Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bong Hits

Ok, the Koreans use the word bong to describe the staff. Let's get all of the jokes out of the way now. I'll be honest, I've been teaching bong at clinics, and I've always wanted to tell the host that the name of my session was "bong hits."

Now that we're all done tittering. Oops, that word probably didn't help. Are we all perpetually in fifth grade?

For the longest time, I've focused almost exclusively on bong dexterity and relating the planes of movement to that of my body. Learning to make the bong, gravity, momentum and my body work together rather than forcing each other to do things we don't want to. I was aiming for effortless bong practice. For awhile, I even became interested in "contact staff" where - as a rule -- the practitioner avoids grasping the staff altogether. Far from battle practical, this was on the far side of the martial:arts plane.



On some level, I feel that this a great example of mastery. Mastery of the bong and how it relates to the user.

But, this is a martial art. So when I pick up this staff, it has to be with the expectation that I will have to use it against another person. All of my fancy twirls will be for naught if I get my skull caved in by my opponent. Therefore, I've felt it natural that my study of the staff must now extend to how I relate my motion to that of another person. We see the same progression in empty hand sets. We learn drill and hyung, move to striking targets, heavy bags and breaking materials, and then we also practice via 1-steps, flow drills and sparring with a partner.

For me, staff is a great natural extension of the body. At first, I thought of this only from the perspective of whacking another person. Longer reach = Big win for Tom!

As I've started teaching staff, I've found that same extension also does a really good job of exposing weaknesses in my students that need to be corrected. A student who still doesn't quite "get" the concept of hands pushing and pulling in opposite direction will have a tough time covering that up with a staff in their hands. The extra momentum from whirling that staff around will expose flaws in their stance and balance. Poor grip will be exposed when their partner hits their staff for the first time.



That's it for now. I'm off to watch my google analytics to see what kind of people are coming in after searching for "bong hits."
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