14 Martial Arts Using Staff: The Complete List (2023)

Most well-known martial arts don’t have staffs and they disallow their usage in fights, but there are some martial arts – especially from the Far East – that are based on staffs and their usage.

In this Article show

List of Martial Arts Using Staff



Canne de combat





Mau rākau




Taiho jutsu

Zulu stick-fighting

In this article, I am going to present you a list of martial arts using staffs in their teachings.

I am going to give you the names, some details, and the list of weapons used in them so you can find out everything there is about martial arts that are using a staff.

List of Martial Arts Using Staff

This is a list of some martial arts and combat sports that rely heavily on the use of staffs and stick.

Some of them might use them as their main (or only) weapons, while some use them among a plethora of other weapons.


Arnis, also known asKaliorEskrima/Escrima, is the nationalmartial artof thePhilippines.

Filipino martial arts are very specific, as they – unlike a large number of other Oriental martial arts – emphasizethe use of weapon-based fightingwithsticks,knives,bladed weapons, and variousimprovised weapons, as well as “open hand” techniques without weapons.

Some of them are of Filipino origin, while others stem from early colonial influences (mostly Spanish, since the Philippines were, for a large part of their history, part of the Spanish Empire).

Other weapons used: knife, other bladed weapons.


Bōjutsu(棒術) is a Japanese martial artbased on using astaffweaponcalledbō.

All of the thrusting, swinging, and striking techniques often resemble empty-hand movements, following the philosophy that theis merely an “extension of one’s limbs”.

Consequently, bōjutsu is often incorporated into other styles of empty-hand fighting, like traditionalJiu-jitsu, andkarate.

Other weapons used: none.

Canne de combat

Canne de combatis aFrenchmartial art that started off as a 19th-century self-defense technique.

Its main weapon is acanne, a special cane(orwalking-stick) designed for fighting.Canne de combatwas standardized during the 1970s.

Thecanneitself is very light, made ofchestnutwood, and slightly tapered.

A padded suit and afencingmask are worn for protection.

Other weapons used: none.


Gatka(Punjabi:ਗਤਕਾUrdu:گٹکاgatkā) is the name ofIndian martial art, a style ofstick-fighting, withwooden sticksintended to simulate real-lifeswords.

The Punjabi namegatkaproperly refers to the wooden stick used. It originated in Punjab in the 15th century; there has been a revival during the later 20th century and gatka is now popular as a sport orsword danceperformance art and is often shown during Sikh festivals.

Other weapons used: none.


Hanbōjutsu (lit. the art of wielding thehanbō) is the main element in several martial arts including theKukishin-ryūkoryūclassical school of martial arts, andKukishinden-ryū, one of the nine schools ofBujinkan Budo Taijutsu.

Part of the importance of using this length is that it is approximately that of a walking cane.

Although techniques with a cane in thisryū-hautilize pulling or hooking and possess one rounded end, they invariably function the same as ahanbōin all other respects.

The hanbō can be held toward one end, and be swung like a katana or kendo sword. Additionally, it can be held in the middle like a staff and strike and block from either end.

Thehanbōcan be used as a means of striking, restraining, or even throwing someone.

Hanbō is useful to know because sticks are abundant and can be picked up if attacked.

Other weapons used: none.


Jōjutsu (Japanese: 杖術) is very similar to the aforementioned bōjutsu, but it uses the instead of the , i.e., a different type of staff.

The art itself is also called jōdō (Japanese: 杖道, lit. “way of the jō”).

Modern jōjutsu has two distinct branches – a more traditional one, that emphasizes older teachings, and a modern version called seitei jōdō.

Other weapons used: none.


Krabi-Krabong(Thai:กระบี่กระบอง) is a weapon-basedmartial artfromThailand.

The system’s name refers to its main weapons, namely the Thai sword (krabi) and staff (krabong). Typically, two swords (daab song mue) are wielded as a pair.

Other weapons used: clubs, different types of sticks, staffs, and swords, and even a shield.

Mau rākau

Mau rākau (Maori term that means “to bear a weapon”), is a traditionalmartial artbased on traditionalMāoriweapons and practiced in New Zealand.

The term itself refers to the art of using any weapon, which is why there are specific styles designed for precise weapons.

Other weapons used: blades, clubs.


Shintaido(新体道, aJapaneseword translated as ‘New Body Way’) is a hybrid system of movements that aims to use the body as a means of expression and communication.

Incorporating both physical and artistic elements, it was created in Japan in the 1960s.

