Somewhere between a game and a sport, Bo-Taoshi is played at schools and military training academies around the country. In fact, it was originally designed as a military training exercise. In terms of the rules and the way the game is played it is very similar to the game capture the flag, with some elements of rugby. Literally, the name means “pole bring-down,” and in a way this name summarizes the sport quite well.
The best way to explain the game is in fact to watch it so I have added a YouTube video to the bottom of the article for you to check out. But here is a rundown of some of the rule and the aim of the game.
To start two teams of 150 individuals each vie for control of a single large pole. Each team is split into two groups of 75 attackers and 75 defenders.
The defenders begin in a defensive formation respective to their own pole, while the attackers assume position ready to charge the other team’s pole. A team is victorious if it is able to lower the upright pole of the opposing team to a thirty-degree angle from the ground, before the other team reaches the same goal.
Technically outright violence and fighting is not allowed you can expect to see kicks to the face and people throwing themselves into the frey.
To break this down even further here is an overview of various positions team members are assigned during the game. It looks like complete chaos when you first see it but once you understand the roles you realise there is method to the madness.
- Pole support – to hold the pole in the upright position.
- Barrier – the largest part of the defence, 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 teammate’s 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 defence. 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 defence.
So now you have a slight idea of the rules and jobs of the individual players the best thing to do is check out the video and see for yourself and if you wanna see more just give it a search on YouTube, there is a good short documentary called Japans Game of War on YouTube which explains in more detail.
Personally I would have loved to have played this at school.