Back to a Big Stick
Long time readers of this blog might remember I spent some serious time studying Okinawan/Japanese weapons from 2014 to 2017, on top of my Presas Arnis studies.
Most of the posts I made about that experience here on the blog are lost due to moving to a new site in 2018 (well, not lost-lost - I still have access to them - but I haven't republished them), so I can't link you to those if you're interested in reading about it.
Before 2014, I just wasn't a fan of staffs in general. I mean, what's the practicality of staff? How does it translate to real life? I just didn't see it, outside of "Hey, in a pinch I can fight with a broomstick" and I felt like I could already kinda do that having studied Arnis.
But as is often the case, my opinion changed after I got exposure to the weapon.
I studied jo for a while in 2014 informally with my teacher, then in January 2015 I started the formal kobudo program at AKATO, earning my black belt in November 2017
In the kobudo class, I studied bo (6 foot staff - the big heavy one made of white oak, not the toothpicky spinny-spinny type), tonfa (not as cool as I thought they'd be), nunchaku (which I didn't want to learn and ended up loving to pieces), and sai (my least favorite of the four). As I like to tell non-martial artists when talking about this training, I say I basically trained to be a one-woman Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Yes, yes, Leonardo has swords, not tonfa, but go with it, ok, fellow nerd?
Shortly into my kobudo program, I started to see the value of the staff, especially the big 6 foot one, and understand why so many empty hand people just LOVE it.
I started enjoying it, too.
I studied it again for a short period of time here in KC while I could still attend a class (my schedule changed and I couldn't any more), and I still found I really enjoyed it.
So I wanted to study it further, and get more deeply into drills and actual use vs. forms. Not knocking the forms usefulness, I just wanna hit stuff more than any of the classes I was in did (AKATO, to their credit, absolutely hit stuff, which is a leg up on a lot of other people).
There IS staff material in our style, and my teacher showed some of it to us before I left Texas. We use a shorter staff than a bo but often longer than jo (jo is about 4 feet, our staff - bangkaw - is 5 feet, and a real bo is about 6 feet).
But due to distance from my teacher, I just haven't gotten into it like I want to.
For some reason, staff - and its battlefield equivalent, the spear or pike or halberd (long weapon with a pointy end) - have appealed to me lately. Not for practical reasons, necessarily, as I am not going to go to war with any Spartans or Anglo-Saxons or Zulu any time soon. But it's a very common weapon world-wide, regardless of which cultural approach you study, and I find that interesting to explore.
Fast forward to now. We're coming out of COVID and what pops up on my radar?
Progressive Arnis Winter Camp, where the material to be emphasised is... STAFF!!
So I'm going to go to that Camp in February, and get me some intensive staff training (and other super awesome material, too).
I am SO EXCITED, y'all!
I get to reconnect with some folks I know, meet a bunch I don't, and do a bunch of stuff I haven't been doing here in KC.
It's going to ROCK.
So I'm getting back into the big stick, and the things I learn there, we're going to do here in at least one of our two Presas Arnis classes.
This is gonna be FUN!
What do you think about longer weapons? Love 'em or no? Do you cross-train in other cultures' weapons? Tell us about it!