Hanbo Half Staff Stick Fighting Weapon

The Hanbo, also called the half staff, is one of the most popular stick fighting weapons used in many martial arts and in modern day self-defense and military tactics for striking, blocking, restraining, poking or throwing an opponent. Knowing how to use this weapon allows you to understand basic self defense with objects that are readily found in metro or natural environments, such as sticks in the forest, baseball bats, umbrellas, walking canes and so forth.

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The leverage potential of the weapon enables the user to quickly force an opponent into submission and it is also invaluable for reaching and affecting an attacker’s kyusho points (the “weakness” or “pain” points on the body.) Hatsumi’s writings about hanbo are invaluable. He writes extensively about “stick fighting” and notes that students who wish to master the katana should first master hanbo techniques because of its similar shape and size. When used effectively against sword attacks such as deflecting the edges of the blade, the hanbo can actually defeat an attacker using a katana.  In fact, it is said that many hanbo techniques were developed during a time in Japanese history when Samurai were forbidden to wear katana so they developed methods of applying their sword skills to the use of a hanbo against potential sword attacks. It is not clear when the hanbo was first used but there are historical references to it first occurring during a battle when a warrior’s spear was cut in half during the fight. After that it came to be formally studied, particularly as part of the Kukishin-ryu koryu classical school of martial arts, and Kukishinden-ryu, one of the nine schools of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. Hatsumi Soke has written several books focused just on stick fighting. Training with the hanbo half staff training weapons will help any martial artist with foundational manuevers that apply to any stick fighting practice.

This ninjutsu lesson shows some posture training and awareness ideas that will help you get a feel for proper posture and spine/hip/arm control. Tying a belt around your body and arms to restrict your arm movement forces you to concentrate on using your hips and back to control movement instead of putting too much strength and motion into your arms. Securing a hanbo to your back will help you keep your spine straight which forces you to drop into deep kamae and to move with proper hip/knee alignment. This gives you better balance and strength as well. Remember to keep your knee alignment over you feet, do not point your knees to far in or out. Also, do not lean forward, just sink straight down.

Browse for a good selection of training hanbo made of wood or foam, and also stick fighting books by Hatsumi Soke and other staff weapon experts.

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