I Need Help With A Bo Staff

Discussion in 'General Weapons Discussion' started by Dylan Walker, Apr 7, 2020.

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  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Agreed. I'm probably somewhere between you and what I'm talking about. Your background probably leads to a more formal and systematic view of the weapon. I see it as part of a continuum of sticks, and tend to deal only with rudimentary technique, which I expect you cover but also have the background to go beyond. So I'm probably less systematic than you, though we both view the weapon seriously.

    And some folks (what I was talking about in recent posts) just want to learn a staff because it's kinda cool (and it is). They may not have a functional purpose, just want to learn a new skill. In that case, bad habits (things that would interfere with developing fighting skill with the staff) aren't really an issue unless they create some safety risk.

    I'm trying to learn to consider folks who learn for these kinds of purposes. I've learned (mostly through MartialTalk discussions) that there are some pretty committed people who really just want to learn something new, and aren't focused on fighting skill. I used to look down my nose at that kind of pursuit, but that's just me projecting my "should" on them.
     
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  2. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    If it's like most in martial arts. They like the idea of being able to fight using martial arts, but really don't want to put in the required training and punishment that's needed for being functional with martial arts. Things like getting hit in the face, punched in the stomach, and getting bruised for the sake of learning how to use martial arts doesn't appeal to them. It's gets even worse if someone takes a class and doesn't enjoy it or is bored with it. The easiest way to determine this, is first see if the person actually likes training with the staff. If that person likes it then there may be an opportunity to train function. If they don't like it off the back then you know as a teacher you can just stop the quest right there and not waste time.

    I offered to train and haven't gotten a response yet so being functional may not be what the OP originally thought it was.
     
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  3. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    @isshinryuronin
    about the 50% power. This is why I say I can't imagine hitting someone at 50% with the staffs that I used. The staff on the left is what my old kung fu brothers nicknamed Tree. I took text to the door frame so you can get an idea of what I train with. Both are functional staffs. Nether are the then performance staffs that you quickly spin like it was nothing.

    This is the smallest end of the Tree. Compared to the staff on the right
    upload_2020-4-14_21-58-31.png

    This is the biggest end of the tree on the left.
    upload_2020-4-14_21-59-40.png

    When I see people spar with staffs, they are usually using a lighter staff than the two staffs seen here. They are usually thinner and have more flexibility. Tree doesn't flex at all. The one on the right flexes but you have to put a lot of energy and technique into making it flex. When it does flex it's doesn't flex like what we see with many kung fu staff performances. I just really can't imagine me hitting someone with these things at 50% power and think that they will be ok.
     

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  4. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Another angle of Tree. The thin part is at the top.
    upload_2020-4-14_22-24-35.png
     
  5. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Purple Belt

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    This post made me think a little bit - Am I a TMA snob? To be honest, maybe a little. Not because of what I know about TMA, but because of how I feel about TMA. I think bo kata is fun and cool, and good exercise. If one wants just this out of it, that's OK for them. But to do it for just these reasons is not martial arts. As you said, there is no "functional purpose" and the staff is reduced to a cheerleader baton to be twirled, or a piece of exercise equipment, or worse yet, a toy.

    To be termed a"martial art" there must be a functional purpose - combat effectiveness. This infers proper execution and mind set. I've found that this last element seems to be magnified with weapons for me. During my iaido training, I reached a mental state beyond what I normally experience in empty hand practice. Maybe slinging steel capable of sending me to the hospital if careless had something to do with it.

    Not to sound (too) snobbish, I never trained with practice weapons. Padded nunchaku? Dull kama? Hah! Why do I feel this way? Respect for the weapon and what it's capable of. Working with practice weapons that present no risk if you're sloppy will not elevate you to a higher level. I feel this should start at very early in the learning cycle. (I would make an exception to this in knife-knife combat practice as getting cut is a certainty.)

    So, for me, it comes down to respect. If a committed practitioner wants to learn something new, as you said, that's great!
    Have fun - I do. But show it respect and learn it the right way. If not, don't call it "martial arts."
     
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  6. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Purple Belt

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    Your "Tree" is certainly impressive. Are your staffs waxwood? I can agree I would not enjoy getting whacked with one of those. In your case I will amend my power suggestion to 25% during staff sparring. I use a hardwood staff slightly more narrow than the smaller one you show, though I often practice with a heavier one to develop strength.
     
  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I go back and forth on that, myself. Linguistically, it “should” be as you say. But common usage tends to include areas directly derived from fighting arts.

    And you can often find both in the same class. Some folks train to fight/defend. Others just enjoy the skill development, and focus on the technique as an end in and of itself.
     
  8. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    This is how I feel about martial arts in general. My opinion is that if people train it the way that it was meant to be trained then they would receive 90% of the benefits that want, but do other things to get. I try to keep an open mind about Martial Arts and the many different perspectives of it. To be honest. I probably follow an outdated perspective of what Martial was once seen as. I think a lot of knowledge is lost when it's not trained for function. When students used to have trouble with forms, I would always tell them to set their motion to purpose. When a hand is moved a certain way, understand what the purpose is and move according to that purpose. Some people will just do the movement and not really understand what the movement is doing or the purpose of it. This ultimately affects everything including the structure.

