Apr 30, 2010

Yip Chun Stars in Ip Man 3

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This must be good news for Wing Chun instructors. The first Ip Man movie was rumored to have doubled enrollments or more in Wing Chun schools. This week, Ip Man 2, the sequel, is premiering in select countries, with Donnie Yen starring again as Ip Man, and Sammo Hung roped in as a Hung Gar master. We have earlier commented on the trailer here, and on the the first movie here.

It seems there is a prequel coming up as well, titled Ip Man, The Legend Is Born (which we have renamed Ip Man 3 in our title). Interestingly it stars Ip Chun (Yip Chun) as Ip Man's teacher, Leung Bik, with newcomer To Yu Hang replacing Donnie Yen in the titular role. This prequel said to be more in tune with Wing Chun because the producer is a student of Yip Chun.

Photo: left to right: To Yu Hang as Ip Man, Ip Chun as Leung Bik, Betty Huang as Ip Man's muse.
Related Posts: Wing Chun Sticky Hands, Ip Man vs Sifu Liu, Trailer From Ip Man 2

Apr 29, 2010

Fierce White Crane

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White Crane Kung Fu has a reputation for combat effectiveness in select martial arts circles. For example, Yiquan founder Wang Xiang Zhai, who reputedly traveled the length of China meeting kung fu masters "to exchange ideas", was quoted as saying he found Southern White Crane to be particularly combat oriented among the arts he had the opportunity to research on.

But why would a fighting art be named after a bird (brain), and claim ancestry to a lady? Well, for those have come face-to-face with a fighting rooster, you would perhaps understand what fighting spirit means, and that small size and lightweight do not handicap the rooster from kicking bigger butts. And dare we say, ditto women.

So, to round off this series on White Crane Kung Fu, we have a short clip of what it could be like to get a Crane riled up. We have featured four standalone Crane styles: Fukien, Fuzhou, Tibetan, Yongchun; and four Cranes which are components within a style: Vietnam Wing Chun, Northern Shaolin, Karate and Silat. The Crane in this clip is component of the Fukien art of Five Ancestors; the move demonstrated is Burst Vibrating Power.

Related Posts:
Fukien White Crane
Fuzhou White Crane vs Hakka Tiger
Tibetan White Crane
Vietnamese White Crane
Yong Chun White Crane
Northern White Crane
Flying Crane Master Lee Joo Jian
Silat White Crane
Japanese White Crane

Apr 28, 2010

Silat White Crane

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Crane techniques are not confined to Chinese arts alone, they exist as far south as Indonesia. Watch as Guru Horacio Rodriguez demonstrates the devastating crane technique of Blekok Badan Tangkis (Crane Body Interception) from Silat Serak. As described by Serak.com:
The Blekok (crane) structures are simultaneously evasive and destructive. Sambuts (counterstrikes) are massive and brutal, whether with empty hand, or weapons. Animal structures are an overlay, each carrying their own internal principles and keys. The addition of the Jurus (hand techniques) make it further come alive.
Note: The post title needs explanation: Blekok means Crane, the adjective White was hypothesized to rhyme with the rest of the series. There is a White Crane Silat tradition known as Silat Bangau Putih, it's a transplanted Chinese five animal school with Silat elements mixed in.

Related Post: Flying Crane Master Lee Joo Jian

Apr 27, 2010

Flying Crane Master Lee Joo Jian

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Like a Swiss Army Knife, the crane hand has a multitude of uses, among them are hooking, pecking, jabbing, slapping and knocking. In this clip, Flying Crane Grandmaster Lee Joo Jian demonstrates how the crane hand can be use for nerve attacks. Don't try this at home or in combat without proper tuition.

For those who are trying to read the subtitles in the second half of the video, here is the gist: Grandmaster Lee will be conducting seminars in Canada in September 2010. He is also available for seminars elsewhere. For more info, contact whitecrane@videotron.ca or visit shaolinwhitecranekungfu.com.

Related Post: Fukien White Crane

Apr 26, 2010

Northern White Crane

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What we have seen so far are Southern White Crane styles. In this multi clip post, we showcase Northern White Crane, an art which looks totally different from its Southern cousin and which more closely resembles Northern long fist with high kicks, low stances and long arm bridges.

In the first clip, Sifu David Bowling shows some neat applications of Northern White Crane; in the second clip he highlights crane movements found within Northern Crane and also touches on the similarities between Northern Crane and Muay Thai. These similarities echo the observations of learned masters familiar with both arts (but these are of little or no interest among practitioners of both arts). The third clip is a short demo of a Northern White Crane form. Notice towards the middle of the clip the performer executes a double crane peck, a crane move popularized in kung fu movies.

