Fate or Fated?

 Grand Master Ajarn AreeSometimes in life we have a choice and sometimes the choice is made for us regarding circumstance and opportunity. Last week saw us lose a teacher and brother from within our Krabi Krabong brotherhood, but it has also thrown open an opportunity for me to realise a dream and an ambition! Something I thought had passed me by.

I have lots of experience and I suppose many styles I have studied to a very high level, but this is where I belong I realise that. It is where I am meant to be and so I will try and embrace this opportunity 100% and help show the world the culture and beauty of this martial Art.

Anyone interested in practising authentic and practical krabi Krabong please get in touch you can visit us here or we are available to come to you.

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.

Krabi Krabong History

During my research into the history of Krabi Krabong in Thailand there is very little information, especially regarding the development in Northern Thailand.

One thing I have uncovered is very interesting in that during the 19th Century Temples were places that taught a great many things and swordsmanship was one of the things taught. This was due to the fact that many ex soldiers took to the robes to gain merit for the harm they had done on the battlefield and still passed their skills on to the next generation to help them protect their families and villages and also to prepare them for war.

First the practitioner would be taught meditation, Samadhi to help concentration and discipline the mind for the training to come, the Wat was a perfect place with no outward distractions.

Unfortunately I believe many of these schools died out when the Abbot or monks who were teaching passed away, but it partly explains how the art survived and evolved.
It is interesting to note that the events are similar to the Shaolin temple in that warrior monks trained in fighting arts and Buddhism, but the main difference in Thailand is the monks were just, that they had renounced the warriors path and taught to help preserve and protect.

Lanna Fon Daab

Nowadays this art has become more of a folk art and more of a dance than martial art.

It is usually performed with two swords smaller than the ones we use for Krabi Krabong.

For those of us that understand the warrior arts of Thailand it is easy to see where the martial techniques are hidden and I visited a master of the Fon Daab, Ajarn Gao Wai who is 78 yrs old and studied since he was 12yrs old and in his time he never learned the martial art side of the Fon Daab.

With the help of my Krabi Krabong teachers and my own research I have discovered that the Lanna Daab is the length of the fingers to elbow. Because the blades are shorter they were used more for medium to close range, attacking vital points and arteries.The footwork is more like Kung Fu with many twisting stances to avoid attacks and no direct blocks just parries due to lightness of the blades.

If the warrior lost his blades then he would employ empty hands similar to Muay Boraan, but would also use clawing techniques to incapacitate an opponent.

As in all martial arts it is the mindset that makes the Thai Warrior special I believe this stems from the culture and heritage.

It is a shame we can no longer learn this art as it was originally taught for the battlefield, but through people like Ajarn Gao Wai it will continue to be part of the Northern Thai culture and a link to the Lanna Kingdom.

Observations on practice

Those of you who can be bothered reading this blog maybe think I have jumped from one art to another but I can assure you that I have not started to learn an art unless I had a competency and was teaching the other other art I was practising. So that is my first rule if you get a good grounding in one style before moving on, this does not mean getting a black belt but maybe getting some teaching experience as it helps and really learning the basics of whatever style you choose.

There is no secrets in martial arts, the only secret is practise and you must practise everyday to reap the rewards, I was lucky in that my first teacher Chu Sifu frightened me so that if he gave me something to practise I did it till he said stop not because I was scared physically but I was worried he would tell me to leave and I wanted so much to learn from him, that work ethic as helped me over the years and I am sure if you contacted any of the teachers I have mentioned and asked about me they would say I am a hard worker. Many people have said I am a natural at Martial arts, I don’t believe that as I have worked long and hard to get the skills I have and I am still working everyday to improve. My teacher in China paid me a great compliment, he said I was worth teaching because I worked hard. My friends teacher Wen Laoshi commented I was a good student, as even when it was snowing I was in the park at 7.30am.

My enthusiasm has waned like everybody else over the years and I have had bad times,  but I have never stopped training it is this that builds your character and gives you the mental attitude to face and deal with problems, in my darkest days I could practise and feel better, remember you practise for your benefit not others! So get out there and prove to yourself, you are who you think, be positive! Learn, teach and more important enjoy your chosen art or arts after all this is just the rantings of a martial arts anorak who will never stop training and sharing what he knows as long as there are people who want to learn.

If anyone reading this wants any help or advice they think I can give please get in touch.

Teachers

In the style of Krabi Krabong that I  practise I have 3 teachers who have shown me different ways to do the martial dances and techniques.
Kru K is my main teacher and we concentrate on the double swords as he is the best in our style at these, he concentrates on footwork and basic technique and practising with him is so inspiring and disheartening at the same time as his skill level is so high and its difficult to spar against him, we have also looked at empty hand applications and footwork from Lanna Daab which is more close range and has a lot of twisting type footwork, we have travelled many times to see Ajarn Kor Neeow and I class him as a friend as well as my teacher.
Kru Dang is a generation above Kru K and studied directly with Ajarn Aree he stresses the basics and concentrates on correct form of hitting and uses a tyre dummy his style is a little more flambuoyant than Kru K but very effective.
Kru Piak lives in New Zealand so I only see him when he is visiting Chiangmai, he has great knowledge and has studied other arts besides Krabi Krabong we mainly talk theory and he fills in lots of gaps in my training he is an inspiration to me and is a great help in explaining the system to me and how things work and integrate.
I would like to thank each of my teachers for giving me such a lot of time and effort in my pursuit of learning Krabi Krabong, I have not always been a good student but I  try my best to uphold the style we practise and I am honoured to be part of this tradition.

Krabi Krabong (continued)

I arrived at Kru K house at 8.45am and he explained that the first thing we would learn is how to warm up with the swords we did this for about 15 minutes then Kru showed me the two Wai Kru which are done at the beginning of every session to pay respects to our teachers and the ancestors. Both Wai Kru start from the knees and one stays completely on the kness whilst the other stands up, they are both difficult to do well and Kru K made them look effortless, after about 45 minutes we then looked at the basic striking techniques and defense called Mae Mai or mother skills, we spent about another 45 minutes drilling these, then Kru said enough for that day, my feet and knees were wrecked as we trained on concrete and walking was extremely painful as I had blisters, Kru said he would see me the next day for training at the same time.