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Simple Staff

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For those "important" fights.

"Simple wooden staff
Made from life, protecting life,
Stronger than cold steel."
Flavor Text from the Magic: The Gathering card Silkenfist Fighter

Behold, the staff. Essentially nothing more than a long, wooden club, it is one of the simplest weapons known to man, yet frequently referred to as the deadliest melee weapon ever created. (In other words, it's the king of Boring, but Practical.) It can be easily improvised from a number of ordinary farming and cleaning tools — such as plows, rakes, or mops — that are readily found anywhere. Those who frown upon spilling blood can confiscate various polearms and snap off the pointy end(s) to suit their tastes. Even convenient tree branches can serve in a pinch.

However, not all staves need be so simple. A few war-staves are shod with blunt metal caps for harder strikes and bound with iron rings to better parry swords. The violent potential of especially these iron-shod staves cannot be overstated, as when wielded properly are quite capable of shattering bone, denting and deforming armor, and completely removing vulnerable areas such as the jaw.


Many double as symbols of status and thus feature elaborate headpieces — of which the wisest choices are sturdy and heavy enough to serve in a fight. Some clever individuals have made staves out of hollow metal pieces that can collapse into a concealable weapon.

In the West, a full-length fighting staff is called a quarterstaff. Contrary to general opinion or many movies, in the medieval age, a staff was not held in the middle but wielded in a similar way to a spear or two-handed sword.note  In Japan, it is called a bo, with a smaller version called a jo. The Japanese also have hanbo — short staves that Westerners would call rods. A Filipino fighting art called Eskrima (or Arnis or Kali, depending on which island you're from) also makes use of these short rods.note 


Staves tend to be the Weapon of Choice among monks and others who, for moral, religious, and/or ethical reasons, refuse to take a life, but for various reasons find themselves requiring a method of defence. Anyone else interested in practising combat skills is more interested in lethality, and so affix various pointy ends to their poles, making these implements a different kind of weapon entirely. Of course, some people take a middle path and conceal various nasty surprises in their staves.

Staves also tend to be the favorite of particularly old and weary characters in need of a walking stick — or those who wish to appear older and wearier than they really are. As such, it is a favorite among Old Masters and certain kinds of wizard. In the latter case, the "simple" staff probably also doubles as a Magic Wand, thus becoming the hybrid melee and magical weapon, the Magic Staff. Staves work great for teachers because a) they don't look impressive, and thus when they kick your ass it's a demonstration of the user's skill, and b) staves provide ample opportunity for hard whacks to the shins or head — painful, but not fatal, blows — thus perfect for discipline.

These connections to the monastic, the mystic, the elderly, the traveled, and the sorcerous have lent the staff itself, and those who use it, a certain image of being intellectual, knowledgeable, and wise. Whether this is any more real than the image of frailty is another matter, but more staves in fantasy are Magic Wands than Magic Wands are staves. If the Magic Wand aspect of the staff is limited to only shooting people (or, if said shooting from a staff is not even magical in nature at all), then you have a Boom Stick, rather than a Magic Staff.

In Eastern media, the staff is often a Kung Fu weapon, used with much grace and skill (and choreography). Combined with the distance afforded by its long reach, martial artist monks have long been able to smack around roomfuls of Mooks completely untouched. As Western audiences rightly recognize the awesomeness of this, it's spreading to Western media as well. The most famous user of the staff in Eastern media is Sun Wukong from the seminal Journey to the West, and thus most staff-users reference Wukong in some way, especially through his not-so-simple staff, the Telescoping Staff, a related trope.

When the fighters don't actually care as much about the injuries they inflict or actively try to cause lots of injuries, perhaps the staff really is just a long club, or a spear without a spearhead.