Related Posts: Fukien White Crane, Fuzhou White Crane, Yongchun White Crane

Apr 25, 2010

Yong Chun White Crane

Click picture to view video (note: loud techno music).

We move north back again to Fujian, China and the county of Yongchun. The names need a bit of explaining here. Yongchun, which is a Mandarin term, is Eng Choon in Fukienese and Wing Chun in Cantonese. In this context, Wing Chun is a place not a martial art. Could there be a possibility that Wing Chun the martial art is related to Wing Chun the place?

The martial art prominently associated with Yongchun county is Yongchun White Crane. In general, the martial arts community do not closely associate Cantonese Wing Chun with Yongchun White Crane because of substantial technical differences (sets, principles, training) between the two arts although both being of Southern Shaolin heritage, they have obvious similarities (short fist, high stance).

Here is a video of a little publicized line of Yongchun White Crane featuring Argentinian Master George Buza who studied under Grandmaster Chan Kwok Wai. The Sanzhan (Three Battles) form performed here is gentler compared to the more commonly known Yongchun White Crane schools. Under this light, Cantonese Wing Chun practitioners may find some kinship of this form with their Chum Kiu and Biu Jee sets. Note the intriguing double mudra towards the end of the form in contrast to the double palm strike in other Fujian White Crane lineages.

Thanks to Sifu Boh for the video tip.
Related Posts: Fukien White Crane, Fuzhou White Crane, Wing Chun White Crane

Apr 24, 2010

Vietnamese White Crane

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From Guangdong, we move southwards past China's southern most province of Guangxi and arrive in Vietnam for this next clip on White Crane kung fu. Many Wing Chun lineages mention a fight between a crane and a snake as being the inspiration of their art.  In some lineages the Crane component is indistinct, unarticulated or not emphasized.

However, in Vietnam Wing Chun the crane is pronounced enough to have its own dedicated form. In fact, it has all five Shaolin animals in its syllabus, a total departure from many other Wing Chun traditions. This gave rise to claims the five animal forms were a later addition to the style, but as far as the Vietnam branch is concerned, it is part of what was handed down from the founders of Wing Chun.

But don't get too caught up in these martial arts lineage and historical debates, the test of martial arts remains with its effectiveness, or if you like, who wins has the correct history. Watch as a student from Shaolin Wing Chun Nam Anh in Montreal demonstrates the crisp moves of the crane from Vietnam Wing Chun.

Related Posts: Tibetan White Crane, Plus Sized Dummy

Apr 23, 2010

Tibetan White Crane

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Previously we have had a look at Fujian (Fukien in local dialect) Cranes. In this post, we move south of Fujian to the province of Guangdong and the art of Tibetan White Crane. Also known as Lama Pai (Tibetan Lama Sect) and Hop Gar Kuen (Knight Family Fist), its origins is said to be inspired by a duel between a crane and an ape, as compared to Fujan White Crane's mythology which starts with a friendly spar between its founder, a girl, and a crane.

There is some controversy regarding Tibetan White Crane with some observers commenting that it looks neither Tibetan nor Crane and seems more closely related to Northern Long Fist styles such as Pek Kwa and Tan Tui. This may be due to public displays of Tibetan Crane showing long fist techniques where the finer crane techniques are either not shown or could not be easily seen. But true to its name, Tibetan White Crane does contain crane techniques as you can see in this clip of Si-Fu Tom Harber demonstrating Tiet Lin Kuen (Iron Chain Fist).

Related Posts: Fukien White Crane, Fuzhou White Crane vs Hakka Tiger

Fuzhou White Crane vs Hakka Tiger

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The Fujian martial art of White Crane has a number of branches, among the most prominent are Sleeping (aka Ancestral) Crane, Whooping Crane, Eating Crane and Flying Crane. In this clip Borneo-based Fuzhou White Crane Master Eric Ling (left), who studied both Whooping and Ancestral Cranes, discusses combat techniques with Hakka Suppressing Tiger Master Kong Shu Ming. [Fuzhou is a prefecture in the province of Fujian in China, Hakka is a nomadic clan from Southern China.]

The dialogue is in Mandarin but non-speakers should be able to readily pick up the gist of the discussion by the actions of both exponents. Among the White Crane principles expounded are side stepping, angling, the one-footed Crane stance and the how the Crane wing can be used to counter a punch.

