Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Meihua Saga Continues - DIY Plum Blossom Poles

I have posted a few times about Meihua or "Plum Blossom" poles in the last year.  Traditionally planted into the ground at varying heights and distances, these poles are great for building strength in stances, building endurance, balance and maintaining proper weight distribution and alignment.

Planted into the ground, they are a great permanent addition to your yard or training area.  Not everyone has this luxury (or the desire to dig several holes in the yard.) In researching the topic, I came across this thread.  A portable post set that is lightweight and easy to move.  Unfortunately, the thread is now several years old, and there isn't much information on the construction.  But after seeing the video, I was hooked.

I used 3" PVC pipes for the poles, and 2" pipes to join them.  The 4 corner poles have 3" to 2" tees.
The tops and bottoms have 3" PVC flanges.  Each one uses a 12" length of PVC and a 6" length. The Tee and the flanges give a little extra height and it takes a good step or hop to mount the poles.

2" PVC joins each corner to the center pole.  each piece is 12" long.  That doesn't sound like much, but put two together, and the width the the cross and the two tees, and you've got a pretty good stance length.  If you're like me, you will vastly overestimate the length of your front stance (must be a guy thing.)  Do NOT be overly ambitious.  I think I've heard that one somewhere before...

Do you like the chairs?  Since people notice them first, and then the poles..  They are from Target, about $20 a piece.  They are good for sitting on and watching someone else use the poles. :)

I haven't talked about the center pole yet, because it's a little different.  We use 2 3" x 2" crosses joined by a 3" piece of 3" PVC.  To get everything to work out right, you have to finagle your measurements so that everything lines up properly.  I believe I used 2 6" pieces of PVC for the center pole on the top and bottom.  This, combined with the 2 crosses matches the height of the corner poles.  This is why two sets of corner poles have the long end on the bottom, and two have the short ends on the bottom.  Why is it this way?  So we can do this:

It folds up.  By not gluing the little piece in the center post, it allows us to rotate the pieces for quick storage.  Since the force in your stances is all downward, you're not really losing anything to stability.  Now we can pick it up, put it in the car, or store in the corner of the garage so you can still park inside it.

And now you've got a good idea of scale.  For me, the width is about right for a good front stance.

OK, so now for the interesting part.  How do we use them?    I'll be completely honest, the first time I got on them, I immediately regretted the decision and was positive I was going to impale my crotch on a pole.  Luckily, this did not happen, but any dreams I had of immediately moving from pole to pole like a martial mountain goat were quickly dashed.

Static training is a blast.  Getting the body used to holding the stances on the poles (there is a little wiggle due to my completely lackluster construction skills ) is a challenge.  From there, moving slowly from one stance to another with balance is even more fun.  Pretty much every stance is possible on these, as illustrated below.

Han Bahl Ja Seh

Kyo Cha Rip Ja Seh

Hu Kul Ja Seh

Chun Kul Ja Seh

Kee Mah Ja Seh

Yes, I'm also rocking my Vibrams.  Best training shoe ever.  Sorry Feiyue.  Word of warning.  If your shoes or the poles are wet, the difficulty factor goes thru the roof.  Make sure everything is dry for your sake.

So where am I at this point?  Just getting started, and still getting used to the poles.  Trying to work on static stances for now and building up strength, balance and endurace. Putting together some transitions that I want to try (1 legged stance to front stance, turn into fighter stance, etc.)  Research a form, modify some TSD hyung and see what comes out of it.

Good times...
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