If the wielder is a martial artist, expect to see a particular special defensive trick. The same trope applied to ridiculous extents is Wooden Katanas Are Even Better. A Broomstick Quarterstaff is an improvised variant.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Staves in the world of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha don't tend to count, but Raising Heart's staff form is Nanoha's melee weapon of choice — unless she's reached the point of using its final form, which can produce a spear-head.
  • Ronin Warriors: The Ancient One wields a staff to do his priestly magic in contrast to the Ronins themselves who stick with Blade on a Stick.
  • When Lucario uses Bone Rush in the Pokémon: The Series anime, it looks like a cross between this and a lightsaber.
  • Gold in the Pokémon Adventures manga had a pool cue that he uses for calling out his mons.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Freya uses a staff as her weapon, it being the tool of choice for her family's style of jojutsu. Her staff is modified by shortening, and she can quickly screw it together to make a longer staff.
  • In the Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch manga, Gackto's rod, decorated with roses and jewels, is used like the mermaids' E-Pitches for the Dark Lovers' song. Rihito inherits one just like it, but never actually uses it as a weapon.
  • Shu from Now and Then, Here and There utilizes a long stick as a staff of sorts; the weapon is mainly used as a contrast against the other characters' weapons, where all of the other children are wielding knives and guns. Although he isn't very skilled per se (he mainly just recklessly uses the same move over and over), it is meant to highlight his pacifism.
  • Fasalina from GUN×SWORD wields... uh... a very long pole-dancer stick. Either to beat the crap out of her opponents or to control her mecha. And even her mecha comes with it.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi
  • Husky in +Anima. He occasionally fights with it (he's good), but it's used more as a "Cooro punishing stick".
  • As mentioned in the Journey to the West example below, Son Goku of Dragon Ball wields the Nyoi Bou (or "Ruyi Bang" for Chinese speakers/savants),note  a staff that can extend and shrink at the will of the user. While it is fantastic in the early arcs, it loses its utility when Ki Attacks grow in prominence, and is cleanly discarded after the Daimao Arc. Also, Kamesennin (Master Roshi) has a staff of his own, although he never seems to really use it for anything other than a walking stick (and poking a hole in the Pilaf Gang's seaplane).
  • One Piece:
    • Nami uses a simple staff at the beginning, but later replaces it with the Clima-Tact in Alabasta, which got several upgrades further down the line.
    • Sabo during his youth with both Ace and Luffy, where the three of them used pipes as bo-staves; Sabo himself was much more notable when it came to using such weaponry in that fashion, even towards his adulthood.
    • Eneru fights with a golden bo staff. He can use his lightning powers to melt the ends of the staff and reshape it into a spear.
    • Vergo fights with a bamboo stick which he imbues with Busoshoku Haki to make it stronger and more durable.
  • Naruto:
    • Chouza Akimichi uses a staff in combat, and it changes size with him whenever he goes into Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever mode.
    • Tenten is also a staff fighter, albeit mainly in filler and video games.
    • Like Goku from Dragon Ball, the Third Hokage has one specifically based off of Sun Wukong’s Nyoi Bo, as his personal summon, Monkey King Enma, can transform into an adamantine staff that can manipulate the length.
  • In The Story of Saiunkoku, Ensei uses a staff when everyone else walks around with a sword. His nickname is "Little Staff King".
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura's Magic Wand is a pink staff with a bird's head that is used to seal and summon Clow Cards. Later, the bird's head changes to a circle with a star in the middle, when Sakura is officially made the Mistress of the Cards.
  • In K Yata switches to using a pipe as a staff from the movie onwards, replacing his previous baseball bat. It even gets modified during the climax when Anna becomes the Red King to look more like a proper bo staff.
  • Diamond, one of the villains in Fist of the North Star, had a really big staff. Not that this helped him against Kenshiro.
  • In Digimon Adventure, Angemon wields a staff, but he rarely ever uses it.
  • Gamaran: the series has a couple of sadly misbegotten staff users in the same team of the Muhou School: the first, Tagosaku Yamashita, tries to attack Iori with his personal bo staff (has a spiral pattern and edged ends) but is quickly stopped and killed. Subverted by his master Maniwa, who is a bojutsu practitioner but employs a spear with the same movements. Sequel series has Sakutaro Nagoshi of the Nagoshi Ryuu, an expert of jojutsu who fights with a steel staff hard enough to allow him to easily defeat normal swordsmen with ease by breaking their weapons.
  • Ushio and Tora: a simple, not even oversized exagonal staff is the weapon of choice of the gigantic, Oni like Hitotsuki. Later on, we see a similar staff being used by the Eastern Youkai leader Yamanmoto and his right-hand man, Ibuki.
  • Hero Tales: Ryuuko, The Lancer of the team, wields a staff as his weapon, and can channel Qi through it. Later he's bestowed a better, more powerful staff named Rasenkon (Spiral Cudgel).
  • Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist will use anything that's available, but in situations where his preferred Blade Below the Shoulder isn't appropriate or his arm is damaged, he regularly produces a staff from the nearest available surface and starts beating people with it.
  • In Seikesshou Albatross, Goose, Ibis, and Toki wield staves that they can channel their powers through.
  • Tekken Chinmi: At one point during Journey arc while thinking how to fight a dangerous armed opponent, Chinmi suddenly reveals he's been carrying a fighting staff all this time despite the previous chapters never showed him carrying it, and neither do the next chapters.
  • Fawna from Kazan uses a staff when she doesn't use her water powers.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Gambit uses an adamantium staff, often collapsible.
    • Villain Black Tom Cassidy uses an Irish shillelagh because he has to focus his mutant power through wood for it to be effective.
  • Post-Crisis Supergirl is in fact a very competent staff-wielder. When archenemy Reactron nullifies her powers in Who is Superwoman?, she grabs a metallic rod, drives him back and points out how stupid is thinking someone who has been mentored by Batman and Wonder Woman is incapable of fighting without her powers.
  • Batman:
    • In both Teen Titans and his own book, Tim Drake often uses a bo staff, usually collapsible. It's modified with a bit of carving to create a whistling sound when he swings it to distract his enemies. When offered training in any weapon of his choosing by arguably The DCU's greatest martial artist and assassin, Lady Shiva, goes with the bo staff specifically for its non-lethal attributes. He grows so proficient with it he's been declared the world's best staff fighter.
    • Nightwing's escrima sticks. The Batman's Dick Grayson uses a staff as well in place of his signature sticks.
    • Batgirl (2009): Stephanie Brown's collapsible "boomstick".
  • Agent 355 wields an expandable baton as a (somewhat) non-lethal alternative to her pistol in Y: The Last Man.
  • The Authority: Midnighter tends to use a collapsible metal staff when he isn't using his bare hands. Far from being a Technical Pacifist though, he's used it to decapitate people.
  • The Mighty Thor: Volstagg used a staff in the older stories, before eventually switching to a axe.
  • Donatello of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uses one as his Weapon of Choice. So does Splinter, in some versions.
  • Mockingbird of The Avengers uses two batons (referred to as 'battle staves') that connect to form a telescopic staff, sometimes depicted with hidden extras, notably a hidden blade for stabbing into objects for support and leverage, or at people for intimidation. Her ex-husband, Hawkeye also uses one that splits into nunchucks during his time as Ronin...but gets his ass utterly handed to him when the two fight.
  • As well as doubling as Nunchucks, batons, a grappling hook, and a blind man's cane, Daredevil's billy club serves as one of these when needed.
  • Hawkeye: As Ronin, Clint used one, created by locking together both of his nunchakus. He learned how to wield a staff in honor and remembrance of his wife, Mockingbird, who he thought was dead. Still not as good as her as it is her weapon, but still.
  • Samurai Squirrel: Malak-qui, Nato-san's brother, used a Bo Staff as his weapon.

