- Tiger and Crane sparring form, which is an extension of the Tiger and Crane form
- Four Gates hand sparring form
- Fifth Son Eight Trigrams Staff sparring form – long staff against long staff
- Long Staff versus double Butterfly Swords
- Empty hands versus double Butterfly Swords
More from Kung Fu Direct (see previous posts for address, two carbon fiber composite staffs and several traditional normal-length staffs)
Lengths of 108″, 120″ and 130″. $100, $105 and $110 respectively. I will try to obtain tapers and weights.
Nice photo, by the way. Due to its length and color, the long pole is not the easiest subject for a portrait, and is even more challenging to film in a movie. In the Chen Family Style Long Pole 13 Movements set there are a fair number of times in the set that the tip of the staff impacts the ground. Not recommended for steel spear points – or their colorful fringes. Anyone who films or even practices outdoors here in California has learned two words: foxtails and mud. So if the swords or spears or whatever have tassels or fringes you really need to keep them comfortably off the ground. I admit, the brightly colored tassels look good – until you have to clean debris off them. When we filmed at Black Diamond Regional Park even with very little weapon to ground contact I had to keep switching sword tassels because of all the foxtails. We called it wringing the mop.
Because of the length and the fact that many moves are done at full extension the tip of the staff might be 12 or 13 feet from your body. This makes it challenging to keep the person and the weapon in the frame even when the camera-person knows what is going on. While the wooden pole does not reflect much light (unlike, say a saber) many cameras struggle to keep the pole looking sharp and crisp as it moves from light sky above to golden grass below. It is not always simple during a multi-year drought to find a place where the lawn is watered frequently and is dry enough to film on. Besides avoiding problems with intense light and heat during the middle of the day, filming early or late usually has the advantage that the sky is bluer.
Coming next: long pole videos from different martial arts and some comments on extra long spear tassels
In terms of for sale commercially I seen the following (wle.com = Wing Lam Enterprises at 2354 Calle Del Mundo in Santa Clara California – for the long poles I would suggest driving there and picking up the pole(s) yourself).
The text with some edits says “The Single Taper Wax Wood Long Pole is 108 inches (9′) long. A White Wax Wood Long Pole is perfect for use in Tai Chi, Hung Gar and other Kung Fu styles. This pole weighs about 4.5 pounds; has a diameter of 1.5″ at the bottom and tapers to 1.0” at the top. $110 – in stock and price verified as of June 2017. Note that the webpage says, “This is an oversize item in which additional shipping charges have been included at check out.”
The text with some edits says “The Red Oak Single Taper Long Pole can be used for Tai Chi, Hung Gar, Wing Chun and other styles of martial arts. This long pole is made of solid red oak and is 98 inches (8′ 2”) long. It is sanded smooth with a clear lacquer finish; weighs the same and has the same taper as the waxwood pole above. $70
This is a white oak version of the red oak pole described above but it is described as about one pound lighter. $76
I cannot confirm that weight difference between the oak staffs because I do NOT personally own one. Yet. However, I do own both a red oak and a white oak eyebrow height staff (60″) purchased several years ago and the red oak is definitely heavier. I would be reluctant to make any statistical comments based on a sample of one. My usual solution in such cases is, of course, to buy both.
This is described as “the official Wing Chun traditional Rat-Tail long pole made of Teak Wood” . It is listed as 102 inches (8’ 6″) long and weighing 5 pounds pounds with the same taper as the other poles. $90 BUT OUT OF STOCK as of June 2017.
At one time they were selling 108 inches (9’) long teak poles weighing 5 pounds with the same taper as the other poles BUT CLEARLY STATED AS WARPED. $35 which was the deal of the century if your art called for a warped pole or you could safely straighten the pole out. BUT OUT OF STOCK as of June 2017.
more choices tomorrow
butterfly knife, butterfly sabers, Chen style, Chen Zhenglei, Drunken Master, flail, Hung Gar, Jack Yan, Jackie Chan, lau gar, Lau Kar Leung, long pole, Shaw Brothers, spear, sword, tai chi chuan, tassel, waxwood
Chen style Tai Chi Chuan has a set called Long Pole 13 movements which features a tapered waxwood (Ligustrum lucidum, sometimes known as Glossy Privet, Chinese Privet or Broad-leaf Privet) staff about 3 meters long. The same staff is used in a set called Lau Gar in Hung Gar style [teaching DVD by Grandmaster Wing Lam http://www.wle.com/products/LauGarLongStaff.html] To confuse matters a bit, Lau Gar can also be a southeastern Chinese style from Guangxi province near Vietnam. In that case Lau Gar is written differently (but sounds the same) and means Lau Family fist. That Lau Gar is a lot more popular in Britain than here in the US. Even more confusing, there is an unarmed set in Hung Gar called Lau Gar [teaching DVD by Grandmaster Wing Lam at http://www.wle.com/products/VHG02.html]. I have not done it for years and years, but back in the 70s it was made popular by the famous master Lau Kar Leung, director and star of many great martial arts movies for Shaw Brothers in Hong Kong. There is a lot of Lau Kar Leung’s choreography (so the art is revved up a bit for the movies) in Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master films.
