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Staff/Weapons

"Respect the Weapon and the abilities are endless"

Chinese Staff

"The Wooden Weapon"

staff

Bo (boh) Jap. "staff", "stave", or "stick"

A wooden staff five to six feet long (in practice, "one fist width" taller than the student). It is one of the five weapons systemized by the early Okinawan developers of te (hand), and may have originated with the poles used by farmers to balance heavy loads across the shoulders.

BoJutSu (boh-jut’su) Jap. "art of the staff"

An armed system of combat centering around the use of a long wooden staff called a Bo. The staff is employed with a two-handed gripping action and form is its main training method. Techniques include striking, thrusting, blocking, parrying, deflecting, sweeping, and holding. By quick changes in the grip, the length of the weapon can be varied for long-range or close-quarter combat. The art of using the staff was developed from Japanese spear and lance techniques. The common weapon learned in most schools of martial arts in feudal Japan, it became popular in Okinawa, where edged and metal weapons were outlawed by the ruling Shimazu clan.

History

The bo, or staff, is probably one of the first weapons that mankind used to defend himself. The history of the bo dates back millennia, and is thought to be used first in China. It could easily be found, was easy to handle, and could be used for multiple purposes. The bo staff itself is believed to have been developed from the tenbin, a pole balanced on the shoulders, used to carry buckets hanging from each end with water or grain.
The bo is a well known weapon used in many styles of martial arts practiced around the world. It is one of the five weapons included into a style by the early Okinawan founders of karate. In feudal Japan, it was part of the bugei - early Japanese martial arts. Nobles and peasants used it in a similar way.
Although the bo varies in size and length, all staffs are long pieces of well polished wood, best described as a pole. Thickness of the bo varies depending on the particular martial art one trains in. Though, it must be made so that the fighter can comfortably make a tight fist around it in order to block and counter an attack. The length of the bo also depends on the style of the martial art, however the most common length is a few inches taller than the practitioner. Its length makes it an excellent weapon against swordsmen, allowing the user to strike from a safe distance.
In a fight, the bo staff acts as an extension of one's limbs. All techniques are executed as one would without the weapon in your hands. An accurate jab to an enemy's vulnerable areas could easily disable them without requiring too much effort from the person using the staff. The bo is also able to block and parry an opponent who may be fighting with the same weapon. Other tricks that one can use this weapon for include sweeping the legs out from underneath an opponent, breaking the knees, and sweeping dust into the opponent's eyes.
It is easy to find a good staff in a time of need. A good stick can be found almost anywhere at nearly all times. Now part of budo (martial way), the bo is often used in kata training and competition. Physical conditioning with the staff improves one’s balance, coordination, and upper body strength, among other benefits.

Anatomy and Types of Staff

STANDARD STRAIGHT BO (STAFF) 6' long, 1 1/4" wide; red or white oak, ash. Length may vary from 4'-8'. This type of bo is heavy, slow to move, but very powerful. It is quite effective for smashing or crushing. It was useful for carrying heavy loads or aided in travels across difficult terrain. In combat an especially large bo, sometimes made of metal, was used and had blades or studs added to the surface to assist in the lethal capabilities of the weapon.

STANDARD TAPERED BO 6' long, 1 1/4" wide and tapers to 3/4" at ends; oak, ash, hard maple. This type of bo is light in weight and very well balanced due to its design. The center is the weapon's fulcrum and allows for quick action. It has reduced rigidity because of its tapered ends. Blocks and strikes can be executed with whiplike movement. The smaller ends were excellent for penetrating armor or flesh in a combat situation.

Sword

"The Way of the Sword"

"The medieval Chinese dynasties saw great advances in metallurgy. Some, like the ability to produce cast iron, were far ahead of such technology in the Europe. Others, like the mastery of efficient, large-scale steel production, enabled the Tang and Song dynasties to become major military powers in east Asia."

"Research to date shows that the sword smiths of China, over the last 20 centuries, have crafted blades combining the following attributes:"

"A hard and durable edge"

"A resilient body which absorbs shock without breaking"

"In a sword, these goals can be mutually exclusive. Hard steel tends to be brittle; a resilient, springy steel is softer and will not hold an edge as well. Chinese smiths got around this problem by combining hard and soft steels in varying ways. There are three basic methods. One is called baogang, or "wrapped" steel. The hard, high-carbon steel that forms the cutting edge looks, in cross-section, like a "V" which encloses a softer core of mild steel. The core metal is often folded upon itself for more strength, or layered with wrought iron for the same effect. A baogang blade must be made with a fairly thick jacket of hard steel, or else it loses its strength with repeated sharpening and grinding."

