Sansetsukun Three-Section Staff
By Jikishin Kobudo, Mar 3 2015 12:46PM
The Sansetsukun or San Jie Gun (Chinese pronunciation) is not an agricultural tool nor does it have any other domestic functional use; it is simply a battle weapon for use in the field of conflict. The use of Sansetsukun on the Ryukyu Islands is a contentious issue since it appears to have been introduced to the island in the twentieth century and there is no evidence to indicate any historical use within the Ryukyu archipelago. However, the fact that Chinese martial arts were so widespread in Okinawa suggests that it likely was used in times past, albeit that they were not recorded.
A Chinese weapon developed for the battlefields of the Song dynasty, the Sansetsukun had two primary uses. The first was to attack mounted officers and the second to attack over and around a shield defence.
Its strength lies in its versatility and ease of transportation. Rather than carrying large cumbersome weapons to attack cavalry, the San Jie Gun can be quickly and easily deployed to any part of the battlefield and it still allows the fighter a large degree of manoeuvrability in a way that a heavy bladed weapon may not. The reach of the weapon means that it can be used to strike the legs of a horse or the rider himself.
The second use of the San Jie Gun was to attack over the top of shield walls; the flailing chained section allowing attacks that would be otherwise impossible by any other weapon. Breaking through a shield defence and disabling mounted fighters are both seminal requirements of the medieval battlefield. Both of these uses require a Sansetsukun with a heavy wooden construction, often with metal ferules and so the currnt Wushu tradition of bamboo three-section staffs is uncertain in terms of battlefield application but likely for use in practice.
2nd picture: Sansetsukun-Jutsu at Jikishin Kobudo in Leeds