Dragon Staff - It's like a rollercoaster of flow
History EditDragon Staff is a fire-spinning adaptation of the ancient Chinese weapon Fei Cha, a trident like weapon.
It carries some similarities to contact staff but do to the rotational inertia provided by its shape (weight extending from and distributed symmetrically around the ends) which significantly alters its movement vocabulary, with the primary focus of dragon staff flow being the sustaining of continuous rolling motion in various paths along the arms and body.
Styles of Movement Edit
When dragon staff first started emerging on the scene, many used it as a glorified traditional/contact staff, with the extra wicks providing more flame, but not really taking as much advantage of the rotational inertia properties of the prop. Nowadays though, the use of chi rolls to maintain flow in which the staff is constantly rotating is the mainstay.
There has also been a trend in partner dragon staff in recent years, in which two or more people control a staff together, Chi rolls can be performed using one arm from each partner, in the same direction if standing side by side, or one forward, one reverse if facing each other. Many other moves can be performed with one person maintaining a one-arm chi roll to keep the staff rotating so that the other partner can allow it to roll across them. The principles of contact improv integrate well with the partner dragon movement style.
Some practitioners have experimented with using than one dragon staff at once (there are videos of double and triple dragon staff performances out there), though not surprisingly the movement potential seems to be somewhat limited with these styles. With partner dragon staff, it is somewhat easier to integrate multiple staffs, as you have more hands involved, especially if there are additional partners involved (e.g. 3 people manipulating 2-3 staffs together).
Styles of Prop Edit
The most common variation of fire dragon staff has 4 wicks distributed in a cross at each end, along with a 5th central wick.
However, the only real requirement of wick positioning is that there is an even radial distribution of the weight. Thus, various other styles exist. For instance, it can be constructed with 3 spokes at each end (often with some curvature) or even 6 or more wicks arranged in a helical pattern at each end.
The shape of a dragon staff, in comparison to a normal staff, makes it somewhat more inconvenient for transport. Thus, many vendors also offer staffs that are modular in some degree. Some have poles that can be deconstructed into multiple pieces, and the use of quick-wicks can also aid in making it more compact for transportation.
Certain vendors make staffs especially for partner dragon, which tend to be longer in order to accomodate more than one individual without being cramped. Often, the central 5th wick is omitted in a partner design, which allows greater clearance for more of the pole to have grip applied.
The following is an incomplete list of vendors who carry dragon staffs, in alphabetical order. These are listed as a resource, but not any sort of endorsement. Do your own research to determine the right brand for you, and if you know of any other vendors, please add them to the list.
- Dark Monk (10 wick, partner (8 wick), and helio (2x6 wick spiral) models, screw-in wicks, repair supplies)
- Fire Groove (10 wick, color options)
- The Flow Factory (Intricate geometric metal work)
- Gora (10 wick, adapter cuffs)
- Home of Poi (8 or 10 wick staffs, kits)
- Ninja Pyrate (Modular, fire and glow spokes)
- Three Worlds (Modular, fire, practice and glow spokes)
- Trick Concepts (8 or 10 wick designs, adapter cuffs for even more)
DIY Constructions Edit
A nice compilation of dragon staff and fei cha videos, mostly performances, but a few tutorials.