"A more common form of blade forging is qiangang, or "inserted" steel. The high-carbon edge forms a core with is sandwiched between "cheeks" of mild steel. The cheeks are often made of alternating layers of iron and steel, which produce a pattern on the surface when the blade is polished. A skilled smith can manipulate the layers to produce patterns of great beauty, in addition to providing structural strength to the sword."

"The last major type of forging is known in the West as "twist core". This type is formed of parallel bars of twisted layers of hard and soft steel, all welded into a single unit under heat and hammer. When ground and polished, the surface resembles rows of feathery, star-shaped, or swirling elements."

"The other area in which Chinese smiths showed considerable ingenuity was hardening the blade by heating and quenching in liquid. This technique is almost universal, wherever blades are manufactured. China was one of the few places in which techniques were devised to differentially heat-treat the edge, as opposed to the entire blade. This practice increased the strength and cutting ability of the blade. It was developed to the highest level by the Japanese, who originally utilized the skills of immigrant smiths from China and Korea."

"The beauty of the Chinese sword smith's craft is an art form just beginning to be rediscovered in China and elsewhere. We live in a time when new discoveries are made day to day. As we begin to see the beautiful patterns that raise from the marriage of form and function to create a sword blade of superior quality steel, we are only beginning our study of the Chinese armour's craft. There many other areas of study waiting to be explored, from decorative motif and their symbolism to the blade aesthetics that are subtly married to function."

sword

"Shang Dynasty 1700-1027BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

sword

"Warring States Period 475-222BC"

3 Sectional Staff

"Three Ways to Meet One Goal"

trisect

"The Three-Sectional Staff is one of the most difficult and versatile weapons within the Chinese Martial Arts. Typically thought of as a Northern Chinese weapon, the Three-Sectional Staff can be used as both a short range weapon and as a long, flexible whip-like weapon."

"The three sectional staff, is a Chinese flail weapon that consists of three wooden or metal staffs connected by metal rings or rope. A larger, more complicated version of the well-known nunchaku, the staffs can be spun to gather momentum resulting in a devastating strike, or their articulation can be used to strike over or around a shield or other defensive block."

"These staffs were designed for defence against spears and other long weapons. Historically made of white oak or Chinese red maple, modern staffs are constructed from rattan, bamboo, various hardwoods or aluminium. For optimum fit, each of the three sticks should be about the length of the combatant’s arm and have a combined diameter that easily fits in the hand."

"The total length of the weapon is the same as the Chinese staff, the gwan, creating a larger circle of available targets around the combatant. Many of the techniques are similar to that of the staff, so spinning moves over the head and behind the back can be practiced with a regular staff. The three sectional staff has the advantage of being used both as a long-range weapon or a short-range weapon. Acting as an extension of the users arm, the three sectional staff can strike, block, stab, sweep legs and whip, often with different sections of the staff acting at the same time. The chains or binding ropes of the staff are used to entangle an opponent and their weapons."

Spear

"Get to the point fast"

spear

When you use the spear you must judge where you are going to hit and focus your eyes on the target. Focus your eyes on your opponent's head, torso, or foot. When the spear is thrust, you should coordinate the weapon with your mind, hands, and feet. Your spear should shoot like a dragon rising from the sea. The motion must be able to surround the opponent body. With that action, you will be able to hit him.

The spear (ch'iang/qiang) is as ancient as China. Not only is it considered to be the oldest military weapon in China, the spear was originally developed as a horse soldier's weapon. Before 400 B.C., foot soldiers used either a nine foot spear or an eighteen foot spear. These spears combined a thrusting point with a hooking or slicing blade.

Unlike the spear that is used in other parts of the world, the Chinese spear was never meant to be thrown. Instead, a specialized set of techniques was developed that strongly resembled the single-headed staff techniques. Staffs of various lengths derived spill over value from some of the spear tactics, although they have complete systems of their own.

Throughout the years there has been many versions of the spear. The design of the spear normally depended on the dynasty it was in. It was said that in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1280 A.D.) that General Yue Fei added a hook, which was sharp on both edges to the metal end of the spear. This gave him an advantage because he could also cut of the legs of horses. Generals even added the metal taper on both ends to increase the weapons killing potential.