    Fan Works 
  • Commander Primary Xerox in The Mad Scientist Wars uses a high-tech version of these, in favor of guns, and second to his huge Net. Seeing as how it's collapsible, made of unknown material, and can be adjusted to weigh up to 100 kilo, It's about as violent as a non-violent weapon can be.
  • Child of the Storm
    • Harry Dresden, as per canon - six feet of carved oak, when wielded properly, is something to be reckoned with.
    • Gambit, also as per canon, wields a staff to deadly effect in the sequel, along with his trademark playing cards.
  • This is Timmy Turner's weapon of choice in Burning Black, due to his aversion to taking life. If it hadn't been destroyed, he'd still be using the wooden quarterstaff/training bo that Caleb gave him when he was ten. It pulled double duty as his Magic Staff for helping to direct his spells. Steps are being taken to return it to him.
  • In Teenage Jinchuriki Shinobi:
    • Sakura learns how to use one to perfection from Donatello as she was surprisingly a natural with one.
    • Naruto used one as well on certain occasions due to this version being a Walking Armory.
  • In Thousand Shinji, a long, steel-reinforced staff is Shinji's favorite weapon.
  • Due to losing his ability to transform, Lightstorm now uses a staff as his primary melee weapon in Sailor Moon: Legends of Lightstorm. In his case, the staff enhances kinetic energy to boost its impact damage, can collapse to the size of a pepper spray can to clip on his utility belt, and appears to be virtually unbreakable.
  • Monster X note  in The Bridge uses a broken fence pipe as a staff to disable to Siren's van when they tried to flee the mall he ambushed them in.
  • In Juxtapose, Izuku and his friends are trained by Aizawa to use this to make up for their Quirks' lack of offensive potential. Izuku's staff is later upgraded to work as a conduit for his Quirk and can split into a pair of bastons for Eskrima, while Hitoshi's gets upgraded into a spear with a voice modifying function.
  • In Senki Zesshou Symphogear: WXD Unlimited, Taylor Hebert uses the Relic Ruyi Jingu Bang. You get three guesses what her Weapon of Choice is.

    Films — Animated 
  • Epic (2013): A popular secondary weapon of the Leafmen (when paired with an actual leaf it becomes a makeshift glider/parachute).
  • Kung Fu Panda: Master Oogway's staff, which is passed onto Master Shifu after his death.
  • Quest for Camelot: Garrett is a former Camelot stable boy who was blinded due to a horse-related head injury. Eventually he gave up on civilization and retreated to the forest, using a wooden staff both as a guiding tool and his primary weapon.
  • Robin Hood (1973): Both Little John and Friar Tuck are shown to be proficient in combat with a quarterstaff.
  • Strange Magic: Even though his staff is magic enough to act as a microphone and guitar, this is how the Bog King uses it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Army of Frankensteins: Igor carries a collapsible lighting rod that he uses as a quarterstaff (with great skill) during the battle against the Confederates.
  • The Beastmaster: Seth and Tal use these while posing as simple travelers.
  • Beyond Sherwood Forest: The quarterstaff is the weapon of choice for both Little John and Marian. In fact, the adult Marian's first scene shows her practising with a quarterstaff against a training dummy.
  • Captain America: Civil War: Hawkeye's bow is shown to be collapsible, flattening its curves and turning into a staff for close-quarter combat (though still not a match for Black Panther's vibranium claws).
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Dick Van Dyke's character waxes lyrical about "Me Old Bamboo", though the song itself contrasts the old bamboo with other similar implements, including (by name) walking sticks, poles, and quarterstaves. It's not entirely clear how the bamboo is different, though it is apparently capable of making people applaud, cheer, and/or go daft.
  • Coming to America: Prince Akeem (played by Eddie Murphy) is seen training in staff-fighting at the beginning of the film. So, later when he's working in Queens at a fast-food restaurant and a thug tries to rob the place with a shotgun while he's mopping, he unscrews the handle and beats him down.
  • Conan the Destroyer: Zula (Grace Jones) wields one, though after her introduction she's seen whittling one end down to a point, which she uses like a spear from that point on.
  • Lord of the Rings: Gandalf carries a staff. It's technically a magical staff, but he tends to use it more as a weapon than as a method of casting spells.
  • The Matrix Reloaded: Becoming greatly outnumbered by several dozen rogue agent Smiths, Neo improvises a staff from a steel pole pulled from its concrete anchor in, walloping Smiths like baseballs and keeping those Smiths at bay until twice as many arrive to pull the fight to a weak stalemate.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie: Dulcea's weapon. When separated into its two halves and swung in circles, they emit a whistling sound painful to those who hear it.
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights: Little John's preferred weapon. He duels Robin with them, but the staffs are so cheaply made that they keep breaking, eventually resorting to just hitting each other on the knuckles.
  • Star Trek Beyond: Jaylah wields one, though it can also be converted into a sniper rifle.
  • Star Wars

  • In Blood Sword, the Sage character class starts off with a quarterstaff to do his fighting and he has special techniques with it to knock an enemy off-balance, making them attack last. This ability only works when he has a staff.
  • In Seas of Blood from the Fighting Fantasy series, Awkmutes are birdmen priests to the Chaos Gods. These evil clerics use magic staves that randomly damage your Stamina, Luck or Skill. Your pirate character can take it and use it to harm an opponents Stamina or Skill scores. This is significant as this is arguably the first instance in the series where a magic weapon has abilities other than allowing you to harm an otherwise invulnerable foe or give a skill bonus that only works to offset a skill penalty.

  • Many LARPers consider the staff to be one of the most effective weapons, due to the simple fact that a hit can be scored with any part of the weapon. There's much more to it than that, a staff also has reach, size, and leverage on its side. The staff is a stupendously effective LARP weapon.

