Weapon Features and Variations
|There are both the current wushu
competition standards as well as Chen Family traditions.
|On the subject of lengths the 3
meter lau gar staff made of waxwood is very uniform
|In many arts the optimal staff and spear
handle height is at the user's eyebrows (so spear point extends
further upward above the crown of the head), while sword and
saber length is the difference between the top of the ear and
the knuckles of the hand when the hand is hanging at the hip.
|As readers likely know, Bagua Zhang and
a few other arts use longer, thicker staffs, longer, heavier
sabers and longer, heftier swords. None of these work very well
in Chen style sets. Bagua Zhang also uses a double-headed spear
which is really hazardous when doing the Chen style moves and
|I've seen Grandmaster Zhenglei do the
usual 71 posture spear set with a spearhead on a lau gar staff.
I do not know what he had in mind. The extra length and weight
requires considerable diligence to make a one-handed move like
Blue Dragon Reaches Out the Claw look powerful and graceful.
|I have not read any comments from any
Chen Family style grandmasters about graphite or other materials
as opposed to wood, or even the different woods like oak and
rattan. I would be thrilled to hear that anyone heartily
disliked the very short and light toothpick staffs.
|I have only seen Grandmaster Zhu Tiancai
do a fan set. Far from my favorite weapon, but for those who
feel otherwise, it is probably worth noting in passing the
choices of steel versus wooden ribs and the varieties of fan
material (cloth versus paper or even a synthetic)
|At various times Grandmaster Chen
Zhenglei has done sword and saber sets with both stiff and flexible
type blades. As far as I have seen, he has always favored a
stiff kwan dao handle and blade.
|Maces or batons are a tough topic. The
actual maces are heavy and expensive. That would be okay I
suppose, but in my experience they are also very dangerous even
for an experienced student and for people around him or her.
Usually, there is not much good that comes out of working with
wooden weapons instead of steel, but in this case (and the Japanese
shinei instead of a katana) there might be an exception. Even so, some
comments about rattan versus oak would likely be in order.
|As far as I know, none of the
Grandmasters attach no special meaning to flags or tassels, let
alone their number and color. I have no idea if they think the
accessories are useful or an irritating distraction.
|Lastly, there's a tendency lately to
make longer weapons have screw-together handles. It definitely
makes transportation easier, although, that said, I am not sure
how many people haul their weapons around. © 2013 Peter F. Zoll.
All rights reserved.