Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ninjutsu weaponry: The Hanbo

In my previous blog I was discussing the origins of the art of Ninjutsu, today I would like to explain one of the many weapons that is used in the art of Ninjutsu, the Hanbo. The Hanbo, also known as "half staff" is a staff approximately 36 inches in length (1 yard), it is shorter than a jo staff, and about half the length of the rokushakubo or 6 foot staff. Compared to the art of Eskrima, the Hanbo staff is slightly longer than the sticks used in Eskrima. The Hanbo is an excellent weapon, and if faced with an opponent much more powerful, or one carrying a weapon, or several attackers, the Hanbo or similarly fashioned weapon, it is an excellent choice to defend oneself. I say similarly fashioned because a broom stick, a pipe, or other objects can be used in the same fashion as a Hanbo.

The Hanbo can be used to strike an opponent, but it can also be used to choke, lock, and throw an opponent. This aspect of stick fighting is different than most of the techniques taught in Eskrima. I believe that the striking in Eskrima is more effective than the striking with a Hanbo. Despite this, the locks, chokes, and throws performed with a Hanbo are truly devastating. If one becomes proficient with the Hanbo, they can apply throws effortlessly, apply chokes that can force an opponent to become unconscious, and apply locks that can dislocate and/or fracture joints and bones easily. There are several sources out there where you can learn how to use this devastating weapon, one of the books I recommend is Stick Fighting by Masaaki Hatsumi, who as I mentioned previously is a grandmaster of Ninjutsu. Although this book is old, the information contained is still very useful. If you practice Eskrima, you can learn quite a bit of techniques not found in most Filipino Martial Arts schools. If you have no martial arts experience, you can also benefit from learning how to use the Hanbo. It should be noted that it is highly recommended that you use a rubber hanbo when practicing, and keep in mind that using a weapon such as this should only be used when defending oneself in an altercation.