In Chinese monasteries, the abbot of the temple usually wields the staff during grand ceremonies, symbolizing the hierarchy of the abbot. The abbot would usually take the khakkhara and strike the ground thrice then shaking it, symbolizing the breaking of ignorance and calling out to all beings.
In Japan the shakujō became a formidable weapon in the hands of a practiced Buddhist monk. It could be used as a staff to block and parry attacks and the metal rings at the tip could be slammed into an opponent's face to momentarily blind him. At the very tip of the metal finial is a sharp point which can be used to attack weak points of the body. The bottom end of the khakkhara has a metal butt which can be used to thrust and hit an opponent. An opponent's weapons can also be easily deflected.
The khakkhara is the symbol of the Dharma and one of the eighteen objects which a Buddhist monk must carry. Once popularly carried by monks of most Buddhist sects, today it is rarely seen. Bodhisattva monks of Mukyōhō Mahayana Buddhism, however, carry the khakkhara where it is used in practical self-defense methods. Shōrinji Kempō also contains methods of self-defense using the khakkhara but these methods are rarely practiced today.
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