Three Section Staff (Sanjiegun)

Three section Staff

Three Section Staff SanjiegunThree weapons in one. The Three Section Staff, original name Sanjiegun (in pinyin San=three, Jie=to join, Gun=stick, pronounced “goon”) combines three different weapons’ best features in one: the Long staff, the Single sticks (Lian Gun, still pronounced “goon”), and the Shuangjiegun (westernized as “Nunchuk”).

One of the hardest weapons to learn. The price to pay when choosing a weapon that gives the combatant the protection and the ability to handle three short sticks, compared to the long range offered by a long staff, is the difficulty in being mastered. However, for a Martial Arts practitioner, the term “difficulty” shouldn’t represent a problem, as “difficult” and “hard” are just part of the thick film that hides what lies beneath: your goal. Consequently, the longer (and sometimes tiring) practice required to control the Sanjiegun, will soon give place to an amazingly complex, but confident, way of using this captivating weapon in any situation.

The Sanjiegun is the only staff that strikes from a space that cannot possibly contain its length, protecting the Warrior as a broken staff is still connected to its core.

Three Section Staff SanjiegunIf there were three things that Martial Practitioners would be asked when choosing their favorite weapon out of 120, sure those features would be: efficiency, range, and speed.

  1. Efficiency: no need to explain why a blade is more efficient than a round-shaped stick: talking about the Three Section Staff, its efficiency can be surprisingly placed between the blade-edged weapons, and the wooden weapons: surely not lethal like a blade, but still “smart” like a snake, for its undisputed adaptability.
  2. Range. The Long Staff is indeed the king of all traditional weapons when it comes to range, although one of the Dao’s principle states that something or someone’s weakest point may just be its strength. The length of a Long Staff, in fact, embodies this concept of duality, placing it at the lowest position when comes to practicality: how can such a long weapon be carried without being noticed? The problem is quickly solved by choosing the Three Section Staff rather than a long staff as this weapon, when fully unfolded, transforms into a long staff, keeping its promise of serving as a 100% long-range weapon (a completely unfolded Three Section Staff is way longer than a Long staff), together with the ability for this tool to adapt to both short-range and long-range combat.
  3. Speed. Choosing the right material for his weapon is a key-feature for a warrior entering the battlefield, as he knows well how a lower-weight weapon can make the difference: in fact, the speed of all movements that a warrior can perform, armed with his Three Section Staff, is awfully affected by the material his Sanjiegun is made of. Low weight, in battle, means just one thing: turning anything that is held by a warrior’s hands into a deadly extension of his arms.

A strong Sword with the right weight will prove its valor in taking the Knight to victory

Three Section Staff SanjiegunSpeed: a more complex factor than it sounds. We can divide the issue of Speed into two more complex parts: speed in short-range combat and speed in long-range combat.

  1. speed in short-range combat: in this case, your Three Section Staff won’t overload your arms, as it would be just like using a set of two sticks, plus a middle one for protection, pure and simple. Speed will hence be determined by your physical conditioning.
  2. speed in long-range combat: in this case speed is heavily affected, as the whole weight of your Three Section Staff will not only be handled by just one of your arms, but the full extension of the weapon will raise the forementioned weight, due to Physics laws. Personally, you can be super-conditioned but in this situation you can really feel the difference in handling a light-weight Sanjiegun rather than a robust albeit heavy one. To solve this problem it’s best to reduce the thickness of each stick using a lathe machine (or using a thinner stick if wood is your choice). Warning: if you reduce the thickness of both the external sticks of your Sanjiegun, sooner or later they will crack. A lathe machine instead is the best solution if you want to lighten each stick according to your preference, as long as your sticks are made of Nylon.

Three section staff sanjiegunNote about carbon fiber Three Section Staff: undoubtedly the best idea for super-fast action, but the worst when comes to impact, as sticks might slowly wear out at their edges on each impact.

A tool meant to be used hard. There is a main concern to keep in mind when you start studying the Sanjiegun: its durability. Since the continuous impact of a joint-made weapon over-stresses the joints that are responsible to keep the weapon unbroken, the weight of the three sticks, combined with the weight of the two joints, will make the difference in the way this weapon responds to your movements.

Building your own Sanjiegun. A traditional, super-basic Three Section Staff can be easily made out of wood, with rope joints where steel is not possible. The ideal Sanjiegun would be instead carbon fiber, with aluminium joints with ball-bearings: this configuration would be the top-choice, but everyone knows that martial arts weapons are such because they can be easily made when battle is near, so a half-way option is still the best in terms of availability of material, time for building the weapon, and cost.


It really depends on you, your height, and the length of your arms, but as a a general rule, dimensions are: 55 cm for the middle-section stick, 61 cm for the outer ones.
Ball bearings provide a smoother movement, although you should consider that the Sanjiegun was first built using rudimentary joints, without causing any problem in battle. Ball bearings were introduced just lately for the practitioner to learn with total absence of "bumpy" movements.


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About the author : Fabio Zambelli

Fabio has dedicated his life to Martial Arts for more than 23 years and has been teaching since 2005. Extremely committed and passionate to the way of the warrior lifestyle, he lives his days following Martial Arts’ principles: hard work and self-sacrifice. The diplomas he is most proud of are his failures as overcoming these demonstrated that Martial Arts values, along with their code of conduct, have worked on him. His extraordinary determination, concretized in Heart of The Orient, the world's first designed and hand-crafted Dojo for Shaolin Kungfu, is proof that human willpower has no limits.