Earlier in the year, in Way of the not so empty hand: letting go of fear to gain control., I reflected on starting my journey into Okinawan Kobudo. Since that time I have been steadily building up a small (but growing) arsenal of weapons. It started with a pair of Nan chaku (similar to the one pictured at the top of my first post) and has since seen the addition of a Bo, purchased with some birthday money I got from my Aunt and Uncle. There were some rather interesting text messages on my birthday as I explained what a Bo was and what one does with it…..some of the messages included pop culture references to TMNT…..but I digress…..
Anyway, at the point where I was starting to feel a lot more in control of my Nan chaku, having had the opportunity to practice with my own at home, rather than waiting a month between classes, I eagerly turned up with my chaku and found myself poised a la Little Bo Peep, with a rather long stick in my hands instead. By then the concept of being outside of my comfort zone was so familiar that being outside my comfort zone was starting to feel inside my comfort zone…..so I didn’t really panic (much).
I had heard of Bo although knew very little about them, other than that they were a type of staff (of which there are a few in various lengths). I had also heard Bo was easier to learn / control than Nan chaku. Bo are an all-in-one unit rather than being 2 sticks joined together with a string, so surely that should be the case……well perhaps for some.
Acquiring a Bo was a little quicker and easier than acquiring a Nan chaku had been. This was only partly due to my growing enthusiasm for being a TMNT (Tough Mummy Ninja Type). To explain: Nan Chaku need to be purchased by someone licensed (which I am not) and you can only legally carry them from your home to and from class with your licensed instructor. A Bo, on the other hand, you can just walk into a martial arts shop, grab one, hand over your money, and presto you are armed and ready to go. Apparently, no one minds if you carry a big long stick around, and there is no law against it.
So, in I went into the Martial arts shop in town, armed with my birthday cash and out I came, a short while later, armed with a Bo. There were only a few to choose from (in terms of materials) and I had been given a heads up about what to select so it was super easy shopping (the only kind of shopping I actually enjoy).
My daughter was highly confused; she thought I was buying a pretty bo(w) (for my hair). My son was disappointed; he thought I was buying the kind of bo(w) you use to shoot arrows. My husband was equally underwhelmed; he thought my purchase looked like something I could have got with the curtain rods at Bunnings (his favourite hardware haunt). However, I was happy with my new
Bo and that was what counted!
My Bo is tall, slim, fair, and handsome – at least he was the day I met him (he’s taken a bit of a beating lately and is looking more rugged). He is made of rattan which is about as light and flexible as you can get in a real (as opposed to practice) Bo. He’s also the softest Bo in our dojo, which explains why he’s so easily bruised. My training buddies wanted to know if I had named my Bo. Surprisingly, (given that I am a self confessed word nerd), I couldn’t actually think of anything more original or witty, so he’s still just “Beau”, which given his aforementioned attributes and characteristics, is, at least, appropriate.
Although it was love at first sight, (for me, at any rate), Beau did not want a bar (pun intended) of my controlling nature. He did not want to be an extension of me, like my Sensei told me was the aim. He did not want to cooperate, and, although flexible in a literal sense, figuratively speaking, he refused to bend, let alone let me be the boss of the relationship. At times there was even a degree of domestic violence between us; we bruised each other in equal measure. In short….that stick just plain gave me stick! To say our relationship had a rocky start would be fairly accurate. I had moments where I had doubt things would ever work out between us. However, although it is early days still, things seemed to have turned a corner.
Beau and I have been together for 6 weeks or so now, and I take him out for a spin whenever I get the opportunity. Because he’s so tall we need to work where there is plenty of space and head room and he’s not so good around small kids, so we need to avoid them too. He’s been to a few playgrounds with me and my daughter and we’ve done our thing while watching her play from a safe distance. He comes outside with me; at night time after the kids are in bed asleep. We’ve been trying to learn our form (kata) together in class, with gradually increasing success. We’ve even done some sparring drills with the other Bo in class, and although he’s come away somewhat more bruised than me or the other Bo on these occasions, he has not complained.
Beau is coming around to my way, and I to his. He has given me strength of body and spirit that I never knew I had in me. I have given him an exciting second life beyond the palm forests of Taiwan where he grew up. We are able to have some sort of synchrony with the basics and we don’t beat each other up quite so much now. I am starting to understand how he can help me and how I need to help him, and I get the feeling our relationship will become more and more harmonious with the passage of time; we just need to keep working on it.