of workout. Can you recommend a good book or DVD to go with a practice Bo staff?

    • kungfuninja

      These do make great lightweight walking sticks. They’re durable and easy to deal with.
      Good practice DVD? Sure! Check this one out: http://amzn.to/2idY0TU

  • kungfuninja

    Yep, these staffs are really the way to go. When I was first learning, I used a regular oak staff and knocked myself out twice and my wife made me start wearing a helmet. 🙂
    Hey, TMNT were some of my all-time favorites when I was a kid!

  • kungfuninja

    Sure are. Think about it – if you’re out and about and have to defend yourself, you should be able to pick anything up and use it. The long staff is basic and perfect for training to use things that might actually be lying around!