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A brief history of British/African Spinning

Krista Gettle

Fire staff is the art of spinning a rigid pole with wicks on each end around the body. It is most often performed in Britain, leading to the belief that its development stemmed from the martial art quarter staff. Quarter staff is the only true European martial art. It is traditionally practiced with a heavy staff of about the size of a walking stick. The quarter staff is spun about the center, making both a shield and club that can strike in either direction. Staff is spun in the same way, about changing axis, and passed between hands. Another belief about the history of staff links it to the Bo and Jo sticks of Africa. These are weapons often used in the same manner as quarter staff. Staff is a common side-show act and another favorite of street performers.

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