A "hanbo" is a Japanese term for a three foot (90 cm) wooden staff.  Sometimes called "sanshaku-bo" (san = three, bo = stick, staff).  Literally it means "half-staff" or "half-bo.  It also emcompasses a cane (tsune) used as a defensive weapon.  It was a widely used weapon from the 16th century in Japan.

The hanbo is part of a family of wooden weapons; the smaller version is the tanbo which is a baton size stick; the larger version is the jo which is a 120 cm stick.  The hanbo shares characteristics of both.

A hanbo is generally symmetrical, in contrast to a walking stick which tapers towards the tip.  A walking stick also has a handle that adds both a complicating factor and potential advantages.

To be relevant to modern times for combat or self defence, the hanbo must be capable of being used in a wide range of practical applications.  As such it must be capable of being successfully applied against assailants whether: unarmed; armed with short weapons, such as a baton, knife etc; and armed with a longer weapon.

The strategy for the use of the hanbo varies in each of these instances.  It is essential to keep in mind the advantages that are offered by the use of the hanbo and maximize these advantages.  At the same time it is necessary to minimise any disadvantages that it may have.  Whether there are advantages or disadvantages depends upon what it is used against.


The potential advantages may be the use of the length of the weapon; the leverage that can be generated by using it as a lever; the additional force available in striking and the ease of manipulation.

It is important that the training be directed at providing a range of appropriate methods to deal with the range of severity of attacks that could occur.  Its methods must be in keeping with the necessity to only use such force as is reasonable to negate an assault.

In the grading syllabus the hanbo techniques commence in 1st kyu.  This part of 1st kyu can be graded by students at any time after the completion of 5th kyu and also completed the section of 2nd kyu devoted to the basics of the baton.