Golden Bridge and Thirty Punches

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

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrates Golden Bridge, one of the major stances in Shaolin kung fu to develop solid stances and strong arms. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

My family medicine rotation started today and I have a rather uncertain schedule, so I’m not sure if I’ll be posting daily, but I do plan to keep posting at least weekly, heh.

Practice was split up into several smaller sessions today again. My early morning session involved Lifting Sun & Moon, Art of Thirty Punches, and Old Monk Removes Shoes. Lifting Sun & Moon seems to have long since replaced Lifting the Sky as my favorite “just qigong” pattern. About two years ago, one of my questions to Sifu concerned opening patterns and some particulars can be read here; some interesting reasons behind why various styles employ different opening patterns can be read there. Regardless, I particularly like the movement of Lifting Sun & Moon because it’s presently helping to open up my hunched shoulders. As I write this, I realize I should also be performing General Surveys Field throughout the day; in fact, back in 2012, Sifu taught me that pattern as everyone was about to go home after a regional seminar and I was waiting for a taxi; “Your posture is hunched over and no good! Stand like this!” he said, and just like that, Sifu “gave” me one of the Eighteen Jewels of Shaolin Wahnam qigong. Neat, huh? Continue reading

Wudang gong-li training

We had a brief discussion on the G+ Internal Martial Arts forum about a great video of force training at the Wudang mountain by Wudang Pai, an excellent kung fu school preserving and teaching arts practiced by Daoist sages at the Wudang Temple.

Video link: Wudang Gong Li Training

Here are my comments about the video:

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Your favorite martial arts exercise?

My sitaigung (grand-grandmaster) Ho Fatt Nam practicing One Finger Shooting Zen, the force training exercise that he emphasized above all others. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

My sitaigung (great-grandmaster) Ho Fatt Nam practicing One Finger Shooting Zen, the force training exercise that he emphasized above all others. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

I posed the following question to the G+ Martial Artists forum: What is your favorite exercise or genre of exercise in your art(s)? 

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Kung fu footwork

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating the Bow Arrow stance of Shaolin kung fu. Though stances are very awkward for beginners, they are literally the foundation of martial arts and they, along with associated footwork, should be trained properly. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating the Bow Arrow stance of Shaolin kung fu. Though stances are very awkward for beginners, they are literally the foundation of martial arts and should, along with associated footwork, be trained properly. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

A discussion on G+’s martial artists forums turned to the difficulties some people have in maintaining their stances in sparring and fighting. Here is the advice I gave to someone which worked very well for me:

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Does form follow function or function follow form?

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Black Tiger Steals Heart. Many generations worth of lessons and fighting experiences were crystallized into this basic pattern. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrating Black Tiger Steals Heart. Many generations worth of lessons and fighting experiences were crystallized into this basic pattern. Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

We had a great discussion on G+’s martial artist forums regarding the question posed above. On the kung fu side of things, first there was random and haphazard fighting. Eventually, people figured out (and more importantly, passed on) the idea that certain ways of moving and fighting were better for their purposes; folks moved from the typical “boxing” jabs and hooks to crystallized kung fu patterns like Black Tiger Steals Heart (a level punch to the chest at the Bow-Arrow stance) or Hang a Golden Star at Corner (a punch to the side of the temple at the Bow-Arrow stance) because of certain advantages (a protected groin, more agile footwork, and being able to use waist rotation to generate and send spiral force from the abdomen into the opponent to deal injury).

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Developing and exploding force in kung fu

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit teaching the horse riding stance, perhaps the most important and fundamental exercise in all of kung fu. Image taken from www.shaolin.org

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit teaching the horse riding stance, perhaps the most important and fundamental exercise in all of kung fu. Force must be developed before it can be used for combat. You wouldn’t try shooting an empty gun, would you? Image taken from http://www.shaolin.org

A discussion on the G+ forums back in 2013 May led to the subject of fa jing, or “exploding force.” This is the usual term used by kung fu practitioners to describe manifesting their force in various ways, usually an explosive or powerful strike.

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A typical training session?

Hey folks,

Since I live pretty far away from my master (Illinois versus Florida), I can’t exactly pack my bags and take regular classes from him, so I learn what I can at regional or intensive seminars and take it back home to practice. My master’s regular classes oscillate between the two major structures I’ve seen in the martial arts schools I’ve attended:

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