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Arizona Wing Chun Association

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Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun

The "Six-and-a-Half Point Long Pole" Form


The first formal weapon of the Wing Tsun system is called Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun. Meaning "Six-and-a-Half Point Long Pole," the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun is a staff approximately 8-½ feet in length.

Poles vary in both length and weight, depending on the training being worked. I have three poles, with one being a 9-foot strength training pole and heavier than normal for working strength and stamina drills. The other two are standard 8-½ foot poles and average weight for form training, precision targeting and sparring.

Some practitioners feel that weapons training is not as useful as it once was, and I can understand that view. After all, how often do you find yourself with an 8-foot pole or two 1-½ lb. double knives? But weapons training – besides additional strength or coordination enhancement – still has a viable purpose in today’s society for real situations.

A precept of Wing Tsun thought is that we will never know every situation that we might encounter. We do not have the slightest bit of control over every environment we could find ourselves in, so if we cannot control it, we do not know what will happen. We might be in a pool hall, a local pub, a five-star restaurant, or a party. Who knows? And who knows what situations can develop while we are there?

That being said, we must never automatically assume that something is not viable just because of the day and age we live. Some things are probably more traditional in that we probably will not find ourselves utilizing the same types of weapons as our ancestors; the concept, however, is the true goal of learning.

The long pole teaches long-range weapons use, while the double knives teach short to medium-range weapons concepts. If a practitioner has an understanding of short, medium, and long-range weapons concepts, he or she can effectively apply those concepts to any item useful as a weapon.

The history of how the long pole was introduced to Wing Tsun is much clearer than that of the knives. Aboard the Red Junk (a boat of opera performers that would travel from harbor to harbor) were Wong Wah Bo (a master of Wing Chun), Leung Yee Tai (the poler of the Red Junk) and Master Chi Shin, a surviving monk from the burned down Shaolin monastery.

Showing a great interest in learning pole fighting techniques, Leung Yee Tai learned this skill from Chi Shin. Meeting and befriending Wong Wah Bo, Leung Yee Tai showed Wong Wah Bo the pole techniques while, in exchange, Wong Wah Bo taught Leung Yee Tai the art of Wing Tsun.

Altering the pole movements to fit the Wing Tsun theory, as well as adapting the stances to fit the length and weight of the pole, the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun was born and became the first of only two formal weapons in the system.

Stance Training

Prior to beginning the curriculum for the pole form and applications, a stable and strong foundation must first be created. Without it, you will always feel uncomfortable or unwieldy handling this long, heavy weapon.

First we learn the three primary stances, followed with various strength training drills.

There are three primary stances when training the pole. These include Kwun-ma (Frontal-stance), Sei-ping-ma (Quadrilateral-level stance) and Gee-ng-diu-tie-ma (Half-Fence stance). Stance training might seem boring to some, but as we were told repeatedly, “If something is boring, it is because you do not understand it."

Stance training is paramount to learning the pole. Not only does it allow you to deliver power through any length of the pole, but when you encounter your opponent’s power, a bad stance will see you easily uprooted. It is just like empty-hand fighting: without a good stance, you will be knocked down repeatedly anytime you encounter force.

Kwun-ma

Kwun-ma
Frontal Pole-stance

The basic stance for both defense and offense, this stance assists us in feeling where the opponent’s pole is upon contact. In general, this is the stance that is used for most drills and applications, as well as during the initial contact of Chi-kwun, or Sticking-pole training.

Sei-ping-ma

Sei-ping-ma
Quadrilateral Level-stance

Creating a strong lower body, this stance is used for spearing and driving attacks. From here, we have our entire body to provide a great deal of power to the pole.

Gee-ng-dui-tie-ma

Gee-ng-dui-tie-ma
Half Fence-stance

Used for traversing around an opponent’s pole and initiating sweeps, this stance gives us another angle in which to deflect attacks, as well as attack from. This particular stance allows us to physically move out of the way of an oncoming attack and borrow the power of the opponent’s pole.

Once the basic stances are learned, we introduce various strength training drills. The drills are performed in all of the stances pictured above vs just one. This allows for multiple muscle groups to be worked and creates a stronger overall result rather than keeping just one stance.

Strength Training

Strength training drills range from solo punching in Sei-ping-ma to a variety of pole-specific precision spearing drills. To illustrate two of the more common drills, first up is a simple act of pole-on-pole in which one practitioner pulls up while the other practitioner presses down.

Pole Strength Training

Pole to Pole, Pushing Down/Pulling Up

As one pole is pulled upwards, your partner’s pole is pressing downwards. Equal pressure is required here and this tension is held for 10-15 seconds before relaxing. After completion, this is one set. Perform 5 sets of 10 reps.

Pole Strength Training

Pole to Pole, Pulling Up/Pushing Down

The same drill but with the pulls changed.

