Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One of my kung fu teachers is nine feet tall

I refer, of course, to my dragon pole, pictured below.

Father, daughter, and dragon pole (circa 2007)

In principle, a weapon is simply an extension of the body.  In practice, it takes a lot of intelligent  and diligent practice to attain that kind of mastery.  [I'm working on it...]  In the meantime, training with a weapon, especially a large weapon, is a valuable source of feedback for developing efficient body movement.  Weapons are great teachers.

There is also a conditioning effect.  Look at the picture: talk about torque!  Repeatedly working through the hung kuen dragon pole set, or even individual movements as a drill, soon becomes a demanding workout.

I like to practice the dragon pole movements not only with the big stick, but to a lesser extent with a 6 foot bo, and also with no stick at all.  After training with the dragon pole switching down to a bo feels like a toothpick!

Nowadays we don't travel around armed with our preferred weapon, so ideally you want to be able to improvise by picking up whatever comes to hand.  While giant sticks are hard to come by -- and don't make great indoor weapons, anyway -- bo-like brooms and mops are relatively common, so practicing with shorter sticks makes practical sense.

Dispensing with the weapon altogether leads into an exploration of the relationship between weapon techniques and empty-handed body movements.  This is valuable.


Beo_Shaffer said...

Nice post, I’ve been wanting to do some more weapon training myself lately. One question though, have you tried training with knives or batons? They don’t provide the same level of strength training as larger weapons, but still include the other benefits, and are great for improving your reaction time. Even with the (heavy) real versions it can be very hard to track the weapon’s progress, so doing partner drills, or sparring with the rattan training weapons forces you to really slow down your time perception and/or increase you predictive abilities.
I wasn’t quite sure were to stick this part but since I haven’t posted here before:
I found your blog awhile a go and have read most of the archives. I have a first degree black belt in TKD through a WTF dojang and have also done some Filipino and Japanese martial arts through my old schools martial arts club.

Andi said...

That child is so cute!
She must have extremely attractive parents!!!

Dan Prager said...

Hi Beo

Thanks for commenting.

"[H]ave you tried training with knives or batons?"

Yes: I've done some training with both knives and short baton-ish sticks, and agree that this kind of training is also very good for precisely the reasons you state.

Short sticks are particularly fun for jiu-jitsuka because with a bit of experimentation many empty-hand joint-locks can be usefully transformed and applied.

Michele said...

Hi Bob,
We also stress that a weapon is an extention of the body. We use bo, nunte and eiku. The weapons have varying lengths and weight. The nunte is heavy and longer than the bo. I can relate to the "toothpick" feeling of the bo when switching.

Nice post.