Don't miss this rare exposition on Fuzhou White Crane.

Related Posts: Needle Through BrickFukien White Crane

Apr 22, 2010

Fukien White Crane

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There are varied martial arts which are said to be inspired by the White Crane, some related by lineage, others by name only, but as diverse as these arts are, they all tenuously share a common characteristic which is to emphasize, at least at a simpler physical level, the use of the crane wing and beak.

In this first clip in a series on White Crane Kung Fu, Shifu Lorne Bernard showcases the rare Fujian (Fukien) martial art of Flying White Crane. His lineage is via Borneo under Grandmaster Lee Kiang-Ke, a Fujian immigrant, and his son Master Lee Joo-Chian. On his style, Shifu Bernard writes in USA Dojo:
A good White Crane fighter can, amongst other things, sidestep and strike an opponent. This tactic is very effective in self-defense scenarios against a completely committed and possibly enraged adversary. It was not designed for the often tentative, forewarned and illusory nature of controlled sparring involving mutually consenting competitors.

This brings us to a most important point: Authentic Chinese martial arts were created and evolved to be devastating self-defense systems. As society changes and evolves, however, many martial art systems have changed their fundamental nature and modified their training regimen. We can safely distinguish between those arts that have remained faithful to their tradition of all-or-nothing self-defense and those that have become martial sports. Both have something very special to offer to the public. There is, however, a great difference in approach.
To find out more, watch the brief but informative clip.

Related Posts: White Crane Master, Needle Through Brick, The Avian Techniques of Xingyi

Apr 21, 2010

Japanese White Crane

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This clips shows Toshio Morita, a senior student of Tadahiko Ohtsuka, performing Happoren in Goju Kensha Hombu Tokyo. Happoren is said to have originated from the Babulien (Eight Linked Steps) form of Fuzhou White Crane.

Related Post: Fuzhou White Crane vs Hakka Tiger

Silat Master Explains Taiji Applications

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Slow movements, relaxed power and bouncing opponents away are traits popularly associated with Taijiquan, but these skills are not exclusive to Taiji alone. Within the vast repertoire of methods in the lesser known art of Silat there are techniques which parallel Taiji's. Watch this clip as Luke Holloway demonstrates how Silat techniques can be used to send opponents flying.

Related Posts: Silat Garis Paksi, Push and Sticking Hands in Silat

Apr 20, 2010

Speedy Cat Inspires Site Redesign

Over the past one week we have made numerous behind-the-scenes changes to the site layout to make the home page load faster. We've taken tonnes of Javascript off and made them load on demand, but the biggest change for visitors is that YouTube is no longer playable directly from the front page. Instead of showing YouTube videos there directly, thumbnails of the video are shown instead, and clicking on the thumbnail or the Read More link will lead the visitor to the actual video.

Before this change, YouTube thumbnails were sort of mashed together using Flash on-the-fly at the client-side (by YouTube) and that really took some time.  In advanced countries with good bandwidth speeds, this is likely not noticeable, but for less advanced ones, this results in the front page taking an a fair few seconds to load (it's an ISP not a YouTube issue).  Now we have a much faster loading front page - just click on the picture to view the video.  Stay tuned for more kung fu broadcasts!

Update 1: To squeeze out further performance improvements, the fancy translucent background has been canned in favor of a simpler page look.  The translucent nature background previously guzzled both bandwidth and CPU cycles. The new look should hopefully be easier on the eye too. Rolled back, not significant.

Update 2: The video page now shows a bigger video (no added bandwidth required)!

Related Posts: Play YouTube Videos SmoothlyYouTube Tips and Hacks

Hollywood Star Learns Wing Chun

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Actor Robert Downey Jr of Iron Man fame trains in the martial art of Wing Chun. This compilation clip shows him discussing some of his Wing Chun experiences in interviews with Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman. Now this might not sound terribly ground breaking, but Robert Downey Jr provides some keen insights into martial arts practice, in particular the brown belt (semi-skilled) fever syndrome.

Brown belt fever, worth a thesis on its own, is a trap that many martial artists fall into, which is to think they know a lot when they have only learnt a little. The little extra they have learnt makes them feel they are ahead of others and fuels ego and arrogance. Old school masters took great lengths to preempt this dangerous affliction in their students, including the generous application of corporal punishment where and when required (see Related Post).