An important solo strength training drill is illustrated below. Repeat this exercise continuously to create the strength necessary in the forearms, chest, shoulders, and back so that you create the strength needed to handle the pole during the form and drills.

Solo Strength Training Drill

1. Solo Strength Training Drill

Stand upright with the pole on your centerline and projected forward.

Solo Strength Training Drill

2. Solo Strength Training Drill
(continued)

Raise the pole upward. Pause slightly and...

Solo Strength Training Drill

3. Solo Strength Training Drill
(continued)

... drive the pole directly forward. Pull backward, drop back down to your centerline, raise the pole and repeat the exercise to build strength in the arms. Your goal is to drive the pole forward while maintaining a horizontal position with each thrust.

Solo Strength Training Drill

4. Solo Strength Training Drill
(continued)

Pull directly backward to the previous position without letting the pole dip downward or upward, and...

Solo Strength Training Drill

5. Solo Strength Training Drill
(continued)

... drive the hands downward. Do not let the pole tilt in any direction. It remains pointed forwards at all times.

Strength training is so important that a practitioner should spend a minimum of 6 months working the drills before ever learning the form itself. I have seen a variety of practitioners over the years who learned the form before ensuring proper strength and stance training, and it shows. They cannot deliver power and their technique is so sloppy that it is almost embarrassing even to watch them.

One element that the AWCA incorporates during this strength training phase is that the drills are first learned with a light-weight pole to ensure correct body mechanics, then moving to a heavier-than-normal pole for strength and endurance training. A practitioner will start with the lighter pole for learning the correct movements, gaining the beginning level of strength and coordination, and becoming comfortable with wielding such a long weapon.

After this is sufficient, the practitioner will then begin exclusive use of a heavier-than-normal pole in order to build strength and reinforce proper alignment.

There are a variety of drills that a practitioner must complete prior to learning the pole form. From non-pole strength training to pole strength training, from single drills to drills with another practitioner, it can take up to a year or more of nothing but strength training for a practitioner to gain enough prowess for competently learning the pole form.

Some believe that strength training before learning the pole form is backwards, that the form should be taught first so as to gain the necessary strength. But as mentioned previously, the opposite is true. It sounds like overkill to keep stating it but it is very important to understand why this is so.

If you train the form without first acquiring the necessary arm and leg strength to manipulate such a long and heavy weapon, the form will take on many bad habits. Instead of striking directly parallel, the pole will dip. Instead of adhering to the Wing Tsun Kuen Kuit (a collection of training proverbs passed down through the generations) which states “The pole does not make more than one sound“, the pole will strike two, three, or more times against the opponent’s pole.

Therefore, having sufficient strength prior to learning the form greatly assists in ensuring that these bad habits do not appear.

Also, a practitioner must have a mastery of the Biu-Tze curriculum before even beginning the long pole strength training. Why? Because penetration of force must first be demonstrated since the pole’s primary striking point is the tip.

Section 1

When a practitioner has proven enough control during the various drills, and when he/she has gained sufficient strength to handle this long-range weapon, the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun form is learned.

Although it looks like there are many movements, the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun is comprised of only seven. You will see some long pole forms that have 40, 50, even  70+ individual movements. In all likelihood, these are made up since it removes the purpose of the long pole's efficiency. More is not always better, and that is certainly true when it comes to the long pole.

The reason it looks to be more is that we are changing direction and angle in order to work various attacker positions. These movements are:

  • Tai-kwun (Raising-pole). A quick upward jerk of the end of the pole to deflect an attack. Tai-kwun is also utilized to connect your pole to the opponent's pole, thereby being able to employ the Chi-kwun principles.
  • Lan-kwun (Bar-pole, aka Long-bridge Blocking-pole). Also referred to as the "half-fence" movement, Lan-kwun is similar to Lan-sau in that both are a form of blocking or barring an attack. It is used in the stationary, front, and side stances.
  • Biu-kwun (Thrusting-pole). Also referred to as the "spear" movement, Biu-kwun is performed the same as Biu-Tze-sau. Its primary targets are the eyes, ears, neck, and other face/throat areas.
  • Sut-kwun (Lower Gate-pole). Used as a sweeping movement to attack or defend the lower gate, Sut-kwun is one of the easiest to perform but most difficult to master. Sut-kwun's targets are the opponent's knee and shin area, as well as attacking the opponent's pole on a low guard.
  • Kit-kwun (Upper Gate-pole). Also referred to as the "sideward flick" movement, Kit-kwun is similar to Sut-kwun but seeks to attack or defend the upper gate. Kit-kwun's targets are the shoulder and head area, as well as attacking the opponent's pole on a high guard.
  • Huen-kwun (Circling-pole). Commonly referred to as the "flip" movement, Huen-kwun is the long pole version of Huen-sau. Using Chi-kwun, it allows us to keep track of the oppponent's pole and is usually followed by a Biu-kwun or Lo-kwun movement.
  • Lo-kwun (Short Thrust-pole). Low-kwun is a short burst-type movement similar to Biu-kwun. It is considered a half-point movement. Do not confuse Lo-kwun with Biu-kwun. Low-kwun is short-range, while Biu-kwun is long-range.

