Taichi Staff and Spear
This month we will look at Taichi Staff and Spear. These will be taken together, because the exercises that you learn are identical for both, only the type of vibration involved in the two weapons differ, so any reference to staff applies to spear as well, except where noted. Once again, this is only intended to be a general introduction to help you understand the principles behind the practice, and give some guidance as to what to look for when purchasing your staff or spear.
Staff and Spear Practice
Staff and spear practice are the most important of the three types of Auxiliary training discussed so far, in terms of power development. They are, in order of importance, Staff, Taichi Knife, and Taichi Sword. Staff practice also contains elements of both Taichi Knife and Taichi Sword practice in the exercises that you learn. Staff is considered a wood form and spear a fire form, (note the red horse hair below the tip of the spear used to distract the opponent). The staff vibrates at the tip, while the spear vibrates more in the middle, (again, very flame-like).
Staff aids your bare hand practice by teaching you how to flow your energy to adapt to any situation. More importantly, it teaches you how to vibrate and to project your energy outward. These are learned through exercises such as all the different vibrational forms you learn and practice in your Two Person Staff forms, and through your practice of the Open and Close form. The latter teaches, not only vibration, but also to be able to project the energy outward from the tip of the staff.
In Staff practice you are constantly changing from Yin on the outside and Yang on the inside, to the opposite. It is a good combination of your other auxiliary practices in this respect. You want to be able to adapt, no matter what the situation, no matter where the energy goes. All aspects of your practice will be greatly enhanced by gaining this type of adaptability.
Two Person Roll Staff enhances both your Roll Hands and Single Hand Push practice. You practice Roll Staff in both the horizontal and vertical, and then eventually in free style, which covers all the same directions you use in your Roll Hands and Single Hand Push practice. This requires an increased level of sensitivity, as you must be able to connect to and follow your practice partner, through the staff. A lot of practice is required to achieve this level of sensitivity, and it is much more difficult to do, than being in actual contact with your partner as you are in bare hand practice.
Buying a Staff or Spear
The most common material currently available for a staff or spear is wax wood. You want your staff or spear to be tapered, so that it vibrates well. The staff will usually be about 76 inches long and thicker than the spear. The spear will be around 79 inches long, and you will also have to buy a red horse hair tassel and metal spear point. Try and find shafts that are as straight as possible for proper power projection.
When you first get your staff or spear, the wood will be very light in color, and you should soak it for at least six months in linseed, or if you can not find or afford it, mineral oil. This is best done in a capped piece of PVC pipe to keep the staff or spear completely immersed. This is done not only to treat the wood, but to ensure that any insects in the wood do not end up boring their way out and ruining your staff or spear.
We will finish up this series of articles next month with information on some other miscellaneous Auxiliary training tools, to further help with different aspects of your Taichi practice and power development.