Robert Downey Jr's interview with Letterman is hilarious. Robert mentions he studies Biu Jee (Darting Fingers, a form within Wing Chun), but Letterman keeps thinking he means Bill G (Bill Gates)! Go on, watch the video. [Note: the video is set to start at the 68 second mark, skipping a bad vid of Nicholas Cage doing Wing Chun.]

Via: Kungfu Magazine
Related Post: Old School Training

Apr 19, 2010

The Fearless Hyena

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Here's something lighter for Monday: Jackie Chan in a slapstick duel with a broadsword exponent from the 1979 movie The Fearless Hyena. This is vintage unrestrained Jackie Chan before he went over to Hollywood and started losing his chops. Though a comedy, some of the moves are pretty interesting; like going in close and hugging (or wrestling) a sword wielding opponent when caught in a really tight situation, and the use of the long stick at the back of body. Have a watch yourself.

Related Posts: Top 10 Jackie Chan Stunts

Apr 18, 2010

Japanese Katana vs Kali Twin Machetes

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Actually in this clip for obvious safety reasons the Katana is substituted with a Kendo Shinai and the Kali machetes by standard Kali rattan sticks. Though the Kali practitioner looks to have a slight edge given his twin weapons, this is balanced by the reach, focus and cutting power of the Katana. Note how the Kali exponent uses side stepping in avoid the dangerous downward chop of the Katana.

Related Posts: Shaolin Sword vs Japanese KatanaBagua Deer Horns vs Kali Sticks

Bagua Deer Horns vs Kali Sticks

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Continuing our weapon dueling series, this clip shows an intriguing matchup between the rarely seen Bagua Deer Horn Knives and Filipino Kali sticks. Bagua is known to be a unique yet effective martial arts and its distinctiveness follows through to its trademark Deer Horn knives as well. Here's a description of the knives from Body Mind Harmony:
They are designed for use against multiple attackers, or any type of weapon. There are techniques for use against the spear, staff, saber and especially the sword. It has been said the Deerhorn Knives are especially good at defeating the sword with their hooking and trapping techniques. Master Su Yu-Chang says they are the number one weapon because they can break the energy of any other weapon, long or short. He also said they were for lethal application. That unlike other bagua weapons which may be better at locking and controlling, once the Deerhorn Knives came out, extreme injuries were the result.

Apr 17, 2010

Secrets of The Taiji Sword

Different sword traditions have arrived at different designs, names and uses for the sword.  Previously we have seen how various parts of a Western longsword could be used in combat.  In this post, we will have a closer look at the unique and less well known Taiji broadsword.  Unlike normal Chinese broadswords, the Taiji broadsword is sharpened on both sides at the head of the sword.  This makes it a hybrid between the Chinese Jian (double edged sword) and Dao (single edged sword).

The combat function of this extra edge is to allow upward cutting flicks, which can be used against the wrist, fingers, groin or chin.   The other unique components of this sword include the unsharpened root, the S shaped handguard and the ring pommel.  Click here to find out the combat applications of these components.

Related Posts: Bladed Weapons: Swords II

Apr 16, 2010

Bladed Weapons: Swords II

The sword has a number of functional parts and each part is given a name.  The nomenclature shown above is for a European Longsword and this vocabulary is applicable to other swords as well while communicating in English, though other sword traditions have their own native terrms.  Examples of the use of the different parts of a sword are:
  • Pommel: Blunt weapon at close range.
  • Guard: Hand protection.
  • Fuller: Thought of as a blood grove, it is actually to lighten the sword without weakening it.
  • Point: Piercing.
  • Edge: Cutting, slicing, striking.
  • Rain guard: Prevents water from entering the scabbard.
Click here for the rest of the article.

Related Post: Bladed Weapons: Swords I

Apr 15, 2010

Bladed Weapons: Swords I

In the previous two posts, we have highlighted various types of swords, both from the East and the West. Today, let's have a closer look at these bladed weapons. This picture shows a Filipino Bolo and its scabbard. The blade is made curved for a number of reasons including to bring the center of gravity forward closer to the tip for chopping power, similar to how a baseball bat is fatter at the business end. In similarity with other Indonesian and Malay weapons, the handle gets an elaborate design which has a number of uses. For instance, the curve at the pommel allows the weapon to be pulled without the grip slipping easily. The lack of a hand guard reduces hand protection but allows the weapon to be handled more easily in carriage, drawing and combat. Click read more for the rest of the article.

