The following combos are monkey-style training combos. The aim of these sets is to teach students to think of combining monkey-fighting elements into a coherent attack pattern. The first four combos are the basic fighting combinations taught.
1. Hook/Punch Combination
Cover with your left hand, blocking the opponent’s view.
Step out to the right of them and hook to their head using your right fist.
Step forward with the right foot and deliver a Stone-Monkey Punch with your left fist.
2. Hook/Elbow/Kick Combination
Cover with your left hand, blocking the opponent’s view.
Step out to the right of them and hook to their head using your right fist.
Step in and strike the dazed opponent in the head using a close left elbow strike.
Complete the movement by performing a low roundhouse kick to the opponent’s upper-thigh/knee using your right leg.
3. Block/Push-Kick Combination
Perform a Dai Shin block using your right hand to draw away the attacker’s right-handed punch.
Swing your right leg round and in one movement, push the attacker away from you. Although this is a kick, the primary goal of this movement is to force the opponent away from you. To achieve this, imagine the point of impact of the kick to be far behind the opponent’s body. This will lead to a pushing effect when delivering the kick.
4. Block/Arm-Takedown Combination
Perform a Dai Shin block using your right hand to draw away the attacker’s right-handed punch.
As you pull the attacker’s arm past you, pulling him off balance, step over his upper body. This will force him down to the ground, with you standing over him.
As the attacker is forced to the ground, you adjust your grip on his punching hand and apply an arm-bar hold. By hyper-extending the elbow and applying the correct pushing down motion you should dislocate the attacker’s shoulder.
It’s coming, it’s coming. My mother of all people spotted this tidbit of news in the paper the other day and brought the cut-out through to me when they joined us for a bobotie evening a little while ago, and I’m quite glad that she went to all that trouble. Now if you know me then you’ll know that I love my kung fu in particular and to hear that the esteemed Shaolin Monks: Wheel of Life theatre spectacular is coming to our shores – well lets just say that makes me one excited boy.
I remember watching the show on television a couple of years ago and I was absolutely blown away how the show had managed to weave a beautiful story in with an absolutely awesome display of kung fu skill, discipline and acrobatics. The performers are all highly skilled kung fu practitioners and this production is a way for them to showcase their awesome talent as well as push the art to people who may never experience the beauty of kung fu in real life.
The show is running from the 24th to the 28th of March this year at GrandWest Casino’s Grand Arena and ticket prices range from R99 up to R300.
Needless to say, I’ll be there! (and Chantelle too, even if I have to drag her by the nostrils! :P)
Related Link: http://www.mediaupdate.co.za/?IDStory=20886
Almost every physical, fighting discipline you will be taught how to roll correctly, an invaluable skill that I’ve had to use more than once in my life thanks to my knack for tripping over things when running without looking where I’m going. But how does one roll correctly?
Well the theory is pretty self-explanatory: The idea behind a roll is to transfer the impact you body would receive on landing into forward momentum and in so doing, prevent your joints (particularly knees) from taking too much strain.
To do this correctly, you need to set your body position up correctly. If you have jumped from an elevated position, you can take the initial landing impact with your legs, but at the point of landing, bend your knees and lean forward with your arms bent out in front of you to act as the start of your roll curve. From this point you tuck your head towards your chin and roll over on your favoured shoulder, aiming to begin the roll from the top-right hand side of the back of your shoulder down to the your bottom-left side of your back, crossing over instead of down the spine in other words. (If your preferred shoulder is the right one. Change direction if you start from the left side).
You want to avoid rolling straight down the centre of the spine as the impact received directly on your spine will most certainly badly injure your back.
The best way to learn how to roll correctly is to select a soft underfooting like a spongy yoga mat or the lawn perhaps, crouch down low so that you are already sitting on your haunches and then launch yourself into a roll from that position. As your roll improves, so the height at which you launch into a roll increases and eventually you can move onto harder floor types in order to perfect the skill.
Back when I did monkey style Kung Fu, the goal was to eventually be able to comprehensively (and without pain or injury!), execute a roll on a tarred road – from a running leap! Needless to say, in order to achieve this took a lot of practice and effort! But that said, once learnt, it is one of those invaluable skills if you ever find yourself living out a bit of a rough and tumble lifestyle! :)
Monkey’s block system is based on four main blocks. These are the upper hingi, lower hingi, lao shin, dai shin.
