I was interested in three measures: (1) the inside length of the shaft or handle protected by the individual crescent hand guards (4.5″ for the Sun Moon Spear; otherwise 4″) (2) the gap between the crescent hand guards (3/4″ for the horse blocking knife; 4″ for the butterfly wing and 5″ for the Sun Moon Spear) and (3) the distance between the two furthest connectors between the shaft and the crescents (14″ for the Horse Blocking Knife; 17.5″ otherwise).
The four most commonly used tools to cut these shapes: the roughing gouge, the spindle gouge, the skew chisel and the parting tool.
- a fillet is a square cut into the wood usually done with a parting tool
- a cove is a rounded concave groove (sometimes called a well) usually done with a roughing gouge
- a V-cut is a groove cut into the shape of a V usually done with a skew chisel
- a bead is the opposite of a cove – a bead is convex. It is usually done with a parting tool followed by a roughing gouge or a spindle gouge
- An ogee is an S-shaped curve that contains both a swell and a dip. It is usually done with a parting tool followed by a gouge.
- a swell is a large convex curve that can be thought of as half of a bead.
- a dip is a concave curve
- a hollow is a large dip
- a flat cut is parallel to the center of the spindle.
Most lyrics to Bob Dylan’s song “Tombstone Blues” (from the album Highway 61 Revisited released August 30, 1965) have the words as ‘the geometry of innocence flesh on the bone’.
It is almost certain today that a tai chi ruler and a tai chi bang will be made of wood and turned on a lathe. Here are some of the technical wood working terms used to describe various cuts made to form a cylindrical spindle.
As far as I have been able to determine, for decades there was nothing formally written about the Okinawan tonfa in particular or Okinawan kobudo in general. Starting in 1971 (six years after he came to America) Fumio Demura published a group of books that provided information about sai, nunchakus (two books – basic and advanced), bo (staff), kama (sickle) and tonfa. His tonfa book was published in 1982. He later added a book on eku bo (boat oar). All the books have been recently updated and upgraded. His website is http://www.genbukai-hq.org.
Of interest is that Tiger Claws / Martial Arts Mart is selling a Master Kit of the Da Mo (=Bodhidharma) Cane with a pair of tonfa and a DVD. The link is
I thought it would be useful for students and also for viewers of a video to see markings on a long tai chi ruler. So I put some fluorescent tape in yellow, green and pink on the long ruler. None – not one – of the students liked the tape. I am not sure if it was a color problem, or they did not like the feel of the tape (as opposed to the wood) or if the tape hampered sliding one’s hands on the wood. In any case, off came the tape pieces.
- Two-person hand sparring form
- Two-person staff (eyebrow height staff) sparring – staff versus staff
- Kwan dao versus spear
- Broadsword (saber) versus spear
- Empty hand versus double daggers
- Three-section staff versus spear
- Tiger and Crane sparring form, which is an extension of the Tiger and Crane form
- Four Gates hand sparring form
- Fifth Son Eight Trigrams Staff sparring form – long staff against long staff
- Long Staff versus double Butterfly Swords
- Empty hands versus double Butterfly Swords