Related Posts: Shaolin Sword vs Japanese Katana, Sabre vs Foil Sword Fight

Apr 14, 2010

Sabre vs Foil Sword Fight

Further to the previous post, here is a match-up between the Sabre and the Foil. The Sabre is a single-edged weapon like the Katana while the Foil has no edge, just a sharp tip, so it can be viewed as a restricted version of the dainty Chinese Jian. If the previous demonstration is slow paced and more theoretical, then this duel takes it up a notch in terms of speed and being more combat like, though it is obviously still a friendly spar.

The Sabre is a swung weapon not unlike how one would naturally use a stick to fight, while the Foil, and its cousin the Épée, are mainly thrusting weapons with its tip as it main attack focus. Watch how the girl with the Foil uses footwork to position herself for attack and defense, and how the Forward Bow Stance is used for making quick entries and exit. As compared to the previous clip where Sifu Wong Kiew Kit uses side and circular stepping, in this demo the stepping is more linear likely because the exponents are trained in sport fencing which uses a narrow strip as its competition space.

Sabre, Foil, Épée, FencingJianForward Bow Stance

Related Post
Shaolin Sword vs Japanese Katana

Apr 13, 2010

Shaolin Sword vs Japanese Katana

In 2008, the British government banned private ownership of Katanas except for specific collector or martial arts training use. The ban is a result of the involvement of Katanas in assaults, sometimes with serious consequences. Though martial arts commentators scoffed at the ban saying long kitchen knives have a more lethal record, the fearsome image of the katana could be contributing factor to its ban.

The Katana is a long single-edged sword akin to the Filipino Bolo, the Chinese Broadsword and the Middle Eastern Scimitar. In the West, the sword in normally associated with the a heavy two-edged Longsword, a lighter version of the same in Chinese Martial Arts is the Jian. How would the dainty Jian fare against the ferocious Katana? Watch as Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit demonstrates the application of the Jian against the Katana.

Katana, Bolo, Broadsword, Scimitar, Longsword, Jian.

Related Posts
Master of Kungfu and The Internet
Eskrima Master Gets The Better of Two Dudes

Apr 12, 2010

Taekwondo vs Muay Thai

Some consider Muay Thai to be a battle hardened martial art while Taekwondo is a "sport". In practical terms, there may be some truth to this if only because Muay Thai exponents normally go through a more fight oriented training regime compared to Taekwondo. This could be misleading though because it is said that at the highest levels normally not seen in public, elite Taekwondo fighters can hold their own very well.

The art itself is a tool, the use of it still remains with wielder. In this amateur clip - we are staying away from boring professional bouts - a Taekwondo exponent gets the better of a Muay Thai opponent in a reversal of many other similar matchups posted on the net. The Taekwondo exponent is clearly better trained and looks to have some longfist skills as well. But kudos to the Muay Thai group who seems to be hosting the Taekwondo guy - only the brave and the skilled aren't afraid of losing.

Related Post: Karate vs Kung Fu

Apr 11, 2010

The Third Generation

Here's an instrumental rendition of the I Will Always Love You by Lim Ji Yeon, a South Korean contemporary of Lin Yu Chun. That kind of makes her third generation.

What's with this generational stuff? It perhaps illustrates how martial arts are being or should be passed down. Each performer in the last three posts rendered the song differently yet kept the core of the song intact. And comparing Dolly Parton's version and Lin Yu Chun's cover, the song has retained its tingling effect. Lin Yu Chun did not not add in jazz, rock, additional lyrics or rifts from other songs, he kept the song unsullied.

There is much more to be said about the above analogy, like what if parts of the song got lost in transmission, can it be recovered by adding parts of other songs etc. This will be left as an exercise for readers. The only sentiment left to add is if you have a song, pass it along.  Imagine if Dolly Parton had kept the song to herself.

Related Post: Talented Lin Yu Chun, The First Generation, The Second Generation

The Second Generation

Further to the post on Lin Yu Chun and winding back clock the clock some 20 years to 1992, this was the year Whitney Houston released her version of I Will Always Love You, a massive worldwide hit. The song has quite a lineage, it was written another 20 years earlier in 1973 by Dolly Parton. In a sense, if Dolly Parton is the first generation, Whitney Houston is the second generation and Lin Yu Chun is the third generation performer of this song. [Note corrections to the Years listed.]