Monkey’s hands are always kept in a relaxed position, only assuming harder positions when performing a direct action, such as punching or finger-striking. However, the monkey’s reactive style of fighting means that each block should be turned into an offensive move. This is achieved through the tense/relax principle. This principle has to do with the absorption and redirection of energy.
The monkey is known for using it powerful forearms as its primary blocking mechanism. Through intense training, the forearm muscles can be developed to become as solid as a rock. The idea is to block an opponent’s strike with the forearm, tensing the muscle on impact. However, as soon as contact has been made, the forearm immediately relaxes, instantly becoming softer.
What happens is that the energy of the striking arm must be dispersed once it makes contact with the hard forearm. However, the resulting force of the impact can only escape in two directions, namely the along defender’s arm or back up the attacker’s arm. The goal of the attacker is obviously to transfer the energy of the impact to the defender. However, because of the relaxation of the forearm, the energy cannot successfully travel through the defenders arm, instantly lessening the power of the blow. In essence, the attacker should receive more damage than the defender.
Utilising the tense/relax principle correctly means that one can perform much damage to an opponent without throwing a single punch.
1. Upper Hingi
This block is used to protect against middle or high attacks. As the opponent strikes towards you, your primary blocking arms swings inwards and up, blocking the striking arm with the forearm. On contact the forearm tenses by pulling the fingers down towards the wrist. The muscles in the forearm should harden. On contact, the forearm should relax, again simply by relaxing the hand position. The upward swinging motion of the primary blocking hand also serves to direct the striking arm away from the defender’s body.
Whilst the primary blocking arm is blocking the attack, the secondary blocking hand comes up by raising the elbow upwards. Its purpose is to protect the body in the case that the primary block fails. The body also twists into a zu bu stance, to minimize the amount of body being shown to the attacker. It also allows for a swift counterattack to the now off guard attacker.
2. Lower Hingi
This block is almost identical to the upper hingi block, except that it is used to counter low strikes or kicks. As the opponent’s foot comes in for the strike, the primary blocking arm swings downwards and out to block it using the forearm. On contact, the forearm tenses by pulling the fingers of the hand down towards the wrist. As soon as contact is made, the forearm relaxes again, to prevent any force from the block travelling down the defender’s arm.
The secondary blocking hand is raised by the elbow to protect the groin chest region should the primary block fail. The stance shifts into a low zu bu to allow for quick recovery and counterattack.
3. Lao Shin (‘Flower’ block)
The flower block is used as an arm breaking or pressure point grabbing block. As the opponent strikes towards you, your primary blocking hand circles around the strike and grabs at the wrist. The secondary blocking hand extends forwards towards the back of the elbow of the opponent’s trapped arm. If enough force is used, the arm will break at the elbow joint. This is because the arm is locked in a straightened position by the primary blocking hand, whilst the second hand is forcing the trapped arm to bend in an unnatural direction. A variation on the block is to use the secondary blocking hand to grip the trapped arm’s pressure point near the elbow instead of merely breaking the arm. If correctly applied, the grip on the pressure point should immobilize the attacker’s arm. Again, as the block is applied, the stance shifts to zu bu to ensure a swift counterattack can follow.
4. Dai Shin
This block works on the principle of accepting the opponent’s oncoming force and redirecting his force such that he moves off-balance towards or past you. As he strikes towards you, your hand curls around his wrist in a grabbing motion. Pulling it swiftly towards your side and throwing it away behind you, the opponent is forced to follow the motion, leading to his centerline opening up to you. Whilst the grabbing hand/claw is drawing the opponent past you, the other hand moves up in a classical monkey arm position to provide the secondary cover. Whilst pulling him past you, your body twists into a zu bu stance, your un-weighted leg pointing towards the attacker. This stance allows for a quick attack once the opponent’s centerline has been opened. The opening presented will depend on the direction of his attack. If attacking across his body, the natural line of motion will open his back centerline to you. Conversely, if he is attacking in a straight line, the natural tendency is to open his chest centerline when pulling his arm past your side.
Center-line fighting is a technique whereby a fighter attempts to control the movements of another fighter in order to gain the upper hand. The premise of this philosophy is the division of the body into 5 main center-lines.
