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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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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Favorite kung fu movie scenes

Zhang Ziyi performs some of the best Baguazhang choreography ever in her role as Gong Er in the movie The Grandmasters. Image taken from www.china.org.cn

Zhang Ziyi performs some of the best Baguazhang choreography ever in her role as Gong Er in the movie The Grandmasters. Image taken from http://www.china.org.cn

We were having a discussion on 2013 May 7 about a list of “the 20 most devastating moves in martial arts films.” Here’s what I had to say about that list and some other scenes I’d have added to the list.

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