Related Post: Talented Lin Yu Chun, The First Generation

The First Generation

Dolly Parton wrote I Will Always Love You in 1972 when she was in her late twenties; the song reached number one in the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs in 1974. It rose to the top of the charts again in 1982 when she re-recorded it for a movie version of a Broadway musical, starring herself and Burt Reynolds. Though this clip from the movie is from way back, before the advent of modern digital music and recording technology, it is still quite a watch, with Dolly Parton giving an unadorned, emotional rendition of the song.

Related Post: Talented Lin Yu Chun

Apr 10, 2010

Talented Lin Yu Chun

Weekend's here, time for a kung fu break. This is hot off the press, 2 million aggregated YouTube views in just one week so you might have see this already. If not, sit back and enjoy Lin Yu Chun's winning rendition of a Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston hit, performed at a Taiwanese talent contest, Super Star Avenue.

Related Posts: YouTube SensationI Dreamed A Dream

Digital Kung Fu

The iPhone is a versatile gadget due to its highly programmable interface. One could make calls, surf the net and play games with it. But far beyond this, because it allows applications from third party to run on it, it has unleashed a whole new creative digital ecosystem. In this entertaining offbeat clip, a young lady from Korea synthesizes an iPhone powered cover of Lady Gaga's hit, Poker Face.

Related Posts: YouTube Sensation

Apr 9, 2010

Xingyi Five Element Fist

To wrap up this week's feature on Internal Martial Arts, we have an exposition by Bruce Frantzis on the application of of Xingyi's famous Five Element Fist. The concept of the Five Elements of Metal, Water, Wood, FIre and Earth is common to many branches of traditional Chinese culture including medicine, geomancy, cookery, divination, music and martial arts. Within Xingyiquan, the Five Element Fists are said to have the following combat functions (in the sequence as show in the video):
Metal / Piquan / Chopping Fist
Its form is like an axe and intention is like chopping something.
Like an axe chopping up and over.

Water / Zuanquan / Drilling Fist
Its form like lightning and intention is like a winding stream.
Drilling forward horizontally like a geyser.

Wood / Bengquan / Crushing Fist
Its form is like an arrow and intention is like shooting something.
Arrows constantly exploding forward.

Fire / Paoquan / Cannon Fist
Its form is like cannon; horizontal power is extremely great, it has the nature of a gun.
Exploding outward like a cannon while blocking.

Earth / Hengquan / Crossing Fist
Horizontal fist belongs to Earth; its form is like a bullet.
Crossing across the line of attack while turning over.
Source: Wikipedia, ChinaFromInside

Related Posts: Xingyi Combat Applications, The Avian Techniques of Xingyi

Apr 8, 2010

The Avian Techniques of Xingyi

This clip (note: poor audio) shows the application of bird inspired techniques of Xingyi, namely the Rooster, Pheonix and Swallow by ShrFu Mike Patterson. There are actually five bird techniques in Xingyi, the following are the concise fighting attributes of each bird (via: YCGF):
Rooster: In ancient times, people believed it is in the rooster's nature to fight. In competition, it fights bravely and hard, and never quit easily. In Xingyquan practice, its attribute is: hard, brave, and to keep going on. It is never afraid to make a hard fight.

Sparrow: Sparrow hawk is a bird of prey. It is quick and agile. When it flies up, it shows how strong it is. When it flies down, it shows how quick it is. When it flies to pass through the forest, it shows how agile and accurate it is. When it turns over its body during flying, it shows how nimble it is. In Xingyiquan practice, its attribute is:quick, hard, and straight, but still very nimble. Like a sparrow piercing forward.

Swallow: Here picture a swallow skimming just above the water, if it's a little bit low, it will fall into the water, if a little bit high, it cannot get water. Swallow can fly very quickly with accurate movement. It is not a hard but agile skill. In Xingyiquan practice, its attribute is: Accurate skillful power with light and quick movement.

Pheonix: Tai is a big mystical bird. When it's running, its wings flap very powerful so that it is very strong and can knock over anything blocking it. In Xingyiquan practice, its attribute is: strong and quick movement can destroy anything trying to stop or block it.