Your main lines are the lines running vertically through the center of the body, i.e. one in the front (chest) [Line 1] and one in the rear (back) [Line 2]. These lines indicate the weaker parts of your body and every fighter strives to protect these faces. The outer lines [Lines 3 and 4] lie concurrent to your arms and legs. These lines are your strongest lines and are where attacks are generated from. Your Mother center-line is the line running parallel to your collarbone [Line5]. It is this line that you use to manipulate your opponents with. Likewise, it is the center-line that you try and line up against your opponents. By manipulating their mother center-line you control the direction that their other center-lines are facing you at.
The body is further subdivided into two zones, the live and the dead zone. The live zone is the front of your body. This zone can be defended. The dead zone is the back of your body. This zone is more difficult to defend. Thus the dead zone is one of the primary focus points for any attack.
The goal of Center-Line philosophy is to close your main center-line faces and line up your opponent with your strong outer center-lines, using your mother center-line to line up your body’s faces. Your mother center-line controls the direction you are facing. By controlling this line and manipulating the opponent’s mother center-line, you can force them to provide openings for your attacks. When fighting, you try and manipulate the opponent’s outer lines to lead you to a situation where their inner lines are open to your attack. This fighting style lends to fighting opponents in a side-on manner as this position allows you to turn your vulnerable main lines away from the opponent’s strong outer lines and at the same time line up your strong lines on your opponent’s body.
If both fighters employ this mentality then the fighting immediately lends itself to a circular fighting pattern, whereby both fighters circle each other while facing each other side-on in order to open the opponent’s main line. A skilled practitioner of this philosophy will attempt to block or strike an opponent such that during the movement their center lines will be exposed to a secondary attack or counterattack. The ideal situation for an attacker would be to open the opponent’s center line running through their back, in other words, the dead zone. This center line is the weakest because the arm and leg joints are such that a person cannot defend that face successfully. The front center line face is vulnerable but is relatively easy to defend using a combination of hand and foot blocks. The outer lines are a person’s attacking lines so they are usually strong and are able to fend off attacks.
This kind of fighting can be applied to any martial art style in practice. However, it is particularly effective in styles that stress close hand-to-hand fighting where body manipulation is a key practice. This is because each punch and block can be used to try and turn an opponent into revealing a center line. Combined with style that emphasizes fighting in circles and small foot movements, Center-line fighting is a powerful way of manipulating and controlling an opponent’s physical body and mind. If you are able to control the way in which an opponent moves their body and presents openings to your attacks, then you have essentially broken down their fighting style and have mentally triumphed over them.
In Western society, people place a lot of emphasis on goals and achievements. This is a foreign concept to many Eastern societies, something often reflected in their martial arts. When many of these arts were introduced into the Western world, various levels of grading had to be introduced so as to capture the interest of the Western practitioners. For instance Karate now has a complex system consisting of many levels of different colour belts. These belts are often handed out on the basis of the number of years practiced and so often carry very little significance. Their purpose is to be a quantifiable display of effort put into one’s training.
Kung Fu does not really supply this. Instead, Kung Fu has only four vague levels of skill, ranging from the beginner to the grandmaster. Although you can grade to ‘officially’ reach a level, often it is more of a personal journey as you devote your life to the art and gain experience in it. There are no distinctions between a senior and junior student, apart from their level of skill. Sashes and different colour uniforms may be worn, simply to identify to the trainer at what level of experience a certain student is. Obviously, these will depend on the trainer at hand and differ from school to school.
Importance of Rank during Training
Rank is important in Gong Fu and respect must be paid where it is due. It should be accepted that your senior is always correct and you should not question their words. If a Sifu is addressing you then you should pay the utmost heed to their words. Do not interrupt your teacher and do not let him know that you have heard what he is saying before. He has seen fit to give you some of his valuable time to explain something to you and you must be thankful for that. When training, always allow your seniors to move ahead of you. If manual work needs to be done, then you are responsible for it – not your senior and most definitely not your teacher. It is important to remember that the distinction between the teacher and the student exists and this student-teacher relationship should not be broken, even if you are on very friendly terms with him/her.
Gong Fu Rankings
The Kung Fu class position/ranking system is based on a family model. The following lists the ranks, from novice to master.
1. Junior Rank:
– Shi xiong (Shihing): Male classmate who joined before you
– Shi jie (Sijie): Female classmate who joined before you
2. Senior Rank:
– Shi di (Sidai): Male classmate who joined after you
– Shi mei (Simui): Female classmate who joined after you
3. Master Rank:
– Shi fu (Sifu): Your teacher
4. Grandmaster Rank:
– Shi zu (Sigung): Grandmaster. Your teacher’s teacher
– Shi zu (Sijo): Teacher of Sigung. Sometimes founder of a system.
