Feature Article

Jung Bong (Middle Staff)
Grand Master James S. Benko, Ph.D.

The Jung Bong (Middle Staff) was used in several different ways throughout Korean history. It was used as a walking stick, to help carry heavy items such as water containers and baskets of grain, and to ward off wild animals and bandits. The illusive maneuvers of the Jung Bong's defenses may be applied to all types of martial arts training.

The length of a Jung Bong varies from forty-two inches to fifty inches. The physical characteristics of the Jung Bong are quite unique. Some are made of hard wood, others of flexible bamboo. The shaft could be completely smooth or it may have notches at one or both ends to permit picking up objects. These notches may also be used to inflict damage to an opponent by cutting and slashing his face and limbs. Some Jung Bong's are tapered at one or both ends. The Jung Bong should be constructed to suit the individuals needs and specification.

To increase the effectiveness of Jung Bong strikes the hips are usually rotated in the direction of your strikes and blocks. This helps put your body-weight into the force of your strike or block. Using a "snapping" motion with your wrists increases the speed of your Jung Bong movements. This increased speed also adds to the power of your maneuvers.

Another often overlooked aspect of generating more speed and power to Jung Bong movements is the rotation of the wrists. Rather than simply shoving the tip of the Jung Bong toward the aggressor, execute the same motion but this time rotate the back hand as you slide the Jung Bong forward. This will not only greatly increase the speed of your movements but the power as well.

When retracting the Jung Bong, again use the wrist rotation action to quickly withdraw. A quick withdraw is vital to Jung Bong techniques. It lessens the chance of the aggressor grabbing the Jung Bong. Quick withdrawal also enables you to be prepared to block another attack or to be ready to execute a counter-strike.

The Jung Bong may be used at a variety of ranges; long, middle and short (close-quarters). By thrusting the Jung Bong forward with one hand as the other hand remained stationary, as the Jung Bong traveled forward, the range could be extended and quickly retracted to again vary its length.

The ends of the Jung Bong were used to strike, stab and jab an aggressor. The ends could also be used at close-quarters to trap the aggressor's arm and apply a controlling technique.

Being able to use the Jung Bong from a myriad of ranges enables the practitioner to use a wide variety of varied techniques. Positioning is an important factor when apply defensive maneuvers. By stepping to your right rear of left rear you can avoid an attack. This "distancing", while placing you beyond the reach of an aggressor, puts him into the striking range of your Jung Bong.

How far you step to the side or rear to evade an attack will be a determining factor as to the type of defense you use. You may, from one range, be able to strike the attacking arm or leg then quickly follow up with a trust with the tip of the Jung Bong.

From a slightly closer distance you might block with one end of the Jung Bong then strike with the other end to disable the aggressor. At a different range you could stun the aggressor and apply a joint-locking technique to immobilize the opponent.

Footwork is important to all aspects of martial arts physical training but perhaps even more so when working with weapons. When using the Jung Bong you should move at angles to avoid an attack while at the same time putting yourself into a position to quick counterattack your opponent. Use the forward momentum of the aggressor to increase the power of your strikes and blocks.

Being able to evade an attack while maintaining a safe distance from the aggressor is one of the Jung Bong's strongest features. Not only are you capable of avoiding being struck or grabbed, but you are able to place yourself in a position of safety while at the same time inflicting damage to the aggressor.

When using the Jung Bong your training should stress evasion rather than direct contact. Place yourself at angles to avoid his attack while at the same time counterattacking with a strike.

Focus your strikes on the attacking arm or leg and specifically to sensitive areas of the body. The radial nerve on the arm, the floating ribs, the head, the solar plexus, etc. If you wish to only stun the aggressor then a sharp jab or snapping blow will deter his initial attack. If the danger to you is greater, as in the case of multiple opponents or an armed aggressor, then a more forceful technique may be called for.

Evading by moving at different angles to the attacking force in and of itself may not be enough to end the encounter. It is just as important that you place yourself in a position by which vital areas of the opponent's body are exposed. These exposed targets now present you with the opportunity to stop the opponent from being a threat.

The angles of evasion are common to all forms of martial arts; Karate, Aikido, Jujitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Wu Shu, etc. However, training with the Jung Bong often opens our minds to the possibilities of using these angles more efficiently than we have in the past. The Jung Bong frees us from concerning ourselves with which type of hand strike or kick to counter with since the Jung Bong itself is the instrument with which we counterattack.

The ability to vary its length also contributes to the option of seeing how we are able to use long, middle and close-quarters techniques both with and without the Jung Bong. The illusive defense of the Jung Bong create a doorway for our minds to continue to refine our defenses techniques with an almost limitless abundance of variables

Copyright © 1998- James S. Benko and ITA Institute.
All rights reserved.

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If you would like to learn more, you may wish to order the following DVD videos:
"Jung Bong Sul: Volume 1"
"Jung Bong Sul: Volume 1"
"Jung Bong Hyungs (Middle Staff Patterns"