- 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
More from Kung Fu Direct (see previous post for address and two carbon fiber composite staffs)
This staff is tapered white waxwood. It comes in five standard lengths but I would imagine if you asked nicely they would cut to order. The longest listed is 86 inches; Big end: 1.25” to 2”; Small end: 3/4″ to 7/8″, Weight: 1.5 pounds or more. $22
I have not found an actual official definition of long pole in terms of length or diameters or weight.
This staff is also tapered white waxwood. It comes in four standard lengths but again I would imagine if you asked nicely they would cut to order. The longest listed is 84 inches; Big end: 1.6 to 1.8”; Small end: 1.0″, Weight: 2.4 pounds or more. $28
This is actually a spear BUT it is listed as having a waxwood staff as its handle AND length can be customized. The webpage notes “The length of the spear must not be shorter than the distance from the ground to the tip of the athlete’s middle finger when standing with the arm lifted upright vertically.”
Also in terms of for sale commercially I seen the following at Kung Fu Direct at 1292 Anvilwood Court in Sunnyvale California – for the long poles I would suggest driving there and picking up the pole(s) yourself.
Here’s what they say about long pole shipping as of June 2017:
“Standard shipping (FedEx) maximum length is 108″ – We (KFD) will cut the long pole prior to shipment to this length. For poles longer than 108″, please contact us (KFD) directly to arrange shipment via DHL. They note: shipping is more economical via DHL for several poles.
Kung Fu Direct offers the following options for poles longer than 108″:
(1) Cut to 108″ : We will cut our 128″ pole to 108″ to maintain standard shipping prices
or (2) for 120″ or 130” call to order and we will arrange shipment via DHL.
Products of interest:
Kung Fu Direct sells this carbon fiber composite staff that is up to 72.8 inches (185 centimeters) long, is approved by the International Wushu Federation (IWuF) for competition and comes with a bag. $130. I deduce this staff is for Northern styles because they also have
This carbon fiber composite staff has a maximum length of 70.8 inches (180 centimeters) long, is approved by the International Wushu Federation (IWuF) for competition and comes with a bag. Described as for Southern styles. Also $130.
I have emailed KFD will some detailed questions about weight and taper as well as any competition limits. Stay tuned.
The web page
has links to short YouTube videos showing the same five simple and common moves done with a variety of staffs. With the exception of the lau gar (3 meter or 10 foot pole) and one very old and heavy staff (wood unknown, alas) all the staffs are about as quick. To be fair, the mylar toothpick staff is fractionally fastest because it is so light. That comes at a price – I have never heard anyone say “Whoa, I am thankful you are not fighting me with a short, round and very light mylar staff instead of that octagonal hickory staff.”
My personal rattan staff needs more sanding and finishing – it does not slide through my hands. That implies that woods that splinter easily or significantly dent will not be the best choice in a long combat. Note that the staff is symmetric – both ends are the same.
Another aspect to staffs, especially tapered waxwood ones, is spinnability: can you spin the staff so it remains balanced and still delivers a damaging blow [to the opponent].
As found in the following Chen Family style Tai Chi Chuan sets: Old Frame 1, New Frame 1 and Double Sabers. What was of interest was to take a lot of short videos with different clothing styles and colors and weapons to have professional judges comment on the ability to grade. In the case of double sabers and double swords there were flags and tassels involved as well. Two pages of links to videos starting at
Grandmaster Wing Lam doing Hung Gar Lau Gar
Millions of years ago when I first studied long pole it was not easy to get waxwood poles. They are not a high-margin item, they are awkward to store, often are flawed and at about ten feet long not easy to transport. Back then, they could not be mailed, but had to be picked up at the store or warehouse. It was unusual for them to be shipped by sea at all.
I have accumulated some spears with copper and brass shafts. To my sensibilities I would NOT want to extend those shafts a meter or more for long pole. As it is, the tactile feel of metal spears take some getting used to if I have just done another weapon set, especially a wooden staff set.
I also have a stainless steel Monkey King staff from my Hung Gar days. It is longer and thicker than the usual eyebrow height staffs, so more like a Bagua Zhang staff. The Monkey King staff works well enough in its own set, but its length and speed are usually a problem in sets from other arts. I don’t feel the Monkey King staff really works well even in other Hung Gar staff sets designed for eyebrow height staffs. My teacher said out of the question to use it in a lau gar set. So we were motivated to find a readily available domestic substitute.
It seemed like the cheapest and easiest material was thin wall white PVC pipe. As readers can guess, the empty pipe felt silly, and sand-filled PVC shattered pretty quickly. I switched to thick-wall PVC which lasted a while longer – about a week or so. We experimented very briefly with alternative fillings like (uncooked) oatmeal and (uncooked) pinto beans. These could best be described as failures. Then the teacher upon finding out about the PVC pipes told one of my fellow students (roughly translated) “Have you zero brains? You are rubbing toxins into your hands!”
I am very fond of my hickory staff. As botanically inclined readers probably know, hickory is quite a widespread genus (Carya from Ancient Greek: κάρυον = nut) – 5 or 6 species in China, probably a dozen in the US, probably 4 in Canada (poor immigration control – I think there are 2 that are more or less unique to Canada) and several more in Mexico and India. The generic, so as to speak, characters are 山胡桃木 (= Shān hútáo mù) so I wound up calling my staff Lao Hutao = a bad translation of ‘Old Hickory’, the nickname of American President Andrew Jackson (seen on the $20 bill).
It is probably a warning sign when you start naming weapons.
A sure sign that you have too many weapons is when the weapons start talking to you whispering that you should practice with a particular weapon.
It is definitely a sign of second stage hyper-weapon-ophilia when you talk back.
At the moment the http://www.bujinkanweapons.com web site is down while the owner /woodworker recovers from serious knee surgery. He used to make hanbo, jo and bo. They were available in lengths of 66 to 96 inches and woods of hickory, white oak, ironwood, purple heart and cocobolo. I am checking on his status, but things do not sound promising
Weapons without blades like the staff and half-staff (jo) can be thought of as radially symmetric because there is no need to hold them in any orientation in order to strike an opponent. For maces with a square cross section this is the case also – whether defending against an incoming blow or delivering a strike it does not much matter whether a flat surface or an angled surface is leading.
Tactically, turning a trident parallel to an opponent’s axis of attack so the tines are in a column perpendicular to the floor seems ill-advised as it reduces horizontal protection. There’s a fair amount of debate about whether all three tines should have the same effective length: the argument goes that shorter side tines provide no advantage and that most of the time an enemy need only focus on following the longer central tine – track it and block it and the side tines are not much of a threat. I have never heard of a five-tined “fork” weapon with four tines arranged around a center tine like the five side of a six-sided die.