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Posts Tagged ‘Jow Ga Zack Permenter’

Fighting the Frustration

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

In every student’s Kung Fu journey comes a point where they do not feel that they are progressing like they should. This has happened to everyone that has learned to fight in this way, back hundreds of years. It is completely normal, but it can be very frustrating.

It is very much like walking through a long, wide hall. One in which you cannot see the end, but you know that this is your path. While walking down this hall, you may all of a sudden you find yourself at a wall. In this wall there are many doors, but only one will be unlocked and available for your passage. After passing through that door you are again looking down another long, wide hall.

The halls are wide because each student’s journey through Kung Fu is different and each door represents a different solution. Sometimes the student will find the correct solution themselves and continue on their Kung Fu path, however help is usually needed.

Here are a few suggestions to move past this frustration:

  1. Play your forms with emphasis on applications. All of the fighting tools you need are in your forms. The more you play them, the more will come out when fighting.
  2. SLOW DOWN. The slower you go, the more time you have to think about something different to do or how to get out of a situation.
  3. Try new things and new people. Playing hands with someone new can often spur a new direction for you.
  4. Try focusing on a single principle/idea when fighting. Example; begin trying to catch people’s center by plucking.

Very often, the best thing to do is to ask a Ja Gow or Black Belt. We all love this stuff, and would love to spend some time with you to help you get better. Learning to fight at Tyler Kung Fu & Fitness can be a daunting task. It is certainly a slow and frustrating one, but it is also extremely rewarding.

Most of all, KEEP TRYING. As in most martial arts, you learn the most by doing something over and over and over and over again.

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!!

Softness version 2.0: Misunderstandings

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

The topic of softness is usually grossly misunderstood in the world of Martial Arts. When most people in America think about Martial Arts, they think Karate or Taekwondo, both of which are “hard” styles. What they and many students of both, do not understand is that in the upper levels, they both move towards softness. It just goes to show that there is no “better style” just “better practitioners.” The main reason I have been given as to why Karate starts with hardness and moves toward softness later is that most students cannot understand softness in the beginning. I do agree that it can be one of the more difficult things to teach to a beginning student as many advanced students have a hard time really understanding the benefits of being soft.

Misunderstanding #1: You can not block a punch while being soft. FALSE

You do not need to stop a punch, merely redirect it to where you are not. Just as it takes 100 times more force to stop a bullet than to deflect it. All you need is just enough force to move the punch (or better yet you) out of its path.

Misunderstanding #2: You cannot put any force behind a punch while being soft. FALSE

The force that we put into our punches and kicks does not wholly come from the muscles in our arm/leg. Instead it comes from our waist and core. Much like a Rock in a Sock, when swung, a small amount of force at the center is multiplied many times out at the rock. The sock only delivers the rock to its target. A small movement at the waist – using our core muscles – is amplified by our arm (sock), and sending the fist (rock) to its destination with devastating results.

Most misunderstandings are simply because of lack of information or experience. We try to give plenty of both. If you have questions, please feel free to ask one of your instructors. Just be prepared for a long, usually excited answer. This stuff fascinates us!

The Real McChi

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

One of the most misunderstood aspects of Kung Fu is the power of Chi. The simple explanation is that Chi is our inner energy. In some circles, Chi is given an almost mythical representation that is far from the truth. We have all seen the movies where they use “Chi Magic” or somehow move something with their Chi.

Some people do not believe that Chi even exists, but it most certainly does, just not like it is portrayed in the movies. The idea of Chi has been around for thousands of years, and is just recently being explored and accepted in modern western medicine. Our entire body is connected to our brain through nerves; from our inner organs to our muscles to our skin. With a simple thought we can move our hand–but how? Our brain sends a small electrical signal to our muscles causing them to contract or relax (extend). When something touches our arm another electrical pulse is sent to the brain, where it registers the location, duration, and intensity of the touch. The human body is one big electrical machine. The electrical impulse that controls our body is our Chi–our inner energy. It cannot extend outside of the body, nor does it diminish with use. It is our own little electricity grid to power everything in our body.

Yes, Chi can be controlled. It takes years of practice to be able to simply feel your Chi. To be able to move it and control it is normally a lifelong journey, but it is most certainly possible. One of the main purposes for Chi control in Kung Fu is power. On a normal day-to-day basis, even while working out, we utilize only a small part of our muscles’ potential power. It can be seen/heard of from the many miraculous stories of life and death situations where someone did some seemingly impossible feat of strength. In these instances, our brain can release our entire muscle strength for the purpose of preserving life. It is our basic Fight or Flight response. Now imagine if you could call upon some of that at will?

Power is just one of the many uses of Chi. At TKFF, the use of Chi in Seven Star Preying Mantis Kung Fu is integral with techniques and applications. Over time you will learn to feel and eventually manipulate your Chi. It is a long and arduous path that is well worth the time.

What is Softness?

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

One of the major differences in our style from others such as Karate or Taekwondo is that ours is a “soft” style. I have been asked several times to explain why this is and how it is beneficial. This can be a long explanation, which I will be covering different aspects in the coming weeks, so check back often.

The first question usually is “What do you mean by ‘soft’?”

A quick explanation is simply that when we fight and play most forms, we have no tension in our muscles. Now obviously we must have at least some to remain standing and moving. But that is all we should have, just enough. It can be difficult for beginners and intermediate level students to judge how much is just enough. The best advice I could give would be to err on the side of softness.

Why soft? Not having tension and rigidity in your body will allow you to act and react quicker and more efficiently. A common example that I give is to try and tighten your whole arm and have someone push on it. Your whole body will move. In order to block or strike with that arm, you must first relax the muscles before you can move it. If you do the same thing, but only keep enough tension to hold the arm in place, then when someone pushes on it it will move and your center is not compromised. If you need to block or strike with the arm, it is ready to move immediately, therefore saving you the precious few moments needed to relax it, and possibly saving yourself from being hit.

Remember to check back often as I will post more on this very important subject soon.