Picture by Sensei Hodges.
Picture 1: Sensei Hodge demonstrating an Overhead front right angle strike
Picture 2: Right Uppercut strike
Picture 3: Official Patch for The Hodge-American Style Bo Bujutsu
A Review of My Training Experience with Ultimate Bo
Learn Ultimate Bo with Master Instructor Michael Hodge
By Hemil Garcia Linares
Probably you have seen a Bo in many martial arts movies without knowing the name of that weapon or maybe you have seen your Sensei and the advanced belts maneuvering a long weapon just called Bo. But, what is a Bo really? How do you master it? Is it a weapon that can only be maneuver and learn by high rank practitioners?
A bō (棒: ぼう), bong (Korean term), kon (Chinese term), or kun (Okinawan dialect), is a very tall and long staff weapon used in Okinawa and feudal Japan. Bō are typically around 1.8 m (5.9 ft) long and used in Japanese martial arts, in particular bōjutsu. Other staff-related weapons are the jō, which is 1.2 m (47 in) long and the hanbō (half bō) (tahn bongin Korea), which is 90 cm (35 in) long.
Having a background in Jujitsu and now Karate (in that order) I never had the chance to use a Bo. My background with weapons is mainly related to Nunchakus, so trying a new weapon was a bit of a challenge for me.
Due to my multiple obligation (I am college professor, a husband, a father, and a Karate practitioner) I cannot attend more classes in person.
I decided to try a home course and did some research until I was able to find Ultimate Bo, a home study guide created by Master Instructor Michael Hodge. Mr. Hodge holds a 4th Dan Black Chevron and Founder of Ultimate Bo.
What is Ultimate Bo?
Ultimate Bo is a martial arts style and it is considered the first full white to second black Bo rank program in the world. It is derived from ancient Japanese martial arts; the original world for Bo or staff is – rokushakubõ.
Ultimate Bo has adapted real traditional fighting techniques into a more realist approach; making them less of a fighting art and more a performing art. About 75% of the Ultimate Bo Style is all about free style, visually appealing techniques. 25% is about learning to use real combat oriented fight techniques with the Bo.
Can you earn a rank with Ultimate Bo?
Yes, earning a rank though the Ultimate Bo Home Study is possible and it is also a high honor. Rank can be earned through our home study course or a certified academy.
How real is the training with the Ultimate Bo?
The Ultimate Bo has a sparring portion designed to teach practitioners with real combat, self-defense oriented techniques. These fighting type techniques are then practiced in controlled sparring matches. You can spar again one competitor, or again two or three competitors at the time.
How does the Ultimate Bo Program Work?
The Distance Training Program has three simple steps to follow towards obtaining rank, certification, and completing the program. Read below for an overview of the three steps.
The steps ate simple:
- Watch the video
- Take the exam to reach to reach the next level
- Continue steps 1 and 2 at each level.
What are the requirements to advance to Black Belt?
Yellow Belts (no waiting period for testing)
Green Chevron (no waiting period for testing)
Blue Chevron (1 month period before advancing to the next level)
Brown Chevron (2 months period before advancing to the next level)
Red Chevron (3 months period before advancing to the next level)
Black Chevron (4 months period before advancing to the next level)
2nd Black Chevron (1 years before advancing to the next level)
Master Instructor Certification.
Once you pass a rank exam, you will receive a rank completion packet in he mail. For example, when you pass the first rank exam (Yellow Chevron) you will receive your graded performance test, certificate of rank, and the actual yellow Chevron.
My experience with the Ultimate Bo was challenging at the beginning, but rewarding also since the instructional really teach you step by step, what do, how to maneuver the Bo.
The Ultimate Bo techniques will teach how to sweep, strike, block, spin with your Bo.
Is it easier for a beginner to start practicing with the Ultimate Bo?
As a martial as practitioner myself I definitely think it’s possible.
I never had any previous experience with a Bo before and after watching the video one time and maybe rewinding the video twice at the most, I was able to put the forms together.
Master Instructor Michael Hodge give some advice to students, “ work hard, enjoy your training, show off a little bit, and earn your black chevron and your instructor certification-then help to spread the amazing art of Ultimate Bo to new students.
Definitely, Ultimate Bo is the right combination of traditional art with freestyle and appealing techniques. If you are looking for fun training and practicing martial arts at the same time, you will not be disappointed with Ultimate Bo.
Where can I join the Ultimate Bo Distance Training Course?
You can learn more about Ultimate Bo at their Facebook Page:
A Word from Sensei Michael, Founder of Ultimate Bo
Some laugh when they hear about a complete white to black chevron (not belt) style teaching the bo; others get really excited. It is really about you as the martial artist, and how interested you are in weapons training. The Bo is the most popular martial arts weapon within dojos in the USA (and possibly the rest of the world, too). It is accessible, it does not seem as dangerous to begin (sword cuts anyone?), and not as crazy (double nunchakus to the face).
You’ll be surprised by the weapon itself and our style. Not only do you learn practical combat-based philosophies at times, which can lead to fluidly-intense katas – but you will become one with the weapon. I don’t mean to sound fantastical, but a unique part of weapons training is learning to use the weapon as an extension of your body, almost as an elongated limb, rather than as a solitary object.
If it sounds fun to learn bo katas, techniques, combat, sparring, and even earn official rank in our style, we would love to have you on as a new student! We have students from all around the world learning and ranking; and you could even become a certified instructor someday. I look forward to meeting you soon! Sincerely, Sensei Michael Hodge
Note by Hemil Garcia. I want to express my special thanks for Sensei Hodge who provided us with pictures and vast training material that allowed Black Belt Review to write this article.