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!”