Way of the Staff
Staff, Cane, Stick, Wand

Lore, Legends, Metaphors, Myths, Symbols, Ceremonial, Religious, Magical


Long Staff Weapons     Short Staff Weapons     Cane Weapons

Yun Men' Staff Turns Into a Dragon and Swallows the Universe

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Research by
Michael P. Garofalo
Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California













Staff, Cane, Stick, Wand

Lore, Legends, Metaphors, Myths, Symbols, Ceremonial, Religious, Magical



With this staff in my hand
I can measure the depths and shallows of the world.
The staff supports the heavens and makes firm the earth.
Everywhere it goes the true teaching will be spread."

-  The Gateless Barrier
- Case 44  



"Every Zen master has a staff that he cuts for himself in the mountains.  It is about seven feet long, perhaps with some of its twigs left untrimmed, and is quite ungainly in appearance.  It is a symbol of the master's status as mountain steward─ for every Zen temple is a mountain and has a mountain name, even those located in the heart of busy cities in Japan.  The master has cut his staff from wild nature in the wild mountains, which is no different from the essential nature set forth by the Buddha Sakyamuni.
    On ceremonial occasions in the Lin-chi School, the master enters the main hall with his staff, and at the appropriate moments he thumps the floor with it to punctuate the ceremony.  It has no fancy carving and is really a very ordinary thing.  But at the same time there is no thing more precious, as you will see on visiting any Zen monastery in Japan.  Each monastery has a Kaisandō─a "Founder's Hall," Kaisan meaning "One Who Opens the Mountain."  There is an image of the founder enshrined there with some of his memorabilia, always with his staff.
    It is awesome to step into the little room of the Kaisandō and feel the fierce gaze of the prior founders and notables upon you.  Behind each statue or picture is the staff which that particular Rōshi used─ long withered sticks in grotesque shapes.  The statue is the presence of the teacher.  The staff is the presence of his teaching and that of all the Buddhas before him."
-  Robert Aitken Roshi, The Gateless Barrier, Case 44, "Pa-chiao's Staff," p. 266.     



"The title of Monkey Pole, or Monkey King Staff, is a curious reference to the legendary Monkey King character from Chinese mythology. The Monkey King is a mythical figure whose exploits are described in the 400-year-old Chinese classic Journey to the West.  The Money King was an immortal, a god-like creature who was characterized by mischievous acts and defiance of the ruler of Heaven. His weapon of choice was a great rod of iron that he had stolen from the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea. He bound the ends of his staff with gold and engraved it with the words "Gold-bound Wand of my Desires."  Imbued in the staff itself were magic powers that allowed it to change size from the finest of needles to a length that could span the distance between Heaven and Earth.  The mercurial nature of the Monkey King's staff is said to represent the flexible nature of the Buddhist doctrine and its ability to be applied to all situations great and small."
-   Hung Chur Kwun - The Hung Gar Monkey Pole Set   Refer also to the major 2008 film: The Forbidden Kingdom



                                                                                           Jet Li as the Monkey King



"Monkey King", or known to the Chinese as "Journey to West", written by Wu Ch'eng-en(1500?-1582), a scholar-official, is one of the renowned classical Chinese novels about an allegorical rendition of the journey, mingled with Chinese fables, fairy tables, legends, superstitions, popular beliefs, monster stories as well as whatever the author could find in the Taoist and Buddhist religions. It was based on a true story of a famous Chinese monk, Xuan Zang (602-664). After years of trials and tribulations, he traveled on foot to what is today India, the birthplace of Buddhism, to seek for the Sutra, the Buddhist holy book. When he returned to China, or the Great Tang as was called that time, he started to translate the sutras into Chinese, thus making a great contribution to the development of Buddhism in China.
The Monkey King is an indeed rebellious extraordinary being, born out of a rock, fertilized by the grace of Heaven.  Being extremely smart and capable, he learned all the magic tricks and gongfu from a master Taoist, being able to transform a single hair from his head into seventy-two different images such as a tree, a bird, a beast of prey or a bug as small as a mosquito.  Using clouds as a vehicle he can travel 180,000 miles in a single somersault and wields a huge iron bar that supposedly serves as ballast of the seas and can expand or shrink at its owner's command - his favorite weapon in his later feats. He claims to be the King in defiance of the only authority over heaven, the seas, the earth and the subterranean world -- Yu Huang Da Di, or the "Great Emperor of Jade" in Chinese."
Adapted from HaiWang Yuan, Western Kentucky University   Refer also to the major 2008 film: The Forbidden Kingdom



The Forbidden Kingdom.  A major fantasy motion picture, distributed in 2008.  All dialogue is in English.  Starring Jackie Chan (Lu Yan the drunken Taoist immortal and an old Boston pawnshop owner), Jet Li (a quiet Buddhist monk and the immortal Monkey King), Michael Angarano (Jason, an American teenager), Liu Yifei (Golden Sparrow, a beautiful young woman seeking revenge), Li Bing Bing (the White Haired witch-sorceress), and Collin Chou (the evil Jade Warlord sorcerer).  Directed by Rob Minkoff.  Martial Arts director; Yuen Woo-Ping.  Screenplay by John Fusco.  Cinematography by Peter Pau.  Multiple producers, and distributed by the Lion's Gate Studio and the Weinstein Company.  104 minutes, DVD, with many extra features and outtakes.  This film features many beautiful and elaborate sets from the largest film studio in the world, Hengdian World Studio, or "Chinawood," near Shanghai, China.  This was the first on-screen collaboration between the famous Hong Kong actors Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

The magical staff of the Monkey King must be returned to free the Monkey King imprisoned in stone by the evil Jade Warlord, and a team of four (Chan, Li, Angarano, and Yifei) go on a quest to return the staff and must battle the evil doers (Bing, Chou) along the way.  Plenty of sorcery special effects, dramatic high flying and high quality martial arts fighting, excellent cinematography, superb scenery in China, and a complex blend of Chinese myth, lore and philosophy.  The plot will appeal more to persons under 20 years of age, followers of Chinese martial arts and lore, lovers of quests and coming of age tales, fanciers of the picturesque, and, of course, to aficionados of the staff.   Many elements from the epic Chinese story, Journey to the West, and other characters from Chinese folklore and martial arts films are integrated in this fantasy story.  Michael Angarano's character of Jason (a dreamy weak teenager transformed into a brave warrior), is a blend of Daniel LaRusso in the Karate Kid, Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings, and Dorothy in the The Wizard of Oz.  Jason is mentored and taught martial arts by Lu Yan the drunken Taoist/Zen man (played by Jackie Chan) and the quiet Buddhist monk (played by Jet Li).  Magickal time travel and shape-shifting add complex twists to the fantasy.  






