Basic tools: the pole

What is it?

The Poles Training is one of the most important trainings in 6 Dragons Kung Fu. It consists basically of hitting one or more wooden poles.

What is it for?

In our style the poles are used:

  • As a target for kicks, punches, etc.
  • As a target for weapons (training versions, not sharpened, not tipped, not in metal)
  • To condition our body to resistance (beginner must use protections)
  • To learn to manage a rigid, unmoveable and strong opponent (the various kinds of contacts in 6 dragons Kung Fu)
  • To learn to calibrate the power we can use in relation to the target characteristics (rigidity, angle, etc.)
  • To learn to conform tension, position and trajectory (etc.) of our attacking body element in relation to the target we want to hit
  • To create a base for spatial intelligence and memory (eg. remember where is a fixed part of the scenario)
  • To assess our technique in terms of effective, fast, stable and powerful combinations
  • To create a harmony of consecutive and connected muscle chains (at an advanced level)
  • To learn to balance the body during hitting, pulling, pushing, etc.

What are the goals?

The objectives of this kind of practice are the developing of:

How to choose / create the training area

A poles training area (similar to the Shaolin ones) is relatively expensive and it can be a big work to build, it is strongly recommended to start with a more economic version:

  • A perfect replacement is to use the door jambs of a corridor as poles (they are less hard, arranged at an acceptable distance, etc.)
  • Another possibility is to find a tree or better more trees positioned at a suitable distance

In general, the idea is to find a place where:

  • We can train safely (read The most suitable places to train)
  • There are groups of poles-like elements not moveable (metal / wooden / concrete / rock columns, tree trunks, etc.)
  • The distance between each pole can be random but it must be a minimum of 60cm and a maximum of 250cm (the ideal is 80cm)
  • The height of the poles can be variable, the minimum is 20cm but the most of them must be 150cm or higher (eg. to do the high kicks)
  • Each pole can have a rectangular, circular, hexagonal, square (etc.) section but its diameter must be between 12cm and 23cm
  • Each pole  must have no sharpened edges and its surfaces must be as much as possible flat / rounded
  • Each pole can be empty or (better) filled inside but it must be resistant enough not to be damaged
  • Even the adjacent elements of the poles must not be easily damaged (walls, wardrobes, etc.)
  • The area must be totally safe (for us and for the others) and enough big to allow us to practice any kind of techniques (even with weapons)

A real 6 Dragons Kung Fu poles training area has a lot of specifics (at least 6-10 wooden poles, etc.), we will see in detail in future.

A basic Poles Training

About safety there are no specific things to say for this workout (read How to train safely), the only thing we must stress is that if we are not conditioned (read Hands conditioning: first approach with a bag of rice) we must not face without protections any kind of solid target:

  • Once we have identified a good place to train, it is necessary to prepare some protections to be applied to the poles (read Convert into training targets “each” kind of object)
  • Then we have to choose what kind of protections we want to wear on our limbs (gloves with free fingers, etc.)
  • Even if we wear protections, we never have to hit a surface that we do not know at full power;  let’s progress gradually thinking carefully about the responses that our body gives us (breaking the bones, for example, of the hand is easier than it may seem)

How to train during the first approach:

  • We start with one pole
  • The first thing to learn is to push, we have to be able to move our body away from the pole without losing balance
  • After each push we have to imagine to be “magnetically attracted” from the pole, we do not have to lose it, we have to “dance” with it
  • In the first times the practitioner must do not hit but only press, push and pull the poles
  • We can use legs, hands, elbows, shoulders (etc.), we have to adapt our body to an effective and harmonious uninterrupted flow
  • We have to go slowly but intensely, in sync with a natural but noisy breathing
  • We have to focus on full body rotations, exchanges of weights (between, legs, arms, etc.)
  • Gradually we can increase the speed but maintaining the concentration on balance and intensity

After few weeks, having acquired a certain familiarity with the exercise (and a basic level of balance), we can:

  • Start to use not only the push but also the light hit (with hands, feet, fingers, shoulders, knees, etc.)
  • The previous contact exercise is not excluded, it is simply enriched with further and more “aggressive” interactions (punches, kicks, etc.)
  • When we hit let’s try to include in our flow as many combinations we can (simultaneous, consequent, etc.) with knees, hands, wrists, etc.
  • As always let’s try to imagine to fight against real / reactive opponents (we have to maintain the guard, etc.)
  • With the time and the right conditioning, we can implement more and more power

There are a lot of other things to say but as a first approach to this practice, we have gone even too far, in future articles we will see more advanced trainings with the poles.

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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