As a hobby, I teach myself staff manipulation, with a little bit of stick fighting thrown in. It’s mostly tricks and flow, but I try to stay mindful of how each movement can be turned into an offensive or defensive move in a legitimate fight. I wanted to share with you guys the notes I took in preparation for a class I did with the youth at my church because of this. The term given to me was “the Art of War” when asked to do this, and what I came up with was how the foundational basics and movement coincide with our walk with Christ and wielding the power of God in the earth realm through a relationship with Him. This post is different from what I normally do, and from what most have probably ever seen, but I want to share it because it is a testament to all the things that God can speak through. I hope you all enjoy it!
Foundation-balance and footing are what make your foundation, which affects everything you do with the staff. Think of the man who built his home on the rock versus the man who built his home on the sand. The solid rock foundation was not shaken when the storm came, but the weak sand foundation was easily taken out.
Good balance stems from a tight core and proper stance with particular awareness of your feet, and where you are stepping. Bad balance stems from a relaxed or lazy core, and sloppy footwork, which creates an unsteady foundation that will hinder you.
No matter how good you are at wielding a staff, if your foundation is not correct, you cannot land a strike with the strength needed to make it effective, or you will trip and make a fool of yourself. In battle, tripping can be the death of you. You have to be aware of your foundation at all times. It is easy to get off balance when your focus waivers, and the stability of everything else is shaken when you slip up.
A solid standing foundation will prevent someone from walking up and knocking you over very easily. Different martial arts and fighting styles have different forms and stances, but a good basic foundation is feet shoulder width apart, slightly out of line with each other, and placed purposefully on the ground. Keep your core tight, but do not stiffen up. You should be able to easily bend your knees and move your torso side to side, front to back, and round and round without losing your balance. You need to be able to dodge in any direction when the enemy strikes. Otherwise, he will either land a hit, or stand back laughing when you trip over your own feet.
Relationship-there must be a relationship between you and the staff, meaning you know it inside and out—what makes it flow and spin. Spinning a heavy staff with no knowledge of how it works can hurt you and people close to you.
The staff doesn’t care if you are in the way of its path or not. Spinning raw power without knowing anything about it is dangerous, like trying to wield the power of God without His presence. The staff can easily turn its power on you, so you have to practice, get to know it, and become an extension of it.
When you become an extension of the staff, rather than it becoming an extension of you, you will flow smoother and faster than you would otherwise—like you can have Christ in you and still go and do what you want, but when you are in Christ, you go and do what He wants. A staff used as an extension of you puts limitations on something that could be limitless. It is much easier to adjust yourself to keep the flow going than to try and interrupt the staff to follow you.
In a way, you don’t control the staff, you merely give it the push it needs to become a whirlwind, guiding it enough to make the movement effective and controlled. You do the same when you take that first move to step out in faith, and then God takes over.
—With practice, you can begin to interject, changing the direction of the staff, but you still have to have the right timing to be effective. Interrupt the flow at the wrong time, and you won’t be able to transition smoothly. You have to know when you can cut in to be effective, but even then, there is a moment when the flow stops before you can get it moving again. Exerting you’re will over the staff will always put you back at square one, even if only for a moment.
Staff-symbolizes power. Miracles like the parting of the Red sea happened when Moses raised his staff, but it also brought the plagues. With power comes great responsibility. Uncontrolled power can take out innocent bystanders. A staff, even though blunt, can cause death and destruction if wielded by either someone with the wrong intentions at heart, or someone with no experience or business slinging around something they haven’t taken the time to learn respect for. Inexperience and ignorance are just as dangerous as wrong heart motives.
It takes an action from you to set things in motion, but don’t force the flow. Just adjust yourself within the flow of the staff, keep your focus on your foundation, and don’t overthink it. Like when God asks you to do something, you take the initiative to make a move, and He takes it from there. You need only make sure you are staying true to your foundation, and stay mindful of where the staff is wanting to go. Don’t try to think too far ahead into the future though, or you will loose track of the present, and possibly end up hurting yourself if you take a step out of time.
—Some of you may get a deeper meaning to all of this when I say that every bit of staff work can be translated to wielding a sword as well, but this is where I am going to end today’s post.
When I started this practice, none of this ever came to mind, but now that is has, it gives everything I do with a stick or staff an entirely new meaning. No matter your beliefs, I hope you gleaned something from my notes.