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Kung Fu: The Real McCoy

MMA and ground fighting are the new craze in martial arts. Every time you turn on the tube you can find a UFC fight and I can’t help but be interested. The people that train MMA are amazing athletes. Their bodies are in superior condition, through both physical strength and endurance training.

I recently had the opportunity to visit another school that teaches Brazilian Jui Jitsu and train with them. I introduced myself to the instructor and thanked him for the opportunity. He explained the general outline of how the class would be conducted and asked if I had any other martial arts background. I told him that I had been doing Kung Fu for about two years.

With the instructor, an assistant instructor, about six other students, and myself, we began the warm up – some running, push ups, sit ups, etc. After the warm up we went through and practiced several techniques: the Kimura, passing the guard, and a few chokes. Most of it was Greek to me, as I’m not used to doing my training from the ground, without shoes, and wearing a gi.

Then we began sparring…from the ground…on our knees. I was completely out of my element. Suddenly this guy dove at me, head first. I yielded back, wrapped my forearm under his neck and choked him out. My opponent quickly tapped. This caught the attention of the instructor. He told his student, “We’ve talked about that. You have to protect your neck. Tuck in your chin.” We set back up and he dove in again. This time I yielded to the side, caught his neck in the bend of my elbow, and choked him out again. After he tapped and we set back up, my opponent says “And what type of training did you say you do?”

The instructor quickly moved a senior student in to spar with me, and then on up to his assistant instructor. I now had the full attention of the instructor as he coached each student on what to do while grappling with me. I wasn’t as successful with them as I was with the first opponent, but I was no easy target. I quickly got the same question from the last two opponents, “And what type of training did you say you do?”

And that got me to thinking, “Maybe this Kung Fu stuff is doing me some good.” All those drills, and that muscle memory stuff that Sifu talks about, is in there. I also found that our training and the training of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter are very different. Our intent or our focus is different.

The intent of a Jiu Jitsu fighter is to get you to the ground and submit you with a choke or joint locking technique. In Kung Fu, our intent is to evade full force, and return the strike quickly. Jiu Jitsu doesn’t allow biting, hair pulling, sticking fingers in the eyes or nose, finger twisting, or any other move that results in an unfair advantage through the use of fists, feet, elbows, or the head.

In Kung Fu, all of the above are legal. Jiu Jitsu pacticioners train for competition and sport. Our Kung Fu training prepares us for real world self defense, because in a life or death situation, there are no rules.

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