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Re: Bo staff
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So that's about 85 inches, yes?

I really must get a rokushakubo made for my correct length and experiment with it.

I wonder if there's anything in Hatsumi sensei's new "Advanced Stick Fighting" book on this subject.

Posted on: 2005/2/22 20:57
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Re: Bo staff
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Is a 'shaku' a static unit of measurement, or is it based on the human body (and hence varies from person to person)

Or perhaps it's more like the yard and foot which are based on "the generic" human - a yard is the distance from the tip of the nose to the outstreched fingertip, and a foot is (by urban legend, at least) the length of Henry VIII's foot.

ta,

[EDIT]
Of course, I could just have googled...

shaku
a Japanese word meaning "measure" or "scale", also used for several traditional units in Japan: [1] As a unit of distance, the shaku is the Japanese foot, equal to about 30.30 centimeters or 11.93 inches; [2] As a unit of area, the shaku equals 330.6 square centimeters (51.24 square inches); [3] As a unit of volume, the shaku equals about 18.04 milliliters (0.61 U.S. fluid ounce).

(from http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/dictS.html )

I'd still be interested if anyone has references on the origins of Japanese measurements...
[/EDIT]

Posted on: 2005/2/22 22:42
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Re: Bo staff
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Quote:
I'd still be interested if anyone has references on the origins of Japanese measurements...

Checking my Kanjibook for the structure off the Kanji "shaku" (old unit of length) it says: span made by a hand with thumb and fingers stretched.

Luckily there are those here who'll most likely can give better answers...

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Posted on: 2005/2/22 22:55
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Re: Bo staff
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Quote:

Saesneg wrote:
Is a 'shaku' a static unit of measurement, or is it based on the human body (and hence varies from person to person)


You figured that out yourself

...

I heard someone (can't remember who) said that in Kukishin-ryû a Jô should be the length of one shaku under your head and a Bô one shaku above your head. Can anyone confirm this (with source if possible)?

If you are around 160 cm this is correct for todays "standard" staffs.

And of course a Rokushakubô is a fixed length (182 cm).

Posted on: 2005/2/22 23:04
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Re: Bo staff
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It's perhaps possible that the "shaku" has become a fixed unit of length over the years but that originally it was tied to some measurement of the person in question as has been discussed. It's too easy to say "oh yes, that's a shaku" and assume it has always been that way. Many measurements get modified over time. Consider periods of time like the month, the year and so on.

If a bo should be one "shaku" over my head as Kabuto says, let's do the sums, assuming my earlier hanbo measurement is correct.

My hanbo length is 43.5 inches, making for a rokushakubo of 87 inches assuming a bo is twice the length of the hanbo. If we divide the rokushakubo by six to give us one shaku, we get 14.5 inches. So a shaku for me, assuming the shaku is defined for each individual, would be 14.5 inches. Now as I am virtually six feet tall i.e. 72 inches, if we add one shaku of 14.5 inches, we get 86.5 inches. My earlier estimation was 87 inches.

So by the same calculations, a jo should be one shaku less than my height. If my height is 72 inches and we take off one shaku of 14.5 inches, we are left with a jo of 57.5 inches. I've just measured and my armpit stands at a height of about 57 inches.

I think that therefore we've perhaps got something with these measurements that may be worth following up.

Posted on: 2005/2/22 23:18
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Re: Bo staff
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Quote:

kabuto wrote:
And of course a Rokushakubô is a fixed length (182 cm).


I'm terrible sorry but... I disagree... unless you meant to say: "182 cm is a fixed length for standard bō bought in Martial Arts stores...

BTW: I have been told that a jō should be a bit longer than that. It should be going up to under your chin. But about this, I don't argue.
Might be wrong.

Posted on: 2005/2/22 23:29
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Re: Bo staff
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According to what I was told in Japan the Jo should be (as everyone said) from the ground to your armpit; the best length for a hanbo is koshikiribo (waist cut bo) which is up to your waist.

I would say that the Rokushakubo should be, well, Rokushaku (6 Shaku). There is also a "7-shaku bo", "8-shaku bo" and even a "9-shaku bo". A shaku may have been based on a body measurement (like feet and inches) but I think it has been a very specific measurement for a long time now.

I think what is important is not to get stuck on a specific length. I think it is a mistake to get caught up with one length for a bo, one length for a hanbo, one length for a sword etc. In the way last year that soke would use all lengths and types of swords I think with bo, hanbo and jo it is best to understand the distance of many different lenghts and types.

