Buugeng and S-Staffs involves the spinning and manipulation of one or more S shaped objects. The art of S-Staff borrows many moves from traditional staffs spinning with the addition of the curved S shape to create an optical illusion known as the “visual kaleidoscope”. In addition the S-Staff also requires a lighter touch than straight staff, as well as a detailed understanding of plane mechanics. If your planes are slightly off with a staff the only conscience is that the planes will look a messy; however if your planes are off when working with S-Staff, you are likely to hit yourself with the prop. Its sudden popularity has lead to an explosion of new performances and styles with this unique prop including Fire Buugeng.
The misconception is that the terms Buugeng and S-Staff are synonymous, however this is not technically correct. A Buugeng is blade shaped, hinged in the middle (making it collapsable for easier storage and transportation) and not a full semi-circle which will slightly change the patterns you create. Traditional S-Staffs resemble standard contact staffs with each side molded into a semi-circle. Buugeng.com forum post titled “BUUGENG!!! Here is what it is!” by Sennyo posted January 22th, 2010 (Read the forum post)
A simple way to state this relationship between Buugeng and S-Staff is to say that, Buugeng is a type or S-Staffs but S-Staffs are not a type of Buugeng.
The first recorded appearance of the S Shaped Staff is on the PBS special, “Moschen in Motion” (1991) with Michael Moschen. Moschen is an innovative juggler who has worked with Cirque du Soleil, won the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant”, and was the contact juggler behind David Bowie’s amazing performance in the film Labyrinth (1986). Since the s-staff shares many characteristics with the Double Deer Horn of Chinese martial arts, it is believed to be one of Moschen’s inspirations for the shape and early manipulation techniques.
Dai Zaobab (real name Dai Murata), a well known Japanese entertainer, first coined the term Buugeng after after seeing Moschen in Motion in 2001, taking and adapting Moschen’s S-shaped staffs. The name derives from Buu(Martial Arts)-Geng(Illusion) in Japanese. Dai began to handcraft and sells the S-staffs as Buugeng bringing the art from to the prop manipulation world for the first time. The following is a quote from Dai Zaobab himself:
“I want to say first that I have a lot of respect for Micheal Moschen, and actually my inspiration for Buugeng orignally came from him. I first saw “Moschen in Motion” in Africa in 2001. When I saw his video, I was inspired by the optical illusion he created. At that time, I didn’t remember much of what I had seen. I didn’t know exactly what it was or what shape it was. All I remembered was that it was something not-straight.” Ministry of Manipulation, blog article titled “Dai @ Flow Temple (&Moschen)” posted January 11th, 2010 (Read the original article)
At ruffly the same time Banyan Gallagher, an innovative performance artist out of Chicago, saw the same PBS special and thought to build the first set of fire S-Staves known as the “Fire Spiral Staff”. The design has since been copied and altered by fire toy manufacturers and hobbyists world wide.
Buugeng List of Tricks
Techniques and tricks that involve the prop rotating around and axes.