Eagle: When the eagle is circling the skies and zooms in on a prey, it will suddenly drop down and capture the prey. Its capturing skill needs to be powerful and accurate. In Xingyiquan, people said every attack skill has to be like eagle talon. It means when you find a chance, your attack should be sudden, quick, powerful and accurate; and if you get it, never give him chance to fight back or run away. In Xingyiquan practice, its attribute is: sudden, quick, powerful, and accurate, and to keep control all the way.
Related Posts: Taijiquan vs Xingyiquan, Bagua Combat Application, Liuhebafa Combat Application, Chen Taiji Combat Application

Apr 7, 2010

Xingyi Combat Applications

When the term Chinese internal martial arts is mentioned, it is usually associated with Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan. In the past few posts, we have showcased the combat applications of Baguazhang and Taijiquan (with a Liuhebafa intermission). To complete the triumvirate, ShrFu Mike Patterson demonstrates in this double clip the combat applications of Xingyiquan; the first clip shows Xingyi Chin Na, the second clip (see next post) introduces Xingyi avian techniques: Rooster, Pheonix and Swallow. We will be covering the Xingyiquan's five elements in another post, in the meantime, here's a neat description of Xingyiquan's core combat principles from Wikipedia:
Xingyiquan features aggressive shocking attacks and direct footwork. The linear nature of Xingyiquan hints at both the military origins and the influence of spear technique alluded to in its mythology. Despite its hard, angular appearance, cultivating "soft" internal strength or qi is essential to achieving power in Xingyiquan. 
The goal of the xingyiquan exponent is to reach the opponent quickly and drive powerfully through them in a single burst — the analogy with spear fighting is useful here. This is achieved by coordinating one's body as a single unit and the intense focusing of one's qi.
Efficiency and economy of movement are the qualities of a xingyiquan stylist and its direct fighting philosophy advocates simultaneous attack and defence. There are few kicks except for extremely low foot kicks (which avoids the hazards of balance involved with higher kicks) and some mid-level kicks, and techniques are prized for their deadliness rather than aesthetic value.
Xingyiquan favours a high stance called Santishi, literally "three bodies power," referring to how the stance holds the head, torso and feet along the same vertical plane. A common saying of Xingyiquan is that "the hands do not leave the heart and the elbows do not leave the ribs."
Related Posts: Taijiquan vs XingyiquanBagua Combat ApplicationLiuhebafa Combat ApplicationChen Taiji Combat Application

Apr 6, 2010

Chen Taiji Combat Application

In this clip, ShrFu Mike Patterson shows how Chen Style Taijiquan could be applied in combat.  Though Taiji is normally associated with soft, gentle exercises, the Chen school is known to be highly combat oriented.  As we have seen previously in Baguazhang, Taijiquan is also well known for not using force against force; here's a succinct summary of Taijiquan's combat strategy from Shenwu:
Taijiquan is a martial art is based on the principle of the soft overcoming the hard. Direct opposition of another's force is strictly discouraged, and great emphasis is placed upon borrowing the force of the opponent and using it to one's own advantage. Belonging to the schools of the so-called "soft" martial arts, Taijiquan training is designed to cultivate a relaxed, flexible and sensitive body along with a calm and focused intent. 
The Taijiquan fighter is trained to absorb and neutralize incoming force, join with the opponent by sticking to his center, and issue force at the appropriate time and angle with the power of the entire body. By following the principle of giving up the self and following others, the Taijiquan fighter is able to use an opponent's own strength against him, thereby allowing the weaker and slower to overcome the stronger and faster opponent. 
Another hallmark of Taijiquann as a combat art is that it has, as its foundation, the principle of natural movement. All the movements and techniques of the Taijiquan Arts are based upon natural strengths and reactions. Because training is less a matter of conditioning new responses as refining inborn abilities, real fighting ability can be cultivated in the Taijiquan arts faster than most other styles of martial arts. The diligent student of Taijiquan, properly trained, will have acquired real self defense ability in a matter of months, as opposed to the years of training required in many other martial systems.
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Apr 5, 2010

Liuhebafa Combat Application

Next up, ShrFu Mike Patterson demonstrates applications from the rare internal style of Liuhebafa, literally, Six Harmony, Eight Method (Boxing). The complete name of this art is even longer - Liuhebafa Sanpan Shiershi - which means Six Harmony, Eight Method, Three Stance, Twelve Postures (Boxing). The numeric mnemomic of Six Harmony, Eight Methods refers to the following principles:

Six Harmonies
  1. Body and Heart/Mind;
  2. Heart/mind and Intent;
  3. Intent and Qi/Energy;
  4. Qi/energy and Spirit;
  5. Spirit and Movement; and
  6. Movement and Emptiness.
Eight Methods
  1. Qi (energy), circulating Qi to concentrate Shen (spirit)
  2. Gu (bones), collecting energy inside the bones;
  3. Xing (form), incorporating animal forms from nature;
  4. Sui (follow), circular and smooth motion responding to the situation;
  5. Ti (lifting), lifting from the crown of one's head to have a floating feeling;
  6. Huan (returning), coming and going in a cycle;
  7. Le (suspending), being motionless and calm while waiting; and
  8. Fu (concealing), looking for an opening while concealing yourself.