Master Tung Kwo asked Chuang Tzu:
"Show me where the Tao is to be found."
Chuang Tzu replied;
"There is nowhere it is not to be found."



"By tradition the [Dragon Gate Quanzhen Daoist] priests possess seven sacred objects: “The first object is the meditation cushion which tames the monsters of the mind. The second is the robe which subdues the mischievous mind. The third is the bowl which holds only purified (meatless) food. The fourth is a straw hat for protection against wind, rain, frost, and snow. The fifth is a horse-hair whisk or fan for sweeping away the dust of the mundane world. The sixth is a bag for carrying the sacred scriptures. The seventh is a staff for clearing the obstacles that block the clear wind and bright moon of the Tao."  The priests will also apply the following cultivations in their daily life: “When walking, the gait should be like that of a crane and the body should move like an immortal floating with the winds. When sitting, the body should be still as a rock. When sleeping, it should be curved like a bow. When standing, it should be like a tall pine. Your body should be as flexible as a willow in the wind and as relaxed as the petals of a lotus.”
-   Shi Jing and Shi Dao, Introduction to Quanzhen Daoism and the Dragon Gate Tradition



The Magic Circle
John William Waterhouse



"Devi prachanda dora danda daitya
darpa winashine
Roopam dehi jayam dehi
Yasho dehi dwisho jahi.

"Oh Goddess, with your great staff you have
destroyed the demons of egoism and thought.
Grant me freedom, victory, fame and destroy all hostility."
-  Devi Puja (Worship of the Goddess)
   Krishna Das, Pilgrim Heart  



"Staves are a traditional prop for the elderly and infirm, and this has led to their association with wisdom.  The ability of a staff to perform wonders is also featured prominently in the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moses and Aaron, in their task to liberate the Hebrews from Egypt and deliver them to the Promised Land, employ staves. The staves are capable of performing miraculous feats to demonstrate the power and authority of God.  Staves are also associated with wizards and other users of magic and sorcery. Haraibou (literal translation meaning 'purification stick') were staves that were used by the miko (Japanese female exorcists) to fight demons in Japanese lore."
Wikipedia - Staff (Stick) 



"In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the king was recognized by the staff he carried. When Howard Carter in 1923 opened the tomb of young King Tutankhamen, the archeologist discovered over 130 walking sticks, many beautiful, some made of gold, and some elaborately carved—dating back to the year 1,358 B.C., more than 3,300 years ago."
Cane Quest



Display of Canes taken from King Tutankhamen's Tomb



"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, "Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man's name upon his rod. And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.  And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.  And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds. And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod."
-  Book of Numbers, 17: 1-9




”Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.” So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt."
- Exodus 7: 15-22.  Rod of Aaron, Staff of Moses



"He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. "
-  Psalms, 23:3-4



“When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.’
- Exodus 7: 9-12



"There are historical associations connected with it which give the staff a sentimental value if we look back to the first British Boy Scouts of a Culhulain armed with staffs, the pilgrims or "good turn trampers," with their cockleshells and staffs, the 'prentice bands of London with their cloth yards and their staffs, the merry men of Robin Hood with bows and quarter staffs, down to the present-day mountaineers, war-scouts, and explorers; these all afford a precedent which should have its romance and meaning to the boy if properly applied.  The ceremony of enrolment of the Scout can and should be made a moment of impressive feeling for the boy when he is invested with the hat and staff that mark the Scout, and which equip him for his pilgrimage on that path where he "turns up right and keeps straight on." The officer who fails to use such opportunity is missing one of the most important chances in the Scout life of his boy. He should expect of the boy a reverence and affection for his staff---such as the swordsman has for his sword, or the hunter for his rifle. Let the Scout individualize his own staff, even to decorate it in his own way if he likes, but let him keep to his staff. To jumble all staffs into a bundle and put them away in a corner after parade, or, worse, to let them get lost and thus excuse their appearance on parade, is to neglect a valuable help to the moral training of the lad."
-   Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, The Scout's Staff



"Professional and patient centered organizations (in fact most medical associations around the world including the World Health Organization) use the "correct" and traditional symbol of medicine, the staff of Asclepius with a single serpent encircling a staff, classically a rough-hewn knotty tree limb. Asclepius (an ancient Greek physician deified as the God of Medicine) is traditionally depicted as a bearded man wearing a robe that leaves his chest uncovered and holding a staff with his sacred single serpent coiled around it, symbolizing renewal of youth as the serpent casts off its skin. The single serpent staff also appears on a Sumerian vase (circa 2000 BCE) representing the Healing God Ningishita, a prototype of the Greek Asklepios."
-   The Caduceus vs the Staff of Asclepius (Asklepian)





"Basho said to his disciple: "When you have a staff, I will give it to you. If you have no staff, I will take it away from you." 

Mumon's comment:
When there is no bridge over the creek the staff will help me. When I return home on a moonless night the staff will accompany me. But if you call this a staff, you will enter hell like an arrow.

With this staff in my hand
I can measure the depths and shallows of the world.
The staff supports the heavens and makes firm the earth.
Everywhere it goes the true teaching will be spread."
-  Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Paul Reps and Nyogen Zenzaki, The Gateless Barrier - Case 44   



The Song of the Staff
By Milarepa

"Listen, my dear, inquisitive patron!
Do you know who I am?
I am the Yogi, Milarepa,
Who follows the ascetic way;
I am a yogi, great in strength and perseverance,
Who has no limitation.

The staff in my hand
Grew on a huge rock.
It was cut by a sickle and became
A companion of wild stags.

It came from Nepal, in the South;
From it I hung the Mahayana Sutras;
I take it with me to the marketplace;
It was offered to me by a faithful follower.
This is the story of my walking staff.
If you do not understand my meaning,
Listen then with great care:

The stout end, cut from near the root,
Symbolizes being "cut off" from Samsara.
The thin end, cut from near the top,
Symbolizes the "cutting off of all doubts and confusions.
It is two cubits long and represents
The twin qualities of a Buddhist.  

Of good quality and pliant, it is like
The original Mind-Essence - good and sound.
The varnish, of a pleasant brown, is like
The great harmony of the "Original Mind Nature."

Straight and supple, it symbolizes
Unmistaken practice and devotion.

The tiny grooves you see, represent
the Perfection of the Bodhi-Path,
The four joints in the cane
Are the For Infinite Wishes,
The three knots symbolize
the Three Bodies of the Buddha.

It never changes color.  This represents
The immutable reality of the Root Principle.
Its head, curved and covered, displays
The "beyond-playwords" nature of reality'
Its white glittering appearance shows
The Dharmakaya - immaculate and pure.

