Kung fu is a fighting art.
Of course, there are peripheral benefits such as improved focus, physical fitness, mental fortitude and discipline — all things that you can also acquire in a ballet class. The difference is – kung fu is a fighting art. A martial art. A ‘warlike’ art.
The ability to move your hands and feet around in fancy positions does not make you a martial artist. Far too many kung fu practitioners today; both sifu and student have lost sight of this. They get stuck on forms. Only forms. Over and over. Forms certainly have their benefits. I’m a huge advocate of practicing them as part of your regular routine. But they should only be one component of the larger picture.
If you’re not incorporating a well balanced array of all fighting elements into your training, then you’re not practicing a fighting art.
1. Speed Work
2. Strength and Conditioning Work
3. Technique Applications
5. Improvement of Stamina
6. Improvement of Overall Fitness
And if your instructor doesn’t promote these skill sets, go somewhere else.
I don’t care what physiological explanation someone throws at you; if you train slow, you will fight slow. You will react slow. Your muscle memory will plateau at that sustained slow pace. Fast twitch muscle fibers that are not utilized and non-existent in practice will not magically appear in combat.
Slow kung fu: Beneficial in other ways? Yes. A fighting art? No.
Strength & Conditioning Work.
Your body is a machine. Optimize it. You may be 300lbs and able to generate massive power. But how long until you gas out? Keeping your cardio at its highest level will be extremely advantageous to you when you face off with someone of similar ability, but zero stamina.
Power lifting? No. But you should incorporate some type of weight training into your routine. Just be sure it fits within the specificity of training for your art. Example: hip abduction and adduction is very beneficial to Wing Chun practitioners and those of the 3 main Hakka arts: Pak Mei, Lung Ying & Southern Praying Mantis. It strengthens the inner and outer thighs, which aids in maintaining a firm stance while the upper body moves at high speeds.
This is the academic part of training. Learn the function of each movement and extremity. Learn the angles involved in offense and defense. Get a sense of the distance involved to land or block a strike effectively.
Self analysis is equally as important as formal instruction. Learn how these techniques work for your body type and skill sets.
It’s OK to do the old’ “if I do this, you do this” on occasion. Just don’t let it be the pinnacle of your comprehension of your system. That lies in sparring.
You’ll learn which techniques work for you and which don’t. My Sifu always emphasized that no one will master the application of all techniques. It is smart and efficient to find your strengths and cultivate them as sharply as possible.
- Don’t be that guy who claims to be able to break bricks with a mean glare.
- Don’t be the guy who claims he can flick his finger and knock 10 people across the room.
- Additionally, and somewhat off topic; don’t be the internet sifu posting nasty and pretentious comments on Youtube telling people that their “footwork is off by 1 millimeter” (said in Arnold Horshack’s voice) during their form.
All of the above are an embarrassment to kung fu – and are key players in “Where Kung Fu Falls Short”.
- Be the guy who can apply his system’s techniques during sparring.
- Be the guy who examines and hones all aspects of training and is constantly out to improve his skill and understanding.
Be honest to yourself: are you a martial artist or not?
I’ve rarely seen this happen with a coach or a head instructor. The main perpetrators tend to be fellow students with seniority over you.
These “fair-weather-coaches”, as I call them…haven’t been following your training for some time; either due to other priorities or absence. Well, they’ve returned to the school and immediately start barking instructions at you. No knowledge of your progression. No familiarity with your recent or current injuries. No sense of what you’ve been focusing on and the direction your training has been going.
But they’re your senior, so you respectfully comply – reluctantly in some cases.
This has happened somewhat frequently in my training history. It’s especially difficult in the Asian arts where hierarchy, rank and seniority are written in stone; regardless of ability and intelligence. Some pretentious seniors pull rank far too frequently.
In many cases, seniors have disappeared for years. Then out of no where – no announcement – there’s the novelty cameo appearance that’s unfortunately too frequent. People who do nothing for the school. Don’t help. Don’t contribute. Put no effort into growing the school and student base… come through the door as if a triumphant parade was in order.
Any implemented structure goes out the window. People stop what they’re doing to greet them. Other times, they interrupt the training session and start talking to students. *You can see the awkward reluctance in the students’ expressions, as they want to continue training instead of stopping cold to talk. But again – they’re respectful to their own detriment.
This is the disruptive aspect.
The frustrating and counter-productive aspect of these types is when they start correcting you. They themselves are visibly out of shape and clearly out of practice. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN SKILLS TO WORK ON – they should not be worrying about what a ‘junior’ [yet consistent] student is doing; even if what they’re doing is wrong.
This is a very sore spot for me
Please worry about your own training!
Motivation during the run.
Animals as Leaders: Do Not Go Gently
Bad Brains: Into the Future
Bad Brains: I Against I
Bad Brains: At the Movies
Boston: Foreplay/Long Time
Breakdown: Bronx Bull
Burn: Out of Time
Chicago: 25 or 6 to 4
Cro-Mags: Can You Feel?
Cro-Mags: Pressure Drop
Cro-Mags: We Gotta Know
Cro-Mags: Death Camps
Dearly Beloved: Enduro
Deftones: Swerve City
Deftones: Rocket Skates
Deftones: Hole in the Earth
Emiliana Torrini: Speed of Dark
Enjoy: Song #5
Suicidal Tendencies: You Can’t Bring Me Down
Quicksand: Thorn in My Side
Leeway: Foot the Bill
Karnivool: Set Fire to the Hive
Alice in Chains: Them Bones
Year of the Rabbit: Rabbit Hole
Faith No More: From out of Nowhere
Faith No More: Zombie Eaters
Fishbone: No Fear
Fishbone: Sunless Saturday
Janes Addiction: Irresistible Force
Janes Addiction: Mountain Song
Sparta: While Oceana Sleeps
Smashing Pumpkins: Bleeding the Orchid
Fugazi: Margin Walker
Handsome: Lead Bellied
Incubus: A Crow to the Left of Murder
Into Another: Mutate Me
Iron Maiden: Murders in the Rue Morgue