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Bo/Staff for Kung Fu and Karate: Solo Training Tips

Bo/Staff for Kung Fu and Karate: Solo Training Tips

Ando again with Happy Life Martial Arts and look who’s back. This is Sifu TW
Smith here in Raleigh, North Carolina and Sifu, I come to you with a problem.
I made a video about solo training, training on your own in the martial arts,
and I made a quick reference in there to training with a bo staff. And of course
there was a comment from someone who thought that the bo staff was
completely a waste of time, it’s just some fancy kung-fu thing, that you don’t
really get much out of training with a bo staff. But I know here in your kwoon,
you have a wide variety of different sticks and staffs, so they must have
something to do with good kung fu training. So, help me out. What in the
world do you do with a bo staff? How is that helping you be a better fighter or
martial artist?>The first things is that I had practiced martial arts for a
long time before I ever got to introduced to the long staff. And what it did is it
really helped me change how I thought about how I moved. It internalized my
training for me. The other part of it is that it made me always be responsible
for something that never lies. You know, the long staff, when
you’re practicing it, it only works with gravity and what you’ve asked it to do,
and so, if you’re not getting the sort of performance that you want from a partner
that will never lie to you, the problem is not in the partner. And so that
was one of the things that– that was on the mental size of it. On the physical
side, being able to move a body that– you know, I’m not a slim, young,
limber guy like you.>Hey.>But I had to be able to actually learn how to fold
and unfold my body in a whole new, different way. So, as you were mentioning,
there’s a few more over here on this wall, but we keep a variety of different
staffs. Here’s a standard wax wood staff, you know, just long enough. About eye
height. And this is one that’s got good weight
and any of you could use this for a lot of different things. We’ll get back to
this one here in a little bit. But the thing that really helps is that when you have
a variety of different kinds of staffs and do the same technique with them– so
for example, we have this is pretty much just an iron pipe. And I don’t
know, it probably weighs about 8 or 9 pounds. When you move this, being just a
blunt heavy evenly dispersed weight, it makes you work your tendons
and your waist on them. So, when you’re working these, it has a feel to it
that you have to account for. As you move, so your mechanics, and how you move– if
there’s a flaw in your mechanics, the weight amplifies it. And so, you
have to learn to be smooth. Being smooth is a big part of any style of martial
artistry practice smooth because you’re limiting the tension and you’re focusing
on just relaxed efficient movement this and this heavy pole will show you if
your knees a little out of alignment your hips a little off you’re leaning a
little bit this is gonna tell you straight direction when you get up to
the number of reps if you do one or two reps you’re gonna get no sort of
feedback that you’re looking for but when you start getting up to around 50
to 100 reps right anytime that starts to happen then you’re gonna it’s gonna show
you where you’re weak as far as your technique goes but then after you say
use a standard just evenly dispersed way you can go to a one that blades just
about the same probably about 10 to 12 pounds again but this one if you can’t
tell it’s the same sort of staff but it’s got a stainless steel end and so
the weight is not distributed evenly it feels kind of even in the center but
when you start to move it the weight spins away from you and a lot further
and it moves much differently so that as you roll it around you have to account
for it’s spinning the weight spinning away from you as you rotate much like a
person might be away from you if you’ve come there
trying to get away and you’re able to follow that energy out yes because as it
spins spins away you have to adapt your mechanics to what it is and the faster
you go the further it spins away from right then you have this other one which
was actually one of the more more interesting is this now this is the my
version of it is a PVC pipe it’s about an inch inch and a half and then we fill
in with BBS and we fill them with small gravel rocks and then Cathy Chen so what
this does is that the weight shift and you can hear it probably as I move now
every time I move the weight shift and I have to account for that my my tenants
for the conditioning and say a simple one simple technique that we call a
folding technique shall unfold when you take through and over you know we’d have
these this swimming field for example if I’m pulling out feeling pushing and
pulling I’m just gonna roll through and pull it right back over just like we’re
done there so it just rolls back in here and if you notice that my technique did
not change from what I was just doing with the staff I just rolled one side
and my hips if I had allow my body to move with it then it just ends up in
this case just being a shoulder lock that you can add in footwork to trip
sure things on those lines absolutely then you said it could also be like
hooks and uppercuts you’re seeing the same movement and yes exactly so we can
turn and then pull right back around cuz you know usually don’t go around
grabbing locks usually set those up yeah that’s right so you get boom for that
boom boom right roll it back around right you have this same sensation right
and that the mechanics of the of the technique that I was just doing
with the staff it’s exactly the same right now how you move can vary from
time to time you know depending upon what you feel and by using the different
staffs I have a different feeling of how I might move with it mm-hmm as I go
along so the the physical training of the staff and the different weights
give me a sensation that I can’t develop through technique right it has to be
developed to the feel of the skill of knowing what you feel at the moment and
keep moving right so Rex is the misconception might
be that you’re just trying to learn how to swing a weapon around but really just
trying to learn how to move yourself around yes and then having that feeling
in your hand and in your butt and your muscles of what to be tense when to be
relaxed so you’re moving very efficiently and comfortably that’s the
best you can do on your own so then now when I get a life partner at least I’ve
worked out most of my issues now instead of a somewhat dead training – I have a
live training tool at least I already have that feeling in my body of like hey
I should relax now or I should tense up a little bit here and now make my effort
because you been handling this weight all this time that’s that’s a brilliant
system and of course you can place all kinds of other old-school kung fu
training devices that people would quickly make fun of they would look at
and say oh that’s you know ridiculous but it’s a beautiful thing if you come
visit this dojo and you should this groom
he’s even got just a big cart I’ll throw in a shot you caught the cart of pain
the cart of pain the cart of pain weighs about 450 pounds or so loaded down with
weights and steel and you can use it for example to practice everything from
standard your Tai Chi Chuan on or your straight punches so you know if you just
do a straight punch and you just use your hand and shoulder she goes nowhere
you start to use the hips and you can hear the weights jeans a little bit now
it starts to move you can practice your and as if you’re coming in and moving it
like you’re trying to bring someone down or your elbow strikes knees and it just
gives you a great way the thing with the car to pain is that even though it’s
heavy it’ll still give with you so you can also practice your footwork notice
that down at the bottom there’s about a six inch so you don’t practice getting
all down here when you see me move sometimes you’ll see my foot actually
get underneath it so I’m used to if I’m close to you you’ll feel my feet get
underneath you to try to trap you and so it’s designed so that you can practice a
lot of aspects of close-quarter combat without necessarily having to beat up on
somebody and you can use all the power that you want against it and as you’ll
see that’s a beautiful piece of machinery to once again challenge your
own body to see how much attention you can create how much strength you can
create and have some feedback from something that’s really what it’s all
about getting feedback from the tool that you’re working with so that when
you’re fighting a tool you can hopefully take it out no offense to you personally
well you know we were talking about earlier too that most of our martial
arts training is associated with us being able to work with us yeah because
our circumstances could change our you know the aggressor could change and we
can’t account for those all those variables the only variable that you can
actually work on day in and day out is you right and the more tools that you
have that can help you accommodate yourself and if you look at some of the
old Chinese martial arts training you know to move up through the ranks
particularly in some of the forces your ability to wield an awkward weighted
object and do it efficiently was your demonstration of skill mmm-hmm I wasn’t
that you needed to be able to swing a 200-pound sword right in order to make
captain but you did have to swing a 200-pound sword to make captain because
your ability to show that you had the efficiency of movement and could handle
something awkward in a set of awkward circumstances made you worth more right
but you were never going to use that weapon out there in the battlefield
right that wasn’t the the the weapon wasn’t a weapon it was a tool it was an
instrument for you to demonstrate your skill mm-hmm
not the skill of the weapon that is so well said sir and I hope a lot of people
heard that because this is the difference between kind of good kung-fu
and bad comes through a lot of haters out there about kungfu but usually it’s
because it’s bad kungfu to begin with or it’s bad karate. A lot of these
traditional martial arts get bagged on it’s usually because there’s ignorance
behind the critique and, to be fair, a lot of teachers don’t know what they’re
doing. But Sifu Smith absolutely does, so if you get a chance to check out his
website, I’ll put the links below. Thank you, Sifu, for answering these questions
for us. I think that was really helpful I Thank you very much. To keep up with
Sifu Smith, again, find his links below. And until I see you next time, keep fighting
for a happy life.