The hollows symbolize the void nature of all beings,
The spots are a symbol of the sole Tig Le.
The scattered black marks indicate
that Tibetan yogis and Repas
Have few disturbing thoughts.  

This cane most excellent represents
My devotion and practice in compliance with the Dharma.
Its elegance and loveliness displays
My disciples' sincerity and faith.

The iron ferrrule on the tip conveys
The perseverance of yogis in the hermitage.
The handle, wrapped with copper, represents
the mastery and attraction of Dakinis.  

The nail attached to the tip displays
The bravery and diligence of yogis;
The hanging brass ring represents
The increase of inner merits.

The ornament of Sha Bran hanging down
Is the flexible understanding of the yogi.
The thong of two twisted ropes represents
The entering of the Two-in-One Path;
The Mother-and-Son thongs intermingling,
The meeting with the Mother of the Three Bodies.

The bone-ornaments hanging on the staff
Mean many travels for the yogi.
The flint and bellow signify
That all he sees and meets
Are the yogi's friends.

The white shell hanging on the staff
Means that I shall turn the Wheel of Dharma.
The rag of leather symbolizes
The yogi's attitude, without fear or shame.

The mirror hanging on the staff
Is the Enlightenment that shines within.
The sharp knife indicates
That the pain of passions will be cut.
The stone-crystal symbolizes
The purifying of defiled habitual thoughts.

The ivory chain hanging on the staff
Is the Chain-of-Regard between Guru and disciple.
The set of bells symbolizes
My widespread reputation;
The woolen cords of read and white,
That my disciples will be numerous.  

The handsome staff that now I hold
Is the means and symbol of the conquest over evil beings.

Patron, you ask me for the meaning of this staff;
This proves you have sincerity and faith.
This present meeting witnesses
Our pure wishes in a former life.

For mankind and Devas, conceivers of all symbols,
I have sung this "Song of the White Staff."
Revere then and appreciate its Dharma teaching.
Dear patron, I hope your practice Dharma 
And win happiness supreme."

-   Milarepa, "The Song of the Staff" from
    "The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa."
    Translated by C. C. Chang, 1962, 1989, Volume One, p. 190-199 







"Vajrayogini/Vajravarahi ranks first and most important among the dakinis. She is the "Sarva-buddha-dakini" the Dakini Who is the Essence of all Buddhas. Although there are a number of visual representations of Vajrayogini, certain attributes are common to all: She is mostly shown as young, naked, and standing in a desirous or dancing posture. She holds a blood-filled skull cup in one hand and a curved knife (kartr or dri-gug) in the other. Often she wears a garland of human skulls or severed heads; has a khatvanga staff leaning against her shoulder; her usually wild hair flowing down her neck and back; her face in a semi-wrathful expression. Her radiant red body is ablaze with the heat of yogic fire and surrounded by the flames of wisdom."



"The word danda, besides signifying staff, club, stick, rod, has also the meaning of corporeal punishment, chastisement, subjection, control, restrain. Self-control is exercised by the danduas (devotees) not only by the way of fasting for a number of days which varies between 18 and 21 (starting from the full moon of the month of Chaitra up to the beginning of the solar month of Baisakh), but also by performing physical exertions of different kind.  Although all sections of population can take part in the rituals, we find that in most villages where danda is performed, the majority of the danduas are from the paik or martial communities2 and the pata dandua himself is the leader of the paik akhada of the same village.  It is certainly difficult to trace the historical reasons for this connection, but elements of self-discipline, physical fitness and vigorous dance involved in the performance of danda together with the fact that both forms of physical expressions placed in the background of the Shiva-Shakti cult can be brought to explain at least in part the cultural link."
Danda Ritual Five Elements





"Viparita Danda: Viparita: “inverted,” danda: literally “staff” or “stick.” A staff given during investiture of the sacred thread. A staff or sceptre as a symbol of power and sovereignty.  In the Devanagari script, the danda is a punctuation character. The glyph consists of a single vertical stroke. In Hindi, the danda marks the end of a sentence, a function which it shares with the full stop (period) in many written languages based on the Latin, Cyrillic, or Greek alphabets.  Because of the shape of the danda glyph, the word danda is also a slang term for penis."
-   Leaping Lanka  



"The walking stick or "cane" has long held a place in man's history, its roots leading back to the "big stick" wielded by prehistoric man as a weapon of both self-defense and aggression.  Civilized man carried on the tradition. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks represented their rulers and gods carrying staffs which symbolized authority. These staffs became the scepters of kings during the Middle Ages.  The staff's role as an aid to travel was exemplified in the hands of pilgrims and shepherds. These wooden staffs usually were heavy sticks about 5 feet long. Very often the tops of the sticks held secret compartments for carrying valuables or for smuggling contraband. Records show that silkworm eggs were smuggled into Europe via a hollow staff. The first tulip bulb introduced into Holland also was reported to have made a similar entrance."
The Walking Stick in History, Vigo County Historical Society



"A khakkhara (Sanskrit: "sounding staff"; English: monk staff; Chinese and Japanese: 錫杖, shakujō; Mandarin: xīzhąng, literally "tin stick") is a Buddhist ringed staff used primarily in prayer[1][2] or as a weapon, that originates from India.[3] The jingling of the staff's rings is used to warn small sentient beings (i.e. insects) to move from the carrier's path and avoid being accidentally trodden on. In ancient times it was used also to scare away dangerous animals. Ringing also is used to alert the faithful that there is a monk within earshot in need of alms. In the Sarvāstivāda vinaya the khakkhara is called the "sounding staff" because of the tinkling sound the rings make.  A khakkhara may have either four rings representing the Four Noble Truths, six rings representing the Six Perfections, or twelve rings representing the twelvefold chain of cause and effect. A four ring khakkhara is carried by novice monks, a six ring khakkhara is carried by a Bodhisattva, and a twelve ring khakkhara is carried by the Buddha. Most commonly seen are those with six rings which have also been claimed to represent the six states of existence (humans, animals, hell, hungry ghosts, gods, and asuras).  In Chinese monasteries, the abbot of the temple usually wields the staff during grand ceremonies, symbolizing the hierarchy of the abbot. The abbot would usually take the khakkhara and strike the ground thrice then shaking it, symbolizing the breaking of ignorance and calling out to all beings.  The wooden shaft can either be long for use as a walking stick or short to accompany in chanting. As a staff, the khakkhara could be wielded as a weapon; in Chinese wuxia novels the khakkhara is often the weapon of warrior monks, especially those of Shaolin Temple. It has been used in defensive techniques by traveling Buddhist monks all over Asia for centuries and monks at the Shaolin temple in China specialized in its use.  In Japan the shakujō became a formidable weapon in the hands of a practiced Buddhist monk. It could be used as a staff to block and parry attacks and the metal rings at the tip could be slammed into an opponent's face to momentarily blind him. At the very tip of the metal finial is a sharp point which can be used to attack weak points of the body. The bottom end of the khakkhara has a metal butt which can be used to thrust and hit an opponent. An opponent's weapons can also be easily deflected.  A notable carrier of the staff is the Ksitigarbha, the bodhisattvas of children and travelers. He is usually depicted holding a khakkhara in his right hand.  The khakkhara is the symbol of the Dharma and one of the eighteen objects which a Buddhist monk must carry. Once popularly carried by monks of most Buddhist sects, today it is rarely seen. Shōrinji Kempō also contains methods of self-defense using the khakkhara but these methods are rarely practiced today.  In popular fiction, fictional Buddhists and Tengu are often depicted carrying and even fighting with a khakkhara."
Khakkhara, Wikipedia






