Fire Staff & Contact Staff
A rod of wood or metal, generally somewhere around the height of the staffer, with wicking material applied to one or both ends (generally to both). The roots of Fire Staff are deep and varied, drawing historically from Samoan Fire Knife and various martial arts throughout Europe and Asia. The earliest form of the bō, a 6 foot staff, has been used throughout Asia since the beginning of recorded history and originated in Japan. Use of Jo, a staff approximately 4.18 feet long, date to the 16th century. The oldest systematic descriptions of stick-fighting methods in Europe date to the 15th century. Knife dancing has a history which goes back hundreds of years. The modern fire knife dance has its roots in the ancient Samoan exhibition called “ailao” – the flashy demonstration of a Samoan warrior’s battle prowess through artful twirling, throwing and catching, and dancing with a war club. Fire was added to the knife in 1946 by a Samoan knife dancer named Freddie Letuli, later to become Paramount Chief Letuli Olo Misilagi. Letuli was performing in San Francisco and noticed a Hindu Fire eater and a little girl with lighted batons. The fire eater loaned him some fuel, he wrapped some towels around his knife, and the fire knife dance was born.
Staves can be used either by holding them and directing the motion with the hands, or by rolling, bouncing and passing the staff around your body using everything EXCEPT the hands. This is called contact staff. This prop, also, is gaining new dimensions of technique and forms of expression. Moving away from the traditional hold and spin of classic staff spinning, people have broken into a category of moves which involves spinning on their staves, reminiscent of skateboarding mixed with gymnastics mixed with The Matrix.