  • The Baroque Cycle: An Irish Partisan defeats an English Noble in a duel, armed only with a staff. Afterwards, he advises his friend to "...get a bloody great piece of wood, and hit him over and over until he dies."
  • Belisarius Series: A new order of warrior monks is formed that uses quarterstaffs as their weapons. The reasons are mainly political. The order is to be used to fight in the streets of Alexandria against street gangs and religious fanatics. If they use swords then it will look like soldiers slaughtering unarmed civilians. However, if they use staffs then it is just another street brawl between club-wielding religious factions which is a daily occurrence in Alexandria. When the riots begin, the street mobs are massacred by ranks of highly disciplined and highly trained staff wielders.
  • Circleverse: Staffs are the signature weapon of the traders (whose name indicates not just a profession, but refers to a distinctive culture seperate from mainstream society). Made of ebony and tipped with brass caps, they are used both for self-defense and as narrative tools; symbolic carvings and inscriptions on the caps represent events in the life of the wielder. If a trader is exiled from the fold, the caps of their staff must remain unadorned.
  • Discworld
    • Wizards use magic staffs. Some of them are very old, handed down through generations, and may be made of different materials. Ridcully the Brown has one and it's the reason he doesn't use magic too often because he's found that if something isn't intimidated by being walloped by six feet of solid oak, it probably won't be troubled too much by magic either. This proves useful on his second visit to magic-free Roundworld, where we actually see him trounce a native in a quarterstaff brawl.
    • Morris dancing in Lancre is - when steel toe-capped boots are not employed - essentially quarterstaff fighting set to a musical beat. As the elves find out to their cost. Malicious Morris Dancing is taught as a martial art in Ankh-Morpork and involves the safe - well, to the wielder - use of large thick sticks.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • As many other wizards do, Harry carries a Magic Staff that focuses and concentrates the power of his spells. He also receives proper martial arts training in the use of a staff, specifically so he can invoke this trope when magic isn't a viable option. At one time, he uses it to motorcycle-joust against a limo.
    • He also learned the basics of staff combat from his second teacher and grandfather Ebenezar McCoy, who learned how to use it in an era when it was a common weapon in serious combat. Ebenezar later proves capable of briefly staff-fencing with nothing short of a Physical God.
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): Lift's Shardweapon first manifests as a metal rod since she's never used a blade in her life, she only needs it to parry another shardblade, and the Spren that manifests it really doesn't want to be used to stab people.
  • The Impossible Virgin: In this Modesty Blaise novel, Modesty and Willie have a workout session early on where they use quarter-staffs and discuss the fact that they're unlikely ever to have occasion to use them in a real fight. The final showdown with the villains happens in a situation that precludes the use of guns, so the villains are armed with knives, and Modesty and Willie are armed with quarter-staffs improvised out of stretcher poles.
  • Journey to Chaos:
    • The quarterstaff is likely the most popular weapon in the Dragon's Lair company. Two of its squads use them for magical combat, one for physical combat, and then a fourth does both.
    • Annala Enaz adds a quarterstaff to her arsenal after becoming a chaos priestess.
  • Journey to the West:
    • Sun Wukong (known in the Japanese translation as Son Goku) used a magical collapsible staff called Ruyi Jingu Bang (or "Nyoi Kinko Bou" to most Japanese speakers/anime fans). It appeared as via the Japanese "Nyoi Bou" reading in some adaptations like Dragon Ball, which the dub called a "Power Pole".
    • Actually Sun Wukong is not the only staff fighter here. Sha Wujing aka Sandy is usually shown in theatrical or screen adaptations wielding a "monk spade", however his weapon in the novel was a wooden staff.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Subverted. Royal guards tell Gandalf that he must leave behind all weapons if he wishes to meet the king, but Gandalf counters, "You wouldn't deny an old man his walking stick, would you?". Of course, his walking stick is actually a Magic Staff, which he uses to break Grí­ma Wormtongue's spell over the king. Though what he actually appears to do with it is to magically darken the room and simply knock Wormtongue out, so he can speak to the King directly. In the book, Théoden isn't under an actual magical spell, but simply under the thumb of a twisted advisor who exploits his fears and uses subtle poisons to make him feel weak and powerless.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: Dueling canes are in essence staves about the length of an arming sword, often with a crossguard thrown in. Since Allomancy makes metal weapons impractical among they nobility, this is a fairly popular weapon.
  • Razorland Trilogy: During Horde, Tegan adopts a staff as her signature weapon, since she isn't permitted to travel in Company D without knowing how to fight.
  • Recluce Saga: For order-mages, staves aren't simply the weapon of choice, they're the only possible weapon. Bladed implements like swords, knives, and the like (basically, anything designed with death and destruction in mind) cause pain and discomfort in an order mage since these things are linked with chaos magic. The staff is inherently non-lethal in nature and can be used defensively more or less indefinitely. For this reason, most order-mages wind up carrying a staff (or in one case, a truncheon). While the staff can be used to injure or kill as well (and does have the noted pain-inducing effects in the order-mage wielding it), it is not specifically designed for this purpose, and is thus comparatively safe to use, whereas some order-mages feel ill just holding a sword.
  • Redwall: "Oh me liddle stick o' wood, me liddle stick o' wood/ Whacks here'n'there'n'everywhere, no weapon's half so good ..."
  • Sherlock Holmes is an excellent stick fighter, and there are several references to walking sticks being used as defensive weapons. One of which is featured in a Sherlock Scan: Holmes deduces from seeing a walking stick that's been newly modified to have a lead-filled end (called a Penang lawyer) that the owner thinks he might be in danger.
  • Sir Apropos of Nothing: Apropos uses a number of weapons, but none so often as his staff, which he has because of a lame leg.
  • Sixth Column: The "priest's staves" were in reality Applied Phlebotinum, both weapons and tools. They took the form of an ornately carved and gilded staff (that hid the controls in its gilding) surmounted by a cube of six colors (that concealed the generators/projectors) A backpack hidden under their clothing hid the power source.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire, Arstan Whitebeard demonstrates his Old Soldier nature by casually defeating an enormous and experienced mercenary who is armed with a sword, while Arstan himself uses only a quarterstaff.
  • Spellsinger: Subverted. Jon-Tom's weapon appears to be a simple staff until he presses a button on the top, at which point a foot-long blade shoots out of the other end.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: There was a Jedi Master who used a Simple Staff (somewhat like Yoda) with which he could block Lightsabers (admittedly, by using The Force).
  • The Trigger: The secret service train in staffs to be used as non-lethal weapons when within the area where gunpowder will spontaneously explode.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Mat Cauthon uses a staff as his Weapon of Choice before switching to a Blade on a Stick. He was trained by his father and is good enough with it that early in the series, he beats down two expert swordsmen in a demonstration bout. At once. While convalescing from a serious curse/illness. (The instructor of those swordsmen then reminds the class that the greatest swordsman in history was only ever beaten once... by a farmer with a quarterstaff.)
    • The Dragon Ishamael wields a black staff in his fight with Rand at the end of The Great Hunt. Since he's drawing directly on the power of the Dark One, he can stab Rand with it, dealing him his first Wound That Will Not Heal. Rand still wins the duel.
    • Moiraine carries an ornate staff when traveling and often gestures with it when channeling the One Power. This causes Egwene to mistake it for a Magic Staff, but Moiraine explains that it just helps her concentrate.
  • In a lot of Wuxia novels where the Beggars' Sect appears (especially in the works of Jin Yong like Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils and The Legend of the Condor Heroes), the leader wields a weapon known as the "Dog-Beating Staff" as a badge of office, and must know the techniques to use it. The weapon is effectively a bamboo walking stick that has been petrified with use to roughly the consistency of jade by the many leaders of the Beggars' Sect going back to the Han Dynasty: given that the settings are usually sometime between the Song and Yuan Dynasties, it's had quite a bit of time to be processed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: The Force Lance. Among its many features is the ability to expand into a full-length staff.
  • Arrow
    • Sara Lance aka The Canary uses a staff that can disconnect to form batons as her primary weapon (though was shown to be skilled with other weapons as well). She also twice uses an improvised staff, firstly taking the wooden door frame and later a metal pipe, to fight someone who'd attacked her and Oliver when they were out of costume.
    • When Laurel Lance becomes the Black Canary she also uses a staff, specifically to honor her sister...and learns she sucks at it. So she switches to Dual Tonfas, which she is quite good at instead. Specifically she uses the PR24 side-handle baton, perhaps to honor her father who is an SCPD captain.
    • Slade Wilson, while preferring swords, also showed a fondness for the escrima sticks variant to use while training on the island, and taught Oliver how to fight using them, though Oliver himself mostly sticks to archery or using his bow as a club. Angry over how Slade keeps walloping him, Oliver demands to know why they're learning stickfighting when they're going up against men with guns. "What am I supposed to do if someone sticks a gun in my face—hit them with my stick?!" Slade hands Oliver his pistol and tells him to stick it in his face, only to be quickly and painfully disarmed.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Rangers had the Minbari fighting pike for a primary melee weapon, which is essentially a collapsible staff that can extend so fast that one could be knocked out just by having an end of it hit you when telescoping.
    • In one first-season episode, a wandering monk in search of Holy Grail carries a staff and takes down a pair of muggers.
  • Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: Ryouga Hakua/AbaRed has a staff with a Tyrannosaurus head, which not only functions as a staff, but the head can munch and eat his enemies. He's still a good guy though.
  • Beastmaster: The signature weapon of protagonist Dar. With a long blade on one end, a club head on the other, and the ability to separate at the middle, it's ideal for fighting multiple attackers.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • Averted. Giles wants to train Buffy on the quarterstaff. Buffy is not impressed: "Giles, 20th Century? I'm not going to be fighting Friar Tuck." Giles insists, claiming that it will take "countless hours of rigorous training" to master. They face off and Buffy makes short work of Giles, knocking him flat on the ground.
    Giles: [croaks] Good. Let's move on to the crossbow.
  • Cobra Kai: Late in season 3, Daniel teaches Sam how to spar in his home dojo using a set of bo staffs. The bo staffs come in handy in the season 3 finale when Tory leads the Cobra Kais to assault Sam in her home. Tory chases Sam into the home dojo, and begins attacking her with a set of nunchucks. Sam initially is too afraid to fight back, but when Tory breaks the picture of Mr. Miyagi, Sam gets the resolve to fight back, grabs one of the staffs, and begins dueling Tory. The staff gives her an advantage as she's able to disarm Tory by slipping the end of the staff under the cord connecting the two sticks on the nunchucks and rip them out of Tory's hands.
  • Covert Affairs: Auggie's walking staff.
  • Deadliest Warrior: Wielded by both parties in the Shaolin Monk vs. Maori Warrior episode; a white wax wood staff by the former, and a taiaha (traditional Maori weapon) by the latter.
  • Game of Thrones: During her training with the Faceless Men of Braavos, Arya Stark learns to fight with a staff (while blind, no less!). When she returns to Westeros and prepares for the ultimate battle against the White Walkers, she asks Gendry to construct a staff for her tipped with blades of dragonglass (i.e. obsidian).
  • Lost: Ben prefers a telescopic baton (a homage to Y: The Last Man, whose writer also writes for Lost), but he's not above using a gun if it's handy.
  • The Walking Dead, Morgan Jones uses a wooden staff in his practice of Aikido, which he teaches to some others as well. He believes Thou Shalt Not Kill at least until things really go south, but it's quite effective for busting zombie skulls or incapacitating an enemy.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess's sidekick, Gabrielle, fights with a quarterstaff.