"Staff, Scepter.  Sanskrit: Danda.  Tibetan: Berk-Ka, dByug-pa, hprul-gyis.  Many of the various staffs, sticks, and scepters occurring in depictions of Indo-Tibetan deities are often simply named danda, a term that is rather ambivalent; i.e. not discriminating between the specific forms, shapes and symbolism associated with this attribute. Although usually made from wood, a danda is sometimes made from human bone. Sometimes, it is topped by a human skull, at other times by a vajra; in some cases by both. Gada: Club."
-   Danda 



"Gonnosuke withdrew to a Shinto shrine at Mount Homan in Chikuzen province, (modern-day, Fukuoka Prefecture), where he would practice daily in perfecting his swordsmanship, praying and performing shinto purifying rituals for 37 days. It is also said, however, that he spent several years on the road studying other martial arts in various dojos until he ended up in the Shinto-shrine. After one of his regular (exhausting) training sessions he collapsed from fatigue and reputably had a vision of a divine being in the form of a child, saying to Gonnosuke: "know the solar plexus [of your opponent] with a round stick". In another version he had the vision in a dream late at night. He took it upon himself to create the jo deliberatly longer than the average katana of the day, 128 cm as opposed to the swords total length of approx. 100 cm, and use that length to his advantage in a fight. Gonnosuke, drawing on his own considerable experience with the spear, longstaff, naginata and sword, also devised a set of five jo-techniques for use to counter and defeat a swordsman. Arguably he also developed techniques to specifically hinder Musashi's trade-mark x-block.

As the tradition goes, Gonnosuke, now armed with the jo, would again face Musashi in a duel and defeat him through the use of the superior length of the jo to keep Musashis swords out of range of Gonnosuke and thus hinder him from using the X-shaped technique effectively. Gonnosuke had Musashi at his mercy but let him live as a way of returning the favour granted in the first duel. Musashi, who was said to be impressed by how Gonnosuke had learned humility from his earlier arrogance and his new skills, made friends with Gonnosuke, and they would be each other companions during their travels.  The claim that Musashi was defeated, (at all), is still a matter of debate and is generally taken with a grain of salt."
-   Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi (circa 1600), Wikipedia Article 



"In Zen Buddhism, the keisaku (Japanese: 警策; kyōsaku in the Soto school) is a flat wooden stick or slat used during periods of meditation to remedy sleepiness or lapses of concentration. This is accomplished through a strike or series of strikes, usually administered on the meditator's back and shoulders in the muscular area between the shoulder blades and the spine. The keisaku itself is thin and somewhat flexible; strikes with it, though they may cause momentary sting if performed vigorously, are not injurious.  The word "Keisaku" may be translated as "warning stick", and is wielded by the jikijitsu. "Encouragement stick" is a common translation for "kyosaku". In Soto Zen, the Kyosaku is always administered at the request of the meditator, by way of bowing one's head and putting the palms together in gassho, and then exposing each shoulder to be struck in turn. In Rinzai Zen, the stick is requested in the same manner, but may also be used at the discretion of the Ino, the one in charge of the meditation hall. Even in such cases, it is not considered a punishment, but a compassionate means to reinvigorate and awaken the meditator who may be tired from many sessions of zazen."
-  Keisaku, Zen Encouragement Stick 



"Seng Chou, another famous martial arts monk, is well known in the history of Shaolin Temple. He was one of the most knowledgeable and respected monks and a great martial artist. He later became a great abbot traveling throughout the country spreading the scripture of Buddhism. He had thousands of disciples. Once, Seng Chou was walking in the forest and saw two tigers were in a fierce fight. He attacked the tigers with a cane. The tigers got angry with him. His great fighting sensibility, his light Qigong and his endurance finally wore the tigers out. He broke the tiger's fight up and gave the tigers a good lesson by defeating them both, though he broke his cane."
History of Shaolin



"The stick is the ancestral weapon. Even our closest cousins – chimpanzees and bonobos – have been observed fighting with sticks.  There are many kinds of fighting sticks. In English, stick, staff, bat, baton, rod, cudgel and truncheon; in Chinese, gun, bang, chang and more.  In Shaolin weapons training, mastery of the short stick is the foundation of sword technique. Mastery of the long staff is the foundation of pole-arm technique. In our school specifically,



"Jodo should be done to build one's character.  Jodo should be like a steering wheel. The road is life.  There are all kinds of ways one can go down the road.  Use Jodo to steer as straight a course as possible through life."
Sensei Shimizu Takaji



"In Chinese shamanism, a staff represents the power of the universe.  With a staff, a shaman had the power to pass on the universal knowledge to others.  Later, when teachers took over part of the shaman's job, they always taught with a small staff in their hands like a shaman."
-   Master Zhongxian Wu, Vital Breath of the Dao, p. 106  



" Li Tie Guai, is one of the Taoist Eight Immortals. 'Tie guai" means "iron walking cane." Legend says his real name was Li Xuan. There are many stories about him. Originally he was a handsome, strong, tall man. One day he told his disciple that he was going to meet Lao zi and would be gone for seven days. If his shen spirit did not return to his body form on the seventh day, his disciple should burn the body. So he sat in deep meditation and his soul went to the meeting. Unfortunately on the sixth day the disciple's mother was in critical condition and he had to leave the temple to take care of her. The disciple had no other choice but to burn his teacher's body. Soon Li's soul came back but could not find his body. In the forest he found a man who had just died of hunger, so he went inside. He discovered the body had only one leg. Just when he was going to get out of that body he heard someone laughing and clapping hands. It was Lao zi, who stopped him from jumping out of the body. "Tao does not care about the appearance," he said. "This look of yours is fine. As long as your hair is plenty, you are still a real celestial." Lao zi gave him a gold band to hold the messy hair and an iron walking cane. Li Tie guai often carries a bottle gourd on his back when he comes to visit our world. The bottle gourd contains herbal remedies that have magic powers and he uses them to cure people and save their lives."
Taoist Eight Immortals, Eight Immortals



