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"Bo-Taoshi," the Famous Sport Played by Students of the National Defense Academy of Japan

This video was created by ‘wasabiesince2002’ and was entitled ‘Punch! Kick! Hurl! And choke! "Bo-taoshi" of National Defense Academy of Japan is a combat sport!!
2013 National Defense Academy of Japan, the 61st Founding of the Academy Memorial Festival, Bo-taoshi, 1st Match, 1st Game, No.4(殴る!蹴る!投げる!絞める!防衛大学校の棒倒しは格闘技だ!! H25年 防衛大学校 第61回 開校記念祭 棒倒し 第1回戦第一試合 No.4)’.

Usually locked by airtight gates leaving common people with no clue on what’s inside, the National Defense Academy of Japan, introduced in this video, is, in a sense, an unexplored location left in modern-day Japan.

Annually, the academy hosts a famous event that is broadcast on TV as well.
That event is called "Bo-taoshi" and it is performed during the autumn academy festival: ‘Founding of the Academy Memorial Festival’.
Bo-taoshi, that leaves spectators breathless, is more of a combat sport than something you'd see at a school festival. A chaotic brawl of punches, kicks, throws, and chokes leaves many injured!

But watching this traditional sport, the students of the National Defense Academy of Japan don’t fail to assure that they are the guardians of Japan's future.
Please enjoy the powerful battle between these future self-defense officers in the video. It's sure to be very exciting.

The History of the Extreme "Bo-Taoshi"

Image of Self-Defense Officer
Photo:Self-Defense Officer

Bo-taoshi is a traditional event with a long history played in the Imperial Military Academy, Imperial Military Air Force Academy, and the Imperial Naval Academy.
It is a precious game that brings the history of modern Japan to the present.

Bo-taoshi in the National Defense Academy has been played since 1954 at the ‘Founding of the Academy Festival’ and it is considered one of the three major games of the academy along with the ‘Cutter Games’ and ‘Long-Distance Running’.

What Exactly Is "Bo-Taoshi’"

The autumn academy festival in National Defense Academy is similar to a sports festival. However, Bo-taoshi is a literal fight between youngsters, whose shoulders bare the burden of the security of Japan, and a town sports fesitval comes no where close to this level of brutality.
The game is a team sport played by battalions. Each battalion, both the attacking and the defending side, consists of 150 people.

The rules are simple: the pole, which is the target of attack, is erected at the center of the field and the attacking side wins if they manage to make it fall within 2 minutes.
The defending students, equipped with headgear, first surround the pole and 1 person climbs to the upper end of the pole.
Next, 4 students climb to the second stage.
This can be seen from 0:10 in the video.

At the fire of the starting pistol, the attacking battalion charges fiercely to the pole.
This is shown from 1:11 in the video.
The defending battalion prevents the charge, and the fight, quite literally, is on.

The student at the top of the pole is forcefully brought down from 1:47, and you can see the ferocious onslaught of the attacking side as they attempt to knock the pole down.
Some of the students shed tears after the competition, showing that this is the result of the rigorous training they do every day.
Becoming the champion is an irreplaceable honor for them.

Simple, Yet Complex! Bo-Taoshi and Its Refined Tactics

At a glance, the attack may seem like a reckless charge, but, in fact, it is thoroughly planned out into a sophisticated strategy.
The defending battalion, too, consists of the robust and trained students of the National Defense Academy, so a reckless charge would easily be taken in stride.
Because of this, the offense and defense plan out their tactics and act accordingly during the 2-minute game.
Here, we'll introduce some basic strategies used in Bo-taoshi.

Scrum: The attacking battalion forms a scrum and leads the charge toward the pole. The scrum acts as stepping stones after the charge so pole attackers can jump over the barrier and get closer to the top of the pole.
Pole attackers: Attackers who jump at the pole and attempt to bring it down.
General support attackers: Do anything they can to weaken the defense of the defending battalion.

Pole support: Hold the pole in the upright position and keep it from being brought down.
Ninja: This is the single man at the top of the pole who tries to kick off the pole attackers jumping onto the pole.
Killers: Harass and interrupt the attacking enemies.
Scrum Disablers: Do whatever they can to invalidate the scrum of the attacking battalion.

The Warriors of the Future! Summary of Bo-Taoshi

The National Defense Academy’s autumn festival, the ‘Founding of the Academy Memorial Festival,’ which is introduced in this video, is a very important event for the academy.
On the day of the event, the academy will be open to the public and anyone can walk around campus.
Booths and stands will open inside the property which make for a lively and exciting atmosphere perfect for a school festival.

The main event is of course Bo-taoshi, the specialty of the National Defense Academy!
Many people visit just for the sake of watching it!
Battalions of 150 people brawl over the pole, punching and kicking, and the battalions wear shirts of different colors so that people can see what’s happening more easily.
Spectators cheer on the team they want to win with a massive cheer or, at other times, by screaming.

Please take your time and enjoy the spectacular game of Bo-taoshi shown throughout the video.

【Official Website】National Defense Academy of Japan – Ministry of Defense・Self-Defense Force

Written By
Last Updated : Oct. 17, 2020
児玉 勇(Yu Kodama)
A writer who loves Japan and yakitori
Don’t Miss the Amazing “Bo-Taoshi,” the Specialty of the National Defense Academy of Japan! Punch! Kick! Throw! Is This a Martial Art? A Fight? Nope, Just an Authentic Academy Event!
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