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Renshi Kidby Bo Course - May 2013

Students of CFTS once again congregated at the Bunyan Centre, Bedford, on this occasion to attend a bo-staff seminar - under the instruction of CFTS’ Chief instructor Sensei Kidby.

Sensei explained the course would be based on Bo-Jittsu Beru, a kata devised by a late member of CFTS, Sensei Steve Bell, who sadly passed away in 2007 and whose karate was strong, dynamic and even electric. As Sensei Bell hadn’t named it, Sensei Kidby posthumously gave the kata the name “Bo-Jittsu Beru” - which translates to “Electric Bell Bo fighting kata.”

Sensei began the afternoon’s training giving his sincere thanks to those attending the course, explaining the origins and variations of the Bo-staff - through its centuries of development. Beginning with Stone Age man, using a stick as a tool or weapon through to its use in daily life in oriental farming. He then followed its use as a weapon by the indigenous population. Training with the Bo-staff was formalised by the Okinawans in the 1600’s although it had been included in many other martial arts training. The first known dedicated Bo art was known as Kobudo.

Another art, known as 'Kobu-Jitsu', stick fighting, was touched upon by Shihan Holmes a couple of years ago. A short stick art, we have all heard of from the Philippines, is called Escrima. The reason for the growth and development of the Bo was one of necessity as all the commoners of Okinawa were banned from having weapons by the Japanese ruling classes. In fact anything metal was confiscated to prevent it being melted down and turned into weapons. This ban forced them to manufacture tools out of wood and to find other ways to defend themselves. Using a simple Bo-staff proved to be the best and most effective method.

Sensei then went on to detail various types of Bo. He said “The Bo-staff is traditionally about two meters long and three centimetres thick. It can be the same width along its whole length or may be tapered. This form of Bo is called a Kon. Very narrow, thin Bo are also available now, known as a tooth pick. These are mainly used for demonstration purposes and kata. There is also a shortened version used by children called a Jo."

In expertly trained hands, the bo-staff became a formidable and feared weapon when used against the Katana, indeed any weapon, of the Samurai.

Sensei ensured those under instruction were made fully aware of the need for safety when training with a bo-staff, before the afternoon’s training began. After a warm up using the bo-staff as a stretching aid, students performed Taikyoku-Bo, a very basic kata to count to familiarise themselves with holding the bo.

Students then moved on to basic training drills relating to Shotokan techniques. We began with practicing Sanbon kumite with a Bo and moved on to more complex training drills and some Bo-Jittsu Beru kata extracts. Some of the students found this both mentally and physically demanding but, as we progressed, most grasped the concept.

Then followed two people self-defence drills - with selected oyobunkai related to Bo-Jittsu Beru kata.

The tuition progressed through the afternoon, with the kata instruction steadily building on kata sequence and bunkai demonstrations and practice. The training culminated in all grades having the opportunity to perform the kata slow- to count and medium to count aided by Sensei Kidby. Then intermediate and Dan grades performed the kata without count, both a mental and physical test for those students.

After the traditional group photo, students showed Sensei Kidby their appreciation for the tuition with a round of applause. Out of humility, many years have passed since Sensei Kidby has taken his own association for a training course. On behalf of all your students, we thank you for your tutelage Sensei!

Domo Arigato!


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