Staff (stick)

From Academic Kids

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Staff used in martial art
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MartialArtStaff2.JPG
Staff used in martial art

A staff is a large, thick stick or stick-shaped object used to help with walking or as a status symbol or a weapon. An older plural form of staff, based on the archaic variant word stave, is staves. In modern, especially American, English the usual plural form has become staffs.

Staffs are certainly among the earliest tools used by apes, once it was discovered that opposable thumbs could manipulate sticks as tools or as a weapon. Police forces have used sticks for centuries --actually, since specialised police forces have been trained for anti-riots tactics; before that, artillery or standard cavalry units were used. (for the "t" shaped stick used by police forces, see tonfa).

Staffs, in particular those used for status, are often ornately ornamented, but are sometimes also deliberately bland-looking. Staffs are also associated with wizards and other fictitious users of magic and sorcery. Staffs are a traditional prop for the elderly and infirm, and this has led to their association with wisdom.

In Asia, training for staff fighting has always been a martial arts staple. The Chinese staff is called gun (棍 pinyin głn). It's practise is commonly divided into two main areas: Northern staff techniques (influenced by spear play) and Southern staff techniques. Many styles and techniques exist but the best known outside of China is the Shaolin Temple staff techniques as practised by the monks in Chinese medieval times (Tang dynasty 900's-1000's Christian era) and later by their disciples in pre-modern China (1600's-1900's Christian era) by anti-Manchu/Ching dynasty revolutionaries (Han Chinese patriots) prior to the wide-spread use of firearms. The techniques made their usual dissemination throughout the rest of Asia to be blended in with other countries' native fighting techniques. It must be pointed out that the Chinese staff techniques as well as other countries' native staff techniques are not wholly original and that there was free trade or espionage amongst the people practising such martial techniques.

Japanese short staff techniques, (jo), were reportidly invented by Sensei Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi after he was defeated by Miyamoto Musashi in a sabre duel. Stung by his defeat, he invented techniques to fight against a sabre using only a stick, and defeated Musashi on their next encounter. This is the only time Musashi was defeated.

Haraibou were staffs, in literal translation meaning 'purification stick', that were used by the miko (Japanese female exorcists) to fight demons in Japanese lore.

See also: quarterstaff

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