Sunday, June 1, 2008

How to Do a Bo Staff Palm 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

Performing A Bo Staff Palm Spin
Step 1:
Begin standing upright, knees slightly bent. Grip your Bo at the very middle, hold it out in front of you vertically.

Step 2:
Raise your arm and Bo up and to the side. Your elbow should be pointing out to the side and the Bo should be comfortable over your head. At the same time as you raise the Bo, twist your wrist inward.

Step 3:
When your arm is completely up flatten your hand into a single solid surface like a waiter carrying a tray. The momentum of you twisting your wrist should spin the staff on the flat of your palm. Your thumb should still be separated from your fingers, this way all you have to do to end the spin is raise your thumb to stop the Bo and then grip it comfortably.

Step 4:
Lower the Bo back into the finishing position. The Bo should be held at least a foot out in front of the body, horizontal at chest height. Don't lock the elbow. Ideally in a combat situation you would want to be able to lash out with either end of the Bo or body check an opponent with the Staff's entire length, so make not to hold the Bo too far out.

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 keep others guessing and at a distance if you were faced with multiple opponents. Also it looks cool.
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.

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