Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Do the Bo Staff Helicopter Spin

Though the majority of karate, literally meaning "empty fist", is a martial art that does not use weapons, it would be foolish for a combat system devised to overthrow an oppressive occupying army to completely disregard them. It was originally devised by the Okinawan people to fight back against a conquering army from the northern islands of Japan several hundred years ago. One common weapon readily available was the Bo Staff. These staffs are simple lengths of polished wood roughly the height of the combatant and can be deadly in the hands of a practiced user. Current day martial artists will use them for single person demonstrations, showing their prowess with the Bo through sweeping strikes and spinning parries. Though arduous and very complex, the individual movements that make up the Karate Bo Kata are fairly simple and can be performed within a day or two and mastered with a little more dedicated practice. This guide will explain how to perform one of these moves; the palm spin

Things You’ll Need:
Bo Staff
Practice Space

How To Do A Helicopter Spin
Step 1:
Begin with your legs at shoulder's width apart. Your arms should be down and to your sides. If right handed the Bo should be in your right hand, held about half a foot down from the center. The Bo sticking should be pointing forward at a downward angle and should be turned outward slightly.

Step 2:
Swing your Bo up and around so you're holding it over your head. Let the momentum of the swing turn the Bo through a three hundred and sixty degree spin. This spin should be on a horizontal axis. The Bo should be twirled from thumb and around your index finger to nestle between your index and middle finger.

Step 3:
When the Bo has made a full spin in the air reach up and grasp the Bo firmly with the left hand before it falls and then swing the Bo down to your left side so that your form and hold on the Bo mirrors the starting position.

Tips & Warnings
If you're serious about learning how to use a Bo, you might want to consider purchasing one of your own. They are readily available online and can be tailored in length and thickness to your individual specifications. For practice smaller Bos made from softer wood may be preferable, while for demonstrations chrome Bos are very flashy. If you do no wish to invest in a Bo Staff you can just as easily use a length of bamboo or a wooden dowel. Ideally you would want one perfectly balanced and at least five feet long. In case you're wondering what the use of this move in a combat situation is; it allows you to switch which hand is holding your Bo without changing your stance or breaking focus. The spin above the head is the same as twirling a baton or a pencil between your fingers. Give this a try before using the Bo. If the spin is giving you trouble try practicing spinning the bow in front of you on a vertical axis, it uses the same principles but will cause less damage to your head should you drop the Bo.
A Bo is very long and you will need a great deal of room to safely lift and spin one. If you've no dojo or exercise area you can use, take it outside. It may take a little practice to learn how to spin the Bo comfortably; your fingers will need time to gain strength.

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