"The Daoist Rituals of the Pervasive Mystery and Numinous Treasure states: "all those who learn Daoism should master the Nine-Segment Staff. It assists old people and saves people in emergencies, and has different names. It is necessary to know it."  The nine segments of the staff are named after the constellations, namely the Taihuang Constellation, the Yinghuo Constellation, the Jiao Constellation, the Heng Constellation, the Zhang Constellation, the Yingshi Constellation, the Zhen Constellation, the Dongjing Constellation and the Ju Constellation. When Daoist priests make Magical Staffs, "they must select famous mountains and Blissful Realms, clean the region and any ruins, take clean bamboo facing south on an auspicious day, measuring five chi and five fen long and containing nine segments, and put it in a quiet and clean place. On the days of Jiawu, Bingwu and Dingmao, or the third day of the third lunar month, the fifth day of the fifth month, the seventh day of of the seventh month, and the ninth day of the ninth month, the priests slightly bend the first segment of bamboo to the left and to the right slightly. Then they open four holes below the the first segment to insert the secret names of the Four Sacred Mountains, and open one hole in the center at the top of the bamboo to insert the secret name of the Sacred Mountain of the Centre. Later, they fill the middle part of the bamboo with Numinous Scriptures and seal the whole with wax. Those who specially take the staff with them for cultivation fill it with the Talisman of the Five Emperors.  Silk fabrics with yellow figures are used as pouches that are just large enough to hold a staff". In the rituals of Fasts and Offerings, Daoist priests can summon spirits or heavenly generals and destroy hells according to rules with Magical Staffs made in this way. "Point to Heaven with the staff and the heavenly spirits will pay homage; point to Earth with the staff and the Earth Spirits will welcome the Daoist; point to the northeast with the staff and the bodies of all the ghosts will be controlled". When the Ritual Master performs rituals, he often hangs a small yellow seven-cun long streamer under the second segment of the staff, on which are written the title of the Heavenly Lord of Salvation from Misery in the Ten Directions15 and the Talisman of Mysterious Transformations of the Ten Directions. The Great Law of the Numinous Treasure of the Highest Clarity by Wang Qizhen says that when the ritual master destroys hells, he gazes at the staff and "transforms it into a pillar in the form of the dragon's head and the tiger's tail. The dragon is brilliant and holds a splendid streamer in its mouth. Numinous wind and auspicious clouds coil around the dragon, shining limitlessly".
-  Chen Yaoting.  Magical Staffs in Taoist Rituals 






Chinese Chan Buddhist Master Baqiao said to a group, "If you have a staff, I will give you a staff; if you have no staff, I will take your staff away."

Wumen added, "It helps you across a river where bridges are out, and gets you back to the village when there is no moon.  If your call it a staff, you go to hell
fast as an arrow." 

Zen Master Wuzhou added, "Baqiao raised his staff, startling all creation: shrimp may fly past the heavens, but eyebrows are still above eyes."

"With this staff in my hand
I can measure the depths and shallows of the world.
The staff supports the heavens and makes firm the earth.
Everywhere it goes the true teaching will be spread." 

-  "Unlocking the Zen Koan: A New Translation of the Zen Classic
   Wumenguan."  Translated by Thomas Cleary, 1993, 1997, p. 195.  



"The peerless master moves with his group from place to place in the mountains.  His small band contains two highly advanced American disciples.  After Babaji has been in one locality for some time he says, 'Dera danda uthao,' 'Let us lift our camp and staff.'  He carries a symbolic danda (bamboo staff).  His words are the signal for moving with his group instantaneously to another place.  He does not always employ this method of astral travel; sometimes he goes on foot from peak to peak."
-  Told by Swami Kebalananda to Paramhansa Yogananda in 1920, Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 294.



"A monk asked, "What's the essential meaning of Zen?"
Xita replied, "You don't have Buddha nature."
The monk said, "What is sudden enlightenment?"
Xita drew a circle in the ground with his staff.
The monk asked, "What is gradual enlightenment?"
Xit poked the middle of the empty space three times with his staff."
Zen's Chinese Masters, 2000, p. 208
   Translated by Andy Ferguson



Deshan said to the monks, "If you speak you get thirty blows.  If you don't speak, you get thirty blows."

Yantou later said, "Old Deshan usually just relied on a white staff.  If the Buddha came he hit him. 
If an ancestor came he hit him.  Why does he have so many students."
Zen's Chinese Masters, 2000, p. 199



"The morality-jewel inherent in the Buddha-nature stamps itself on the mind-ground of the enlightened one;
Whose robe is cut out of mists, clouds, and dews,
Whose bowl anciently pacified the fiery dragons,
And whose staff once separated the fighting tigers;
Listen now to the golden rings of his staff giving out mellifluous tunes.
These are not, however, mere symbolic expressions, devoid of historical contents;
Wherever the holy staff of Tathagatahood moves, the traces are distinctly marked."
Sacred Buddhist Scriptures 



"The staff (Danda) is symbolic for the spine supporting the body.  Since man's emergence for the animal kingdom he has walked erect.  The levels of consciousness are in the spine where the life force is dominant.  The base of the spine [Muladhara Cakra] is the place where the Kundalini Energy (Divine Coiled Serpent) is located.
    Khatvanga (Staff with Skull on Top) is symbolic of a pure or empty mind, one which is free from preconceived ideas which block the way for new perceptions, particularly Divine insight, that is, insight by intuition during meditation, reflection or quietness.  In contrast to the perconceived ideas stands true knowledge, which is knowing from personal experience.  Information is often mistaken for knowledge.  The skull is mounted on a staff (the spine).  The Kundalini Energy can then rise in the Sahasrara.  The flow of the Divine energy through the staff or spine, into the empty skull, the mind free of preconceived ideas, is an experience that shakes one's whole foundation."
-   Kundalini: Yoga for the West.  By Swami Sivananda Radha.  Timeless Books, 1978.  p.41



"With his staff across his back, he pays no heed to men;
Quickly entering the myriad peaks, he goes upon his way.
Fearsome and solitary in mien, he does not boast of himself;
But, dwelling gravely in his domain, decides who is snake, who is Dragon."
-   Zenrin Kushu, Miura and Sasaki  