When I do hanbo / jo I swap from 3-shaku bo, koshi-bo, 4ft sticks, walking stick, police truncheon, natural sticks etc etc.

So basically - it's not how long it is, it's how you use it !!

Posted on: 2005/2/23 22:07
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Re: Bo staff
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Quote:

MWDAndy wrote:
But then I pointed out at training last week that I think we often do some movements incorrectly with the rokushakubo e.g. a strike to ashi because we are using a weapon that is far too short for most of us. To strike to ashi means we have to be too close in the first place or reaching in, resulting in poor grip and unbalanced kamae. Therefore we should either train with longer weapons (which aren't always easy to come by) or modify the target of the various strikes to suit the shorter weapon.


I disagree with this Andy. The dynamic ways Soke showed us different strikes to the legs years ago make it easy for even someone as tall as me to strike the target with a "standard" bo.

I think it may come down to what you think of as a "balanced kamae". I'm thinking of a powerful variation of "Goho" soke showed us. This was back in '93 - I look forward to seeing how Rokushakubo will have moved forward now that Soke's Taijutsu seems to be reaching another level.

Posted on: 2005/2/23 22:16
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Re: Bo staff
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Hachigoro said:-
Quote:
I disagree with this Andy.....


Fair enough Duncan, I bow to your greater experience (and grade) in the Bujinkan Dojo. You've obviously had training experiences above and beyond those I myself have had and Hatsumi sensei may indeed have shown you and others different ways of doing the techniques to those I have seen myself.

However I can only call it like I see it and experience it, based upon the training I've had to date (coming up to seventeen years in the Bujinkan including seven Tai Kai and two Japan trips). Look at it this way. Your personal training experiences have shown you certain techniques and movements. My personal training experiences have shown me different techniques and movements. This is only natural of course.

Maybe I should have said that I think that *I* do the movements incorrectly in the context of my earlier post? Perhaps next time we meet up you can provide a few hints on improving my movements with this weapon?

I'm actually attending a two-day seminar on bojutsu this very weekend with two 11th Dan instructors (John Gardner and Bill Liddle). I might raise this point and get some feedback from them.

Posted on: 2005/2/23 23:12
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Re: Bo staff
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To further this discussion, here are a couple of quotes taken from "Understand? Good. Play!" by Masaaki Hatsumi and Benjamin Cole, both from page 230.

Quote:
"A jo is just a jo. But the thing called jo itself comes in many sizes, lengths and girths. But you must be able to use them the same regardless of those differences. This is the importance of happo biken".


Quote:
"Here look at these". (Soke holds up four or five jo of different sizes - some of them straight, some of them gnarled.) "There is no 'correct length' of a jo. Find something comfortable".


If we're saying this about the jo, can we assume that the same concept applies to all weapons e.g. bo, katana etc?

So we're all going to find that our "something comfortable" is different. Maybe the measurements given earlier in this thread will help us to find our "something comfortable"?

Some brief further thoughts on this subject.

In Kyudo, each person's arrows are made to the length that is suitable for that person, based upon the length of their draw etc. The arrow length (yazuka) is calculated by measuring from the centre of the throat along the outstretched arm to the fingertips and adding three or four inches for safety margin. Now that means that each person's arrows will be a slightly different length. Now it's perfectly true that I can shoot with someone else's arrows but if the yazuka is appreciably shorter, it will change my technique e.g. my draw will be much shorter otherwise the arrow will fall off the front hand.

In the armed forces, when you are issued with your personal weapon e.g. your rifle, that weapon will be custom fitted to you (position of sights, calibration of sights, stock length etc). Now you can shoot with someone else's weapon but your results will be less than satisfactory.

However, taking the above into account, on the battlefield you may be forced to pick up an unfamiliar weapon and use it successfully, adapting your technique to suit. That's very important of course. But we still practice our fundamentals with "our" weapon.

So let's relate this back to training and how it is done at my class but using the sword as an example. Most of my students have custom-made bokken, calculated to the correct measurements based on their individual bodies, and they train with those bokken to learn "correct" technique. But now and then, I get them to exchange their custom bokken with other people in the room and to then train with those weapons, adapting their movements to suit. This means they might end up working with bokken that are far too long or far too short. Now I can't do the same process using jo and bo as yet because we're all using "standard" versions but I'm hoping to start getting some new custom length weapons made in the near future.

Posted on: 2005/2/24 18:28
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