52 thoughts on “Bo/Staff for Kung Fu and Karate: Solo Training Tips”

  1. Awesome! I love the staff!

    I was always a little disheartened by people who criticize weapon training and kata as useless. I myself find that to be the most enjoyable part. But I’m weird like that.

    Do you have any tips or drills for chucks? I’d like to improve with those. In fact, tips and drills for staff, chucks, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for the video!

  2. Cool now I don’t feel as weird about my weapon arsenal in my room I have collected a good bit of weapons though the years all I need are sai and I will be ready to buy radioactive turtles 🐢

  3. Very good mindset. Question though … in general is a bo staff ever a viable to be used as a weapon? I can’t let go of the “cool” factor haha.

  4. Very cool!! Glad to see weapons concepts and training benefits. Also great to see Sifu TW Smith on the channel!!!

  5. Thanks for giving Kung Fu the respect it deserves, honestly it's disappointing to see so many people bash these martial arts because of bad teachers/students

  6. Great vid Sifu! I've always been a big believer of weapons training (AFTER developing a solid foundation) as it extends one's body awareness. The staff is my favourite but I also enjoy the nunchaku – although I admit to being more of a danger to myself when using it than to anyone else 😉 I've used the nunchaku for nearly 40 years and have the scars to prove it! Hahaha!