"The bo, or staff, is one of the earliest tools to be used by man. Initially it may have been merely a sapling or a long, straight branch which was used for hunting animals for sources of food or fur hides. The wooden staff also facilitated passage over rugged and mountainous terrain. In an agrarian setting it served as a multi-purpose tool for planting crops, carrying supplies, and transporting buckets of water for the irrigation of crops. In the ancient records of Chinese martial arts, the bo is discussed as the first weapon taught to the Zen Buddhist disciples who studied at the Shaolin Temple. There are literary and pictorial references to Bodhidharma carrying a bo on his journeys as he taught Zen Buddhism in the regions near the Shaolin Temple. One account from a biography on Bodhidharma tells of his death in 528 AD from the poison of a jealous monk. It is told that three years later his body was exhumed due to rumors he had been seen travelling in the mountains of Central Asia. Bodhidharma was said to carry a staff from which hung a single sandal. He had stated he was on his way back to India. When the curious monks opened his tomb, all they found inside was a single sandal. Ever since then Bodhidharma has been pictured carrying a staff from which hangs the missing sandal."
-   Sa Kwon: Chinese Bo




Legend of Bodhidharma's (Damo) Single Sandal on His Staff



"So I took the bright red stick and at the center of the nation's hoop I thrust it in the earth.  As it touched the earth it leaped mightily in my hand and was a waga chun, the rustling tree [cottonwood], very tall and full of leafy branches and of all birds singing.  And beneath it all the animals were mingling with the people like relatives and making happy cries.  The women raised their tremolo of joy, and the men shouted all together; "Here we shall raise our children, and be as little chickens under the mother sheo's [prairie hen] wing."  Then I heard the white wind blowing gently through the tree and singing there, and from the east the sacred pipe came flying on its eagle wings, and stopped before me there beneath the tree, spreading deep peace around it."
Black Elk Speaks, 1932, p. 29, as told to John G. Neihardt.  



"Whirled by the three passions, one's eyes go blind;
Closed to the world of things, they see again.
In this way I live; straw-hatted, staff in hand,
I move illimitably, through earth, through heaven."
-   Ungo (1580-1659)



"Jodo should be done to build one's character.  Jodo should be like a steering wheel. The road is life.  There are all kinds of ways one can go down the road.  Use Jodo to steer as straight a course as possible through life."
Sensei Shimizu Takaji  



"The stick here is a kind of cane about seven feet long.  It was at first a practical walking stick carried by a Zen monk on his training journey. Now it is often used in ceremonies, and Zen Masters frequently make use of it in mondo and teisho.  In some cases it symbolically represents "the One Truth pervading the universe," "original Buddha Nature," "True Self," or "the fundamental 'it' "."
-  Zenkei Shibayama Roshi, The Gateless Barrier, 2000, p. 304, Case 44 "Basho and a Stick."





"Shuzan held out his short staff and said: "If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"
Mumon's comment: If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. It cannot be expressed with words and it cannot be expressed without words. Now say quickly what it is.

Holding out the short staff,
He gave an order of life or death.
Positive and negative interwoven,
Even Buddhas and patriarchs cannot escape this attack."
Mumonkan #43

Chinese Chan Buddhist Master Shoushan held up a bamboo staff before a group and said, "If you call it a bamboo staff, you are clinging.  If you do not call it a bamboo staff, you are ignoring.  So tell me, what do you call it?"  - Wumenquan, # 43.  



"A monk asked Kenpo, "The one road of Nirvana leads into the ten quarters. But where does it begin?" 
Kenpo raised his staff and traced a horizontal line in the air and said, "Here."
Disappointed, the monk went to Yunmen asked him the same question.
Ummon held up his staff and said, "This staff  leaps up to the 33rd heaven and hits the presiding deity on the nose, then it dives down into the Eastern Sea where it hits the holy carp.
The carp becomes a dragon which then brings a flood of rain." 
List of Koans by Yunmen Wenyan 



"The staff makes the body a little lighter,
If used the way it's supposed to be used,
And makes moving through the forest brighter
If skill and technique is not abused.

"Three points of contact" is the defensive shield
That can cut down on many a fall,
When a stick, limb, or vine is suddenly revealed
And a spill down a hill might call.

When heavy undergrowth does appear
And penetration is the thing to do,
The staff is the perfect tool to have near
To create a path you can go through."
-  James Ebb Huggins, Jr., The Walking Staff



"Shaolin Kung Fu is famous for its staff, which has become an unofficial symbol of Shaolin weapons.  Philosophically, the Shaolin staff manifests what Shaolin Kung Fu stands for: simple yet versatile, hardy yet compassionate.  It is difficult to find a weapon simpler than a staff, yet the techniques for other weapons, like the spear, halberd, mace, battle axe, scimitar, sword or dagger, are all incorporated in staff training.  A staff, like a Shaolin disciple, is made for all seasons.  And though it is hardy, its combat application is a hallmark of compassion, since it is devoid of any sharp or pointed parts which can maim or kill an opponent."
-   Wong Kiew Kit, The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan, 1996, p. 280.  




"The correct use of the bo (sai, tonfa, kama, naginata, sword) can produce a stimulating and practical means of "extension" training. It offers a means of martial arts training and discipline. Weapons training teaches the meaning of control, timing, distance, and flexibility as one unit. The practitioner is required to possess speed, coordination, strength, and endurance in utilizing the respective weapons."
History of the Bo Staff



"This Immortal was named Li Tie Guai and referred to as "Iron Cane" Li because of the iron crutch that he carried.  Li is always depicted as a beggar with a crutch.  The story is told that he had attained such a high level of magic skill that he was often called from Earth to the Celestial Heavens to perform his magic. When Li traveled to the celestial regions, he traveled only in spirit, leaving his body on Earth in the charge of one of his disciples.  On one occasion, Li was gone longer than usual and the disciple thought that Li had actually died.  So, he burned his body.  When Li returned to Earth and found that his body was gone, he looked for the body of a recently deceased individual to enter.  The only body he could find was the body of a lame beggar.  Li entered this body and thus is always depicted as a beggar with an iron crutch.  He also carries a pilgrim's gourd and he is sometimes shown standing with a deer or standing on a crab.  It was said that Li Tie Guai possessed the supreme swordsmanship but most often appeared poor, down trodden, and acted like a clown - not having a care in the world.  Lu Shui-Tian said that Li's contribution to the Eight Immortals Sword was strategy because he appeared as a clown and beggar yet possessed the highest sword skill of all of the Eight Immortals."
Pa Kua Chang 



"Lee Tie Guai's direction is south, and his element is fire. He’s shown as a street beggar, carrying a magic staff and an iron crutch. His staff and the gourd that he also carries are symbols of medicine, and he can create medicines due to his mastery of energy. He’s a benevolent saint, believed to help the poor and the sick. He occasionally travels to the Heavens in the form of a dragon, but also visits Earth when needed, rising a chimera."


