by Old Tom, of old-tom.com
I use rattan exclusively. I use bamboo, graphite, etc., extremely rarely - merely as a variance of sensation. Jojasa puts the bamboo cane in the same category as a two-by-four.
The very-thin graphite cane was a gift (from LAR, but different LAR!), and tremendously wicked. Its noise as it swishes through the air is very scary - and, thus, I primarily use it for swishing through the air.
Canes break, so plan on it. There are things you can do to make breakage less likely, but they *do* break. So, if you lose a cane or two (or twenty), don't sweat it.
In public play, there are a couple of things I'm very careful about.
1. I don't leave the canes - not even the smallest ones - where someone can casually pick it up and mess with it. If someone gets stupid with a spare hairbrush or strap, that can be survived. Nor is the item likely to be broken. A cane, on the other hand, is dangerous, in the hands of an idiot. And, they're easily broken if you do just the right stupid thing.
2. If you leave a cane where somebody can sit on it, even for a moment, somebody *will* sit on it. I have found that I need to be particularly careful to protect my canes during a scene. If somebody can walk by and step on one, they will.
I've done far more damage with my canes, on the back swing, then ever in contact with a backside. People insist on not paying attention, and/or walking right through the middle of a scene. I've taken out any number of cans of soda, carelessly placed within range.
It's a self-correcting situation, though. A cane in the face does grab one's attention. Like in tennis, I can (and do) use a cane forehand and backhand. At one time in the dungeon, there *was* plenty of room, but this one person kept carelessly walking past me, interfering with my swing. After about the third time, I timed my backswing to nail him full in the chest in front of an audience who *knew* he'd been carelessly interfering. End of problem
To be sure, it *is* proper etiquette to not play with someone else's toys without permission. However, in Jojasa's party suite, if toys are left out in the general gathering area, that means they're there to be used. I leave out my most painful implements so that they *can* be used.