Its roots lay in the traditionalJapanese martial arts,Chinese medicine,andBuddhist meditation techniques, while its creator Hiroyuki Aoki was also influenced by modernWestern artandChristianity.

As well as being a practical martial art Shintaido aims to be a form of artistic expression, a healthy exercise, and a path of self-discovery and transformation.

Shintaido is practiced with bare hands, but the curriculum also includesbojutsu(棒術), involving the use of the long staff (or, 棒), andkenjutsu(剣術), using a wooden sword (orbokuto, 木刀).

Other weapons used: none.


Silambamis a weapon-basedIndian martial artoriginating in modern-dayTamil Naduin theIndian subcontinentand is estimated to have originated in approximately 1000 BCE.

This ancient fighting style is mentioned in TamilSangam literature400 BCE. Silambam’s main focus is on the bamboo staff.

As far as the number of weapons used goes, silambam is one of the most prolific martial arts on this list.

Other weapons used: blades, swords, sickles, knifes, etc.


Singlestick, also known ascudgels, refers to both amartial artthat uses a woodenstickas well as theweaponused in the art.

It began as a way of training sailors in the use ofswordssuch as thesabreor thecutlass.

Canne de combat, aFrenchform of stick fighting which we have already talked about before, is similar to singlestick play, which also includes a self-defense variant with awalking stick.

The singlestick itself is a slender, round wooden rod, traditionally ofash, with abasket hilt.

Singlesticks are typically around 36 inches (91cm) in length and 1 inch (2.5cm) in diameter and thicker at one end than the other.

It bears approximately the same relationship to thebackswordas thefoilto thesmall swordin being a sporting version of the weapon for safe practice.

Other weapons used: none.


Tahtib(Egyptian Arabic:تحطيبtaḥṭīb) is a traditional stick-fighting martial art from Egypt, originally namedfan a’nazaha wa-tahtib(“the art of being straight and honest through the use of stick”).

The original martial version of tahtib later evolved into anEgyptian folk dancewith a wooden stick.

Today, it is usually described as a dance, ritual, game, or ritualmock combat accompanied by music.

Nowadays, the wordtahtibencompasses both martial practice and performance art. It is mainly practiced today in Upper Egypt.

The stick used in modern-day tahtib is about four feet in length and is called anasa,asaya, assaya, ornabboot, depending on the part of Egypt you’re in.

It is often flailed in large figure-eight patterns across the body with such speed that the displacement of air is loudly discernible.

Other weapons used: none.

Taiho jutsu

Taiho-jutsu(arresting art) (逮捕術) is a term for martial arts developed by Japan’s feudal police to arrest dangerous criminals, who were usually armed and frequently desperate.

While manytaiho-jutsumethods originated from the classical Japanese schools ofkenjutsu(swordsmanship) andjūjutsu(unarmed fighting arts), the goal of the feudal police officers was to capture lawbreakers alive and without injury.

Thus, they often used specialized implements and unarmed techniques intended to pacify or disable suspects rather than employing more lethal means.

A similar martial art focused on using police batons, is called keijojutsu.

Other weapons used: sword

Zulu stick-fighting

Zulu stick-fighting(also known asdonga, ordlala ‘nduku, which literally translates as ‘playing sticks’, but also as Nguni stick-fighting, based on the people it stems from) is amartial arttraditionally practiced by teenageboys from the Nguni people in South Africa.

Each combatant is armed with two long sticks, one of which is used for defense and the other for the offense.

Little, if any armor is present in such fights.

Although Nguni/Xhosa styles of fighting may use only two sticks, variations of Bantu/Nguni stick-fighting throughout Southern Africa incorporateshieldsas part of the stick-fighting weaponry.

Zulu stick-fighting uses anisikhwilior attacking stick, anubhokoor defending stick, and anihawuor defending shield.

The object is for two opposing warriors to fight each other to establish which of them is the strongest or the “Bull” (Inkunzi).

In modern times this usually occurs as part of the wedding ceremony where warriors from the bridegroom’s household and area welcome warriors from the bride’s household and area to meet to “get to know each other”, other groups of warriors may also be welcome to join in.

Warriors do this by engaging in combat with one another; this means that their traditional role in combat has been mostly forgotten as the years passed.

An “induna” or War Captain / Referee from each group of warriors keeps his crew in check and keeps order between fighters.

Other weapons used: sword.

Well, that covers everything you need to know about stick- and staff-based martial arts.

Also, if you are interested, check out the article I wrote about other martial arts the use weapons in general.

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