  7. Hey ! I'm happy to see Sifu Tim Smith on video ^^ (it was one of the best interviews in the podcast !). Thank you for all this information. I don't know a lot about staffs, the only weapon I know a little about is the sword… and the broomstick (ok, I guess everyone tried this at least once). I am gonna try the moves and the way of thinking next time I can ! Thanks.
    Also, I am happy to see you try new things in the way you edit your videos. You're doing a nice job. Keep going ! 😊

  8. How anyone could mock Staff training… is beyond Pitiful. If a group of thugs were stalking / chasing you… and you spotted a broom, rake, shovel…etc… you would instantly have a better chance of survival. This extends to any form of home / property invasion / protection scenario.

    As for the teacher saying that many of these weapons were not used on the battlefield… Sorry… but its simply not true. All of the Chinese weapons.. are Combat weapons.. specifically designed for combat purposes. They may have dual training functionality… but they still Are combat weapons. The Chinese were not going to forge fake weapons… for no good reason.

    Most people do not realize the differences between real Chinese combat weapons training… and the Fake BS that the Communists Govt. of China created (Contemporary Wushu). Wushu practitioners only train an acrobatic routine… not live partner drills, no specific application training, and no body attribute training. Furthermore… Wushu players do not use real combat steel weapons. They use lightweight, paper thin, super flexible "Spring Steel". These weapons would not stand up to a single clash, against a real High Carbon, combat steel, weapon.

    I used to own a real hand-forged, high carbon / combat steel, Chinese Broadsword. It starts out thin at the pointed tip… and by the time you get to the rear spine… its almost a centimeter thick, at the topmost edge. They tested them out, by smashing them into a steel dumpster… leaving gashed in the dumpster… and not a single scratch on the blade. The blade was Heavy… as should be expected, for such a weapon. One of my training exercises, was to simply hold it straight out.. full arm extension… and move it SLOWLY… horizontally… left to right… over and over again… all while keeping the cut-line perfectly straight. After only a few reps… your arms will start to burn like hell. The warriors that used to wield such weapons… trained with them daily, for many many hours at a time… hence, they would have had Monstrous Strength.

    The Sifu may not know them… but in Wing Chun… there are a few other Pole Exercises. WC used a much longer pole, that was typically used to pull / push boats along the shallow waterways. Using a shorter Metal pole, can be just as effective… as the metal pole is much heavier than the tapered hardwood long-poles.

    1) Wrist Strength – Grabbing the furthest end of the pole, with one hand, at your side… wrist about level with your hip… raise and lower the tip of the pole… up and down… for a certain number of reps… or minutes of time. If you can not raise the pole at all… move your grip further forward up the pole… until you are able to do so.. yet still maintaining a good level of challenge. Switch sides, and repeat.

    2) Thrusting power + speed – Think about grabbing the pole and holding it out in front of you horizontally… and pushing and pulling it as fast and as powerful as you can… for a few min or like +500 reps. HOWEVER… in this version… you do not grip in the center. You grip one one end of the pole, with the arms about a shoulder distance apart. The poles-end hand should be an overhand grip… and the other hand will be an Underhand grip. Pull the pole up to your chest.. about heart level.. with elbows pulled and pointing inwards, as much as possible. Then fully extend outwards, and contract…etc.. nonstop… as fast as you can… BUT…. you must keep the opposite end of the pole… completely level, the entire drill. The weight of the side-hanging pole will really tax your ability to keep accurate… due to leverage, and fatigue.

    3) Accuracy – Gripping a long pole at the end… similar to the above exercise… but this time… you will use it from a side stance, and to stab forwards. Hang a small object, such as a tiny bell or ball… from a string / rope… as a target. Practice thrusting at full speed, from a thrusts distance away… for a set amount of reps / time. Switch side stance + repeat. Altering the height of the object, will train different vectors. Trying to hit a swinging target.. is also a good for coordination.. but should only be done after solid accuracy is built up. Build up from slow and light… to fast and heavy. In this drill… you can also use a step into a deep sideways horse stance, as you strike. You will gain more distance this way… as well as work your legs out quite good.

    4) Wrists Curling strength – Tie a rope to the center of a pole… and hang a weight on the end of the rope. Hold the centered pole horizontally in front of you, with both arms in an overhand grip. You twist each hand forwards, one after the other… to cause the pole to rotate… which will then lift the weight, slowly upwards. When the mass is at the top… reverse direction to lower the mass… slowly, in the same way. Repeat for a number of reps / minutes.

