People have been picking up sticks to beat each other since time immemorial, but the joong bong, the Korean Middle staff, is something really special in the world of martial arts. This is the most commonly taught weapon in the Korean martial art of Kuk Sul Won, though tournaments and ease of use have brought the joong bong into other arenas, like Tae Kwon Do.
I got my first look at joong bong technique a few years ago, when I was interviewing one of the advanced students at a Kuk Sool Won school in Milwaukee. She was giving me the run down on the basic kicking and striking techniques used when something caught my eye. Next to the fans and tridents, most people wouldn't have given the homely stick a second glance, but I could tell from the wear that this was a weapon that many students had trained with.
The joong bong itself varies depending on the school and the preference of the user. Usually, it is made out of wood or rattan and measures between 2 and half to three feet long. My friend mentioned that some heavy hitters like their joong bong to be made out of metal, and after I did a few passes with it, it makes sense; in terms of practicing, the heavier the stick is, the better the workout you'll get.
She explained that the joong bong was the middle-sized staff that many students started off with, and is one of the easier weapons to master in the realm of Korean martial arts. She herself had started with the joong bong, and though she had progressed to a mastery of several other weapons, the joong bong remained one of her favorites. As I watched, she demonstrated some of the moves associated with this ancient weapon.
The joong bong is held at one end, rather than in the center. My friend emphasized that that this is used primarily for striking and as such, the tip should be aimed at the opponent's neck for maximum effectiveness. Slowly, she took me through the four basic striking techniques that make up her joong bong practice and then she sped it up. As I watched in awe, she became the center of a whirling storm, the slow exercises she had been demonstrating turning into a fierce burst of activity.
She grinned at me when she finished up and asked if I cared to try. I was ready to go ahead so I stepped on the mat to face her, but she laughed.
"I was thinking about pairing you with one of our newer practitioners of joong bong, " she said and pointed at a thirteen-year-old boy, who was taking his own stick through the motions. I was going to laugh too, until I noticed how fast he was moving and how hard he could bring down his stick!
Yoshi E Kundagawa is a freelance journalist. He covers the mixed martial arts industry. For a free report on Joong Bong visit his blog.
Yoshi Kundagawa is a freelance journalist covering the martial arts world. Too much time at his computer eating donuts reduced him to couch potato status. He's on a quest to recapture his youth and fitness. You can read his blog at http://www.martialarts3000.com