What is the best wood for Bo Staffs?

People often ask what the best wood for Bo Staffs is. But the 'best' can have many meanings depending on what you want to use your staff before. If you will be carrying your staff in the wilderness for hiking for instance, weight might be a detriment, but you still want strength. 

     If you are going to be using it for the most intense contact in karate, you want that weight, and you also want maneuverability.

     If you want to look super cool like Little John from Robinhood, you want heavy and thick, ;)

     So what IS the best wood for bo staffs? (Or jo staffs) The answer really to me, is only dependent on one thing first, before we consider the uses above. Will we be using it for contact, or do we want to use it for contact? If the answer is that it will be used for contact, the answer is hickory. Hickory is the wood of choice for axe handles for a reason. Because the wood takes the highest impact, and has the best impact properties, and is nearly indestructible (if chosen correctly, which I have another blog post about) 

     As an aside, ipe is a good choice too, however it is also super heavy, and in my opinion really too heavy for thick full sized bo staffs. But we can have another blog post on ipe or brazilian walnut another time. 

     Hickory is very flexible. Literally and figuratively. The wood fibers are extremely difficult to make separate, and sometimes nearly impossible. But also it can be used for a variety of uses. It can be made thin and tapered, and it is a wonderful tournament bo that will last you a lifetime. (I have seen tournament staffs, made from thin white oak break during a solo kata, just from the force of stopping it against one's body) Hickory can make thick tapered staffs, which are maneuverable and will take impact all day long with total confidence. And if using a medium size, it is a WONDERFUL wilderness hiking staff, or even an all around dojo staff. 

The point is, unless you are doing spinning, which is not martial arts, in my opinion the most important factor about your bo staff is that it will stay in once piece, and be absolutely dependable. That is hickory. Hands down. It will do it all. 

Bo Staff. Appalachian Hickory hardwood for Martial arts Karate



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