The topic of wushu gear has come up with in the Internet community. This is a subject that I had put some thought and effort into in the past. The obvious side effect to gear would be money. If we can get/start/spin off a company that produces quality gear for wushu, and if they can pull in a profit then they in turn can put the money into sponsorships/advertising/etc. That side effect is what everyone seems to want. I for one would just like to have the good quality gear.
All the stuff we use now is shoddy. Sure you can buy our shoes in china for $3, but here in the US they cost $20, and only last 2 months. I have tried shoes form other sports, but there is always something that doesn’t quite work for wushu.
The same goes for the weapons. So much of the equipment we have could easily be improved with a little thought. Why are the sword finger guards sharp enough to cut your finger? The swords are unbalanced. The spear tips a thin metal flange. The staffs break regularly.
We could make a good lightweight sword that is balanced, one that has a replaceable blade so you don’t need to waste money every time you nick your blade. A finger guard that is solid smooth and won’t cut your hand.
The spear tips don’t even NEED to be a point, the could be rounded (like the guiding broadswords) so that the tip (which is nothing more than a metal flange) won’t: 1) get bent every time you drop it and 2) won’t — nay, cannot, impale you if you drive it into your leg, or miss a toss.
I do not currently have the knowledge of metal working that I need to actually do any of these things. The most I can do is smelt lead to make my cheap (quality cheap) swords balanced. At one point I called around to companies that make carbon fiber products — sail masts, airplane parts, golf clubs, etc — to see if I could find a 6′ long pole that tapers from 1.5″ to 1″ and had no luck. Even if I had found a carbon fiber staff I am not certain that any given pole would work, it may need to be specially coated to prevent splintering. Again, this is something I know we could have. The materials and know-how exist, just no body bothers to make a carbon fiber staff that is designed to smack on the ground. A lighter, stronger, last-longer-ator wushu weapon.
Apparel would be nice, but Adidas basketball pants are pretty much the perfect workout pants and the t-shirt market seems to be cornered by the schools. Too bad so many schools (oh, and magazines too) have such horrible designs. So maybe there is a market for that stuff, once people realize that better designs can exist.
Oh, and with my interest in design and branding, I totally agree with Jeff when he said this: Gear can be done for wushu like I discussed before. The trick is coming up with a brand (logo, etc.) and a quality that people will respond to. (Several of us working on this almost have some ideas ready to go public). The key isn’t so much equipment per se as it is the brand.
You gotta sell to the emotions. You gotta make people like it, and so much of that depends on brand development. Wushu does need a brand. Wait, no, U.S. Wushu needs a brand.
Please don’t let the brand be tiger claw. Please.