The Flexible or Three Section Staff fits into the flexible weapon catagory and as such is considered an advanced weapon. It is also cosidered advanced on the basis of it being a combination weapon. This explaines its relative rarity. As far as flexible weapons go it is about mid level in the ease of use catagory.
The Three Section Staff has the potential to operate at all ranges of combat. It will often be used at long range first(beginner) because at long range the possibility of racking yourself in the head or groin is minimized. At mid range The Weapon is used in much the same way as sticks are with minor variations. To a person who knows what they are doing, The Three Section Staff is most effective at crossing the ranges. This is where all those spins and rapparounds come into a purpose. For fighting application all you need to know is how to not hit yourself, the opponent haveing his own problems avoiding your weapon while trying to hit you. Any strike with this weapon is a guaranteed hit which is why people like it. The biggest problem when fighting with this weapon is that even if you hit the opponent, your weapon will bounce back at you. An experienced opponent will simply stand back and smack the staff causing it to go out of control and hit you.
This weapon trains body conditioning until you learn not to hit yourself, shoulder strength or more correctly it blends the wrist/elbow/shoulder strength into a unit. It also trains sensitivity and precision of body movement. The footwork is also trained intensly along with ducking.
The benefits of the Three Section Staff to your training will tend to be in the avoidence catagory. This is further focused in joint locks and some throws. It does have a strengthening effect but it is the sensitivity that actually gives the benefit. When you do a technique or counter then you will be able to feel the responce. This greatly enhances your ability to control the opponent.
Some of you might be thinking that the three section staff is one of those traditional weapons that has no place in our society. Some may even think that the staff doesn't hit like you do and therefore won't help anyone counter your techniques. I would like to point out that unless you are a master of fighting, body mechanics,pressure points, and are a pre-pubecent mongolian female contortianist then there is no way that you can compete with or even come close to the damage that a person with a three section staff will do to themselves while practicing. Since I can fight I too suffered under the illusion that a weapon was simply something in your hand that hurt people a little more than the fist. The Three Section Staff taught me that I was wrong.