    Myth And Legend 
  • Older Than Print: If Robin Hood isn't shooting you, Little John is probably swinging one of these at you... In the oldest ballads, Robin and his men usually fight with swords. However, they do take up quarterstaffs before print. Robin himself is said to be pretty handy with a quarterstaff, but his weapon of choice is of course a bow and arrows and his men have been known to get the better of him in staff fights.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Monks in the 3rd (and 3.5) Edition are able to use their faster-unarmed attack bonus with certain weapons like the quarterstaff.
    • In Basic Dungeons and Dragons, the Magic-User is only permitted to use the dagger. This is only adjusted by House Rules or Rules Cyclopedia, where the magic user may use the staff - but since it is a two-handed weapon, they will lose initiative when casting spells (where taking damage causes the spell to fizzle.)
    • Druids like staffs, because they're useful to use as focuses for powerful spells like Shillelagh (so that Wisdom powers both hit chance and damage, ideal for the Wisdom-heavy druid) and Changestaff (which flat-out turns the whole staff into a huge, angry treant).
    • Some magic staffs are enchanted to serve as a weapon as well as store spells.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Children of Gaia had perfected a style of combat with a simple wooden staff that could knock out even a werewolf in a single strike. For the record, they are werewolves themselves.
  • The default Weapon of Choice for the default Protestant Blessed in Deadlands is a simple stick, always referred to as being made of hickory. For a game where customizing the Player Character with realistic equipment, strengths, and weaknesses was such a big draw, the repeated reference to whackin' the walkin' dead in the head with a Simple Staff got tiresome.
  • Exalted has Wrackstaffs, the BFS equivalent of the Simple Staff. They also have the regular kind, for when you cannot afford a Wrackstaff... or make it clear to everyone that you're an Exalted, as most Artifact weapons are too heavy for normal humans to use properly.
  • They are present in Los Angeles 2035 and are one of the best melee weapons due to the fact that they grant you one extra defense action for every two actions you get on a round.
  • In GURPS, the basic quarterstaff is among the lightest of the two-handed weapons, is dirt cheap, has good Reach, deals good Swing damage/decent Thrust damage, and automatically parries at +2. The Martial Arts supplement suggests that staff wielders should suffer reduced penalties to defend against multiple attacks.