With the basic movements and understanding the translation, a very simple form can cover a great deal of scenarios.

Sut-kwun

1. Sut-kwun
Lower Gate-pole

With the pole facing your power side, hold the pole as shown. Your back hand is with the palm down while the lead hand sees the palm upward. The feet are together and the body is at 90-degrees with the pole, but the head is turned in the same direction as the pole.

Kit-kwun

2. Kit-kwun
Upper Gate-pole

Raise the pole upward to chest level, keeping the pole level. Do not let it dip downward or upward.

Sut-kwun to Kit-kwun is performed three times, with the final Sut-kwun transitioning to Sei-ping-ma and Biu-kwun.

Sut-kwun

3. Sut-kwun

Explode the pole downward, keeping it parallel with the floor. Do not let it dip downward or upward.

Kit-kwun

4. Kit-kwun

Explode the pole upward to chest level, keeping it parallel to the floor. Do not let it dip downward or upward.

Sut-kwun

5. Sut-kwun

Explode the pole downward, keeping it parallel with the floor. Do not let it dip downward or upward.

Kit-kwun

6. Kit-kwun

Explode the pole upward to chest level, keeping it parallel to the floor. Do not let it dip downward or upward.

Sut-kwun

7. Sut-kwun

Explode the pole downward, keeping it parallel with the floor. Do not let it dip downward or upward.

Sei-ping-ma

8. Sei-ping-ma
Quadrilateral Level-stance

While raising the pole to chest level, assume Sei-ping-ma. The centerline reamins at 90-degrees n relation to the pole.

Biu-kwun

9. Biu-kwun
Thrusting-pole/Spearing-pole

Drive the pole directly forward (in relation to its direction) until the arms are parallel. Along this path of travel, do not let the pole dip down or up.

Sei-ping-ma

10. Sei-ping-ma

Return the pole to chest level.

Kwun-ma

11. Kwun-ma
Pole Frontal-stance

Simultaneously assume a Frontal-stance while driving the rear hand down. The tip of the pole is now on your centerline.

Jut-kwun

12. Jut-kwun
Jerk-pole

Raise the back hand while driving the lead hand down to quickly slam the tip of the pole to towards the floor. Do not let the tip hit the floor; instead, stop the pole just before it reaches the floor.

Kwun-ma

13. Kwun-ma

Turn the body to the side and immediately explode the pole upwards so that the tip is on your centerline.

Repeat steps 8-13 two more times. When complete, this completes section 1 of the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun.

Compared to other martial arts, the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun form is quite short in duration. However, not all Wing Tsun/Wing Chun/Ving Tsun styles train the form in the same way. Some pole forms have only seven movements, while others can have up to 50 or more (at the AWCA, our pole form has 36 movements and is taught in four sections). All, however, have an involved training curriculum for making the most of this unique weapon.

For section 1, we work Sut-kwun, Kit-kwun, Biu-kwun, and Jut-kwun, in addition to the various stances of Sei-ping-ma and Kwun-ma. Combining these movements allows us to resume stances and change angles so as to improve the use and range of the weapon (including barring and stepping). The remaining movements are in sections 2 through 4, also with multiple angles and stepping.

As mentioned previously, the weapons are also learned a bit differently than the empty-hand forms. With empty-hand training, we will learn a few movements of one section of a form, and then dive into the myriad of applications, concepts, and drills that deal with those movements. This is repeated for an entire section of the form until the full curriculum is achieved.

Where weapons are concerned, though, we start with strength training in order to handle the weapon itself. This is followed by learning the complete form, then the drills and applications, and then applying these applications to the relevant sticking training. For the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun, this would be Chi-kwun, or Sticking-pole (also commonly referred to as Pole-clinging).

Drills & Applications

Even though this is an extremely long weapon, it can be quite formidable to deal with. There is a great deal of length for an opponent to overcome, as well as maneuvering around the power that is being delivered in the tip of the pole. Likewise, however, this length is also what the practitioner must learn to utilize to his/her advantage.

Biu-kwun

1. Biu-kwun
Thrusting-pole/Spearing-pole

Both practitioners in the Frontal-stance. Sometimes the poles will touch, sometimes not. Many practitioners advocate that they always should, whereas others (including the AWCA) feel this is not necessary. Why? Because once contact is made, there should be movement, a response, an action.