Lee Tie Guai, an Eight Immortal


"The Master with the Iron Crutch [Li T‘ieh-kuai, Lee Tie Guai] offers a striking contrast to the other members of the group. Hideous, hairy, deformed, and scantily clad in filthy rags, he is the type of that repulsive legion haunting to the present day every city in China, and preying upon a long-suffering public, which is moved to the giving of alms not so much by pity as by feelings of horror and fear. His recognized emblem is the bottle-gourd or calabash that forms part of the equipment of every hsien; and to the gourd is generally added a more distinctive object, his crutch. A mysterious vapour—a kind of fata Morgana—floats upwards from the mouth of the gourd, and in its midst is seen the image of the sage's hun, which may appear in nondescript shape as in our woodcut, or in the guise of a miniature double of his bodily self. Sometimes the hun is replaced by a spherical object representing the "Philosopher's Stone".  In the form with which nature endowed him, the sage Li T‘ieh-kuai was a fine man of imposing presence.  While yet of tender age he heard Tao. Choosing a mountain cave for his abode, he set himself to the cultivation of mental and physical purity as taught by the Taoists. Li Lao Chün (Lao Tzŭ) and The Master Wan Ch‘iu used often to come down from heaven to visit his rocky hermitage in order to instruct him in the subject of his studies.  One day T‘ieh-kuai was going to meet Lao Chün by appointment on Hua Shan, and so he gave a pupil of his the following instructions: "My p‘o," said he, will remain here while my hun goes upon a journey. If by chance in seven days' time my hun has not returned, you may then burn the p‘o."  The pupil received an urgent message to visit his sick mother, and, impatient of delay, burnt his master's body on the sixth day. The following day in due course T‘ieh-kuai returned to find his p‘o gone, and no habitation left for his hun, till he spied lying near by the corpse of one who had died of starvation. Into it the wandering soul entered, giving it new life; and that is the reason why Li T‘ieh-kuai, instead of his original handsome appearance, has now the loathsome shape of a cripple."
-  W. Perceval Yetts, 1916, The Eight Immortals



"Remarkably most legends involving saints with a staff as their characteristic object, tell us a tale featuring a key element of human existence: water.  According to these stories the staff itself is an instrument enabling the saint to strike a wellspring.  Obviously the well itself became a site of worship and eventually even pilgrimage.  Either because it had been struck by someone who would later be a saint (the association with the holy person), or thanks to the Christianization of the sacred source or pool." 
-  Gerard J. Van Den Broek, The Return of the Cane, p. 69    [Dowsing]



"Zen Master Yunmen once took his staff and struck a pillar in the hall, saying, "Are the three vehicles and twelve divisions of scripture talking?"
He then answered himself by saying, "No, they're not talking."
Then he shouted, "Bah!  A wild fox spirit!"
A monk asked, "What does the master mean?"
Yunmen said, "Mr. Shang drinks the wine, and Mr. Li gets drunk."
Zen's Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings.  Translated and compiled by Andy Ferguson, 2000, p. 263



"Zen Master Seung Sahn, holding up the Zen stick, asked "Do you see?"
Hitting the ground with the Zen stick, he asked "Do you hear?"
He then said, "Already you see clearly. Already you hear clearly.
Then, what are this stick, this sound and your mind?
Are they the same or different?
If you say "same," I will hit you thirty times.
If you say "different," I will also hit you thirty times.
-   Zen Master Seung Sahn 




"I have no fitting gifts to give you at our parting ... But take these staves.  They may be of service to those who walk or climb in the wild."
-   J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers



"Mayoku arrived at Shokei's place holding his staff.  He walked three times around the meditation seat of Shokei and then thumped his staff once.
Shokei said, "Right!  Right!" 
Later, Mayoku went to Nansen's place, walked three times around the meditation seat of Nansen, and then thumped his staff once.  Nansen said,
"Wrong!  Wrong!"  Mayoku asked Nansen, "Shokei said 'right.' Why do you say 'wrong?."  Nansen said, "For Shokei it is right.  For you it is wrong.  What
comes from the power of wind in the end becomes broken and crumbled."
-  Gerry Wick and Bernie Glassman, Book of Equanimity, p. 51 



"One of the standard themes of Zen art is the staff.  The staff is an all-purpose Zen tool -- a symbol of authority, a walking stick, an implement for imparting discipline.  This single-stroke Zen staff has no other writing on the paper, but it is filled with seal impressions -- one of Unmon Sokudo's (1690-1765) trademarks.  One interpretation would be that Sokudo is telling his students. "Anywhere you look, I will be there, ready to give you a good whack!""
Shambhala Publications  



Ummon's Staff Becoming a Dragon, Case 60, Blue Cliff Record

"Engo's Introduction:  Buddhas and sentient beings are not, by nature, different.  Mountains, rivers, and your own self are all just the same.  Why should they be separation and constitute two worlds?  Even if you are well versed in Zen koans and know how to deal with them, if you stop then everything is spoiled.  If you do not stop, the whole world will be dissolved, with not a particle of it left behind.  Now tell me, what does it mean to be well versed in Zen koans?  See the following.

MAIN SUBJECT:  Ummon held out his staff and said to the assembled monks, "The staff has transformed itself into a dragon and swallowed up the universe!  Where are the mountains, the rivers, and the great world?"

Setchō's Verse:

The staff has swallowed up the universe?
Don't say peach blossoms float on the waters.
The fish that gets it tail singed
May fail to grasp the mist and clouds.
The ones that lie with gills exposed
Need not loose heart.
My verse is done.
But do you really hear me?
Only be carefree!  Stand unwavering!
Why so bewildered?
Seventy-two blows are not enough
I want to give you a hundred and fifty.

[Setchō descended from the rostrum waving his staff. The whole crowd ran away.]"

Two Zen Classics: Mumonkan and Hekiganroku  Translated with commentaries by Katsuki Sekida.  Edited and introduced by A. V. Grimstone.  New York, Weatherhill, 1977.  Index, 413 pages.  ISBN: 0834801302.  Blue Cliff Record, Hekiganroku, Case 60, p. 311-314.

Mike Garofalo's Comments on Case 60



Hakuin's Dragon Staff Inka Scroll

Zen Master Hakuin (1686-1768) painted a Dragon Staff with horsehair whisk attached.  
He would give this painting to his lay students who passed the Zen koan,
"What is the sound of one hand clapping."




"Speak and you get Nanten's staff,
Do not speak and you still get Nanten's staff."
-   Zen Koan
    Take a look at the Zen painting of Nanten's staff by Nakahara Nantembo (1839-1925)
    Zen Masters would pound their ceremonial staff on the ground when making a point during a lecture or discussion.  
    For more Zen Koans using the staff as a teaching prop see below



Zen Staff by Unmon Sokudo (1690-1765)






Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way

The Wise Teacher with the Magic (Wondorous, Amazing, Powerful) Staff, Shifu Miao Zhang, 师傅妙杖

Sayings and Answers to Questions by Shifu Miao Zhang






    "Mayoku walked around his old Daoist friend, Shifu Miao Zhang (师傅妙杖), three times and then thumped his staff on the ground. 
Maio Zhang stood up, walked around Mayoku once, tapped his cane three times on the wall, and said "The power of the wind can topple trees and is gone by morning.  My cane can cut through the wind."  

