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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Handedness in kung fu

Master Adam Hsu demonstrates "Sun Emerges From Clouds," the opening and closing pattern of Tantui. This pattern is only performed on one side in the classical set. Image taken from www.adamhsu.com

Master Adam Hsu demonstrates “Sun Emerges From Clouds,” the opening and closing pattern of Tantui’s solo sequences. This pattern is only performed on one side in the classical set. Image taken from http://www.adamhsu.com

In many kung fu sets, one hand is emphasized in attacking an opponent (the “emperor hand”) while the other is emphasized in defending or taming an opponent (the “minister” hand). ¬†There are several reasons for why the majority of kung fu sets are not ambidextrous.

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