Retiring a Partner

I’ve been in denial about my beloved staff.  It’s time to give up the ghost.  I must replace it as soon as possible.

I aggravated my shoulder twice last night when I abruptly clenched my hand and arm to keep the former from sliding across the splintered section of wood on my staff.  I don’t know who I was kidding when I said the missing chunk wouldn’t interfere with the hand slides.  Maybe I was just tired at the end of training and not executing properly when I imagined I wouldn’t get splinters from the break.  But reality is now here.  And reality bites.


My attachment to my weapons is obviously strong, and I’m not alone in that phenomenon in the martial arts world. The better we get at our weapons forms, the more it feels like the object itself is its own actor in our performance, capable of doing powerful and beautiful things in anyone’s hand, because IT is so cool.  While there’s inevitable joy in starting over with an improved version (the first of any of kind of weapon is rarely the best fit, even after getting used to it), there’s still some grief in retiring a partner earlier than planned.

Ah, well.  One of the few guarantees in life is that everything changes.  Truth be told, this change should be a good one.

About T. D. Davis

Baker and former journalist. View all posts by T. D. Davis

3 responses to “Retiring a Partner

  • gravy666

    With Kendo, you have less opportunity to become attached to weapons, or Shinai at any rate. Sometimes one will last for months on end, another time one will split after only a few weeks. It’s annoying, but bamboo is unpredictable. Pre-use dismantling, sanding and oiling can help, but sometimes they have flaws which let go far too quickly. Our wooden bokuto (usually made of oak, and used for the partnered kata) tend to last for a long time, though user inexperience, or being partnered with someone new, can lead to them acquiring many dents!

    • T. D. Davis

      Interesting. I may try the sanding and oiling with the next staff. Thank for the info, and thanks for reading.

      • gravy666

        Not sure the sanding will help, but the oiling may, depending on whether it’s got any sort of lacquer on it or not. We sand the edges of the individual take (a shinai is made of four seperate bits of bamboo) so they don’t rub against each other and cause premature wear.

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