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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bo-taoshi - A Nice Violent Japanese Sport

Since I apparently forgot to post a blog at midnight my time - accidentally publishing it 12 hours earlier - d'oh! - I'm in a mad scramble to get something together for you all for lunch time.

Of course, my scramble hasn't got anything on the scramble of the Japanese involved in the game known as Bo-taoshi.

Bo-taoshi (棒倒し) translates to "pole bring-down" - once again proving that many sports simply describe the sport's most impressive feature in its name… like Football… unless of course you are an American.

This game is essentially a violent Japanese version of Capture The Flag… a game I have only played once at some paintball place, where I actually broke through and captured the damn flag after an impressive suicidal zig-zag run at the enemy's base, lunged for the flag, grabbed it and then was pummeled by about 47 paintball blasts - which actually hurt at close range, and when you are playing against a bunch of crazy summbitches who actually own and bring their own paintball guns serially charged with better penetrating power - which isn't as sexual as you might think.

It's kind of like Bo-taoshi.

Here… watch the video.

My favorite part was near the end over at the far right where you can see one guy has another guy in a submission leg hold.

Now… I have heard that this game is played on sports days at schools (plural) in Japan, but having seen it, it seems a tad dangerous, does it not?

I used to play Buck-Buck - after some dumb kid heard about it on a Bill Cosby comedy record album - and after one 15-minute recess of earth-shaking fun, it was banned from the school premises, as apparently the school thought 20 cases of mangled spines was excessive play for the average nine and 10-year-old.

Having withstood a disintegrating disc, two herniated disc (and having my 4th and 5th lumbar joined from birth) plus having the spongy material between the discs in my spine become compacted - thereby making me 5'-10-1/2", rather than a taller 5'-11-3/4 (thank god I only lost an inch in HEIGHT!) - and knowing that if I was that proper height I would actually only be less than 10 lbs overweight… I can appreciate that some sports played in school can be violent, dangerous and simply not good for one's future health. Like Bo-taoshi.

Look at that… you got a bit of my actual history and health all rolled up in one very late blog.

Anyhow, the cadets of the National Defense Academy of Japan actually participate in a massive game of Bo-taoshi on its anniversary - thereby ensuring that its students get into some real fighting.

Two teams of 150 people each try and topple each other's pole in separate charges, with 75 attackers and 75 defenders working separately.

Looking like something out of the zombie apocalypse movie World War Z, one team's 75 attackers try to take down the other team's pole, which is being guarded by 75 defenders.

Apparently while one team attacks, it is being attacked by the other team's attackers.

When that is achieved - and I assume it is always achieved - so perhaps a winner is chosen by shortest toppling time less number of broken bones caused plus broken bones suffered - but that's just a sarcastic guess on my part.      

Actually, victory is achieved when the attacking team lowers the opposing team's pole to a 30-degree angle - and does so before the other team.

Until 1973, the angle of victory was 45-degrees.

I don't know about you, but the whole thing does indeed sound sexual… Erect pole… game over when pole shrinks down… obviously 45-degrees implies it may still have life…  

If there are rules, they apparently go right out the window after a player launches himself (never HERself) at one of the piles of writhing (in agony) flesh.

How strange… in Japan where there is a rule for everything, there are no stiff rules hoer than trying to take down the stiff competition any way possible. 

Now… even though the rules are to win or lose (in the old days did the losers have to kill themselves in shame for the dishonor they brought to the National Defense Academy of Japan, their parents, selves and most importantly to their heritage?), there are actually designated positions in this sport of sports:  

  • Pole support - to hold the pole in the upright position;
  • Barrier - the largest part of the defense, their job is to protect the pole;
  • Interference - harass and interrupt attacks that get within the barrier;
  • Scrum disabler - scrum is the offensive strategy in which the attackers use their teammates back to spring themselves over the barrier and onto the pole. The scrum disablers do whatever they can to eliminate this attack;
  • Ninja - this is the single man at the top of the pole. This is one of the most important positions on defense. The ninja must lean to the opposite side if the pole is being tilted to counteract the weight.

  • Springboard/scrum - the scrum acts as stepping stones so their offensive teammates can jump over the barrier and have easy access to the pole;
  • Pole attackers - in charge of taking the ninja down and using their weight to bring the pole down;
  • General support attackers - Do anything to make it hard on the defense.
When you see a sport like this in Japan, played in schools and by its peace-loving National Defense Academy of Japan… is it any wonder that people think Japan could actually have its own version of The Hunger Games - like THIS Battle Royale.

Andrew Joseph

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