Learning the staff form
I am proud to say that I can now get through the full staff form without making any mistakes – or too many mistakes. Okay, fine, I’m doing the easy staff form. And yes, I still have a long way to go in terms of mastering the staff not to mention my posture could use a lot of work, but give me an “A” for effort and enthusiasm at least.
The staff is the first weapon form that Sifu Dan is having me learn. My first impression of it after doing some drills was “boy, that’s gonna be a workout for my shoulders.” And I wasn’t wrong. The form has so many moments where I have to hold the staff over my head or at an awkward angle that leaves my arms limp and sore for several days after. Despite the pain, I think that the staff is a beautiful weapon to master and what I love about it is that it’s so versatile.
Although it is a very basic weapon, mastering the staff can be very beneficial. In a pinch, you can kick off the head of a broomstick or pick up a fallen branch and use it as a staff. In a single day you can come across a number of items that can work as a staff. It can be used as a farm tool, a plain weapon, or as a pole arm with a bladed weapon attached.
History of the Kuhn staff
The staff is probably one of the oldest tools known to man as well as one of the most global. Many countries around the world have some form of rod or staff in their culture and the significance of it ranged from a simple decoration that showed title to a weapon used in combat. Staffs have also adapted to take on many forms, adding stones, sharpened points, a hook or other objects to the end to give the staff multiple other uses.
The Ngo Cho staff, or “Kuhn” is considered the great grandfather of kung fu weapons and has been around for thousands of years. Since ancient times, the Kuhn has been the most versatile and practical weapon and tool that is easily available. In Five Ancestors Fist, the size of the Kuhn is 5 feet, 6 feet, 7 feet, and 12 feet in length. It is made of hard solid wood or flexible rattan.
When the use of bladed weapons was banned, villagers relied on wooden staffs to fight against bandits, pirates and other foreign invaders. Using this ready available weapon, the Kuhn, the villagers were able to defend their homes and families.
How it is used as a tool now
Today, the use of the Kuhn is used in society by law enforcement for crowd control, in construction as an extension to hardware tools, and even as an extension for household tools, like brooms or mops.
In Ngo Cho Kun, the Kuhn is still being practiced as a weapon for self-defence. We want to preserve the history of this item and understand the value of the Kuhn as a weapon. The official names of the staff are Goh Tsio Kuhn (5 feet pole), Liu Xing Kuhn (meteor pole), and Tsit Tsio Kuhn (7 feet pole).
Exercises using the Kuhn (staff)
As a form of exercise, it is used as an aide for flexibility, balance, mobility, coordination, and body structure.
1. Cross exercise
- Stand at attention with the Kuhn over your shoulders, swing your body to the left, then to the right. Do this, alternating sides for 10 reps.
- Return to the attention position, then lean over to your right side. Return to attention, then lean over to your left side. Keep alternating sides for 10 reps.
- Return to attention, then lean forward as far to the ground as you can go. Do this exercise going up and down 10 times.
2. Frontal Parallel
- Standing at attention with your feet roughly shoulder width apart, hold the staff evenly in your hands and lift it over your head. Then lean forward and bring the staff to the ground, keeping your arms and legs straight.
- Cross the staff to your left with the end of the staff grazing over the ground, then cross the staff to the right in the same way.
- Standing straight in the attention position, hold the staff straight out so that your arms and the staff are parallel to the ground. Then swing your body left and then right. Focus on twisting and the flexibility of your hips.
3. Hook swing for shoulder
- Standing at attention and holding the staff with both hands at the base like you would a baseball bat, swing the staff straight across to the left side. Then do the same thing to the right.
Want to know more about kung fu weapons? Comment below about what your favourite weapon.