At Hidden Sword Martial Arts weapons instruction is a central part of two of our curricula and truthfully one of my favorite areas of study. So the type, quality, and the intended use of the weapon are very important before using and/or purchasing a weapon. So here are some things to consider.
- Safety is the primary concern. As I tell my students over and over again, “Sticks don’t feel pain, people do”. If a weapon in class breaks it can take off like a missile across the training floor possibly injuring another student. I speak from experience when I broke another student’s cheaper bo (staff) in the class I was training in and the top part of the bo took off across the room. Thankfully no one was hurt. Another time I was teaching at a mini seminar and the prop (a hardwood walking stick) I was using broke in two and I almost got my ribs caved in, likewise in a recent seminar I was teaching in, another prop (again a hardwood walking stick) developed cracks while demoing stick releases for when someone grabs your stick hand.
Point is that accidents can and do happen so when choosing a weapon make sure it is of good quality and up to the task that it is being asked to perform.
|Wax Wood Bo on the bottom showing dents from use|
- Price shouldn’t be the determining factor, durability and safety should. When I first started teaching the bo to my students I opted to get Red Oak bo from a large martial arts supply manufacturer. I didn’t think my younger students would break or crack them so I didn’t opt on having them purchase the much more expensive Japanese White Oak bo like I use. Within just a few classes several of the Red Oak bo developed cracks. It was then suggested that I try Wax Wood bo from the same manufacturer and while those too developed cracks over time; we did beat on them during class with bo vs bo, tonfa vs bo, sai vs bo etc. etc. and they cost just a little more then the Red Oak bo. However they held up for semi contact.
|Wax wood top, White Oak mid., Tooth pick style bo bottom|
- What is it’s primary use going to be? If you are going to do an XMA (Extreme Martial Arts) type of a weapons kata you can use demo type weapons (graphite bo, plastic and aluminum weapons) but don’t use them to practice application drills where contact is made. Simply put they won’t take the abuse and they will break. I have heard of a graphite bo breaking because it fell the wrong way on a hard floor, I sure wouldn’t trust one (a tooth pick style kata bo) to block a strike coming towards my head.
If you are doing contact drills between weapons then you need the sturdier, heavier, higher quality weapons than can take a beating and last. The top bo pictured is a stragith Wax Wood bo, the middle bo is my White Oak bo that is tapered towards the ends, and the lower two bo are Toothpick kata style bo. The Toothpick bo are light and quick for kata but worthless and dangerous for contact drills.
- As a general rule you get what you pay for so keep in mind rule 1, safety is a primary concern. So get the better weapon, the higher quality, the more durable, and you will be better off in the long run.