The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone – part 5

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I had an interesting e-conversation with Master Bing of Wudang Dao some months ago about the technical specifics for the staff shown in his Wudang Eight Immortals staff video. He said waxwood, single tapered (as is typical of waxwood), smoothed so it flows through the hands AND definitely longer than the more common eyebrow height staffs found in Hung Gar, Shaolin, Chen style Ta Chi Chuan, Hebei style Xing Yi Quan and Cheng style Bagua Zhang to name a few.
That got me thinking: other than being able to comfortably poke yourself in your own eye, what advantage is there in an eyebrow height staff? Saving a couple of ounces and maybe picking up a very slight increase in speed by shortening the staff seems to be insignificant [to me] but I have noticed that I prefer lighter weight staffs like red oak versus white oak when doing extended filming. Has a reader ever heard of anyone who does or [preferably] filmed Wudang staff versus eyebrow height staff? Or the more extreme bo versus jo? Note that one critical challenge for the jo is your hands are closer to his bo tip than his hands are to your jo tip.
At a certain point, a staff is just a staff, and the details don’t matter. It is more important you do the set 1000 times. That said, in a real fight small differences like being slightly faster or having a lighter weapon or another inch longer weapon can be the difference between winning and losing. Fighting with a significantly shorter sword blade (say 2″ shorter) is probably going to be a lethal disadvantage.
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The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone – part 4

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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 geometry of innocent flesh on the bone – part 3

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I had thought yesterday (10/14) that I should walk to the store to get a gallon of milk. About a quarter mile away. What could go wrong? Besides, the prevailing wind was blowing east to west instead of the usual north to south (from fires to me). This was incorrect thinking on my part – I was coughing and my eyes were tearing within a minute or two. Luckily, I used the rarely performed Draw the Milky Way Inward movement to press the cool milk jug to my face. A more advanced or thirstier Taoist would have used two milk jugs. 
My scholarship is, alas, not good enough to resolve if the crescent-shaped hand guards on the weapons shown below came from one or more Mantis styles, Omei-shan or somewhere else. Several of my students are really attracted to butterfly (or cicada) wing as well as to the Sun Moon spear. I am not entirely sure why – maybe the sparkle of the light or the feel of the weapon. Since I really can’t offer many rewards (like drinks or food) any enticements are precious. A typical teaching tactic for me is to promise a student he can handle the butterfly wing if he will tie his shoes. A more insightful teacher would figure out why shoe tying is so disliked (sound, bending over, feel of laces, just don’t like shoes …). It would be thwarting to get the students to be comfortable with the correct inter-hand distance using the tai chi ruler and tai chi bang tools and then have one of the long hybrid weapons cause another distance to be used. Does anyone out there happen to know if there is a technical term for the part of the shaft/handle protected by the hand guards (green arrows)? Likewise, I’d be grateful for any links to a set done with any of the three long weapons shown. In the case of the Sun-Moon spear I’d also be curious if the area indicated by the yellow arrow has a name.

The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone – part 2

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The four most commonly used tools to cut these shapes: the roughing gouge, the spindle gouge, the skew chisel and the parting tool.

  1. a fillet is a square cut into the wood usually done with a parting tool
  2. a cove is a rounded concave groove (sometimes called a well) usually done with a roughing gouge
  3. a V-cut is a groove cut into the shape of a V usually done with a skew chisel
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. a swell is a large convex curve that can be thought of as half of a bead.
  7. a dip is a concave curve
  8. a hollow is a large dip
  9. a flat cut is parallel to the center of the spindle.

The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone

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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.

SpindleTerms

Chi Du as Parakeet Perch

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There is at least one thing no one mentioned about the chi du (long tai chi ruler)
We were filming some things NOT to do and one of them was use a carpentry laser level. In my case having students wave lasers around is almost certainly a bad idea in terms of other students’ eyes. Next there’s the problem of looking far away from the actual ruler to see where the laser is shining – hopefully on a wall. Then there’s the problem that everyone has different heights and all that, so it does not really help to shine the laser on a wall if you are intending to find where or when the ruler is level.
We went outside to see if the laser was any more vivid in daylight.
In the middle of filming a parakeet flies from over a nearby fence. Never had that happen before. We stopped, and I eventually caught the parakeet gently in a towel. I walked around to 12 more or less nearby houses. Not only was no one missing a parakeet, no one especially wanted one.  The diameter of the ruler I was using is not comfortable for a parakeet to perch on. Something like a macaw – maybe.
So my question is:
are there advanced practices for when a parakeet (weight 30 grams, I would think) or some other bird lands on the long ruler?

Tonfa

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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

http://www.martialartsmart.com/dvdk-ca117c.html

dvd-weapon-bodhidharma-cane-shaolin-tonfa-master-kit-23 (1)

 

 

Students Teaching Many Things

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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.

LongRulerTaped