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Two squads scrambling for possession of the pole

Bo-taoshi (Japanese: 棒倒し, Hepburn: bōtaoshi, "pole toppling"), is a capture-the-flag-like game, played on sports days at schools in Japan. The game, traditionally played by cadets at the National Defense Academy (NDA) of Japan on its anniversary, is famous for its size, wherein two teams, totaling 150 individuals, each vie for control of the opposition's pole.[1] Each team is split into two groups of 75 attackers and 75 defenders. The defenders begin in a defensive orientation respective to their pole, while the attackers assume position some measure away from the other team's pole. When the defending team has their pole brought lower than 30° to the horizontal (beginning perpendicular, or 90°, to the horizontal), they lose. Until a rule change in 1973, the pole had only to be brought lower than 45° to the horizontal.

Rules and player positions

The National Defense Academy of Japan explains the rules and positions as follows:[2][3]


Defense positions

Offense positions


  1. ^ Furbush, James (14 July 2011). "Bo-Taoshi: Super Happy Pole Pulldown Sport Time". Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  2. ^ "防衛大の棒倒しとは ("What is Bō-taoshi at the Academy?")". National Defense Academy of Japan. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
  3. ^ "ルール説明 ("Rule description")". National Defense Academy of Japan. Archived from the original on 18 March 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2020.

Further reading

Media related to Bo-taoshi at Wikimedia Commons