    I will be happy enough if I can pass down the function in some shape or form. Be it through video or through student.
     
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  9. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Purple Belt

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    Yes. I am in it for both reasons, mostly the latter. But no matter which of these two is the main reason, all my beliefs expressed above still hold. I don't see any area of disagreement here. All I'm really saying is MA (esp. weapons) is not a plaything and, to quote my parents: "Something worth doing is worth doing right," and to have respect for it.
     
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  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Impressive pieces of wood there.

    I’ve been using 1 1/4 inch diameter hickory, about 6 1/4 feet long. Even with wearing padding and pulling back on the power, I can’t imagine being hit with that. Bone-cruncher is the description I keep using, I can’t come up with a better one.
     
  11. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Both are wax wood staffs. It's really difficult to get natural waxwood staffs (with the knots) still on it. Most staffs in my area seem to be geared towards kids and I know it's going to be even more difficult to find staffs after all of the corona virus stuff is done with. Which may not be too bad. I might be able to open up a martial arts store to fill in the void.

    I'm a big fan of the heavy weapons.
     
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  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Turns out mine is closer to 1 5/16 inch, i shape them on a belt sander from a square strip cut from a plank. it's a fun hobby.
     

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  13. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    The staff techniques actually make swinging the staff more efficient. So 20% input is not 20% output upon impact. Most people swing staffs like long baseball bats use more energy just to move the staff. WithJapanese and Chinese staff techniques, the swings are different and tend to flow with the staff and utilizes both front and back end movements. These systems worth both the front end (lead hand), back end (rear hand) areas of the staff. If one hand is pulling on the staff then the other one is pushing (and vice versa). As a result, a small amount it only takes a small amount of energy to make the other end painful.
     
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  14. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I've been hit with mine with about 2% power. It felt like my knee cap cracked lol.
     
  15. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yeah, and that is why I feel sparring can actually be detrimental. In order to pull back the power to a safe level you end up undermining the technique and the entire method. You end up sparring very differently than you would actually use the techniques in a fight. You develop expectations of how a fight would progress that are unrealistic.

    I think controlled application drills are better.
     
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  16. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Before Brendan Lai’s supply shop in San Francisco closed down I would go in and pick out waxwood staffs, both for staff practice and to fit a spearhead. Mrs. Lai would let me go into the back and select from the stock that was not yet on display for the general public. I was always looking for stuff that was heavier, straighter, and reasonably uniform roundness.

    They gave me some inside tracks on a few other things that they didn’t make available to the general public, like some older Lung Chuan heavy grade swords from the 1970s and 1980s when they still made them plenty beefy. I have some good connections in the San Francisco Chinese martial arts community that I was fortunate to have some doors opened for me.

    I miss Mrs. Lai and her son Al. I didn’t realize they were getting ready to close until after it was done. I stopped by one day and the place was closed up.
     
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  17. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Full agreement.

    To add a bit, I think it is ok to be in it more for the exercise aspect and less for the fighting. However, the practice of the methods and the technique should still be correct and the same as if one is in it for the fighting skills. The difference is in a reduced focus on the application work, such as partner drills and sparring. Personally, I feel that if you are practicing a solid foundation even without those application tools, you can still develop some useful defensive and fighting skills. It’s just slower and probably not to the same level. But at any rate you get exercise and personal meaning from the hard work that comes from doing it right. It isn’t just about vaguely imitating some abstract movement in order to get one’s heart rate up.

    With the example of weapons, you want that weapon to BE a weapon. You don’t ever want to reduce it to a stage prop or a toy. Practicing the methods correctly, even without direct application drills, keeps that from happening. And using a weapons that is sized and robust and balanced as a real weapon also keeps that from happening. One thing that I have always detested is those floppy Modern Wushu dao/saber made of cheap sheet metal on a crappy hilt that always feel like they are about to fly apart. Or those super thin and springy spears with a tiny spearhead made of sheet aluminum. BARF!!!! Those are stage props and toys. I stopped playing with toy swords when I was about 12. That’s why I started rebuilding my swords, because I was disgusted by what was generally available for Chinese martial arts.
     
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  18. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    This is me 100% I'm definitely not a fan of floppy weapons that almost bend from their own weight. I know not everyone has access to functional weapons, but dang at least get the weight and composition right.

    It's more impressive to me to see someone master something like than than, something that a 5 year old can pick up.
     
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  19. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I was a spectator at a tournament many years ago, and after the competition ended there was a masters demo. This fellow steps onto the floor to demo his dao form. He begins the form, snaps out his dao, which exploded into pieces leaving only the hollow wooden grip in his hand. The blade flew in one direction and damn near floated to the ground, the guard flew in another, and the pommel dropped straight down. This was on his very first move of the form.

    Jeezuz.
     
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  20. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    When I was competing with my forms, I was using a dao that was thick like a meat cleaver, and a really heavy staff. When the judges would examine my weapons, they always commented on their heft. Once, when I named which dao form I would do, one judge commented that he knew that form (he had been a student of my Sigung [now my Sifu] many years before, although I didn’t know that at the time) and he raised his eyebrows that I was using that dao to do that form. I definitely got noticed by the judges, and got respect for my weapons. After several years of this, another judge (they were regulars every year) commented “you’ve sure got nice weapons”. They would see me there every year.123
     

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