(Note: Two further positions also exist. These are Sisuk – Teacher’s Sidai, and Sibak – Teacher’s Sihing)
On the way to mastering any particular skill, four definite phases of competency have been identified. These phases are applicable to all daily life and not just martial arts.
The phases that have been identified classify a person as either being a complete newcomer to a skill right up to being a master of that skill. The different phases are as follows:
1. Unconsciously Incompetent
The fighter is unaware that he is unable to fight effectively. Thus he does not strive to improve his skills to a higher level.
e.g. A newcomer to Kung fu would be unaware of Center-Line philosophy and therefore fight without attempting to manipulate his opponent’s body position.
2. Consciously Incompetent
The fighter is aware that his skills are at a very low level and actively tries to improve his skill level.
e.g. A Kung fu student would learn about Center-line philosophy and actively try to apply it to his training. He knows about it but is unable to practice it properly.
3. Consciously Competent
The fighter has learnt his techniques and can actively apply them in battles
e.g. A skilled student will have learned Center-line philosophy and studied how to apply it properly in combat. He is now able to actively apply it during his training. However he is only able to apply if he thinks about applying it – thus it needs to be a conscious effort on his behalf to apply these techniques.
4. Unconsciously Competent
The fighter has such a high degree of mastery of his techniques that he can apply them in battle without even thinking about it.
e.g. A highly-skilled student or master would have mastered the Center-line techniques and without thinking about it, be able to correctly apply them in fights.
As mentioned before, these four phases apply to any skill in life. An easy real-life example to think about is that of driving a car. In the beginning, a person sees cars and thinks it should be easy to drive without ever sitting behind the wheel of one. He is currently in the Unconsciously Incompetent phase. Once he realizes it is not that easy to do, he gets his learner’s license and attempts to learn how to drive correctly. He is currently consciously incompetent. Once he has learnt how to drive, he can now apply for and get his driver’s license. The first few weeks after getting his license he is driving, but is actively driving. This means that it hasn’t become second nature yet. This is the consciously competent phase. Finally, when driving becomes second nature, meaning you drive a car without focusing your full attention on it, you have reached the unconsciously competent phase.
Another example that can be thought of a computer programming in a particular style, say Object-oriented Programming. Again, without knowing about Object-orientated programming, a programmer will simply continue programming in a linear style. If he learns about the style but is unable to apply it, then he has moved up to the consciously incompetent phase. Once he has studied the object-orientated programming paradigm and can successfully apply it to his programs, then he has again moved up, this time to the consciously competent phase of understanding. Lastly, when programming in this paradigm is second nature to him, then he will be in the unconsciously competent phase of understanding.
In Kung Fu, the goal is to reach the level of the unconsciously competent phase of understanding in everything that you do. Because fighting should be second nature to you, you need to have undergone intense training such that you understand your techniques and movements inside out. Because of the focus that is required in becoming adept at these skills, you will have needed to go through all four phases of competencies in order to become a master.
Without controls, teaching a person a martial art is dangerous. That person, with just a little bit of training, immediately becomes a more dangerous member of society. Without proper restrictions placed on that student, it is possible that they may end up using their training and hurting other members of their community.
It is imperative to ensure that some sort of controls is set in place to ensure this newfound power is not abused. The only real way of achieving this is by allowing a martial arts practitioner to accept a strict moral code in such a way that it becomes a way of life to them. Gong Fu (Kung Fu) in particular is based on the following five moral pillars: Effort, Etiquette, Sincerity, Control and Respect. If this code is accepted and practiced, then society should not have to fear the martial arts practitioner, but rather be joyful to have such a valuable member of society in their midst.
These five aspects that form the moral code should be visible in every aspect of the student’s everyday life.
Gong Fu literally means hard work, or a skill learned over time. Nothing can be achieved or mastered without hard work, or rather without effort. From nothing must come something, but something cannot come from nothing. To achieve one’s goals and perform some sort of action, one needs to put n the required effort. A student must put their all into everything they do so that one day they may master that very action.
A Gong Fu student must be humble and courteous all of the time. A student does not learn his skill to impress his worth upon others – rather it is a skill learned to better one’s self and to help the rest of society. In all manners of life, a student should act humbly and nobly, knowing right from wrong and respecting society’s traditions.
