Dan Bong (Short Stick)
Simple but Deadly
By Ashley Merritt
Dan Bong, also referred to as "Bone Crusher", may be the simplest of all weapons out there, but in the right hands it is both versatile and lethal. This just one of the most economical but effective weapons available. Dan Bong is a short wooden stick ranging in length from 8 to 12 inches and approximately 1 to 11/2 inches in diameter. In one end of the Dan Bong a hole is bored, and a loop of cord is threaded through the weapon. The cord is looped over the thumb hanging down the back side of the hand, then swung up into the grip. This feature provides the practitioner with added reach and secures the weapon from being dislodges from the grip. Should the weapon slip out of the hand the cord provides the easy retrieval, as will be described later in this article. This practical can easily be made with nothing more than a stick, a length of a cord, and a pocket knife making it one of the most practical and field ready weapons out there. Sometimes referred to as the "Old Man's" weapon, Dan Bong is extremely versatile in that it can be used for striking against bony protrusions, applied to pressure point techniques, choking, and joint locks. When training with this weapon it is easy to see where it got this name. With very little effort or strength this amazing little weapon will serve as an equalizer in most situations.
For striking techniques the weapon is held loosely in the hand with the thumb and middle finger approximately 1/3 of the way from the end. This loose grip is extremely important allowing the weapon to have a motion of its own. When held with a tight grip and swung at arm's length the speed of the arm determines the strength of the impact. But when held loosely, the flicking motion provided by the loose grip adds speed and power to the strike. I have applied strikes with the Dan Bong to a hard wooden surface using both a firm and loose grip to test the power of the different griping techniques and found the loose grip not only increases the power, but also the accuracy, exponentially. This loose grip provides for another feature of the Dan Bong's multifaceted characteristic. When the stick is held properly and a strike is applied to a bone the stick creates a vibration much like that of a tuning fork. This vibration carries into the bone shattering it like a rock hitting the windshield of a car.
This brings up another point in favor of the loose grip on the weapon. It has been my experience and, in fact, a concept that has been drilled into my head my instructor, that relaxation is as necessary to martial arts as breathing is to the body. When mentally and physically relaxed accuracy is easily achieved. I have been taught that for Ki energy to be utilized one must be relaxed. In ordered for Ki energy to travel out through the weapon the practitioner must be calm, relaxed and focused. Some may argue that the loose grip on the weapon makes easy to dislodge form the grip. This is where the cord attached to the weapon comes in to play. Even if the weapon should slip from the grip it remains suspended by the cord and easily swung back up into position.
The cord provides the Dan Bong with yet another practical aspect in that it compensates for the shortness of the stick. By releasing the weapon and holding on to the cord the length of the weapon ids doubled and the centrifugal force achieved is similar to that of the nunchaku. the Dan Bong can be swung at full length and retracted to its original position with lightning speed and with practice, incredible accuracy.
Dan Bong, because of its size is easily applied in joint lock, pressure point, and choking techniques. It has been my experience that this versatile weapon can be increase the efficiency of any of the many joint lock, choking, or pressure point techniques I have been taught during my training in Hwa Rang Do.
Dan Bong may not be the most beautiful, and it doesn't rank very high on the scale of popularity when compared to weapons such as the sword, nunchaku, or knife. But as far as practicality and usefulness is concerned Dan Bong, in my opinion, ranks at the top of the list.