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Archive for May 11th, 2009

To All The Would Be “Kung Fu Fighters”

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Sifu Jones, the Ja Gows, and the Black Belts have always pushed the slow and soft way of learning how to fight in our often brutal system of Kung Fu. A few of the up and coming students witnessed something on Friday that proves that it works. What happened that afternoon is the result of many years of hard work and practice. I want to set the record straight about what happened and what it takes to get there.

During the Friday afternoon hands time, Ja Gow Adam and I touched hands for a bit. During our hands play, things quickly escalated to the point where we were going fast and hard. We were pushing ourselves; punching, kicking, throwing, yielding, grappling–you name it and we probably tried it. It was soft, controlled, and with no ego, and that made it a whole lot of fun (but educational it was not).

I know that we stress playing soft and slow, and that it can be difficult, but that is how you learn to fight safely without any rules or pads. Soft and slow however important, is only a part of the story. This story also includes several years of learning forms, conditioning our bodies, and learning to fight. All of the forms and the horse stance help to condition and train our bodies to react without conscious thought, but the most important thing–what has tied all of the forms, stances and drills together–are the years of playing hands soft and slow. Constantly helping each other get better by staying soft, relying on feel, trusting your partner and trying new things. That is the goal when you touch hands with your fellow students. Help each other. (Do not misinterpret this to try and teach one another, please leave that to the instructors)

Things everyone needs to work on (myself included):

  1. Stay Soft. Softness keeps you from hurting someone or yourself.
  2. Stay Slow. Ja Gow Bob Hung from California said “If you can do it slow, you can do it fast. If you can only do it fast, you are doing it wrong.” Also, you can not learn/get better when going fast.
  3. No Ego. If you get hit, it is your fault, there is a gap in your defense. Put your attention to closing that, not “getting back” at your partner. At TKFF, inflated egos are “popped”.
  4. Help Each Other. You cannot get better by yourself. You need practice, and you need feedback from those you touch hands with.

These few things, along with the proper hands etiquette, will allow you to learn in a safe, enjoyable manner, which is our goal here at TKFF. And remember, we love answering questions about fighting!!

Black Rings – The Bow

Monday, May 11th, 2009
This is the second post in the Black Rings series. Check back tomorrow to continue the story.

      His voice startled me. I had no idea he was standing behind me. I turned and looked up. Master Fogg was a tower of a man, lean with ripped muscles on top of more ripped muscles.

     “Yes sir.” I was almost too excited to speak. I had mowed over forty lawns that summer and saved all my money inside a Nike shoebox to join Kung Fu. I couldn’t wait. I just knew I was going to learn all the cool moves I’d watched on Kung Fu Theater. Sifu would probably start out teaching me the sword form. Then we’d move on to some joint locks and throws. I would then finish up with iron body training and join the guy hitting the swinging log. My heart was pounding with anticipation. Man, was I clueless.

     Sifu waved over another student to join us. He was a kid, maybe two years older than I was. I thought, cool, a sparring partner. His name was Drew.

     “He’s going to show you the bow,” Sifu said.

     The bow, no problem. I would just

     “Then you will practice it 350 times.” Sifu glanced at the clock with its cracked face hanging on the wall. “If you start now, you might finish by the end of class. But if you mess up, even on the 349th time, you start over. Understand?” He left before I had a chance to respond.

     The bow. Three-hundred and fifty times. For the entire class? My dream of fighting with a sword was just cut in half. Watching everyone else practice their cool forms, I followed the student over to the corner next to the dusty weapons rack. Drew demonstrated the bow and I felt worse. The traditional Kung Fu bow was not merely bending forward at the waist. It involved twisting the right foot to a 90 degree angle and sinking down on it before you shot out your left leg forward and then back again, all the while, thrusting out your arms like a double punch. I practiced a few times with Drew then he left me alone to begin the journey.

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