Why use the long stick to do stretching?

The implementation of our long wooden stick (read The basic equipment for training in 6DKF) offers many advantages in terms of stretching:

  • Its surface is smooth but solid and can be used to flatten the tensed parts of our body
  • It is not attached to our body and can be freely moved everywhere we need
  • From the ground, it reaches the height of our shoulders and this allows us to involve more limbs at the same time

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

In our school, this practice has been chosen especially because even in the beginner-level equipment, the long stick is always present (read 6DKF’s basic equipment: explanation); in any case, we can also use something similar (the handle of a shovel, a broom, etc.).

A note by Master Kongling – Naturally there are specific sticks for stretching with particular characteristics but for a martial artist, it is completely useless to buy them.

The exercises

Before starting let’s make sure to have read:

Exercise 1

A full-body stretching (useful also to train the dynamic equilibrium, read The concept of Dynamic Equilibrium):

  • Let’s start leaning the stick perpendicular to the ground (it must always remain in this position)
  • Let’s securely and naturally grab it with 2 hands at the base of the third upper section (the stick is ideally divided into 3 equal parts)
  • Let’s stretch our arms at 90-99% and let’s do a step away from the stick
  • Let’s find a balance (eg. opening the legs) and let’s put all our weight on the stick (as we were falling)
  • Let’s remain hanging to the stick for the chosen time (5-45 seconds) and let’s repeat several times alternating the order of the hands
  • While we are in the position we have to breathe and relax our entire body, allowing it to release all its weight (the only eventual slight tension is in the grip)
  • At a basic level, the exercise can be done even only flexing the upper part of the body (with the palms of the feet completely attached to the ground)
  • At a more advanced level, we can also stretch the lower limbs, elongating the entire body and remaining (with another step away from the stick) on the tip of the toes
  • If we are not able to keep the stick still on a smooth surface, we can always fit it in a corner between 2 walls or train on the grass (let’s avoid unstable surfaces)
  • There are a lot of possible variations of this practice but they all fall in the same principle, hang our body weight to the stick

Exercise 2

This exercise is born in our school, it is extremely effective for the shoulders and is also described (more deeply) in our Back and Neck pain treatment video course:

  • From sitting on the ground (barefoot) let’s stretch the left leg forward
  • Let’s position our stick on our left shoulder and at the same time on the toes of our elonged leg
  • Let’s position the left forearm over the stick (leaving its weight)
  • Let’s position then our right hand on our left forearm (to increase the weight)
  • Let’s relax and maintain the position for the chosen time (5-45 seconds)
  • Let’s repeat all the steps for the right side
  • Let’s implement the warrior’s breathing (read Breathe Yoga: the warrior’s breathing)
  • If the compression on the shoulder is too intense we could add a few layers of fabric or remove the other hand

Exercise 3

A simple but effective stretching for the shoulders:

  • From standing, let’s put our stick behind our back
  • Let’s position it at the height of our elbows
  • Let’s grab it with the thumbs looking outward (at the 2 extremities of the central third of the stick)
  • Let’s slightly push in direction of our back and let’s remain there for the chosen time (5-45 seconds)
  • Let’s implement the warrior’s breathing

Exercise 4

A dynamic practice for the shoulders similar to the previous one:

  • From standing, let’s put our stick behind our back
  • Let’s position it at the height of our hips
  • Let’s grab it with the thumbs looking outward (near the 2 external extremities of the stick)
  • Our arms must not be straight, they must be bent at 120° in the direction of the stick
  • On the left side, let’s make a 90° forward rotation (on the Y-axis) with the torso
  • Let’s return to the initial position and let’s do the same with the right (30-60 times)
  • During the entire exercise let’s maintain the back straight and let’s push only with the arm that is going forward

Exercise 5

An easy exercise to stretch the shoulders and the arms:

  • From standing, let’s grab our stick with the thumbs looking inward (at the 2 extremities of the central third of the stick)
  • Let’s use only the thumbs and the index finger to grab the stick
  • Our arms must be 99% extended over our head (perpendicular to the ground)
  • From this position let’s try to move the stick backward
  • At the same time, our hands push outward (at the same time, to the left and to the right)
  • Let’s maintain the position and let’s remain there for the chosen time (5-45 seconds)
  • Let’s implement the warrior’s breathing
  • A small variation could be to add a few (slow) lateral vibrations with the torso

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • These exercises come form Yoga, Aikido, our school and many other disciplines
  • It is not casual that we have chosen to work so much on the shoulders, for a martial arts practitioner that is a point of big stress

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What difference do you feel after exercise 2 on the first shoulder?

Author: Master Kongling

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