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31 07 2016

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Is Your Jow Ga Complete?

31 07 2016

Often, I hear Kung Fu people talking about their martial arts being “complete”. When they say this, often they are referring to offering the “range of martial arts skills”. You know what I mean:  Forms, sparring, weapons, two man sets, lion dance, etc… Am I right?

This thinking, however, is only elementary. “Completeness” involves so much more. Kung Fu men who regurgitate curriculum material cannot fathom the range of missing aspects of the martial arts. Today we will deal with just one aspect:  Fighting.

In the practice of the martial arts, the subject of fighting can range from basic escaping and survival on the low end to crippling and maiming an opponent on the high end. Merely teaching “sparring” is not enough; the needs of the martial arts student may not be served through the type of sparring you teach. Let us identify some types of students and their situations that Kung Fu training may have to (and may fail to) address:

  • Armed Security Guards and Police Officers looking for skills to become more effective at their jobs
  • Correctional Officers (who are not) allowed to carry weapons who face convicts who pump iron every day
  • Teenaged boys who must deal with schoolyard bullies (without seriously injuring them)
  • Tournament point fighters
  • Kickboxers
  • MMA fighters
  • Fighters interested in street fighting vs fighters interested in actual self defense
  • Fighters who want to use their striking skill vs fighters who want to subdue their opponents
  • Women concerned with rape/sexual assault prevention
  • Mugging victims
  • Defense against clubs and knives
  • Fighting two opponents
  • Stopping a fight between two individuals
  • Street self defense against a boxer
  • Street self defense against a wrestler
  • Street self defense against your family who might have had too much to drink
  • Self defense in an elevator
  • Self defense while being accompanied by your elderly mother or a child
  • Children’s self defense from older, bigger children vs self defense from same-sized, same-aged opponents
  • Children’s anti-abudction self defense
  • A child’s self defense against a pitt bull attack

Add to this individual situations, like defense against a lapel grab and haymaker punch, a rear naked choke, a bearhug, a tackle, an abdomen stab with a knife, an overhead strike with a baseball bat–and answer the question, how would your system’s forms deal with this?

Honestly, try it!

Each of us, regardless of system, have things in our art that may address all of these needs. Kung fu is not automatically complete. If you refer to the list, simply teaching sparring fails to address 90% of this list. Most skills, if you dig deeper into the possible uses, must be both identified and researched. It is more than simple “self-expression”; it is true research. Your system may have chin na buried in the forms, but unless you extract them and train them, train the techniques with vigor, train under pressure, and put those skills to the test–you have not actually researched the Chin Na in your system. I’ve seen hours and hours of “Wing Chun Chin Na” and “Eagle Claw Chin Na” and “Tai Chi Chin Na”, and honestly, most of those demonstrating the skills couldn’t use those Chin Na skills to wring the water out of a towel. We have to connect what is in our system with the actual uses our students and potential students will require. And just as we can never master them all–we may be familiar with every facet of martial arts fighting, but that isn’t mastery–can we actually claim our Kung Fu to be “complete”?

I believe we can. However, we must be honest with our students and honest with ourselves about what we actually specialize in. If a student walked through my doors and asked for a course on stopping a child abduction for his children, I can give him one using my Jow Ga, because I have researched and developed this curriculum 20 years ago. If a lady asked for not just the generic “women’s self defense”–but actual Rape Prevention–I am prepared to give this using Jow Ga, as I developed this material as well. If a student wanted to learn how Jow Ga could be used against a boxer, against Wing Chun, or working as a bouncer in a night club… Yup, we’ve got that too. But if I had never researched this information, it would be highly dishonest of me to advertise that I offer them.

For an art to be “complete”, we must have researched our own systems beyond what our Sifu gave us. If he learned his art in 1960s Hong Kong, I must update it for 2016 Washington, DC., so that my art is complete enough for the urban martial arts student. So, the guy who wants classical Jow Ga can get his fill–just like the 10 year old victim of school bullying who needs self defense that doesn’t involve breaking another kid’s clavicle or smashing his windpipe. There is so much to discover within our systems, we do our students, ourselves and our masters a huge disservice if we merely pass on the same old stuff we learned coming up. The martial arts is ever-evolving, and the number possibilities for what we can do with these arts is endless.

Save this article, print it, read it, and reread it. Ponder it, and then on your next personal work out session, I want you to map out at least three or four new directions for you to take your Kung Fu system. Answer the question, “Who needs aren’t being served by my present teaching?” and develop a course with the Kung Fu you already know for them. I am willing to bet, as I did, that the more you dig–the more you will discover that you have more learning to do. Hopefully, you will reignite the passion you held as a young To Dai for learning your respective system.

Thank you for visiting the DC Jow Ga Federation.