As far as I have been able to determine, only the late Grandmaster Chen Qing Zhou and some of his students teach or taught FOUR tai chi tools – ruler, ball, straight bang and bent bang. There’s some disagreement about whether the bent bang has a circular cross-section
or is more of a reuleaux trapezoid
More on the latter later. Below can the tool to the right be the rarely glimpsed tai chi bar?
I am informed the “boomerangs” were made from beech. Not sure if that means Chinese beech (Fagus engleriana) or southern Chinese Beech (Fagus longipetiolata) – or something else. No word yet on the wood or woods for the round bent bangs. I am not sure what, if anything, was done to the plastic and steel end-pieces before the second and third groups were surveyed. Also missing would be whether anyone had grip or flexion challenges like arthrogryposis.
I am NOT a fan of PVC, ABS or any other plastics for use in martial arts. They are great for plumbing. However, not everyone loves wood. Here is what is needed to make the various tai chi tools using plastic piping. It is a bit trickier using metal pipes. Shown below are some 1″ fittings. Unless the tools are intended for young children or there are some special circumstances like arthrogryposis, I would not go smaller (like 0.75 inch) but larger (1.25 inch, 1.50 inch and even 2.0 inch) are reasonable choices especially for very large students.
On a weapon where a firm grip preferred – as opposed to being able to slide your hands in the case of a staff, for example – one possibility is golf or tennis grips. For the more dexterous we introduce the wonders of paracord. Images from the Paracord Guild website, which has very good YouTube videos for a astonishing number of braids and knots.
The gene NPC1 on chromosome 18 in the q11.2 region has almost 400 known mutations – most are implicated in Niemann-Pick disease type C1. The gene NPC2 on chromosome 14 in the q24.3 region has a mere 20 known mutations that are implicated in Niemann-Pick disease type C2. The signs and symptoms of Niemann-Pick disease types C1 and C2 are very similar and usually become apparent in childhood. There are (1) difficulty coordinating movements (ataxia) (2) an inability to move the eyes vertically (vertical supranuclear gaze palsy) (3) poor muscle tone (dystonia) (4) severe liver disease (5) interstitial lung disease (6) problems with speech and swallowing that worsen over time, eventually interfering with feeding (7) progressive decline in intellectual function and (8) about one-third have seizures. People with types C1 and C2 may survive into adulthood.
Combined, Niemann-Pick disease types C1 and C2 are estimated to affect 1 in 150,000 individuals; however, type C1 is by far the more common type, accounting for 95 percent of cases. The disease occurs more frequently in people of French-Acadian descent in Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia, a population of affected French-Acadians were previously designated as having Niemann-Pick disease type D, however, it was shown that these individuals have mutations in the gene associated with Niemann-Pick disease type C1.
As nearly as I can determine, there are over 180 mutations of the SMPD1 gene on chromosome 11 in the p15.4 region. Some mutations cause Niemann-Pick disease type A and others cause Niemann-Pick disease type B.
Infants with Niemann-Pick disease type A usually develop an enlarged liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly) by age 3 months and fail to gain weight and grow at the expected rate (failure to thrive). The affected children develop normally until around age 1 year when they experience a progressive loss of mental abilities and movement (psychomotor regression). Children with Niemann-Pick disease type A also develop widespread lung damage (interstitial lung disease) that can cause recurrent lung infections and eventually lead to respiratory failure. All affected children have an eye abnormality called a cherry-red spot, which can be identified with an eye examination. Children with Niemann-Pick disease type A generally do not survive past early childhood.
Niemann-Pick disease type B usually presents in mid-childhood. The signs and symptoms of this type are similar to type A, but not as severe. People with Niemann-Pick disease type B often have hepatosplenomegaly, recurrent lung infections, and a low number of platelets in the blood (thrombocytopenia). They also have short stature and slowed mineralization of bone (delayed bone age). About one-third of affected individuals have the cherry-red spot eye abnormality or neurological impairment. People with Niemann-Pick disease type B usually survive into adulthood.
Niemann-Pick disease types A and B are estimated to impact 1 in 250,000 individuals. Niemann-Pick disease type A occurs more frequently among individuals of Ashkenazi (eastern and central European) Jewish descent than in the general population. The incidence within the Ashkenazi population is approximately 1 in 40,000 individuals.
the full quote from John Lennon starts with “life is what happens to you …”
I was somewhat preoccupied with (1) specifying what are called long rulers – a normal tai chi ruler is 10.5 to 12 inches long. A normal tai chi bang is about 15 to 18 inches long. The long ruler is mostly designed for two person use, is really a long bang in terms of shape and is 34 inches long (2) filming and documenting the so-called bent bang exercises from the late Grandmaster Chen Qingzhou (3) dealing with how to customize weapons and tools for some of my super-sized (6’5″ 270 pounds) students. Not much point in having hand guards on a butterfly wing or horse-blocking knife or chicken sickle sabers if the student cannot fit his hands inside the guards. Likewise, if the student uses too short a ruler it will cause his shoulders to slump inward and at least partially collapse the tops of the lungs. There are also hand placement problems relative to the centerline. (4) Lurking in the background was an ongoing multi-person thread about homework exercises for a young boy with arthrogryposis. There are, alas, 35 genes already implicated in the various syndromes in the arthrogryposis spectrum. I would expect the number of genes to increase. Worse, what that means for the number of distinct syndromes is hard to say.
So an email from a long-time martial arts comrade in arms came in: “Do you know anything about Niemann-Pick disease?”