Chen style Long Pole 13 is a comparatively short set: as one might expect, only 13 movements. According to written tradition (one example is page 179 of volume V of Jack Yan’s translation of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei’s books), one can add a spear point and a typical (for spears) red horsehair fringe or tassel around the point. As an opponent you are supposed to be distracted by the red color and dismayed that the fringe is red from being soaked in the blood of my enemies. That is, unless it is the student’s own blood from making mistakes.
There are two collections of Chen Family style schemes based on long pole: two persons, where both have long poles AND two persons where one has a long pole and one has a flail (two section staff). Quite by chance, I once saw two very capable Wing Chun students in Florida decades ago perform a set featuring double butterfly sabers versus single long pole. Grandmaster Wing Lam has a teaching DVD of the Hung Gar version of this set [http://www.wle.com/products/VHG33.html]. I have never seen or even heard rumors of long pole versus single sword or versus single sword with shield.
The web page
has links to short YouTube videos showing the same five simple and common moves done with a variety of staffs. With the exception of the lau gar (3 meter or 10 foot pole) and one very old and heavy staff (wood unknown, alas) all the staffs are about as quick. To be fair, the mylar toothpick staff is fractionally fastest because it is so light. That comes at a price – I have never heard anyone say “Whoa, I am thankful you are not fighting me with a short, round and very light mylar staff instead of that octagonal hickory staff.”
My personal rattan staff needs more sanding and finishing – it does not slide through my hands. That implies that woods that splinter easily or significantly dent will not be the best choice in a long combat. Note that the staff is symmetric – both ends are the same.
Another aspect to staffs, especially tapered waxwood ones, is spinnability: can you spin the staff so it remains balanced and still delivers a damaging blow [to the opponent].
I was doing some electrical wiring at the time and had plenty of thin-wall conduit (see upper image below) around. It came in convenient 10 foot long sections; was reasonably inexpensive (and still is) and gets advertised as “easy bending, cutting and joining while resisting flattening, kinking and splitting.” A couple decent whacks was enough to both bend and flatten an empty piece. I was not happy with the feel either, so I added a section of 1/2″ rebar (see lower image below). This helped with the weight but not much else, and inspired an annoying rattle. There was a brief workout with a piece of long-handled pool cleaning equipment.
Grandmaster Wing Lam doing Hung Gar Lau Gar
Millions of years ago when I first studied long pole it was not easy to get waxwood poles. They are not a high-margin item, they are awkward to store, often are flawed and at about ten feet long not easy to transport. Back then, they could not be mailed, but had to be picked up at the store or warehouse. It was unusual for them to be shipped by sea at all.
I have accumulated some spears with copper and brass shafts. To my sensibilities I would NOT want to extend those shafts a meter or more for long pole. As it is, the tactile feel of metal spears take some getting used to if I have just done another weapon set, especially a wooden staff set.
I also have a stainless steel Monkey King staff from my Hung Gar days. It is longer and thicker than the usual eyebrow height staffs, so more like a Bagua Zhang staff. The Monkey King staff works well enough in its own set, but its length and speed are usually a problem in sets from other arts. I don’t feel the Monkey King staff really works well even in other Hung Gar staff sets designed for eyebrow height staffs. My teacher said out of the question to use it in a lau gar set. So we were motivated to find a readily available domestic substitute.
It seemed like the cheapest and easiest material was thin wall white PVC pipe. As readers can guess, the empty pipe felt silly, and sand-filled PVC shattered pretty quickly. I switched to thick-wall PVC which lasted a while longer – about a week or so. We experimented very briefly with alternative fillings like (uncooked) oatmeal and (uncooked) pinto beans. These could best be described as failures. Then the teacher upon finding out about the PVC pipes told one of my fellow students (roughly translated) “Have you zero brains? You are rubbing toxins into your hands!”