What should I do?

Zhu and chenWhen you don’t have as much time as you would like what is the best exercise to do?
I am relating this to Martial arts and not specific to all but certainly to the arts I am proficient in.

Sun Style Martial Arts

The Taiji form takes between 7-12 minutes to perform it can take longer of course so this is a good thing to practise as it has everything inside, my teacher related to me though that when you only have time to do one thing it should be Pi Quan, as it is everywhere in the Sun Style.

Krabi Krabong

The mother skills are the most important things here and if not a lot of time the martial dances are essential to hone your technique.

Eskrima

familiarity with weapons is essential but that can be achieved by doing Ammara, with any weapon not just sticks.

Muay Boraan

The essential things are the basic footwork and doing combinations, making the transitions smoothly, making sure you have good co ordination between hands and feet, shadow boxing essential here.

Hunyuan Chen Shi Xin Yi Taiji

Without a doubt the 24 step form contains all you need to improve with daily practise, this can do done in anything from 7-20 minutes depending on your time available, also the 12 step qigong is another thing you could supplement or just do stand alone if time limited.

Obviously there are a lot of exercises that will give you reward for the effort to do them, Master Feng Zhiqiang advocated standing in Wuji for 45 minutes a day, as well as doing form and qigong but in this modern world we don’t always have the luxury of training 7-8 hrs a day, we can practise before work or after, get up early, practise during lunch there are so many ways to get your training but you must enjoy it, the daily grind is the most important thing.

Last time I did it!!!

CNY08This is a photo I found that my friend Lun Lok took in 2008, at the Manchester Chinese New Year celebrations and it made me think about that day and what a good time it was. As I had brought some of my friends and students with me to experience for the first time being at a Lion Dance and Chinese New Year from the inside. It is completely different when you are involved walking along Princess Street seeing the huge crowds cheering and clapping it is truly a great experience and a tribute to the people of Manchester that they come out year after year to celebrate with the Chinese community.

This was the last Chinese New year I participated in simply because I moved to Thailand. Although I have visited Manchester since and spent time in the Kwoon of Chu Sifu I have not been able to arrange to be there for the celebrations. In 2009 I went to the celebrations in London to support my friends there, Dave Stevens, Iain Armstrong and Eddie Barrios and since then have not been in the UK as the Chinese New year was celebrated.

The picture shows myself waiting for my turn on the drum, my good friend and senior student John Farrell on the cymbals, his son John on the drum and my good friend and student Jane Jackson taking it all in to my right.

A Great day!!!!

Unfinished Business

I am 52 years old and been doing Martial Arts, most of that time but I still feel like I have unfinished business another thing to learn a style to try, I watch boxing and think yeah I should go back to it get myself back into boxing shape, just to show that I can? My training with Chu Sifu was about getting rid of ego training in an art to keep that art alive and to be part of a culture and to learn skills that are no longer taught. When I went to Krishna it was like an epiphany in a lot of ways what he was doing and showing sort of made the jigsaw whole for me, it made my Kung Fu better by opening my mind to different concepts and ideas. After illness I started Taiji but not just a mainstream style I wanted to train in a little known and rarer style, so went to Sun Style Taiji and in Dave Martin found a great guy with no ego who just wanted to do the best he could in promoting his chosen style. I am not sure where this blog is going as I write it I just need to get some thoughts down as to why after all this years I still feel I have something to prove to myself? Is it ego? is it vanity to be known as one of the best? or is it just the way I am made? I lost my dad when I was 12 years old and maybe not being able to prove to anyone that I was good at anything, academic has driven me on as I really feel within Martial Arts I have found what I was born to do, I have trained with some of the best guys in the world within their chosen arts and continue to do so when opportunity arises, as I sit here typing I think well I could train the old stuff pick up the sticks again, push myself to new heights physically and mentally, but I don’t want my mind writing cheques my body cant cash, to me that would be detrimental to my development, I think where I am I am meant to be, training in what I should be for my health and well being, I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone who cares to read this but would appreciate any thoughts you have, I have stopped at many crossroads along my Martial path, stumbled and fell many times, been kicked and punched without a blow being thrown, I suppose I have answered my own question, do I have unfinished business?yes, with myself

Shaolin Temple

This blog relates to a conversation I had with Sifu Chu regarding the Shaolin temple in Southern China. His teacher Go Lo Tin was a lay priest from this temple and so it is a direct oral transmission.