    Video Games 
  • 9 Monkeys of Shaolin have your Starter Equipment being your trusty oak staff, which deals mediocre damage in the first few stages and only works on mooks. In a You Can't Thwart Stage One moment, you will suffer a defeat in the hands of the marauder leader, since your staff is too weak to damage the leader's armour, and later on you can get the spear and the mace as backup.
  • Throughout the Atelier series, most of the protagonists wield a staff as their weapon of choice, which serves double duty as both a weapon and as a stirring stick for their alchemy cauldrons.
  • A late-game boss in Bad Dudes fights using a pole. He is the epitome of Boring Yet Practical and When All You Have is a Hammer… in the game, as all other bosses have impressive, showy weapons, but he is the only one to use his weapon to keep distance from the player characters, among other techniques. As a result, he is surprisingly difficult to defeat even for his point in the game.
  • Quarterstaves are Jaheira's weapon of choice in Baldur's Gate. Due to the restrictions of her Fighter/Druid build, they are also some of the only weapons she can wield. Fortunately there are powerful staves in Shadows of Amn and an Infinity Plus One Staff in Throne of Baal. As an added bonus, they're one of the few weapon types in the first game that doesn't risk breaking, since, as a wooden weapon, they're not affected by the iron plague.
  • Batman: Arkham City DLC characters Robin and Nightwing use a collapsible bo staff and Escrima sticks, true to their comic book counterparts.
  • Jade from Beyond Good & Evil uses a staff as her primary weapon, in kung-fu style. Naturally, taking out enormous guards in Powered Armor with Hammers With Frickin' Laser Beams is no problem for her.
  • BlazBlue has Chinese Girl Litchi Faye Ling using a much simpler staff, but not-so-very-simple, since the staff can levitate and smack people around.
  • Breath of Fire II has Katt, a staff-wielding Cute Bruiser who also ended up playing the Black Magician Girl — despite starting as a fighter, she expressed interest in learning magic... and towards the end of the game, she suddenly got some of the most powerful attack spells in the game and enough MP to use them.
  • Burning Fight allows you to collect a single long stick as weapon right at the start of the first stage. You can collect other staffs later in the game.
  • The Dark Primary in Condemned: Criminal Origins favors one long staff used as a sword, and Dark Servitors prefer escrima sticks.
  • Dark Age of Camelot has the Friar, a hybrid healer-tank which specializes in the use of the quarterstaff. They also wear armored monastic robes, leading them to usually be mistaken for a Squishy Wizard in PVP. Hilarity Ensues whenever a stealther tries to backstab one.
  • Appears every so often in Double Dragon, specifically Super Double Dragon. While the Lee brothers usually end up Fighting with Chucks, they are no slouch with the staff—it's slow but packs a wallop.
  • In Dragon Age II, animations are added showing mages using their Magic Staffs as melee weapons.
  • From the Dragon Quest series:
    • Dragon Quest V: The Hero can wield many of the game's staves, and they're implied to be his Weapon of Choice. Official artwork usually depicts him wielding a simple wooden staff, and his endgame weapon will likely be the Dragon Staff (since only he can wield it, while the only more powerful weapon he can wield is also available to other characters). In all apperances outside of V, in artwork, party games and even non-playable appearances in other games show him wielding a staff, while all the other main title heroes wield a sword. It's always shown to be either the default wooden one shown on the box art or the Dragon Staff.
    • Dragon Quest IX: Staves became their own fully-fledged weapon type in this entry, being equippable by default by Martial Artists and Priests and have a lot in common with real life bō or quarterstaffs. Equipping one helps the wielder dodge enemy attacks and they are stronger against undead monsters.
  • Koei's Dynasty Warriors games have a number of characters that use staves as their weapon of choice.
    • Of special note are Dynasty Warriors' Pang Tong who can momentarily surf on his staff through the air, and Warriors Orochi 2's Sun Wukong, who can annihilate anything within seconds with his at max level.
    • Zhou Yu switches to a bo staff in 6, followed by Yue Ying in 7. However, Yue Ying later switches back to her small scythe, while Zhou Yu gets to keep the bo.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, staves function in this way, with your skill in using them based off your Blunt Weapon skill (shared with maces and hammers). Actually striking your opponent with them should be a last resort, as they are fairly weak weapons, but they are highly enchantable, meaning that you can beef them up with powerful magic damage. Later games in the series, including Oblivion, Skyrim, and Online, instead change the function of staves into reusable magic spell blasters, removing the ability to strike opponents with them.
  • Fallout
    • Fallout: New Vegas has Old Glory, a flagpole tipped with a golden eagle. It's the signature weapon of Ulysses and is gained at the end of the Lonesome Road DLC.
    • In both Fallout 3 and Vegas, pool cues can be used as staff weapons.
  • Fatal Fury:
    • Billy Kane and his three-sectioned cudgel-on-a-chain.
    • His sister, Lethal Joke Character Lilly uses an ancient staff weapon known as a "laundry pole" to fight. ...Or an actual laundry pole. Probably the latter.
  • Final Fantasy typically has their staves as the magical variety rather than martial but it does have a few exceptions.
    • Final Fantasy has a few early game staves meant for the Monk job, but due to how its unique barehanded damage is calculated, by the time you have access to them it's better to go unarmed.
    • Raijin in Final Fantasy VIII uses a fighting staff as a weapon alongside martial arts and the occasional thunder spell.
    • Staffs are an entire class of weapon in Final Fantasy XI. Though most are wielded by mage classes for spell casting related stats, some are simple staffs and can be wielded as melee weapons by a variety of jobs
    • Poles show up in Final Fantasy XII, but calculate damage as the difference between the target's Magic Defense and the attacker's physical attack and have a high combo rate. As such, they are best used against enemies that are vulnerable to magic but resistant to physical attacks. In the Updated Re-release these weapons are the signature weapon of the Monk license board in lieu of bare fists.
    • A specific few weapons for the Dragoon job in Final Fantasy XIV are fighting staves rather then spears and the appearance can be used over any other spear via glamour prisms.
