The long staff can be called as the grandfather of all weapons. It is well known and practiced in many cultures, but has different names. In China it is called gun, in Japan – bo, in Korea – bong. Also, this will be one of the first weapons a student starts to practice in Shaolin Kung Fu, the same applies in Wudang Kung Fu.
In Wudang the Baxian Gun is one of the Wudang Mountain´s treasures, the Eight Immortal Staff was created by imitating the features of the Taoist Eight Immortals. Here the softness and flexibility are the most important features. Softness is often confused, especially by westerners, to mean weakness when it actually means power without a heavy exertion of force. Using your whole body to deliver a blow like in longfist, or using your center to throw the opponent like in taichi chuan, drunken embraces both aspects. Most in the western hemisphere do not understand this, kung fu is based on physics and practicality. To understand the power of these movements requires a noble heart, yet the practitioner who achieves these abilities reaches a level of understanding how to be effective in any combat scenario.
Shaolin staff method training drills are flexible enough to be practiced in a, so called, “external” or “internal” style, depending on the focus of the practitioner. This is why Shaolin staff method is the foundation of so much long weapon training.
Chinese gun is known as one of the four major weapons, along with the spear (qiang), sabre (dao), and the straight sword (jian).
In Vietnam (as a result of Chinese influence), the gun is known as côn and is a very widespread training weapon in Vietnamese martial arts.
It is probably not possible to find the history behind the long staff or it´s source, because of it´s simplicity and easy access. But there are still legends in Chinese history behind the so well known weapon - the long staff.
We know that the bo staff originated in Okinawa, where it was used as an alternative weapon. When Emperor Sho Shin took control of the island in 1477, he banned weapons in an aim to keep the peace, a long staff was a perfect solution then.
There is a classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West”, where the immortal monkey Sun Wukong is featuring his magical staff. Nowadays Gunshu refers to the competitive event in modern wushu and is a must have in Chinese martial arts schools. Before starting to learn quans with other long weapons it is important that one learns to control the long staff. We have presendted a high quality long staff in our Wudang Store here.