The third fundamental technical exercise
The Poles training is another practice inspired by the ancient Shaolin methods (again the 72 arts of Shaolin temple): we have introduced it in Lesson 2.3 and now we will deepen the topic.
The core idea of this exercise is to hit one or more immovable (or semi- immovable) rigid (or semi-rigid) surfaces (1 or more poles, trees, a wooden dummy, etc.).
As we said in Lesson 3.6, the benefits are endless and all related to the development of real martial skills (impact conditioning, spatial intelligence, speed, stamina, precision, etc.).
How to practice correctly
What you need to practice this exercise
- Can be performed in every area where there are 1-2 doors with smooth wooden jambs (or even a single wooden or metal pole)
- With the gloves, is not too dangerous and it does not require any particular type of conditioning to start (another solution is the one described in Convert “any” type of object into a training dummy)
- Is good both for the intermediate, both for the expert (the difficulty self-regulates to your psychophysical capabilities)
A note by Master Kongling – Without the gloves or a good impact conditioning (read Conditioning check for the impact) the risk of creating painful micro-cracks in the bones is very high: you have to learn to feel your body and to be absolutely gradual (otherwise, at best, whenever the weather will change, you will notice it with painful twinges at the knuckles, etc.).
The evolution of the practice
The best way to rapidly reach a good level is to follow this gradual path:
- Read Basic tools: the pole (do not start this training if you have not at least 3 months of practice with the other 2 fundamental practices described in Lesson 10.2 and Lesson 10.3)
- The beginner starts with arms only and wearing the gloves; the targets are 1-2 poles (to start a the door jambs are perfect)
- After a few sessions, you can start (with the right caution) to include the legs (with low kicks, under the knee level) and the training weapons (read The basic equipment for training in 6DKF) covered with foam protections (to avoid to damage the surface we work with)
- After 1-2 weeks, you can start to hit with kicks below the knee level (according to your current flexibility level, read )
- After 1 month, you can start to add more poles (3-4), dividing the practice into arms, legs and arms plus legs
- Reached 6 months you can start to add more poles (5-6), rapidly moving from one to another as if they were opponents ready to attack
- Reached 1 year you can start to remove the gloves; however, the focus must be to measure the strength of each stroke and above all, to hit precisely what you want, how you want, with the part of the hand you want (this means to slow down the pace)
- Reached 1 year and a half, sometimes, you can position safe obstacles (eg. made of soft plastic) on the ground; in addition to this you can also use a PVC dummy (read A Wing Chun wooden dummy like in PVC) to start to familiarize with the wooden version (read 5 wooden dummy drills / exercises ideal for beginners)
- Reached 2 years, with protections, you can start to alternate the practice with a real Wing Chun’s wooden dummy (read The Wing Chun dummy) or the 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s one (that is slightly different and extremely painful without protections, read The 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s wooden dummy)
- After 3 years you can totally remove any kind of protection (but only if you have reached a good conditioning level and state control, read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch)
A note by Master Kongling – Again, everything comes after is very dangerous and less relevant in terms of generic martial skills development (we only mention it in the video course and in the Core Course, near the black belt). In any case, it is important to stress that the most important practice is and remains the one with the normal poles (in our school, even the wooden dummy, despite its importance for trapping, comes after).
Insert the Poles training in the daily sessions
- Starts with the beginning of your 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s practice and never ends
- In a line of principle, should be performed almost every 1-2 days
- Should be executed for 6-15 minutes for each session (with longer periodic executions, 20-120 minutes)
- As always, to gain the best results, should be divided into upper limbs only, lower limbs only and full body (33% of the time for each)
A few secrets to improve
The idea is to always do better than the last time, at each execution. To make this possible, you have to:
- Do not slow down the pace
- Try to always be in perfect balance and at the right distance to attack at 100% of efficacy
- Focus the execution on avoiding to be repetitive in terms of paths, type of blows, timing, targets, etc.
- Count the number of blows that you can throw in a specific time (maintaining the difficulty, you always have to try to increase their number, read Analysis and improvement of performance)
- Use motivational music (read Workout music: how, when, why)
- Forget that you are training, forget everything; while you are performing this exercise, your mind should be focused only on those “virtual enemies” that are around you (never give them your shoulders when they are near you or too long)
- Break the daily sequence with a week of total exclusion of this practice (2-3 times per year); this way your mind will have the time to forget the repetition and at the same time, to passively elaborate new dynamics
In the next lesson of this chapter, we will conclude this deepening on the fundamental 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s technical practices (talking about the common points, the differences and the hybrid exercises).
In-depth video courses
- Basic 6 Dragons Kung Fu Exercises – The most complete plan of study of the Poles exercise (and all the other fundamental ones)
- Iron Palm conditioning (for beginners) – What is and how to start to develop the Iron Palm skill
- Wooden dummy – A mini-guide about the training dummies we implement in our training plans
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- Do you feel pain hitting a solid surface?
Author: Master KonglingFounder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.
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