Quarterstaff vs Bo Staff: What is the Difference

One of man’s first weapons, wooden staves have been used in battle since the days of the caveman. It lets you attack from a distance, deliver strong blows, and defend against incoming assaults.

In more recent times, fighting with wooden sticks has evolved considerably. Methods of making and shaping a battle staff have advanced, and martial artists of many disciplines specialize in combating with timber poles. The quarterstaff and bo staff are perhaps the most well-known examples of these weapons.

In this post, we compare the quarterstaff to the bo staff.

Quarterstaff vs Bo Staff: What is the difference

What is a Quarterstaff

Quarterstaff vs Bo Staff: What is the difference
The quarterstaff is a wooden pole that was commonly used as a weapon throughout Europe from approximately 1550 to the end of the 1800s. They typically range in length from 6 to 9 feet, have a diameter of 1.5 inches, and are constructed of hardwood such as Ash.

A quarterstaff, which looks like a large stick, is actually carved and molded from a tree’s trunk. They’re not simply branches with their side shoots shortened.

The pole’s handle is molded out of the tree’s trunk, allowing the surface of the pole to be smooth and making it easy for hands to slide up and down its length to swap grips for various blows and defenses.

It also implies that the wood is far more sturdy if it comes from the tree’s trunk rather than one of its branches. If the quarterstaff is created from a branch, it will be highly flexible and likely to bounce off when it makes contact with an opponent.

The term “fragmentary” is used to describe these weapons, which were even more dangerous owing to the fact that they occasionally included a metal tip or tiny spike at the end.

Normally, the height of the user determines the length of the pole. When you stand up, place your open hand on your head as a guide. The staff length should equal the distance from the ground to the fingertips of the user.

The quarterstaff is a legendary weapon that has been mentioned in numerous tales about Robin Hood.

The traveling man quite frequently utilized quarterstaffs. They might be used as a walking stick or cane to make the trip more comfortable. The pole became a handy self-defense weapon when attacked by robbers, defending oneself with it. Walking with a pole is also considerably more discreet than carrying a long sword or other bladed weapon in public and far safer to train with.

A quarterstaff, on the other hand, would be far superior to shorter weapons like a knife.

Why is it Called a Quarterstaff?

Quarterstaff vs Bo Staff: What is the difference
There appear to be a number of hypotheses.

The upper hand is generally positioned on the pole by a man, with his lower arm about a quarter of the way up and his palm facing down.

However, there are a variety of hand spacings that can be used: some require the hands to be placed further towards the bottom of the pole, while others do so further towards the top. As a result, this may appear to be an unlikely cause.

Another method is what it’s composed of. The quarterstaff is constructed from the trunk of a tree, but it isn’t made at the exact center of the tree. If that were the case, the pole would bend out of shape and split as the wood aged.

Instead, the trunk is cut in half lengthways with an axe. Each halves of the trunks are then divided into two parts. One pole can be made from each quarter. Warping is prevented by this technique since it limits the amount of bending that takes place.

Quarterstaff Techniques

Quarterstaff vs Bo Staff: What is the difference
The quarterstaff may be employed in a variety of striking postures.

The person may be raised and lowered to the head, shoulders, or upper arms.

It can also be used to lop down at the body and legs from a higher position.

Surveying the whole of historical record, David Lindholm, a long-time martial arts instrutor and University lecturer, presents a practical guide for combat with the quarterstaff.

The quarterstaff may also be used as a thrusting weapon, such as a spear. At the same time that the forward leg extends, the uppermost hand is released. The arm grasping the pole drives it aggressively into the adversary’s body or head, propelling the pole’s tip into his body or head.

In the 1500s, two German quarterstaff masters, Pualus Mair and Joachim Meyer, published treatises on staff combat technique. The fighting style and staff technique can be modified by adopting various hand postures. A spear grip is obtained by holding the staff toward the lower end, allowing the fighter a greater range. Two grip modifications are shown in Mair’s 1540 fight book, as seen in the following illustration.

Around this time in England, the quarterstaff began to be seen as a national symbol.

It served as the basis for bayonet fighting systems that evolved over time.

What is a Bo Staff?

Quarterstaff vs Bo Staff: What is the difference
The bo, or Okinawan martial arts staff, is a wooden pole that’s used as a martial arts weapon on Okinawa, a tiny Japanese island off the coast. They’re generally around 71 inches long, 1.25 inches thick, and made of red oak hardwood. Some staff are constructed of rattan instead; this type of wood is softer and can be utilized for training purposes.

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Many Okinawan martial arts, such as kung fu, were imported from mainland China through close trade links. Many Japanese martial arts have been influenced by this. The art of fighting with a wooden staff, which became Bōjutsu, was one of them. Karate incorporates features of Bōjutsu into its practice. A Bo kata is even performed by Karate practitioners.

When Emperor Sho Shin banned all weapons in 1477, the popularity of the bo staff on the island grew. Sword possession was prohibited. In 1609, a Samurai clan invaded Okinawa, and a further weapons prohibition was implemented.

The islanders utilized simple farming tools that might be transformed into weapons to protect themselves when weapons were forbidden. It’s been suggested that a long stick (tenbin) used by farmers to move baskets or buckets of grain, produce, or water became the bo.

Bo Staff Technique

Quarterstaff vs Bo Staff: What is the difference
The bo stick is commonly regarded as a “limb extension,” and many of its spectacular techniques appear to be unarmed fighting techniques.

The Bo is generally held with each arm positioned so that the staff is divided into three equal parts. If you went canoeing, it’s similar to how you’d hold a two-bladed paddle.

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The right hand is generally turned away from the body, with the left palm facing towards it. This allows for turning while also allowing a powerful downward strike to the pole’s center if both hands are turned away. Having one upturned hand prevents this.

This is a simple way to get the bo staff spinning. You may spin the bo by enabling the troops to rotate. This not only prevents attackers from approaching too closely, but it also looks amazing. It takes a long time of practice to reach this level.

This is the stance we used to hold the staff. It allows for a number of Bo techniques to be utilized. The bo staff may be rotated 360 degrees to strike the opponent’s head, crotch, and lower body; it can also be bent sideways for blows to the opponent’s sides.

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The bo may be driven forward in a powerful straight attack, similar to that of a spear, into the opponent’s head or body.

A Bo staff, when wielded correctly, can be a very deadly weapon because of its swinging assaults and thrusts.


The QuarterStaff and Bo Staff originated in two different regions of the world. As weapons, they were used across the years, prompting the formation of organized combat methods and, in the case of the Bo, the creation of a martial art – Bōjutsu. Each one can swing and thrust blows, as well as parry incoming counter attacks, functioning like a shield.

While each may appear to be a harmless walking aid or farming equipment, they might be deadly weapons in the hands of skilled operators.

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