I hate you guys - you always know the best counter-attacks...
If you're doing actual contact with the sticks, i'd go rattan to avoid injury. If you're just wanting to learn the moves then a dowel or chopped off broomstick would work. Rattan won't splinter or shatter in the same way regular hardwoods will, so you don't end up with a jagged spear just the ends get 'soft'.
Heck, electrical tape and a PVC pipe would work, just watch out for shards (ie, don't hit **** with it ;p).
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