The Tai Chi staff is made in many sizes and is known as a ‘gun’, it is usually the size of the person wielding it. There is one thick end and one thin end. In China many hundreds of years ago the staff was used by the military and peasants alike due to its accessibility. Peasants were usually constricted into the army.
The ‘gun’ refers to the long staff. It is primarily used as a self defence weapon because it was so practical; developed from agricultural tools like the sickle and hoe, which are made up from a long shaft of wood. The staff is one of the oldest and most renowned of the many Chinese weapons and is one of the ‘4’ major weapons used. The Staff is referred to in China as the ‘grandfather of all weapons’.
The Tai Chi staff is usually manufactured from flexible wax wood with varying degrees of length and thickness and not bamboo, as is thought by some. The main aim of the staff is that it is used for striking, usually with the blunt part of the wood.
Both Tai Chi and kung fu schools learn to train with the staff because it is a very dynamic, flexible weapon. The Wushu system uses many spinning, aerial acrobatics while wielding the gun. The aim of some of the other Tai Chi styles is to use the staff for Chi projection and strength techniques, which are generally much more practical in their nature.
The monks in the Shaolin Temple were renowned for their use of the staff, developing fantastic fighting skills. The Tai Chi staff is usually the first of the traditional weapons that are taught to the student. The staff will help to project your energy outside of your body and help to hone your key fighting skills.