Sanshaku bōjutsu


The techniques of the “half-staff” or stick can also be called 三尺棒 Sanshakubō (three shaku* stick); which is a stick about 90 centimeters long, and usually made of white oak. The first thing to know about bōjutsu is that “the essence of martial arts is jūtaijutsu, and the main weapons used are stick and stone.”

Jūtaijutsu is the basis, and only after learning this will you understand how to use a bō. In Kukishin-ryū there was a weapon called 棒刀 Bōtō (sword-stick) of 3 shaku and 5 sun (106 cm) with a stone ring attached to one end**. Later the warriors got more skilled and the stone was removed and the stick shortened to 3 shaku. It is said: “Unless you have mastered the truth of the 3-shaku-bō, the principle of sword fighting (kenpō) will elude you.”

三心之構 Sanshin no kamae

1. Kata yaburi no kamae
2. Munen muso no kamae
3. Otonashi no kamae

初傅 Shoden

1. Katate uchi
2. Tsuki otoshi
3. Uchi waza
4. Nagare dori
5. Kasumi gake
6. Iki chigae
7. Kao kudaki
8. Ate kaeshi
9. Saka otoshi

中傅 Chūden

1. Kote gaeshi
2. Saka otoshi
3. Harai waza
4. Soto waza

奧傅 Ōkuden

1. Hane otoshi
2. Mata gake
3. Kote harai


Self defence

The hanbō can be used as a means of striking, restraining or even throwing someone. It is useful to know because sticks are abundant and can be picked up if attacked. In Bujinkan we rather hold the hanbō as if it was not a weapon, it could be disguised as a cane for example. Because of the length and strength of the hanbō it is a very capable self defence weapon.

In the summer 2010 Budo Shop released a Stick Fighting DVD with Mats Hjelm containing all the techniques from the Stick Fighting book (see below).

(Clip from the Stick Fighting DVD by Mats Hjelm)

Stick Fighting; techniques of self defence by Masaaki Hatsumi and Quintin ChambersIn 1971 Kodansha released a book with Hatsumi Sōke and Quentin Chambers, this book have been a good resource for many martial arts instructors and practitioners, not just within the Bujinkan, and this for a good reason. The techniques from the book is a collection of techniques from various ryū-ha, mostly from Kukishin-ryū. The book have step-by-step instructions with over 300 pictures, but if you don’t have previous experience in Bujinkan the movements might be difficult to fully understand. Following is the techniques covered in the book “Stick Fighting; techniques of self defence” by Masaaki Hatsumi and Quintin Chambers and the “Stick Fighting” DVD by Mats Hjelm released by Budo Shop in 2010.

1: Basic Movements

1. Naname ushiro omote waki uchi
2. Naname mae ura waki uchi
3. Naname mae omote waki uchi
4. Mawashi kote uchi omote
5. Mawashi kote uchi ura
6. Kote uchi omote
7. Kote uchi ura
8. Katate tsuki

2: Techniques against Fist Attack

1. Tsuke iri
2. Kosshi ori
3. Ganseki otoshi, (plus makikomi, garami)
4. Onikudaki, (plus 3 henka)
5. Gyaku udegarami
6. Kyōkotsu kudaki
7. Ryōashi dori
8. Kochō dori
9. Eda koppō
10. Katate nage omote
11. Katate nage ura

3: Techniques against Foot Attacks

1. Ashi kujiki, (plus 1 henka)
2. Ashi ori
3. Ashi garami
4. Ashi dori
5. Ashi gatame

4: Techniques against Wrist Holding

1. Ude-garami, (plus omote)
2. Kasumi uchi
3. Kyojitsu
4. Ude gaeshi
5. Take ori
6. Ryōte dori
7. Hongyaku jime
8. Katate jime
9. Ude kujiki
10. Katame kujiki
11. Tsure dori
12. Ude gatame gyaku zeoi
13. Ryūfū
14. Shibari kosshi ori
15. Kote gaeshi

5: Techniques against Sleeve and Lapel Holding

1. Hiki otoshi
2. Tsuki otoshi
3. Yoko kujiki
4. Hiki taoshi
5. Uko arashi
6. Nage kaeshi
7. Dō gaeshi
8. Gyaku zeoi
9. Uchi taoshi
10. Ryōte garami dori
11. Kataginu
12. Ganseki dome

6: Techniques against Seizure from Behind

1. Ushiro dori tsuke iri
2. Benkei dori
3. Taiboku taoshi
4. Tawara otoshi

7: Techniques against Stick Holding

1. Bō gaeshi
2. Kokū
3. Awase nage, (plus 2 henka)
4. Tomoe gaeshi, (plus Ashi dori osae)

8: Immobilizations

1. Jō-wan ori
2. Hiji ori
3. Zen-wan ori
4. Sokkotsu ori
5. Ryōte ori
6. Ōgyaku
7. Shintō

* One shaku is approximately equal to one foot, and 3 shaku is almost 91 cm.

** At least one other branch of Kukishin-ryu (not Bujinkan!) hold the hanbō exactly as they would hold a sword and fight from there. If they had a stone attached to the end it would make sence.

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