Within the temple there were various chambers where a student would study with a teacher. Unlike the movies, progress was not through the chambers, but to stay within the one and learn everything the teacher had to offer. The student would be allocated to a teacher depending on body type, attitude and also to the needs of the temple and the people it served. The various teachings would be in weapons and empty hand, with the pole being the main weapon taught and the various animal styles would be studied.

After graduating the student could stay or leave. If he chose to leave it would be through a red door and the student would return to the world to help others, as they would also have studied healing as well as martial arts.

The significance of the red door is why the style is called Chu Gar Hung Kuen, Chu Family Red Boxing. It honours the Emperor Chu Hung Mo and the Shaolin temple.

Sil Lum Hung Kuen Jor Tow

This weapon will be familiar to anyone who does a bit of weeding in the garden as it is the Farmers Hoe.

This is a very flexible weapon in that it has a blade and a pole with which to block and attack. The shape of the head means it can also hook and strike and is quite a formidable weapon in the right hands for such an unassuming looking tool.

The form starts with the farmer with the hoe on his shoulder coming home from work in the fields he stops to wipe the sweat from his brow and looks up at the setting sun. Then he is attacked by bandits he quickly dispatches them and then carries on home, a simple farmer with his everyday tool.

Sil Lum Hung Kuen Cum Na Sao Training

This is very important in Sil Lum Hung Kuen and also Chu Gar Kuen though the training is a little different.

The first exercise was using a 25kg barbell plate and stepping into bow and arrow stance whilst pushing the hands forward holding the weight.

Next using the same weight and a partner, standing back to back pass the weight around to each other.

The third exercise was using a normal house brick, throw upwards and catch with alternate hands whilst sitting in horse stance.

Fourth exercise was again using the house brick, put the brick in front of left foot whilst in a bow and arrow stance pick up with right hand then place in front of right foot then repeat exercise with left hand continue till Sifu said stop.

Fifth exercise using 50 bamboo chopsticks or garden cane bound together, twist forwards and backwards.

Sixth exercise, use an 8 foot pole have the pole in front of you whilst in horse stance turn to bow and arrow stance performing an uppercut movement with the pole then straighten arm and lower slowly so tip touches first repeat then on opposite sides.

Seventh exercise using same pole sit in horse stance opposite your training partner, then you both turn in opposite directions into bow and arrow stance trying to keep your grip and trying to avoid the pole turning.

Cum Na Sao is a system in its own right and after these exercises there are techniques to be practiced in seizing and grabbing, then a form called 72 Cum Na Sao.

I have avoided giving the amount of repetitions, as Sifu just left you to it and you did whatever he gave you till he said stop! If you stopped or gave up he would not show you any more. So it is important to remember that when training that way, is not for everyone and it was under his supervision and control so he could stop you if you were in any difficulty. Also herbal liniment was applied after training and this might not be available, this training was very traditional and needed 100% commitment to complete.

Sil Lum Hung Kuen Sei Mun Gwan (4 Gate Pole)

It took me three months to just learn the beginning of this set, Chu Sifu needed it to be fast and precise and each day I saw the look of disappointment that I could not do it as fast or precise as he wanted.

Then one day it clicked and I learned the rest of the form in a day, I perfected it in a few weeks and this form became the basic pole set of the system.

After the opening which is a complicated block and counter, the form moves in four directions and attacks the four gates of the opponents body with thrusting and striking movements.

The basic training for this pole form.

Included bouncing the pole off the ground and retreating while it did a 180° flip re-catching the pole and sitting in cat stance. We also have strength exercises to help with finger and wrist strength and dynamic tension exercises against a wooden dummy.

An excellent form for any level to learn and get the benefits.