- Forward spin – rotating a single buugeng in a forward direction video tutorial with Zaobab
- Backward spin – rotating a single buugeng in a backwards direction video tutorial with Zaobab
- Both hands forwards – rotating two buugengs in a forward direction video tutorial with Zaobab
- Both hands backwards – rotating two buugengs in a backward direction video tutorial with Zaobab
- Both hands different direction (forwards) – rotating two buugengs, held as a mirror to each other across the vertical central axes of the body, rising in front of the body, over the shoulders and falling behind the backvideo tutorial with Zaobab
- Both hands different direction (backwards) – rotating two buugengs, held as a mirror to each other across the vertical central axes of the body, falling in front of the body, over the hips and rising behind the back video tutorial with Zaobab
- Kazaguruma – Pinwheel images of this move at buugeng.com
- Rannzeng – Orchid images of this move at buugeng.com
- Tennzeng – Galaxy Splendid (though the Kanji for this is really meaning more of the heaven/paradise/nirvana…Dai translated this as Galaxy Splendid. Can be refered to galaxy for short if you can’t recall the Japanese) images of this move at buugeng.com Buugeng Forum forum topic “OFFICIAL NAMES FOR MOVES” created by Sennyo
- Nitouzeng – Unity (literally this means “two unification” in Japanese) images of this move at buugeng.com
- Kaizeng – Ocean images of this move at buugeng.com
- Fuunnzeng – Eruption (as in a volcano eruption/ visualize a volcano erupting smoke) images of this move at buugeng.com
- Mannzeng & Dalazeng – Dai chose these names because these 2 moves remind him of the image of Mandala. images of this move at buugeng.com
- Butterfly Finger Rolls – Using the fingers to manipulate the two staves in foward circles on the front plane. Very similar to thread the needle in poi. video of this move from Janus on Youtube
Performer Dai Zaobab with Buugeng at Flow Temple.
Micheal Moschen’s “Moschen in Motion” PBS Special
Buugeng around Burning Man (2010)
- Wall Plane, Butterfly Isolation – Using the fingers to manipulate the two staves in foward circles on the front plane while maintaining an isolation. Very similar to thread the needle in poi. video of this move from Janus on Youtube
Note from Banyan: Isolations can work around the “point” or end of the S or around the arc of one end, creating different effects.
- Hand roll – Rolling a buugeng over the handvideo with Sennyo & Thom @ 0:09 Juggling.tv blog article titled “Contact Buugeng Tech Blog” by Thom Thumb and Sennyo posted July 20th, 2010 (Watch the video and read the post)
- Wrist roll & double wrist roll in video with Sennyo & Thom@ 0:13
- Elbow roll in video with Sennyo & Thom @ 0:23
- Shoulder roll in video with Sennyo & Thom @ 0:54
- Arm roll & arm roll behind the back in video with Sennyo & Thom @ 0:48
- Conveyer belt & partner conveyer belt in video with Sennyo & Thom @ 0:28 & @ 1:13
- Antispin, hand roll over, flower in video with Sennyo & Thom @ 0:43
- Halo in video @ 0:58
- Opposite direction antispin hand roll flower in video with Sennyo & Thom @ 1:00
Toys & Styles
The Wood Buugeng design is created by Dai Zaobab. They are hand build, collapsable with a magnetized center fold. Another variation of this is the Double Bladed Buugengs.
Available from: fire-toys.com & Zaobab.com
Average Standard Measurements: 80.4cm (32.2in) & 765g (1.68lb)
Original concept by Michael Moschen. Common Types: polished wood, two color painted wood, aluminum and silicone
Available from: firetoys.com
Average Standard Measurements: 78cm (30.7in) & 525g (1.15lb)
Original concept by Banyan Gallagher. Common construction: Aluminum frame with kevlar wicks. See image at top right of this article.
Available from: firetoys.com
Average Standard Measurements: 79cm (31.1in) & 500g (1.10 lb)
Average Large Measurements: 99cm (40in) & 590g (1.30 lb)
Blog Entry, Always innovating, Buugeng goes Acrylic, January 23, 2011
“As far as fire eating books go, this is the best of the bunch. Brian’s book is comprehensive [...]“
Featured Entertainer, Dai Zaobab, December 29, 2010
“Dai Zaobab (born 1977) real name Dai Murata, is a well known Japanese entertainer. Dai is best known for the innovation [...]“
- Buugeng Facebook group started by Dai Zaobab Join the group on Facebook
- Juggling.tv blog article titled “Contact Buugeng Tech Blog” by Thom Thumb and Sennyo posted July 20th, 2010 (Watch the video and read the post)
- Buugeng Forum is and active forum created by Sennyo on January 21st 2010
- Michael Moschen’s website
If any of the information in the above article is incorrect, unclear or incomplete please email me with the your issue and supporting references.