We all know the importance that a good wooden stick has in the practice of the “Jogo do Pau”.
This is an extension of the mind and body of the player, so, for each one there will be and optimal Stick.
According to some authors, the noble woods used in the practice of the traditional Portuguese martial art (jogo do pau | esgrima lusitana) are the Quince tree (Cydonia oblonga), the Mediterranean hackberry (Celtis australis), the European ash (Fraxinus angustifolia) and the Chestnut (Castanea sativa). Each one has different characteristics:
- The Quince tree, gives rise to the queen of sticks, is hard, flexible and does not part, splits perhaps so the expression “ou vai ou racha”. The drawback of this kind is the difficulty in finding a right shoot.
- The Mediterranean Hack-berry, perhaps the most popular stick, is light, hard and very flexible. The shoots can be found in abundance, especially after a severe pruning has been carried out on the tree.
- The European ash, perhaps the least popular rod, is very hard, not flexible and does not part easily, gradually losing the outer layers until reaching the core of the rod. It is found in abundance in the juvenile stage of the tree that grows in clusters of shoots.
- The Chestnut gives rise to a light stick, less resistant of all the others but very easy to find. It appears spontaneously at the base of the adult chestnut trees or after it has been extremely pruned.
To make a JP stick in a traditional way it is necessary, firstly, to harvest or cut the shoots of the tree. This can be made during a field trip, harvesting the raw material that nature offers us or planting a tree for the purpose of obtaining sticks, then treated and pruned for the purpose.
Harvesting or cutting should be done in the winter since the cutting is less harmful to the tree at this time. Ideally cut the shoot with a good margin of both the thinnest part and the thickest part and cut the branches of this case exist.
After harvesting, the sticks are exposed to fire so that the bark can be removed quickly and efficiently. It was very common to peel the sticks when baking the bread in the stone ovens. Basically, it is necessary to expose the rods to high temperatures for a short period of time so that only the shell burns and not below it.
Once the rod is peeled, the resulting knots of the branches as well as protrusions under the bark are cleaned. Usually this action is done with the use of a “pedoa”, cutting tool with a sharp blade. Subsequently, roughen with a “Grosa” until the surface is even.
Cut the rod with the desired measure, it is necessary to pick up the rod, feel its weight and decide how to cut by removing the excess from the thickest part or the thinner part or both. For the stick to be well balanced it is necessary a lot of sensitivity and experience.
Finally, a fine sandpaper is passed over the stick so that it is very smooth and the stick is ready for a some pounding.