Force training, cross training, angles, and sequences

All kung fu styles have characteristic stances used to develop force. Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrates Golden Bridge, the most characteristic stance chosen for force training in Southern Shaolin kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

All kung fu styles have characteristic stances used to develop force. Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrates Golden Bridge, the most important stance for force training in Southern Shaolin kung fu. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

A discussion in 2013 May cropped up in the G+ Martial Artist forums about force training and cross training, with a little bit of sparring methodology and angles of attack. Here’s what I had to say:

I completely agree with you that each strike should have the potential to finish a conflict (in Shaolin Wahnam, we enter every situation with the belief that the opponent has the power to do such a thing to us, hence why we place so much emphasis on “safety first,” and, through our own force training, we aim to achieve such a level of skill and power to finish something quickly and not string it out). 

The principle of keeping to the outside of your opponent is a very good one, especially when combined with Baguazhang footwork. Each sequence in my Swimming Dragon set (and, I’m sure, the Swimming Dragon application sets of other Baguazhang lineages) incorporates some movement method to find an opponent’s weak angle. You are certainly right in that most traditional martial arts are “unorthodox” to instinctive fighters (often to the point where instinctive fighters do not believe that traditional martial arts cannot be used for fighting, simply because they more often than not do not receive exposure to the training methodology). 

Cloud Dragon Rushes to Sky, a pattern from the Swimming Dragon set used to evade an opponent and get to their side or back. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrates Cloud Dragon Rushes to Sky, a pattern from the Swimming Dragon set used to evade an opponent and get to their side or back. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

When I refer to “force training,” what I mean are those exercises that develop the skill, power, speed, etc. that back up your techniques. Stance training develops internal force, solidity, and to a lesser extent agility, circle walking develops an energy flow, agile footwork and the skill of flanking an opponent, etc. I was curious to know what sort of exercises your school uses to develop those qualities that make your techniques powerful.

My training session with my brother this morning impressed upon me the importance of force training. He practices Xingyiquan forms for the most part, paying little attention to characteristic Xingyiquan force training like the Three Body Stance. I spend a lot of time on force training like One Finger Shooting Zen and Eight Mother Palms stance training. As a result, despite both of us having practiced our respective styles for roughly the same amount of time (him with Xingyiquan, me with Baguazhang), both his striking power and stamina are much lower than mine, and he is relatively easy to push over because of my solid stances. 

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating much better Baguazhang and sense of style than me.

A lot of force and agility can be developed through Baguazhang circle walking, the most important and characteristic exercise in Baguazhang. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

The most popular forms of force training that I’ve seen are using weights and repeating movements over and over (I occasionally use weights, but I more often will use stance training and repeating movements). One of my favorite skills that my grandmaster taught me was how to use set practice (including repeating movements) to generate an energy flow and internal force.

Stone locks were often used by practitioners of Southern Shaolin kung fu to develop strength. Image taken from martialarts.stackexchange.com

Stone locks were often used in the past by kung fu practitioners to develop strength. Modern practitioners generally use dumb-bells and kettle-bells instead. Image taken from martialarts.stackexchange.com

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