bag, katalox, ox-horn crutches, Pfizer vaccine, pole, saber, staff, sword, tai chi bang, tai chi chuan, tai chi ruler, Uline, United States Customs Service, United States Postal Service, Wudang Mountains, Xing Yi Chuan
Courtesy Canada Post, the United States Customs Service and the United States Postal Service the Ox-horn Crutches arrived this afternoon right after I had gotten my first Pfizer vaccine injection. I would be remiss in not mentioning that the Uline box, foam, air cushions, bubble wrap and tape allowed the Ox-horn Crutches to arrive in the same condition as they were sent.
As expected from anything made of karalox they have heft. I can see why there is not much Mexican Royal Ebony shipped to the Wudang Mountains for crown-height staffs. That said, I would feel far safer defending myself with the long, dense crutches. Actually, since waxwood has all of sudden gone missing locally I’ll not be bashing a temporarily irreplaceable tapered staff with a saber until inventory conditions change. Saber against a longish staff or pole is a tough fight for both sides. The pole is relatively quicker, has leverage and is being operated with two hands.
Against a single-handed sword (jian) the pole has less of a speed advantage but the swordsman’s hand and wrist will soon be ringing from the vibrations moving along the blade. In both combats the challenge is to get the edge of the blade to the correct angle.
I had thought that the crutches would be very deadly in a counterattack situation – defending against someone’s overhead slash. They are, especially if the second crutch can be brought into striking distance. But it turns out that two crutches defending against a frontal attack by a sword present all kinds of problems for the swordsman. I don’t see an obvious way to build a hand guard that still allows the crutch to rotate in the horizontal plane. But if a pair of crutches starts headed toward something – perhaps in a manner more reminiscent of Xing Yi Chuan than of Tai Chi Chuan movements like Repulse the Monkey or Wave Hands like Clouds the swordsman is in a for a vivid encounter.
However, my impertinent cinematographer has pointed out that I’ll not be able to put off solving the bag problem: how to transport wooden implements like the Tai Chi ruler, Tai Chi bang and now the Ox-horn Crutches.
a poplar 1.375″ pole;
a Douglas fir 2″ x 2″;
a 108″ waxwood lau gar pole purchased many years ago;
a waxwood two section staff (=flail) also purchased many years ago;
a 1.75 inch oak stair railing;
a 10 foot (120 inch) piece of 1.25 inch diameter PVC pipe;
and 10.5 foot (126 inch) piece of 1.31 inch diameter galvanized fence rail
In Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei’s Volume 5: Spear, Halberd, Long Pole and Push-hands pages 179 – 221 discuss the Chen Family style Tai Chi Chuan forms using a long pole. It is noted that a spearhead could be added. This is somewhat different than the Hung Gar Long Pole set as taught and recorded by the late Grandmaster Wing Lam (see, for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TbCNQs0na4), where among other things, the tip deliberately strikes the ground (well, one hopes the opponent’s foot) fairly frequently.
Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei specifies a 3 meter pole of white ash without any mention of taper. I have e-written to the esteemed Jack Yan, who did the translation, to clarify if the ‘white ash’ mentioned is really Fraxinus americana which is native to the eastern US and the southeastern edge of Canada. In contrast, Grandmaster Wing Lam required waxwood that tapered from 1.5 inches at the base to 0.5 inches at the tip. There was some allowance for the height of the student. Waxwood is sometimes known as Chinese privet. Both Ligustrum lucidum and Ligustrum sinense are now classified in the US as an invasive species and, despite having some use (in small doses) in Traditional Chinese Medicine, an additional barrier to importation is both species are toxic to dogs. Which means finding long poles – waxwood or any other wood – from martial arts suppliers in the US has become challenging. The 1970s and 1980s were the days long before mylar, graphite and composite staffs. I have not located anyone making 10 or 15 foot long poles from, for example, multiple five foot long (60 inches) sections that screw together.
Even if one finds a long pole for sale that is not the end of the adventure. DHL and Fedex have length limits just under ten feet. Freight costs start at $400, which seems like a lot for a $100 piece of wood. I would like to have twenty (20) ten (10) foot (or 120 inches = 3 meters) long poles; one (1) twelve (12) foot (or 144 inches = 3.66 meters) long pole and one (1) fifteen (15) foot (or 180 inches = 4.57 meters) long pole.
