History The bo is one of the five weapons systematized by the early Okinawan developers of the style known as te (hand). In feudal Japan it was part of the bugei (early Japanese martial arts) and was used by samurai, priests, and commoners alike. Its six-foot length made it an apt weapon against swordsmen, disarming the opponent while allowing the user to remain at a safe distance.
Traditional use The bo evolved from poles balanced across the shoulders to carry water or other loads. As a fighting instrument, it allowed blocking and striking against a range of weapons.
Current use Now part of the budo (martial ways), the bo is still used in kata performance. Physical conditioning with the bo improves balance and upper-body strength.