Apr 4, 2010

Bagua Combat Application

Continuing our series on Baguazhang (Eight Trigrams Kung Fu), we have a clip here of ShrFu Mike Patterson, an eminent American internal martial arts master, demonstrating combat applications of Bagua. Though there are a number of Bagua applications clips on the tube, this one is the sharpest in its exposition. ShrFu Patterson lived and studied in Taiwan for many years and studied Pa Kua, Hsing-I and Tai Chi (Baguazhang, Xingyiquan and Taijiquan) under a number of teachers. He was All Taiwan Full Contact Martial Arts Champion in 1975-1976, a high accolade because these championships in the 60s and 70s were particularly brutal and old school.

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Apr 3, 2010

Rare Bagua Clip

When Baguazhang (Eight Trigrams Palm) first appeared in Beijing in the 1800's, it quickly gained a reputation for being a particularly effective martial art. For more background on this renowed martial art, Shenwu has an excellent writeup on its history, part of which is abstracted below. Baguazhang practitioners are often shown practicing gently; this clip shows an old master going through a Baguazhang form from the Cheng Ting Hua lineage forcefully.
Although there are several theories as to the Origins of Ba Gua Zhang, recent and exhaustive research by martial scholars in Mainland China conclude without reasonable doubt that the Art is the creation of a single individual, Dong Hai Chuan.  At some point during his travels, Dong became a member of the Chuan Zhen (Complete Truth) sect of Daoism. The Daoists of this sect practiced a method of walking in a circle white reciting certain mantras. Dong later combined the circle walking mechanics with the martial arts he had mastered in his youth to create a new style based on mobility and the ability to apply techniques while in constant motion.
Dong Hai Quan only taught established masters of the martial arts; he accepted no beginners. The training was designed to allow his students (already masters of other martial arts in their own right) to modify their original arts in accordance with the principles of Ba Gua Zhang. Because of the diverse backgrounds of Dong's original students, their resultant styles of Ba Gua Zhang may differ greatly in terms of form and technique, but all are truly styles of Ba Gua Zhang as they adhere to the underlying principles of body use and application which define Ba Gua Zhang as a unique style. 
Fighting Strategy
Ba Gua Zhang fighting theory advocates the complete avoidance of opposing power with power and adopts a kind of guerilla warfare mentality. The Ba Gua Zhang fighter continuously seeks to avoid the apex of the opponent's force and attacks or counterattacks from the opponent's weak angles. By circling around and circumventing incoming force and resistance, the Ba Gua Zhang fighter applies his own whole body power from a position of superiority This strategy allows the smaller and weaker fighter to apply maximum force from an angle at which the larger and stronger opponent cannot resist, effectively making the weaker fighter more powerful at that moment.

Apr 2, 2010

Monkey vs Capoeira

Many untrained observers are understandably surprised when they are told wushu is not a combat art although it looks like kung fu done well. Can wushu, with its repertoire of sharp moves, really be combat neutral? It depends on the context of the question and answer. If wushu is practiced in its modern, standalone form, then it is likely not a combat art but is instead a sport with a focus on points scoring. Points are assessed on aesthetic considerations such as whether the performer's leg is straight during a particular flip, much like modern gymnastics. 

But since wushu is derived from traditional kung fu forms, if a practitioner is given proper combat instruction and training, many of its moves can indeed be used for self defence, including the dazzling jumps and somersaults. In particular, the Monkey Kung Fu is known for its lethal application of both innocuous and break-dancing like moves. In this short clip from the movie The Quest, a Monkey Kung Fu practitioner takes on a Capoeira opponent and demonstrates trademark Monkey combat manoeuvres such as somersaults, flips, groin and eye attacks.

Related Posts: Traditional ShaolinSolid Stances and Forceful SoundsAuthentic Monkey Kung FuRotund Silat Tiger

Apr 1, 2010

Karate Bloopers

For this first day of April, we have a compilation of bloopers and spills from the dojo. Watching these mishaps, remember, always think safety when practicing martial arts. Also, for April, we have an interesting collection of videos lined up including intriguing matchups between different schools, yogic arts, weapons combat, internal boxing and tracking down obscure styles. Stay tuned for more thrilling kung fu action!

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