    • The Mystic/Oracle Job in Final Fantasy Tactics mainly wields poles, which are one of only three weapons providing a two square attack range, alongside the Dragoon's Polearms, and the Dancer's cloth.
    • Poles are also a type of weapon in Final Fantasy Tactics A2, equipped by Master Monks and Geomancers.
  • Furi: The Chain, the first boss, wields a plain iron staff as his weapon.
  • Staves in Guild Wars 2 are usually used for magical attacks, but the Heart of Thorns expansion introduced the Revenant class and Daredevil specialisation for the Thief class. Both of these classes use staves as melee weapons. Revenants can use them for effective support, but Daredevils gain access to a lot of agility-based attacks by using staves.
  • The Guilty Gear series offers two variations in their users:
    • Venom is an assassin who kills people with a pool cue. Not so much a Simple Staff as an unconventional spear.
    • Sin Kiske is something of a more traditional staff user, but he actually uses a flagpole as his weapon. Despite the rather unusual weapon, his move set is rather conventional to that of a traditional staff user.
  • In Halo 2, some of the Honor Guards are seen with staves, and in a cutscene, they use them to beat down some Grunts that got too excited. Unfortunately, they're not used as weapons in actual gameplay.
  • In the Doom-based game Heretic, the players Melee/Emergency weapon is a wooden staff.
  • Bilbo's first weapon of choice in The Hobbit is his walking-stick. While not as powerful as his sword Sting, it has a greater range of motion and can push several enemies away at once. He can also use it to pole vault when he needs to reach ledges that are too far apart to jump across normally.
  • Jade Empire
    • It features the staff as one of the weapon styles, though the "staff" style covers a wide variety of polearms.
    • Old Soldier Sagacious Zu wields a steel-shod, weighted staff which has more in common with a polehammer than a common staff, and is easily the most lethal-looking piece of hardware in the game.
  • Jabberjab offers Kirby the Staff ability in Kirby Star Allies. Gameplay-wise, it's very similar to the Spear ability featured in Return to Dreamland and Triple Deluxe, only Staff lacks Spear's throwing technique and comes with a pole-vaulting technique.
  • Prier of La Pucelle Tactics also wields a baton as her weapon, and is more than privy to kicking the crap out of her enemies with her powerful legs as well.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo when a staff weapon appears it's either a Bo staff, a Quarter staff or a flag-pole.
  • The weapon of choice for sorcerers and necromancers in Might and Magic VI-VIII, and by the end-game of VII for monks (monks primarily specialize in unarmed combat, but the final level of the staff skill, unique to monks, makes staves count as unarmed for the purposes of the unarmed skill...). Often magical, but not necessarily a Magic Staff (they have the exact same enchantments available as any weapon, though unique staves do tend to give boosts to magical power).
  • Mortal Kombat:
  • One of the weapons you can use in Mount & Blade is the quarterstaff.
  • Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden gets the Lunar staff in Black. Although less damaging than the Dragon Sword it is still reasonably powerful and has a large attack range and high speed making it one of the more potent weapons.
  • Quarterstaves in Pillars of Eternity. The Weapon Focus talent (+6 accuracy) associated with them also supports Unarmed attacks, making quarterstaves the perfect secondary long-ranged melee option for Monks. The Greenstone Staff, one of the Soulbound items introduced in the first expansion, grants so many special powers in addition to great combat stats that it blurs the line between this and Magic Staff. The first expansion also introduces a new Monk companion Zahua who can make good use of it.
  • The Warriors of the Order and the Mages in Risen use staffs as weapon, but Mages use them for defensive purpose only. Also, note that in this game spears are considered as staves.
  • Scarlet Nexus: While Hanabi's weapon is called "torch", it's actually a high-tech staff. She sets it on fire with her pyrokinesis, and uses it to fight in melee. She even keeps a bunch of spares behind her desk, to replace it as soon as material starts to wear and melt from exposure to her powers.
  • Kilik from Soulcalibur. He, along with his replacement Xiba and Maxi, is the only character in the series (besides Heihachi and custom characters) to use a blunt weapon. Seong Mi-na's default weapon has a bladed edge, but a variation is blunt.
  • Eagle from Street Fighter uses escrima sticks in battle and got an expanded moveset for them once he migrated into Capcom vs. territory. Rolento also uses a stick, although it is more of a command baton rather than a weapon. Falke from Street Fighter V also uses a staff that she uses as a medium to channel Psycho Power.
  • Suikoden series:
  • Kusuha Mizuha from Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 at first used the dragon-mecha RyuJinKi, who possesses a humongous staff called Kintoubou which she uses to smack around evildoers that threatened those that she cared. However, after she gets her upgrade, RyuKoOh, the staff got ditched for the Ryuu-Oh Hazan-Ken.
  • Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Vesperia staves can be used by Judith as an alternative to spears. Switching to staff changes properties of several of Judith's artes, but otherwise her combat style remains the same.
    • Leia from Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2 uses a staff as her weapon of choice and possesses a multitude of flashy artes that make good use of it. Her unique ability allows her to elongate it after a perfect dodge.
    • Tales of Arise: Even though Dohalim is more of a Magic Knight, his staff is most definitely of this variety, as he can use it to perform nice aerial combos. Like Leia before him, he can elongate it on a dodge, and land more Critical Hits.
  • Trails Series: Estelle Bright, the protagonist of the first story arc, uses a bo staff, and is possibly the biggest Action Girl in the series. She was taught how to use it by her father, Cassius, who derived this style from the famous Eight Leaves One Blade school of swordfighting.
  • Staves are a class of melee weapon in Warframe. A playable warframe called Wukong, inspired by the character of the same name in the Literature section, will make use of one in his abilities regardless of what type of melee weapon the player has equipped.
  • The later Wizardry games oddly feature both the bo and the quarterstaff-both have similar if not identical combat performance, but the bo can only be used by a very few classes such as the monk, while the quarterstaff is usable by pretty much anyone.
  • In Xenogears, Elyham "Elly" van Houten used a pair of collapsible fighting rods in addition to various kicks and Ether attack spells.

