Tambo or Tanbo : Short Staff


Tambo or Tanbo – A Very Short Staff

If you’re a martial artist, then you might have heard of the Tambo. It’s a weapon that originated in Japan, and it’s also known as a very short staff. In this article, we’re going to talk about the Tambo, its history, how it’s used, and its significance in martial arts.

What is a Tambo?

The Tambo also known as Tanbo, is a wooden weapon that measures approximately 15-18 inches long. It’s thicker than a Bo staff and shorter than a Jo staff. The name Tanbo is a comparative reference to the longer Bo staff. It’s believed that the Tambo was originally used by peasants as a walking stick, but over time, it evolved into a baton like weapon.

History of Tambo

The Tambo was first used by the Japanese police force during the Edo period (1603-1868) as a non-lethal weapon. It was an effective tool for subduing criminals and was easy to carry around. The Tambo was also used by Samurai warriors as a backup weapon in case they lost their main weapon.

During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the use of the Tambo as a weapon declined as Japan modernized and the police force started using firearms. However, the Tambo continued to be used in martial arts.

Tambo Construction

The Tambo is a unique weapon that requires a specific set of skills to wield effectively. However, before one can learn how to use the Tambo, they need to understand how it’s constructed.
In this section, we’re going to talk about Tambo construction and the materials used to make this weapon.

Materials Used in Tambo Construction

Traditionally, the Tambo was made from Japanese white oak, which is a dense and sturdy wood that can withstand heavy use. Other types of wood, such as hickory or ash, can also be used to make the Tambo.
The wood used to make the Tambo needs to be straight-grained and free of knots and defects. The length of the wood used to make the Tambo should be between 15-18 inches, and the diameter should be approximately one inch.

Construction Process

The first step in Tambo construction is to select the right type of wood. The wood is then cut to the desired length and thickness. The ends of the wood are then rounded off to prevent splintering.
Next, the wood is sanded down to a smooth finish. The surface of the wood should be free of any rough spots or burrs.

After sanding, the wood is treated with a protective coating, such as lacquer or varnish. This coating helps to protect the wood from moisture and damage. Finally, the Tambo is fitted with rubber or traditionally leather caps on each end. These caps help to prevent the ends of the Tambo from splintering and provide additional grip.

Importance of Tambo Construction

The construction of the Tambo is critical to its effectiveness as a weapon. A poorly constructed Tambo can easily break or splinter during use, which can lead to injury. Additionally, the weight and balance of the Tambo are essential for effective use. A Tambo that is too heavy or unbalanced can be challenging to wield and may not be effective in combat.

The Tambo is a unique weapon with a rich history and a critical role in Japanese martial arts. The construction of the Tambo is essential to its effectiveness as a weapon, and it requires specific skills and materials to construct properly.

By understanding the materials and construction process of the Tambo, one can appreciate the complexity and skill required to create this weapon.

How is Tambo Used in Martial Arts?

The Tambo is a versatile weapon that can be used for both striking and grappling techniques. It’s usually held with both hands, and techniques include strikes, blocks, sweeps, and joint locks. One of the advantages of the Tambo is its size. It’s small enough to be used in close quarters, such as in a hallway or stairwell. Its small size also makes it a good weapon for women and children. The Tambo is used in various martial arts styles, including Aikido, Jujutsu, Kendo, and Kukishin Ryu. In Aikido, for example, the Tambo is used to control an opponent’s movements and to apply joint locks.


In proficient hands, the Tambo can be a lethal weapon. Its primary use is to attack the peripheral parts of the human body swiftly and accurately. With this approach, nearly every part of the target, excluding the abdomen, can be struck with this weapon.

To effectively wield this weapon, envision your adversary as a 2-dimensional figure standing before you. Your aim is to unleash a flurry of strikes on their outer region, targeting areas like the top of their head, ears, back of the head, hands, arms, neck, waist, thighs, knees, and calves. If they’re standing sideways, you can target their abdomen, nose, eyes, and of course, groin.

The Tambo can also serve for thrusting and knocking the opponent with the holding end. It can also be used for blocking attacks by gripping both ends to parry an opponent’s assault. Mastery of this weapon relies heavily on speed and precision.

Significance of Tambo in Martial Arts

The Tambo is a symbol of the Japanese martial arts and its culture. It represents the simplicity and practicality of the Japanese fighting style. It also represents the idea of using a simple, everyday object as a weapon, which reflects the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Japanese people.

Final Thoughts

The Tambo is a fascinating weapon with a rich history and significant role in Japanese martial arts. If you want to learn more about martial arts and weapon construction, be sure to check out our other informative articles.

Wishing to Explore More?

We hope you liked this article. If you’re looking to learn more about traditional martial arts weaponry then please have a read of the articles below.

Next Martial Arts Weapons article: Tanto – Japanese dagger

Previous Martial Arts Weapons article: Surujin: Okinawan Chain Or Rope Weapon

View this engaging article that details an extensive collection of Martial Arts Weapons right here at Dojo Directory.


Updated: February 11, 2024 — 3:06 pm