Why I Like the Staff

KFSFfig1Here at Plum we’ve begun working on a new book about the Kung Fu staff. I was surprised to learn that there is very little on this subject, especially if you discount books which are entirely centered around teaching a staff form. As I am beginning this project I thought a lot about the staff, my first weapon in the martial arts. A few unconnected thoughts came to mind.

The first was that the staff (and in this I am also counting short sticks) is one of the few weapons that is not a weapon. Its lethalness resides in the hands of the practitioner, not the weapon itself. That’s probably why there are so many variations of staff sets, because there are so many possible interpretations of the different movements, and because the staff can so immediately reflect the skill  of the performer. I know there is a form of calligraphy where the artist does not even use a brush, preferring to paint and write with just the tip of a single finger. These artists reject even the brush as blocking their  qi on its way to the paper. Staff is the exception, I think. It doesn’t block, it encourages the direct expression of the artist’s skill.

As I write and edit this text I’m sure other observations will pop up, but I just wanted to mention this one and, of course, solicit other viewpoints on this perennial study.

10 Responses to “Why I Like the Staff”

  1. Jeff says:

    Staff is my favorite, the first weapon I ever bought at a martial arts store, and the weapon I always return to.

  2. Thank you Shirfu Ted for writing about a subject so ignored in Chinese martial arts books today. We train with three foot sticks(more or less) with no padding,and it’s alot of fun despite the bruised knuckles. Training with no padding makes you more careful and quick with the weapon. The staff or stick is quick and powerful in the right hands. I cannot wait to see your work.
    Thank you for finally shedding some light on the staff.

  3. Rick says:

    Looking forward to it!

  4. Stan Meador says:

    I have read the the staff is a teacher. I hope you look at that idea in greater depth.

  5. Jacob Westerhoff says:

    Dear Ted,

    I’ve long admired martial arts practioner’s abilities at handling the staff and have slow motioned movies such as “The Forbidden Kingdom,” “Ip Man” and many others to try and duplicate the technique: The movement of the fingers and how they spin the stick; The movement of the hands and arms; The direction of travel and rotations of the staff; etc, etc.

    Apart from a few YouTube contributions I’ve been unsuccessful in locating clear step by step instructions in either book or DVD that takes a beginner through to making a staff an “extension of oneself” (as I seem to view it).

    I’ll be keeping a keen eye out for your book (and accompanying DVD?? Yes, please!).


  6. Plum Staff says:

    Hi Jacob,
    Thanks for your comment and, yes! a DVD too…

  7. nunh says:

    I love the bagua books – fantastic – you make these and I will buy them. All of your material is excellent!

  8. Alan says:

    I would be interested. I learned half a dozen two person Jo forms of kojosho animals 30 or so years ago and it is a good teacher or partner for solo practice. My practice has gotten rusty.

  9. Rick says:

    Great news on the DVD, this promises to be another outstanding instructional package!

  10. Erik House says:

    I’ve always wondered is the Tai Chi Cudgel just a shorter staff then one normally sees in the rest of Kung Fu?

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