As I have noticed, there seem to be different opinions, on when the Long Pole should be introduced or can be introduced. Some even think it is unnecessary altogether and in Nuremberg one is referred to western fencing. Others seem to know everything and claim that in Hong Kong it was taught towards the end of the student´s development.
When my teacher came to Germany for he second time in 1986, he taught some of my students the first steps in the Long Pole training, as evidenced in the picture. These were taken in May 1986 at the memorial in Altena-Westfalia. Most of them had trained under me for 1 or 2 years. I myself had only known Sifu Wong for three years!
The reasons, that he taught it this early were manyfold: First, he thought that the pole was difficult to control and demanded a lot of practice over a long period of time to influence the development of Ving Tsun as a whole. Secondly , most start the pole at the zenith of their performance ability, so that little time remains to reap the benefits of such training.
Being able to take advantage of an opening is fundamental in the system. If one is unable to do so, all the punching power and fighting spirit will be obsolete.
Long pole training, especially the low stance contributes greatly to increased start speed and faster footwork.
Another important skill, developed through various pole exercises, is power from the unified body . Without this, punches are mechanical , deriving its power based on the diameter of the practitioners arms. Even somebody that has done „ArmVingTsun“ for 15 years is going to look like a raw beginner when starting this exercise. Unfortunately, he now is 15 years older and his Ving Tsun has missed out on 15 years of essential influences.
Another important point is the fact that long pole training not only increases punching power, but also punching precision, meaning concentrating max force at a small area of impact. More about that later in my book which will include some of Wong Shun Leung’s teachings on weaponry, some of them handwritten and translated.
From my own experience can I say that there are some students, which can handle the long pole correctly without any knowledge of even the siu lim tao. There are also those, who after five years of hard training, can´t do the same.
Should the teacher therefore take the pole away from the more gifted person and postpone it for another 5 years?
Who would take away the crayon of a child that has shown to intuitively excel at painting, just because it is too early for that? Would one ban a third grader from school, just because he is at sixth grade skill level already, and even ahead of the others?
No! if one had just a little bit of brains, one would increase their skills through additional demands.
In Kung Fu and especially in Ving Tsun, where a holistic bodily development is emphasised, it is majorly important to start in your early years to get a decent final result, but if this development is blocked, postponed or thwarted at all, it is questionable that any result be achieved by the probably by now “turned grey” senior student, who might not be able to even lift the pole anymore.