Weapons

Bo

Bo jutsu means literally ‛using a staff’, and many different lengths of staff are utilised in Bujinkan. The shortest is eda koppo, a roughly pencil-lengthed wooden stick or metal rod. Kukishinden Ryu holds that staff techniques originated in dire situations where a spear or glaive shaft broke or was cut, and the combatant had to continue with a broken weapon. In Bujinkan, we train with san shaku bo, or hambo, a staff roughly 90 centimetres long, the jo measuring 1.3 metres, and the rokushaku bo, measuring 1.8 metres. We also train with special staves such as the yojibo, a crushing staff thick as a beam and designed for the battlefield. The yojibo was often strengthened with iron rings. Another staff employed in Bujinkan is the shinobi zue / chigiriki, a staff or iron rod to which was attached a chain. At the end of the chain hangs a weight or a hook. According to the lore of Kukishinden Ryu, the school’s founder Yakushimaru Ryushin (aka. Kurando) (薬師丸隆真), was born in Hongu in 1318. He was born into a great house which was a branch of the Fujuwara clan. The family’s task was to tend to the holy shrines in the area, and in the Genpei War they commanded the flagship and fleet of Kumano Suigu. Kurando took part in the war between the northern and southern courts in the year 1336, in which he was involved in a plot to liberate the imprisoned southern emperor Go-Daigo who was brutally treated by his captors. The escape was a success, but pursuers caught up with Kurando and Go-Daigo’s party. In the subsequent skirmish, the blade of Kurando’s naginata broke off and he continued the battle with only the shaft of his blade to keep his attackers at bay long enough for reinforcements to arrive. After the fight, Emperor Go-Daigo gave Kurando the surname Kuki. The staff techniques of Kukishinden Ryu supposedly harken back to this conflict.

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