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On page 267 of volume 4 of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei’s series of books on Chen Family style Tai Chi Chuan during a discussion of the weapons known variously as batons or maces it is mentioned that “There is a hole at the end of the handle for a rope to wrap around the wrist”. I have mixed feelings about the wrist straps. Yes, the stick is then unlikely to hit someone else (or the teacher, which might well be me). The stick probably won’t hit the floor which is likely to be good for the stick and the floor. However, the person holding the stick (until a second ago) might hit their own knee. My enthusiasm for drilling holes in the sticks was not high to begin with as I was worried about the stick cracking from drilling as well as the consequences of the drilled end of the stick being used to hit something. My enthusiasm has decreased after an incident. We were using single padded sticks. They come in black. One of the arthrogryposis students has grip problems as one might expect. Well, they almost all have grip problems, but hers are the most severe. So we were using a single padded stick to do some simple circles much like silk reeling. For her we had tied a piece of double-thick yarn around her wrist and the stick. I am informed she has had that sort of thing done with pencils and paintbrushes. For some reason she is fine with forks and spoons (nothing tied). I assumed this difference is due to the grip used. We had done the exercises five times before. In the middle of the movements this day she suddenly screamed and started shaking her arm to try and get rid of the stick. Her aide and I converged very quickly and I caught the stick. No one was hurt, but no is really sure what was going on. We’ve been fine since, despite it being a little unnerving. It might have been a visual hallucination (her parents’ guess) or some sort of pain or tactile sensation in the palm from holding the stick or in the forearm where the yarn was tied (the aide’s theory). We could not tell from the video if she was holding the yarn and the stick (so increased pressure against the palm) but I don’t think so. After some discussion we went with no yarn at all.

 

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