Friday, June 19, 2009

Kungfu: Areas of Study - Part 2

This is the second part of "Kungfu: Areas of Study - Part 1"
Joint Locks
Joint locking is the art of attacking the joints to break, sprain, or cause extreme pain. Joint locks are usually combined with pressure points to make the Kungfu practitioner a very well rounded martial artist and self defense expert. Joint locks involve the use of twisting the various joints of the body in directions that they weren't meant to go.The practitioner usually has full control over each lock and can determine the force necessary for the situation. A little use of force restrains the attacker with pain, medium force will dislocate while full force will break the joint. Most joint locks are done to the wrist, elbow and shoulder, but many other parts of the body are used as well. A joint lock favored by movies is when a person forearms someone around the neck and twists the head quickly, breaking the neck.
Throwing techniques use the body, hip or legs to throw or knock the person off-balance. This gives you great advantage for in-close fighting situations. Once a person loses his balance, he can no longer defend himself or fight back. In Kungfu, the student learns to use throwing techniques for in close fighting along with his punches and kicks. This way he's never limited to what he can do in a self defense situation. Kungfu also uses leg trapping and sweeps that are not found in any other arts.
Sparring is the actual one on one practice of using the techniques against another opponent randomly. The student uses all his techniques in a controlled environment to practice his throws, pressure points, locks and punches and kicks against another student who's trying to do the same thing. This teaches the students control, distancing, application and counters.By developing sparring skills the students gain confidence in their abilities as they learn about bridging the gap, critical distance, initial speed and angle of attack. The students wear protective equipment and all matches are monitored by Black Belt or Laoshr instructors. The students learn to develop a relaxed mind and control during aggressive situations. This helps the students to develop self discipline.
Chi Kung
Chi Kung means "breath work" or more commonly "internal work." Kungfu practitioners know that having a strong mind and body doesn't just rely on the strength of your muscles, but also on the strength of your internal organs (heart, liver, kidneys, etc.) The Chinese developed special exercises, commonly known as "Chi Kung" as way to exercise the internal organs and keep them strong and healthy. If the internal organs become weak or sick, then the rest of the body becomes weak and sick also.The Chinese developed a complex set of breathing exercises to stimulate various organs. Sometimes these exercises are combined with specific sounds to help stimulate organs even more. These exercises involve simple standing postures to complex forms and stretching routines combined with some very specific breathing patterns. These are all aimed at stimulation of the organs, increasing the body's natural energy flow.
Herbal medicines
Herbal medicines were a necessary ingredient in Chinese martial arts to prevent injuries to muscles and bones and also to heal injuries that practitioners might receive. Herbal remedies are passed down from Sifu to Sifu and most formulas are kept secret within each style. More advanced practitioners learn how to make herbal remedies and apply them to specific injuries. The most common herbal formula is called "Dit da jow." This is a complex formula of herbs mixed in a rice wine. It's used for the healing of bruises and for preventing injuries which may be incurred during iron palm training. Other formulas include balms for muscle strains, and liquids for healing the inside of the body.
First Aid
Most Kungfu schools teach techniques used for first aid. These techniques can range from stopping small nose bleeds to the setting and healing of broken bones. Much of the first aid is combined with the herbal remedies and use of pressure points to stimulate healing and lessen the pain of an injury.The Different kinds of trainingTraining, as any one knows, is so important in martial arts, but I was surprised to find not every one knew the different kinds of training, and how to do it! The following is an example of the various kinds of training that are important. But be sure to ask your Sifu about it, because he or she may have some other training methods, or more to add on to what I have to say.
Speed Training
In speed training, the form or taolu is performed fast without much concern for form or technique. No muscle is applied to the form, and the movements must flow into each other as fast as you can. This is just for speed. Another method is doing the form or taolu with weights. Again, keep going as fast as you can, and after time of doing this with weights, your speed will increase naturally. If you are using weights be careful with your joints.
Form Training
The point of this kind of training is to achieve perfect technique. The form or taolu is practiced slowly with no speed or power. Each stance, movement, punch or kick are carefully looked at, and corrected. Stances are adjusted, punches and kick are adjusted. Everything is performed in a circular motion. Breathing and movement are coordinated. Body should be centered. A mirror or even better a mirror AND a video Camera can dramatically help you.
Rhythm and Tempo
Every taolu or form has a rhythm. Finding the rhythm is very helpful to coordination. For our musician readers, here is an example. Music is played in 4 4 time, 3 4 time, 2 4 times etc... This can be the same as martial arts forms or taolu. Also, like music, there are various tempos. Now for you non musicians, the rhythm is like the beat of music if you can find the beat and the speed that’s your rhythm and tempo. Sometimes people play music to find the tempo. If that helps, do it! Some people even play music to memorize the form or taolu, and I even knew a guy who would sing the song when performing his form!
Power Training
The only kind of power technique I know of is based on a Shaolin technique. In this technique, energy is taken into techniques from the abdomen through a slight shaking motion in the hips. This allows a person to load energy into a technique, send it to the hand, lock down the technique, and rebound into a countering movement. More simply do your form while putting as much of power possible; it helps also creating a very strong mindset.
Focus Training
All of the other movements are an external kind of training. This is a more internal one. Focus training brings speed, power and technique together. One way of doing is to be distracted. Have a person stand there and yell at you, try to confuse you. Ignore him as best you can. Practice with noise is helpful. Another technique is trying to do all the other trainings together. Perform the taolu or form fast, but correctly, with weights with the rhythm and tempo there. Once you can do that, practice al the training styles with some one trying to distract you and confuse you.
Partner Training
All of the other methods of training are for self development, and improvement to give you the understanding of your own level of development and ability. Partner training is to develop an understanding of a opponent. Defending against speed, strength, and ability. It also allows new ideas to be developed, such as timing and distance. Practice each move of the form with the opponent on different sides of you: the front, back, and side. Also try with you in a unfavorable position such as against a wall, or the ground. The point is for the person to understand the many ways of using his form or taolu. An advanced method is to try this blind folded, but that can be dangerous! Partners are to join in good will to help each other. If the partnership becomes a contest, then the point of the training is lost. Those are a few examples of the many different kinds of training that can be practiced. Like I said before, ask your teacher about more kind of training, and addition to these.

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