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Our students train with rattan sticks of various lengths:
Walking stick with hooked handle
We do not train with full-length
staffs because not many of our students have the space at home to swing a six
foot staff around.
In class we ask students to use safety weapons. These are foam-covered plastic sticks. When competent with a safety weapon, a student should buy a rattan staff for home practice.
A heavy stick will strengthen the arms and teach you to balance the weight of the stick by using connection.
You need to start incorporating neigong at this stage so that your groundpath extends to the tip of the weapon. Spiralling, sinking and rooting will also amplify your power.
Performing the stick drills with the heavy weapon will also teach you to close the hand correctly upon impact when striking without the stick.
Do not use a heavyweight stick unless directed to do so. Premature use of an oak stick can cause inadvertent muscle tension and/or injury.
Strengthen the arms
The stick drills and 2-person sets will strengthen the arms, wrists and hands, making them more flexible and supple. This is essential.
If your hands and wrists are weak, then striking someone may potentially result in an injury to your own body.
Move the body
The main reason for training with sticks is to encourage a more significant use of the body when striking. This follows on from the work started in qigong.
Unless the taijiquan strikes are produced by a whole-body movement, they remain essentially external and lack vibrational power.
Gravity striking is nothing compared to what a whole-body jing release feels like.
Extending your consciousness to the tip of the stick is actually quite difficult. There will be a tendency towards muscle tension.
You must feel the weight of the weapon, and use the stick in a dreamy, relaxed manner.
When you can generate jing easily and spontaneously, you will start to feel the 'kinetic pathway'. Matching the movements to the pathway will be your main jing skill as you progress through the syllabus.
Your movements will eventually become smaller in size. They will reflect the kinetic pathway of each jing you generate.
The stick will serve to start you along the path to jing release. You learn to extend your energy through the weapon and into the opponent.
Your commitment lessens and your footwork becomes easier and agile. If you find yourself slumping, tense or immobile, stop forcing. Let the weight of the stick do the work.
To hit means something like 'feel out'.
created 11 December 2001
Last updated 09 June 2019