    Web Animation 

  • Theo from Gold Coin Comics always carries his trusty staff.
  • Duane from Unsounded fights with one of these when not using pymary.
  • Malack, cleric of Nergal, from The Order of the Stick carried a staff on his person at all times. It was a magical artefact that contained many spells, including several that benefitted him as a vampire, such as Protection from Daylight, and another that allowed him to speed up the vampirisation process in others. Ultimately, Roy broke it, but not before the negative energy spirit in control of Durkon's body was able to reverse engineer the vampire-raising spell from it, which caused problems in the race to prevent his domination of the dwarven Council of Clans.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Richard Peeke, an English sailor captured by the Spaniards in the 17th century, was forced to fight 3 swordsmen with a quarterstaff. He killed one with his first blow and disarmed the other two.
  • Most martial artists will tell you that if they could only ever learn two weapons, those would be the knife and the common stick. While it may be unimpressive, it's effective and remains one of few things that might actually come to hand if you ever needed it in real life. (A broomstick, cane, curtain rod....) Good luck finding your pretty katana in a bar fight.
  • The famous Shaolin monks of China are famous for various martial arts skills and feats, but historically they were most renowned for unarmed combat, spearmanship, and, their forté, the gun, or staff. Inexpensive, simple, versatile, capable of offense or defense, and potentially non-lethal, it was the perfect weapon for monks to study for meditation, health, and defense. The Shaolin staff is the progenitor of much of popular culture's staff fighting scenes and characters.
  • Traditionally, there is no difference between bokken techniques and quarterstaff techniques in principle- both are attempts to emulate a sword with a length of wood. The quarterstaff is wielded like a Zweihander. The difference between a walking cane (or a snapped-off broomstick) and a hanbo is effectively nil. Hanbo are 35.4 inches in length (90 cm) in the modern tradition, about the distance from a man's ankle to hip. That being said, you cannot wield a human leg as a staff. It'd bend at the knee.
  • Several fencing authors of the Early Modern era, including George Silver, considered the quarterstaff the most effective of all hand weapons.
  • The Irish have the shillelagh. No, not the silly stubby cudgel that gets passed off as such to tourists, an actual stick. Ostensibly used for a walking stick, at least where British nationals could hear it given the British ban on Irish having weapons in the earlier history of The Troubles, but there were several fighting styles developed using it as a weapon, with the "handle" end serving as an impromptu hammer if need be.
  • A standard-issue weapon for the Zulu Imperial Army was a staff with a wooden or metal head far smaller than that of a typical club, known to Westerners as a "knobkierie" (old Afrikaans for "walking stick with a knob on it"). It could be used as anything from a fighting staff to a light club and was famously effective as a secondary weapon to the assegai (stabbing spear). It is still used in Zulu cultural ceremonies, and to this day is a common melee weapon for home defense throughout almost all communities in South Africa. It is featured in the South African coat-of-arms.
    • A single kierie is good, but two are better: Nguni stick-fighting uses a defense- and an attack-stick. The amaXhosa go for wrapping the hand with the defense-stick in material to protect the knuckles clutching it in the middle; the amaZulu go for a small knuckle-shield/buckler based on their more famous larger shields. The attack-stick is held pretty much like a short sword. If you see a couple of boys from about the age of ten carefully sizing up and selecting branches, they're probably about to practice this footwork-intense martial art. Used in everything from rough-housing to driving cattle to killing pests to waterfowl hunting (there are throwing moves you don't use in moderated fights).
  • Muso Gonnosuke has the only recorded claim of a victory over Miyamoto Musashi, using a .
  • This trope's association with Technical Pacifist types came about (at least in Europe) from their use as Staves of Authority for doctors during the Medieval period, especially plague doctors during the era of The Black Death; the doctor could use the staff to manipulate diseased patients without having to touch them directly, and it proved handy for defending the doctor from bandits on the roads, since they had to travel between plague-stricken towns a lot.
  • The Japanese martial art of Jōdō or jōjutsu is a fighting style revolving around use of a short staff, usually about 3 to 5 feet long, called a jō.