A new year, a new training journal

David uses White Horse Presents Hoof (a particular type of thrust kick) while I move off to the side and counterattack with Single Whip Saves Emperor (a backfist to the kicking ankle or knee), illustrating the principle of "direct counterattack." Taken from our video here. https://vimeo.com/150502715

Finally got a chance to spar with another Shaolin Wahnam practitioner, David! You can see the video clips of our sparring here

After some poking and prodding by a few family members, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give a shot at this training diary deal. I used to keep a hand-written training diary back when I first began (which eventually just turned into a checklist of things I’d practiced to make sure I wasn’t missing anything…there was a lot of horse riding stance in those days, haha). Here’s hoping this diary is a little more interesting than that.

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Toughening and protective skills in kung fu

Grandmaster Lam Sai Wing, a well-known master of Hung Gar kung fu in recent times, demonstrating "Separate Gold Fists" in the Iron Wire set. He looks quite fit and healthy, not at all banged up from his training. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Lam Sai Wing, a well-known master of Hung Gar kung fu in recent times, demonstrating “Separate Gold Fists” in the Iron Wire set. He looks quite fit and healthy, not at all banged up from his training. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

In June 2013, someone on the G+ Martial Artist forum noted that he was doing “tree toughening” exercises and asked for our opinions on the exercise. Here was my response:

Are you swinging your arms, legs into the tree and striking your body against a tree? Provided you follow the correct method and gradual progression, you’ll eventually develop what kung fu people call Iron Arm, Iron Leg, Iron Vest, Iron Head, and so forth, depending on the conditioning you do.

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The survival of authentic kung fu

Venerable Hai Deng, who was famous for his One Finger Zen skill, was the last abbot of the Shaolin temple who advocated traditional kung fu training. After he left the Shaolin temple in the 1960's, the focus of the Shaolin temple gradually shifted towards demonstration wushu rather than martial arts. Image reproduced from www.shaolin.org

Venerable Hai Deng, who was famous for his One Finger Zen skill, was the last abbot of the Shaolin temple who advocated traditional kung fu training. After he resigned in the 1960’s, the focus of the Shaolin temple gradually shifted towards demonstration wushu rather than traditional kung fu. Image reproduced from http://www.shaolin.org

Many kung fu practitioners have heard of the Cultural Revolution in China which led to the death or exile of many practitioners of traditional arts, including kung fu. In fact, many people have the mistaken belief that no authentic kung fu exists anymore!

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Northern or Southern, Internal or External?

Baguazhang, demonstrated here by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is often considered an internal style of kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Baguazhang, demonstrated here by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, is often considered an internal style of kung fu. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

Someone asked the very good question of what kung fu system would be best for them. Naturally, this is informed by many factors such as what you want to get out of kung fu, what you are willing to put up with, if a master is willing and able to teach you, etc. Here is what I replied with:

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Hidden salutes in Eagle Claw kung fu?

Eagle Claw kung fu is a famous style of Northern Shaolin kung fu and was developed by the great general Yue Fei in the Song dynasty for use by his soldiers. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Eagle Claw kung fu is a famous style of Northern Shaolin kung fu and was developed by the great general Yue Fei in the Song dynasty for use by his soldiers. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

A discussion on the G+ martial artist forums turned towards Eagle Claw kung fu. One master contributed his insight into the classical set “50 Sequences of Eagle Claw” and we had a brief discussion about military versus temple systems of kung fu:

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Offense, defense, and hurting your opponents?

How much force is too much? Do we really have to maim our opponents? How proactive or reactive should we be in a sparring match or a fight? Is showing mercy to an opponent a worthwhile endeavor? How did past masters react?

The question of the day on the LinkedIn Martial Artists forum was the relative amount of offense and defense used in various arts and how much was “too much” force.

"Bail Moon From Sea Bottom," a potentially fatal and combat ending grip to the groin.  Image taken from www.shaolin.org

“Bail Moon From Sea Bottom,” a potentially fatal and combat ending grip to the groin. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

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Is Wushu the same as Kung Fu?

Wushu literally means, in Mandarin, “martial art.” But many practitioners of traditional kung fu do not believe that wushu artists are martial artists. What gives? What do wushu people do that is different from kung fu people? Is there a difference? Keep reading to find out!

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