The USGS has recorded no (zero) earthquakes in the area since a Richter 4.4 south of Barbados on 2020-02-12. This is most likely just data not being reported or not being published as opposed to a lack of sensors. For context, Nicaragua and Central America is to the west (left); Cape Verde and Africa is to the east (right); Venezuela and South America is south (down) and Florida and North America are northwest (up and to the left). In the country of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines there are currently 10 inhabited islands. Saint Vincent itself (red rectangle) is the largest island: the area is 133 square miles with a maximum north-south length of 18 miles and a maximum east-west width of 11 miles.
There are several earlier blog entries from January 1 2021 with comments on La Soufrière and St. Vincent in particular as well as in general what is to be done when evacuating an island during a pandemic.
The city of Toronto has a population approaching three million, while the Greater Toronto Area has a population approaching seven million. That sheer density of humans create some considerable infrastructure challenges in terms of getting food, water, electricity, internet connectivity, medical care and education to people while maintaining mass transit, logistics, sewage and public safety. Unfortunately, the many variants of the COVID virus find urban areas to be target-rich because inhabitants interact with lots of other inhabitants and because there are travelers. It is not surprising that some areas of Canada are headed for a full in-person re-opening of schools while at the same time Toronto will be re-entering lockdown.
The esteemed Charles Tauber sent a photo of an almost completed ox-horn crutch – one of four being built. The last step is to glue and pin the two pieces together. The second pair, also of Katalox wood, will have smooth hand grips in contrast to the hand grips shown here.
Here in northern California the labs at Stanford University screen coronavirus samples for three COVID-19 mutations of concern: N501Y (Asparagine to Tyrosine), L452R (leucine to arginine) and E484K (Glutamic acid to Lysine). N501Y is found in the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), the South African variant (B.1.351) and and one of the Brazilian variants (P.1), and is thought to increase transmissibility. L452R is found in the California variant (B.1.427/B.1.429), and is believed to increase infectiousness and possibly reduce post-vaccination immunity. E484K is found in South Africa (B.1.351); Brazil (both P.1 and P.2) and New York (B.1.526), and MIGHT increase the ability to partly evade the immune system’s response leading to more reinfections. E484Q is (Glutamic acid to Glutamine) is thought to have similar effects to E484K.
Halfway around our Planet Earth on March 24 researchers in India’s second-most populous state, Maharashtra (includes Mumbai), reported that a surge of coronavirus cases contained thousands of instances of a variant that contained TWO mutations: L452R and E484Q. As far as I know, no official name for this variant yet. On March 25 Stanford University reported that seven samples contained the double mutation.
More than 15,000 cases of B.1.1.7 have been reported in the fifty US states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico; 300 cases of B.1.351 and 200 cases of P.2. The California Department of Public Health has reports nearly 10,000 cases of B.1.427/B.1.429, nearly 1,000 of B.1.1.7, 50 cases of P.1, 40 cases of B.1.526, 25 cases of P.2 and 12 cases of B.1.351.
Plenty of chances for new combinations (including triple mutations). Stay tuned.
Also known as Mexican Royal Ebony. The scientific name is Swartzia cubensis. It is found in southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America – the trees are very large: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall. One scale for how hard a wood is has been named the Janka hardness scale: the number is the amount of pounds-force (lbf) or newtons (N) required to imbed a .444″ (11.28 mm) diameter steel ball into the wood to half the ball’s diameter.
|Common name||Scientific name||Janka hardness N|
|Quebracho||several Schinopsis species||20,340|
|Lignum vitae||Guaiacum officinale||19,510|
|Verawood or Argentine lignum vitae||Bulnesia arborea||16,900|
|African Blackwood||Dalbergia melanoxylon||16,320|
|Black ironwood||Krugiodendron ferreum||16,280|
|Katalox, Wamara or Mexican Royal Ebony||Swartzia cubensis||16,260|
|Cebil, Curupay or Patagonian Rosewood||Anadenanthera colubrina||16,150|
|Brown ebony or Guayacan||Libidibia paraguariensis||15,970|
|Ipe, Brazilian walnut or Lapacho||several Handroanthus species||15,620|