Bruce Lee and training formlessness

The late famous master Bruce Lee demonstrating his equally famous kick. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

The famous master Bruce Lee demonstrating his equally famous kick. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

This just wouldn’t be a martial arts blog without at least one post about Bruce Lee.

Back in 2013 May, one of my pals asked me the following: “Bruce Lee advised to do free-form. how did he practice without any form?”

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Basic training in kung fu

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit corrects a student's stance. The horse riding stance is the most important exercise in all of kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit corrects a student’s stance. The horse riding stance is the most important exercise in all of kung fu. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

I put a discussion forward to the G+ Martial Artist community back in 2013 May asking about the basic training done in their various arts. I opened the discussion with the following remarks:

Hey folks, I’ve been having a lot of conversations this past week about basic training and applications. In your arts and schools, what do students practice to get basic application and sparring skills at the most basic level? What sorts of skills are students expected to get down before moving on to more specialized or advanced skills and sets? 

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Closed door teachings and songs of secrets

As Sifu Antonius Korahais demonstrates, one does not have to be Asian to excel in martial arts.

A discussion on the G+ Martial Artists forums included a lamentable situation of a non-Japanese man being turned away from learning Shorinji Kenpo in Japan, presumably due to “Westerners not understanding profound truths” or some-such. This discussion led to the notion of “secret teachings” and how such things can get passed down to the next generation. Here is what I had to say on the matter, using the example of the fundamental set at the Southern Shaolin temple, Cross-Road at Four Gates:

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