A conversation I have often had with Kung Fu practitioners is that I lament the diluting of Chinese martial artists these days. In the traditional Chinese martial arts–the TCMAs–we have two extremes in modern times. On one hand, there are the highly idealistic practitioners who teach exactly as they learned it without modifying or modernizing anything. They practice only forms, fight from a cat stance if they fight at all, and basically have no idea how to fill the needs of the average person seeking self defense. At the far right of this discussion, we have the SanDa/San Shou practitioner who loves to fight. Regardless of what system he studies, his entire repertoire looks exactly like every other fighter at the events he frequents. He may be a Tong Long student, a Hung Gar student, a Wing Chun student–but in the gym he looks like a Muay Thai guy. Kung Fu just doesn’t seem to be Kung Fu anymore.
But somewhere in the middle there are the rest of us, who do a mixture of traditional training and modern methods. We shadowbox, we do roadwork for our wind, but we also practice our Sei Ping Ma, Chi Sao and use the all metal Kwan Do for our strength training. Our forms may have a little extra zing in it, based on our taste and research as modern students of the art. We may do our techniques with the fist rather than the Fu Jow because it seems more practical. We may have boxed for a few months to gain an understanding on how that style of fighting works–and then import those lessons to our Choy Lay Fut.
All those things are good, but please, don’t cloud your Kung Fu mind, or you run the risk of diluting your system.
Before I get jumped on by the guys at the Kung Fu online forums, here’s a test:
Can YOU fight using only techniques from your system’s first form? No jabs, no round house kcks, no clinching… Just the techniques from your first form’s techniques?
If not, read on.
This is my point. Many of us love our systems and we have a few bread and butter techniques that we hold dear to. Most of us, however, have almost nothing in the form that we actually use in sparring or street fighting. Those of us who can fight, most likely use what every other guy uses. We have boxing punches, Muay Thai kicks, and jujitsu takedowns. Our mind simply cannot wrap itself around the idea of taking our classical techniques and fighting a mugger at the ATM with them or taking them into the ring. I have a Si Hing who was a boxer before joining Jow Ga, and he used his background in applying his Jow Ga. I respect him, I honor him and his version of Jow Ga, but I believe there is another level that the art could have been taken to and that is where I arrived to this philosophy. Chinese martial arts systems are very valid forms of fighting and they really don’t need to be cross pollinated with other styles of fighting. To do so is not bad; I do it myself. But I understand that there is a dimension that I must strive for and for the last ten years, my personal journey in Jow Ga has been guided by this idea. Any system’s first form can be broken down into bite-sized pieces of gold and used in fighting without any help from outside systems. The hard part is making it happen. Once you do so, you will understand your system better than most other practitioners. Give yourself six months of foreign system-free training, and see where it takes you.
Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.