The basis of Bo technique is use of hand, techniques derived from Tang Soo do and other martial arts that reached Korea via trade and Chinese monks. Thrusting, swinging, and striking techniques often resemble empty-hand movements, following the philosophy that the Bo is merely an “extension of one’s limbs”. Attacks are often avoided by agile footwork and returning strikes made at the enemy’s weak points.
The Bo is typically gripped in thirds, and when held horizontally in front, the right palm is facing away from the body and the left hand is facing the body, enabling the Bo to rotate. The power is generated by the back hand pulling the Bo, while the front hand is used for guidance. When striking, the wrist is twisted, as if turning the hand over when punching. Bo technique includes a wide variety of blocks, strikes, sweeps, and entrapments. The Bo may even be used to sweep sand into an opponent’s eyes.
The earliest form of the Bo, a staff, has been used throughout Asia since the beginning of recorded history. The first Bo were made of stone. These were hard to make and were often unreliable. These were also extremely heavy. Later were made wood studded with iron. These were still too cumbersome for actual combat, so they were later replaced by unmodified hardwood staffs. The Bo used for self defense by monks or commoners; the staff was to become an integral part of the martial arts. The staff evolved into the Bo with the foundation of a martial art using weapons, which emerged in the early 1600s.
Although the Bo is now used as a weapon, its use is believed by some to have evolved from non-combative uses. The Bo staff is thought to have been used to balance buckets or baskets. Typically, one would carry baskets of harvested crops or buckets of water or milk or fish, one at each end of the Bo, which is balanced across the middle of the back at the shoulder blades. In poorer agrarian economies, the Bo remains a traditional farm work implement.