Jun 27, 2011

Amazing Demo by An Old Master

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The kung fu level of old masters from the pre-war generation are vastly different from what remains as kung fu today. Watch this video of a senior citizen master performing a form (though the title states Bagua it might not be so) which is reminiscent of break dancing. The interesting portion is the first 1:05 minutes where the first master - this video is a medley - shows fluid grace and power in executing a strenuous form. They don't make them like this anymore, this is a memory of a bygone era.

Jun 25, 2011

Bajiquan: Application of Push The Mountain

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Continuing from our previous post, Bajiquan Master Lu Baochun reveals how the "Push The Mountain" move - imagine how kids would imitate bunny ears with both hands- as seen in the forms of a number of martial arts, can be used to devastating effect in combat. Notice how Bajiquan moves are finished with "explosive" power, the trademark of the art. Bajiquan does not have a large following because its initial stance training is said to be so tough many students do not make it past this stage. [Errata: "Push the Mountain" not being demonstrated here, instead it is the related "Comb Hair" move."]

Related Post Bajiquan: The Bodyguard Martial Art

Jun 22, 2011

Bajiquan: The Bodyguard Martial Art

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The more prominent a client, the bigger a target he or she is, and therefore the more skilled the bodyguard must be. What martial arts do the bodyguards of China's most senior public figures turned to in the early part of the twentieth century (1900s)? Bajiquan, the fist of the Eight Extremes - the martial of choice of:
  • Huo Dian Ge, bodyguard to Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China.
  • Li Chen Wu, bodyguard to Mao Zedong
  • Liu Yun Qiao, instructor of the bodyguards of Chiang Kai Shek.
All students of renowned, take-no-prisoners Bajiquan Grandaster Li Shu Wen. In this brief clip, Finland-based Bajiquan Master Lu Bao Chun shows why this art might deserve its impressive historical reputation. We will feature more Bajiquan in our next post.

Related Post: Bajiquan Combat Intent

Jun 18, 2011

Katana vs Machine Gun

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This astounding video continues the Katana theme of the two previous posts. A TV producer thought it would be interesting to pit the legendary cutting edge of the Katana against a .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun. The M2 is a heavy machine gun, almost a mini-cannon, that fires rounds which could penetrate 1 to 2 inches of steel. Would the Katana be able to withstand sustained automatic fire from the M2? Watch as events unfold which would bring tears to a samurai's eye.

[The narrative is in Japanese; just be aware of towards the middle of the video, the bullets fired is counted and shown on the bottom right of the clip.  The rest should be self explanatory. This video has 1.8 million views and over 5 thousand comments. For a niche topic, this is quite a bit of engagement.]

Related Post: Japanese Katana vs European Longsword, Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
Picture Credit: Heroes and Role Models

Japanese Katana vs European Longsword

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How does the Japanese Katana compare with the European Longsword. Lee Ermey from History Channel's Mail Call checks out both weapons and concludes one is noticeably better than the other. Being a TV show, the test is more entertainment than a rigorous scientific, military or engineering exercise. But do watch to see which weapon won the showdown.

Related Post: Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Jun 17, 2011

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

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What is kung fu? Not necessarily the chop-socky action which most people associate the term with. Instead, watch as Japanese master swordsman, Isao Machii shows his amazing katana skills by cutting a speeding bullet in mid flight (actually an air gun pellet but no less impressive). On hand to witness this feat was Professor Ramani Durvasula of California State University. According to the commentary, based on normal physiological standards, Isao Sensei couldn't have seen the bullet by time it reached him let alone draw his katana and hit it in full flight. Truly amazing skills and definitely top notch kung fu.

Related Post: Katana Zen
Photo Credit: Japanese Swords

Jun 11, 2011

The Combat Application of Zig Zag Stepping

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Yesterday we highlighted the zig-zag footwork of Southern Dragon Kung Fu. How is this seemingly awkward way of stepping used in combat? Well the answer is provided here not by (the secretive) Dragon Kung Fu but by an internal martial srts master Guo Shilei who teaches Taiji, Baqua and Xingyi. The zig-zap movement turns out to be a forward moving side-stepping - watch as Master Guo explains further in the clip where he also contrasts this indirect footwork with Xingyi's straight-in approach.

Related Post: The Southern Dragon's Zig Zag Footwork

Jun 10, 2011

The Southern Dragon's Zig Zag Footwork

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In the previous post, we saw how a Southern Dragon Kung Fu (Cantonese: Lung Ying) practitioner compress and decompress his body to generate power analogous to the imagined coiling of a dragon's body. According to legend, the (Chinese) dragon also moves in curves like a how a snake would propel itself forward. This sinuous movement is translated into zig zag stepping in Dragon Kung Fu. Demonstrated here by Master Lam Yau Sing from Hong Kong.  In the next post, we will show how this zig zag footwork is used in combat.

Related Post: Dragon Kung Fu's Coiling Body

Jun 8, 2011

Dragon Kung Fu's Coiling Body

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Here is another rare Southern Dragon (Lung Ying) clip - this one is the first form, Sup Luk Dong or Sixteen Moves from the school of Sifu Zhong Luo.. Notice how the demonstrator winds and unwinds his body to generate power. This in akin to the coiling of the Dragon.  On a related note, more words of wisdom from Dragon Kung Fu:
  • If you are loose in morality, the master will not pass his skill to you, even if you were his son
  • If you are eager to learn, the master will teach you even if you cannot afford to pay
  • You should understand that self-restraint is a way of avoiding conflicts, not a sign of timidness
  • Let others boast their egos, you need only to stick to your conscience and principles.

Jun 5, 2011

Southern Dragon Kung Fu

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Here's a rare clip of the little known Southern Dragon style. In it an old master performs the Lung Ying Mor Kiu (Dragon Feel Bridge) form with such speed the video looks like it is being fast forwarded. Southern Dragon has similarities with Pak Mei, both being Hakka martial arts. The Southern Dragon is distinguished by the extensive use of gripping and seizing techniques. The motto of the Southern Dragon:
Control yourself, let others do what they will.
This does not mean you are weak.
Control your heart, obey the principles of life.
This does not mean others are stronger.
Related Post: Wing Chun vs Southern Dragon

Jun 4, 2011

Wing Chun vs Southern Dragon

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We have a double video feature for this weekend. Legend has it Wing Chun was practiced on a table top to train its practitioners balance and fighting in closed spaces.

The acclaimed 1981 Hong Kong movie The Prodigal Son plays on this theme by having Wing Chun grandmasters Leung Yee Tai (the browless master in the clip) teaching Leung Jan (the shirtless apprentice) with Wong Wah Boh (the rotund master) watching on. Leung Jan is the teacher of Yip Man's teacher Chan Wah Shum. This Wing Chun lineage tree may make the relationships between these old masters clearer (though different schools have different versions of the lineage tree).

The second video has Leung Yee Tai pitted against a Southern Dragon (Lung Ying) master (yellow robed) which gives this post its title.  Both videos are dubbed in English.

Are the videos realistic depiction of how a Wing Chun fight might look like? For one, the screen movements stop for a split second when executed, this is probably a cinematic technique to allow movie audiences to discern the kung fu moves. In other words, it is freeze framing done manually by the actors.

 In actual combat, Wing Chun should be very fast and flowing and the techniques likely undiscernible to the untrained eye. Also, the hop steps are not Wing Chun kicks, at least in the more traditional schools. In these schools the kicks slide along the ground instead for better stability.  In the next few videos, we will explore the mysterious Southern Dragon style a bit more.