Zhaozhou, who had been in poor health, asked his friend Miao Zhang, "Do the bees have Buddha nature?"  Miao Zhang smiled and said, "The roses are so fragrant today, and the cherries so sweet.  Let's walk in the garden and leave our crutches behind." 

    Gathering together in an orchard of blooming sweet lime trees, the students waited for their esteemed teacher, Kasyapa.  Slowly walking down the dirt path, relying on his danda walking staff for balance, Kasyapa joined his students.  He sat quietly for a long time, enjoying the fragrance of the lime blossoms.  Finally, he raised his danda staff.  Everyone stared at Kasyapa - serious, intent, focused, and silent.  Only Shifu Miao Zhang smiled, and then lifted his cane and pointed at a lime blossom.  Kasyapa pointed his danda at Shifu Zhang.  Another transmission was completed.  The sacred thread remained unbroken.    

    Nan-ch'uan asked Miao Zhang, "Is Ordinary Mind the Dao?"  Miao Zhang said, "No.  My mind is not ordinary, so the Dao is a dream within a dream.  My cane is ordinary, so it walks with me along the Watercourse Way, pointing to the Abode of the Dao in the new forest."  

    Zen Master Seung Sahn held up his staff in front of old Shifu Miao Zhang, and said "Then, Miao Zhang, what are this staff, this sound and your mind?  Are they the same or different?  If you say "same," I will hit you thirty times.  If you say "different," I will also hit you thirty times. Why?"
Miao Zhang lifted his cane slowly, grounded himself, prepared to block a strike and then said, "Don't know! Same or different, nobody can hit the sound of our minds." 

    Zen Master Shuzan held out his short staff in front of his Daoist friend, Shifu Miao Zhang, and said "If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality and are clinging. If you do not call it a short staff, then you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"
Miao Zhang smiled, dropped and pointed to his cane, and said "Yesterday it was a wooden walking stick that helped without speaking.  Tomorrow it may become firewood, crackling in the flames." 

    Zen Master Yunmen Wenyan and Shifu Miao Zhang were walking together in the hills behind the monastery one cloudy autumn afternoon.  It began to rain steadily on the two old friends.  Yunmen said, “My staff has changed into a dragon and is swallowing up the heaven and earth.  So, my friend, where do mountains, rainfall, rivers and the great earth come from?”
Miao Zhang was quiet for awhile, stopped on the trail, and then held his cane in his hand with the tip pointing to the sky.  He said, “Yunmen, as for the source of their coming, the tip of my cane points to the fecund depths of vast emptiness, the crook end to the endless inter-marriages of ten thousand realities, and my hand grasps the heartwood of the ordinary mind.  So, my friend, Yunmen, where are they all going?”

   Xita asked Shifu Miao Zhang,
"What is sudden enlightenment?"  Shifu Zhang threw his staff on the muddy ground.  Xita asked Miao Zhang, "What is gradual enlightenment?"  Shifu Zhang stomped on his staff three times. 

    Zen Master Ummon held up his staff in front of his Daoist friend, Shifu Miao Zhang, and said "This staff leapt up to the Eighth Heaven into the hands of the lame Zhong Kui who used it to awaken the Green Dragon in the Eastern Sea."
Miao Zhang said, "Ummon your poetry is lovely, but my gnarled cane cannot hear you."

    Toju Zenchu brandished his staff before Daoist Shifu Miao Zhang and challenged him "Miao Zhang, speak and you get whacked with Nanten's staff.  Do not speak and you still get whacked with Nanten's staff."
Shifu Zhang stood up quickly, lifted his cane strongly in defense, and quietly said, "Yunmen's shit stick stinks and Nanten's staff is cracked!  I am leaving now to take my evening walk. Goodbye." 
-  Michael P. Garofalo, Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way  





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Walking Stick Martial Arts, Walking Stick Self Defense, Walking Stick Fighting Arts
Jo Martial Arts, Jo Self Defense, Jo Fighting Arts
Bo Martial Arts, Bo Self Defense, Bo Fighting Arts
Gun Martial Arts, Gun Self Defense, Gun Fighting Arts, Gung Bang wooden short staff weapon
Japanese Short Wooden Staff Martial Arts Weapons, Jo, Bo
Chinese Short Wooden Staff Martial Arts Weapons, Gun, Zhang
Zhang Martial Arts, Zhang Self Defense, Zhang Fighting Arts
Shaolin Staff Cane Martial Arts, Shaloin Staff Cane Self Defense, Shaolin Staff Cane Fighting Arts
Wudang Wu Dang Staff Cane Martial Arts, Wudang Staff Cane Self Defense, Wudang Staff Cane Fighting Arts
Taijiquan Tai Chi Chuan Staff Cane Martial Arts, Taijiquan Staff Cane Self Defense, Taijiquan Staff Cane Fighting Arts 
Chinese Japanese Stick Cane Staff Gun Whip Staff Fighting Arts
Martial Arts Using the Staff, Stick, Walking Stick, Cane, Handbo, Bo, Gun, Jo
Self-Defense Self Defense with the Walking Stick, Hiking Stick, Cane, Staff, Short Staff
Exercise Techniques Methods Using With a Walking Stick, Hiking Stick, Cane, Staff, Short Staff, Danda, Weighted Bar
Aikido Japanese Jo, Short Staff, Cane, Walking Stick, Walking Staff
Cane, Short Staff Martial Arts Weapons Training
Combat Fighting Cane, Short Staff, Walking Stick
Hapkido, Karate, Aikido, Aikijo, Karate Do, Jo Do Combat Martial Arts Self Defense Cane, Short Staff, Jo, Bo, Gun
Martial Arts Cane, Short Staff, Jo, Bo
Fighting Stick, Fighting Cane, Fighting Staff
Walking Stick Fighting, Walking Stick Martial Arts, Walking Stick Combat
Exercises with the Cane, Cane Exercise, Geriatric Exercise with a Cane
Cane Fu, Kane Fu, Cane Kung Fu, Staff Kung Fu, Short Staff Kung Fu, Gun Kung Fu
Self-Defense Walking Cane, Stout Irish Shillelaghs, Sheperd's Crooks, Walking Sticks, Swagger Sticks, Strolling Sticks, Hiking Poles





Yosemite National Park, California
Looking east from North Dome (7,450 feet) towards Half Dome
Mike Garofalo, Hiker, 2006