The spear was primarily used for stabbing although it could be used for sweeps, slashes and blocking. Blocking is usually done with the shaft part of the spear. Since the spear was so versatile it was given the title “King of the Long Weapons.

Hull Kung Fu is working on the methods of the spear that have been taught by Di Sifu Leon King in Australia.

9 Sectional Whip (Chain Whip)

"The mean, lean, whipping machine"

whip

The 9 Sectional whip is a weapon used in Chinese martial arts, including modern and traditional Kung fu. It consists of nine metal rods, which are joined end-to-end by rings to form a flexible chain.

At one end of the whip is usually a handle and the other a devastating dart that is used to slash or pierce the enemy, Often a cloth flag is attached nearer the dart end of the whip and handle to add a visual appeal and to produce a rushing sound as the whip swings round in the air. These flags are also a deception, Often the enemy is distracted due to the sound or “look” of  them.

The nine-sectioned whip, regarded as a 'powerful hidden weapon,' was first used on the battlefield during the Jìn Dynasty (265-420).

“The chain whip is heavy but flexible, allowing it to be literally used as a whip, hit, hook and bind an opponent, restrict his/her movement, and to deflect blows from other weapons.”

9 Sectional whip forms are often elaborate, performed moves such as spinning the whip around the neck, throwing the whip in the air and catching it and wrapping the user in, out and around the whip causes visual flare and prove it’s such an eye catcher.

The whip is mainly a long range weapon but at both short and long distance the whip is deadly, designed to deflect or wrap around enemy weapons/enemies themselves the whip can just about do anything (via the user).

It is easily hidden and can do pretty much anything, What more could you want in a weapon?

Chinese Fan

"The graceful deception tool"

fan

One of the more beautiful martial arts’ weapons, the fan or iron fan can flick deadly force with the grace of a dance. This weapon is most often seen in either Chinese or Japanese forms of Martial Art. The Chinese name for it is shanzi. The Japanese is tessen.

The iron fan is normally constructed out of metal with eight to ten rods that collapse and open as required. In a more deadly form, the ends of the fan can be spiked to a point for further damage. The fan can be used in either a strike or piercing manner when completely closed or open in either a blocking or slicing motion.

The key to performing a good fan technique is having strong wrist muscles. The movement to open and close the fan is a slight flick of the wrist that sends a sharp crack of sound as the fan slices open or closed.

In Chinese Martial Arts, one would most often find the fan in the internal styles, such as ba gua or tai chi chuan. As one story goes, in ancient times ba gua practitioners in the monastery were forbidden to practice martial arts outside of the temple. But they needed a way to protect themselves, thus, they chose weapons that were light and easily concealed within the long sleeves of their uniforms. A fan made an ideal weapon in that it could easily be explained why they were carrying them.

In Japanese Martial Arts, a style known as tessen-jutsu exists that is dedicated to the study of the iron fan. Early Japanese legends tell of the hero Yoshitsune who was taught this among other weapons to defeat his opponents.

Today, the fan seems to be a favourite weapon among many women. Men tend to shy away from it because of the delicate gracefulness. Some wrongly interpret this softness to weakness in the weapon. But when moves are executed correctly, it is as deadly as any blade or other weapon available. In fact, in traditional times, this style of fan (closing) was actually carried by men in China. The solid fan (with no ribs) was actually more the female style of fan.

How to use the Fan

Upon grasping the weapon, a simple flick of the wrist is all that is required to open it up and reveal all the sharp-edged plates. The fan is often carried in the dominant hand, though some well-skilled fighters may use one in both hands or may switch hands in battle. The fighter using the weapon must be extremely careful not to cut himself/herself on the fan's sharp plates. A strong arm and a quick, agile body will usually help one in the use of this weapon. The advantages of the weapon lay mainly in its weight, which is extremely light and allows the user to move it easily and with speed. It also has the appearance of doing far less damage than it is actually capable of.

Styles of Fan

A popular weapon in kung fu. A traditional fan contains 9, 16, 20 or 24 ribs, and is carried in the sleeve or waistband. It is the emblem of Chang-Li-Chuan of the eight immortals. Popularised in movies by Jackie Chan, this weapon requires amazing dexterity from its user. Normal fans are made of paper and bamboo, however this is not useful for heavy blocking and striking but could be used as a distraction tool as well as for redirecting blocks, an aid for locking techniques (in an emergency) as well as for light strikes and pressure points. The iron fan is an actual weapon, it has iron plates instead of wood and the top edges are sharp.