    Theres so much that can be done with a typical length Staff … such as holding the pole, and hopping over and back, repeatedly. Using the pole for acrobatics (pole climbing, hanging, inversions) , pullups, feet suspended high in the air – pushups, single-end weighted pole drills, circle / movement drills, cardio, footwork, trunk-turning drills, and more.

    I think a lot of these kids should watch the training sequenced in films such as "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" (also sometimes called "Master K1ller" – starring Gordon Liu… whom BTW, was in KillBill as Pai Mei + one of the Crazy88 members)

    While they may not be entirely accurate at times… they give the principles of many of these types of drills, as well as the benefits that would come from training them. 36th chamber is sort of a wakeup call to the typical martial artists… about how the Ancients used to train… and why most of todays fighters are absolute garbage… due to inferior methods, lack of intensity, and pure laziness.

  9. I like the cart… But I would suggest a few alterations: Lose the foam. Foam is too absorbent, IMO. A humans tightened abs, for example.. can be like solid Rock… and it does not "Give" / bounce.. if you hit it. Instead… hang some detachable 3-section sandbags from them. PACK the bags Solid, with coarse grain beach sand (never use play-sand.. as it would create find powder dust.. that if breathed in.. can cause cancer).

    In my old place… I made a static hit-station. It had two, 3-Section wallbags. Three targets for the upper gate… and three for the low gate. I also made the upper gate section… so that it could slide forwards / backwards. It had holes drilled in it… so that it could be pinned in difference depths… or used pin-less… so that you could punch, palm, shoulder, push… the whole top section backwards.. a little over 1ft in travel. The real reason for this, however… was to allow for kicks and punches to be used at the same exact time. Since your arms are shorter than your legs… your legs would typically hit the bags, and your hands would not be able to reach the upper targets. But… by pinning the upper gate targets about 1ft closer… you can low-kick the lower-gate targets.. and still be able to hand-strke the upper targets, at the same exact time… just like how its done on a real attacker.

    You can see some of my custom training devices, by searching google for "Flickr [email protected]".[email protected]/3218521003/

    I also made a 3 pole kick-dummy. FYI – Train on thing using hard-leather bottomed dress shoes. (not barefoot)
    I should have used slightly smaller diameter pipes. 3" diameter, sch 40, is probably best.

  10. Seeing the trapping of arms using the motions of staff really clicked with me. I've never trained an Asian art before but have self trained & been to a few seminars for HEMA. But in some European manuals from the middle ages masters have said something to the effect of "All fighting is baised in the grappling & allweapons are baised on the sword [Longsword]"
    Even though going staff to unarmed is the other direction the idea holds. If grappling is the basis it contains footwork, posturing, basics of timing, distance & leverage that are used in all other parts of a system. So if you analyse traditional systems in this manner you can begin to see them as more integrated and adaptable systems.
    As an outsider this kind of video is what I like best. It explains what the purpose of things are, how they apply & gives onsite into what may be very confusing to observers or even students.
    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Having control of your body is a useful skill. For example. Somehow I developed a huge amount of pain in my back and right ribs. I say somehow – I have an old injury that flares up every now and then. But last weekend, it just felt like I had fallen off a roof onto a rock. My side was hot, stiff, sore, swollen, making wierd noises and sounds, and I could hardly sleep at all. But I am experienced in healing – I knew I'd just put my back out. I threw in V-Sit Ups at every relaxed moment. Did rotation hold stretches. Massage. Kept doing my workout (but more relaxed). And after a few days all the swelling went down. Then I was able take a breath and lean back and crack bits of my back into alignment again – until by today, I'd really gotten into the problem area and cracked it back into shape.

  12. dude can u help me iam with a fight with someone I can beat him his very skinny and iam biger and stronger I do some bodybuilding exercises for a 6 month and he did not do anything but I get scared please help me

  13. Another good one Sir..
    I'm going to try the PVC one with water in it and put Century Bob (with the jacket) on a furniture dolly.. Wave bag should work too.
    Thank you..

  14. I was the best fighter in my class even in this new class it just has to many kicks make video why high kicks are bad in street fights where you are close to the enemy

  15. 4 weapons I believe any serious self-defense system must teach, because all of them teach highly adaptable tactics for use with a variety of improvised or purpose-built weapons: long staff, short staff (stick), knife, and chain. Staff – staff, spear, shovel, tree pruner, cultivator, hoe. Stick – cane, stick, night stick, bat, ax handle, crow bar, sword, etc. Knife is self-explanatory and more assaults happen in a kitchen than one might suspect (domestic violence, workplace violence). Chain – belt, rope, cable, garrote, hose…even a towel can be used effectively to enhance grappling techniques.

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