If we train ourselves to touch poles but not have action, we are teaching ourselves to give the opponent an initial advantage, which is contrary to the Wing Tsun concept.

Huen-kwun

2. Biu-kwun
(continued)

As the opponent drives in with Biu-kwun to the defender’s chest, the defender slightly circles the pole to the inside via Huen-kwun.

Biu-kwun

3. Biu-kwun
(continued)

In one motion, the pole is immediately driven forwards and into the opponent’s throat via Biu-kwun.

The difference in these examples is that for Huen-kwun, contact is already made and a circling of the pole puts you on top of the attacker's pole. With Tan-kwun, it is similar to Tan-sau in that a slight inward or outward movement opens the line vs. circling. Both open the line, but their line of action is different and it all depends on the incoming pole attack to dictate which response is appropriate.

Tan-kwun

1. Tan-kwun to Biu-kwun
Palm Up-pole to Spearing-pole/Thrusting-pole

As the opponents engage, the poler on the left is on the outside of the opponent’s pole.

Tan-kwun

2. Tan-kwun to Biu-kwun
(continued)

Tan-kwun presses to the side in order to move the opponent’s pole and open a hole in his defense.

Biu-kwun

3. Tan-kwun to Biu-kwun
(continued)

Continuing in one smooth motion, Tan-kwun transitions to Biu-kwun, driving full force into the opponent’s side.

Another explosive action of Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwun and section 1 in particular is Jut-kwun. It might look easy to drive an incoming pole downward, but you will quickly find that it's not as easy as it looks. It take a great deal of consistent training in pushing down, but remember, we also learned pulling up. The action of pulling up contributes to the defense of Jut-kwun, so do not blindly work this drill without your partner pulling up. This will assist your Jut-kwun to become explosive and actually useful vs. going through the motions.

Jut-kwun to Har-lo Biu-kwun

1. Jut-kwun to Har-lo Biu-kwun
Jerk-pole to Lower-level Spearing-pole/Thrusting-pole

As the opponent begins to lunge forward with Biu-kwun…

Jut-kwun to Har-lo Biu-kwun

2. Jut-kwun to Har-lo Biu-kwun
(continued)

… the defender initiates a quick Jut-kwun to drive the attacker’s pole downward.

Jut-kwun to Har-lo Biu-kwun

3. Jut-kwun to Har-lo Biu-kwun
(continued)

Without stopping, Jut-kwun immediately explodes forward with Har-lo Biu-kwun to the opponent’s thigh.

Concepts & Theories

Why Such A Long Pole? Why Not Use Something Shorter?

The long pole’s introduction to the system stems from Leung Yee Tai and Wong Wah Bo. Being a poler on a red junk, Leung Yee Tai preferred pole fighting since he used one all the time, anyway. In his normal duties, he also had a weapon readily available, so meeting and training with Wong Wah Bo (a master of Wing Tsun), they adapted the Wing Tsun concept to fit this long, heavy weapon.

Over the years, some practitioners have attempted to shorten it a bit in order to make it more useful for today’s society, but in the end, they found that they lost a great deal of what this training affords them. By understanding the use of long weapons, you will also gain a sense of medium-range weapons. And having long and medium-range weapons training, the last range is short-range, which is learned with the Bart-Cham-Dao.

Does The Pole Ever Twirl Like In Other Martial Arts?

No. The Wing Tsun concept of pole fighting differs greatly from other martial arts in that the pole is never twirled; instead, we are always initiating simultaneous attacks and defenses. Twirling a weapon does nothing for attacking and defending.

The moment that the tip of the pole is taken away from the opponent, you open a hole in your own defense. If he/she is faster, they will attack you before you get your pole back to a position of defense. Why purposely create a hole for your opponent to attack you through?

How Does Pole Fighting Relate To Today's Society?

While it is true that you will rarely – if ever – see anyone walking down the street with a 9-foot staff, that certainly does not mean that weapons training is no longer a useful endeavor. On the contrary, those that feel it is useless are missing out on a great deal of elevated fighting.

We have all heard that weapons are an extension of ourselves, and that is just as true today as it was when our ancestors depended on weapons for their survival. Through the process of learning to use a weapon – and particularly one such as Wing Tsun’s long pole – it reconnects us to our predecessors. Too much of today’s world wants to throw away the old ways in favor of newer, modern methods.

But in the process, they disconnect themselves from our roots and heritage.

Not only is heritage important, but the mere fact of training with a weapon even gives you a better sense of your empty-hand fighting. It is not needed to be an accomplished fighter, but it does lend itself to delivering a variety of attributes that otherwise would not be attained.

So yes, while we might not fight in the street with a weapon such as this, its training adds to our skill sets and later generations will never forget where they came from. Plus... it's just a heckuva lot of fun!