The Misconception of “Finding Out What Works” In Kung Fu

26 11 2013

I’m about to disagree with many of you and your teachers. Please hear me out first.

Martial artists are guilty of taking what they learned and heard and just regurgitating it without doing any of their own thinking and research–without investigating and qualifying their knowledge and simply passing it on. Worse, they will pass thing on exactly as they learned it. Although times change and fighting evolves, the self-defense needs of the average citizen changes, the combat role of the average martial artist changes, even weapons technology changes with the times… Martial artists (especially Chinese martial artists) often do not. Not only are we guilty of this, we’re actually proud of that fact.

No one else exaggerates the age of a style more than we do. No one fights over “I have the actual/pure/most authentic version” with their own classmates like the Kung Fu man does. For some reason, when one of us talks of updating or improving or modifying a martial art–we are ostracized for betraying our teacher’s art. As if there were a such thing as a Kung Fu style that had no evolution in its history, or these arts never had a beginning.

So one of the things martial artists like to do without thinking is to repeat or adopt philosophies without thinking them through. One that I hear a lot is “Kung Fu needs to be researched so that you can find out what works.”

Well, yes and no.

Kung Fu does need to be researched. It needs to be practiced, absorbed, understood, made second nature, mastered in movement as well as theory, and most of all–understood.

And no, that is no typo. I wrote “understood” twice for emphasis. See, you must first understand the techniques you learn. You must know how to throw them, when to throw them, and then do them until they are as natural as walking. When someone surprises you and throws a balled-up piece of paper at you, the knee-jerk reaction you make–whether it is to catch it, deflect it, or shield against it–should be the same way you utilize the techniques in your system.

Take, for example, this technique. The Jiu Sao is a standard technique in the Jow Ga system, as it is in many Southern systems. It occurs at least 7 -8 times in every form. Yet if you were to watch most Jow Ga practitioners fight–you’d almost never see it executed. Why? Because the Small Tiger Block (as we often refer to it) is not a natural reaction. Most people who practice the forms, will only execute the block a few times in class and when it occurs in a form without actually training the technique, drilling it until it becomes second nature.  And this is something many Kung Fu practitioners do. It is one reason “Kung Fu & MMA” sends the wrong message:  “We practice Chinese Martial Arts, but we utilize Muay Thai and BJJ to fight with.” Honestly, you have added the MMA element because your understanding of your style is not developed to the point you can actually use it.

In other words, you do not understand your system enough to fight with it.

And here, we arrive to my point, and the second “understood”. Your Kung Fu should be drilled until it becomes second nature and natural in fighting, then you must train it and research and test it enough so that you can understand HOW it works. It is not a question of “what” works–it is a question of “how” it works. So when Jow Lung walked the earth, the average fighter thrusted his punches. But today, 100+ years later, the average fighter has watched boxing and now snaps his punches. The Jiu Sao which once worked against the stiff Sei Ping Chune doesn’t quite work against the jab, but it can. You just have to find out HOW.

When Jow Ga fighters say they train their Jow Ga to find out “what” works, they are saying there are pieces of Jow Ga that does, and some that does not. If it does not, why do them? My message to you, Jow family is that your Jow Ga does work. You just have to train, drill, test and train some more until you find out how–so that it all works. And while you’re adding more and more forms, more and more styles, and shaking hands with more and more people until you are too old to fight–that knowledge is sitting on your forms lists, drying up while you spend valuable Jow Ga time investigating other arts. This is not just for Jow Ga people–all Kung Fu people. Test your Kung Fu. Then take the results of that test–whether you win the fights or lose–then find out why, how those results came to be, how to make them more efficient and effective, what can be done to counter your technique, and how you can prevent opponents from countering you. There are so many possibilities and so many levels of understanding, it will take a lifetime. So the fewer systems and forms you know, the further you can take your knowledge and ability.

For this reason, 99% of the information given on this site will deal with our first form, Siu Fook Fu. Harvest as much as you can yield from your Kung Fu. Stay tuned, so you can find out what we have done with ours.

Thank you for visiting the Dean Chin’s Jow Ga Federation.




One response

23 12 2013

The Never Ending Journey

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