A Gong Fu student should be sincere in all their actions. This applies to both their actions untoward other people as well as themselves. By sincere it is meant that actions should not be undertaken without the purest of intent. There should not be any foreign intent or hidden agenda in a student’s actions.
A good student should at all times be in control of their actions. They should never be allowed to use the excuse that something happened simply because they lost control. Because of the dangerous techniques that a student is subjected to and learns to master, utmost care has to be taken that these skills are never used incorrectly. A student must learn to control their emotions as well as their bodies.
Society is built upon respect for other people. In martial arts, respect applies to the student’s respect for other people and martial arts practitioners as well as respect for their own bodies. Students must respect their peers and elders.
Basic Monkey Kung Fu (Hou Quan)
Many of the Chinese martial arts take on aspects and traits of a particular animal. Monkey Kung Fu is one such martial art, which, as playful and comedic as it might look to the untrained eye, is in fact a highly skillful and deadly art. It relies heavily on deceiving opponents and then striking using unorthodox methods. Nimble footwork, rolls, and confusing hand positions add to the general look and feel of a Monkey Kung Fu practitioner. Monkey Kung Fu is also a spiteful martial art. There is no such concept as fair fighting to a monkey. Any type of strike to any region of the body is acceptable, and striking the opponent when down is all part of the monkey philosophy. Monkeys are mischievous, playful, deceitful, tricky and deadly.
A Brief History of Monkey Kung Fu
It is known that the Monkey for has been in Chinese arts since at least the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 220 A.D.) This style was recorded by an official and named Dancing Boxing as it was under influence of wine when performed. It mimicked the creature and had its playful antics. Later, the surgeon Hua Tuo (190A.D.-240A.D.) created a system of health exercises known as the Five Animals Frolic Play. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) two separate books were published on actual monkey styles of kung fu that were practiced, especially at temples, so the religious, hence Buddhist, aspects and flavour would have began to play a part to later see the evolution of Shaolin versions of the boxing style. The main aspects of falling, acrobatic, ground fighting were constantly given to monkey influence. By the end of the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911) monkey boxing was well known in multiple styles like Choy Li Fut and Wu Wun Chuan.
Hou Quan borrows much from the Tai Shing Pek Kwar (Monkey Axe Fist) monkey style. Tai Shing Pek Kwar is in fact made up of two separate and complete arts, Tai Shing (Monkey), which was founded by Kou Sze and Pek Kwar (Axe Fist), which was founded by Ma Chi Ho. The following two accounts of the history behind Pek Kwar and Tai Shing are the more common histories related today. Although it is not certain that they are a hundred percent accurate, they certainly are plausible enough to get an idea of how the styles originated.
1. A History of Pek Kwar
Master Ma Chi Ho, who lived in Shantung province, founded the art of pek kwar over 2000 years ago. He based this particular style of pek kwar Kung Fu on axe-fist techniques, which use circular long arm, and free-swinging movements, low stances, and the internal energy of chi. It is not a pretty or flashy style, but it’s filled with quick and powerful movements of sudden blows and strikes. This style uses circular patterns and angular strikes, resembling those made by a man swinging an axe in each hand.
While Ma Chi Ho was quite young, he lived down the road from a Taoist temple. Out of the kindness of his heart, young Ma would gather and chop wood for the priests who lived in that temple. One day, one of the priests from the temple approached Ma and said to him, "Metal may conquer wood, but the spirit is stronger". Then the priest walked away without giving an explanation. Though Ma was puzzled, he still continued his chore of providing wood for the priests.
With an axe in each hand, which helped double the results, he chopped at the limbs of every tree he could reach. Later, when Ma decided he had gathered enough wood for the temple that day, he slowly set both his axes down. Then the priest’s saying suddenly came to mind. "Metal may conquer wood, but the spirit is stronger". Ma sat down on a log and studied the saying. "Metal", thought Ma to himself, "must mean the axe in my hand and the conquering of wood must be my chopping off branches. The spirit must mean me, or the inner me, which is stronger".
Ma then took one of the axes in his hand and swung it at one of the branches of the tree, chopping it off. He set down the axe and walked up to the tree. After angling his arm and his fist, as if he were using an axe, he swung at the branch. To his amazement, the limb broke off. Through this realization, that he could wield his strength and inner spirit like an axe, Ma later perfected a new type of swinging motion. Ma combined these motions with several of the northern Kung Fu styles that he knew into a brand new style.
Ma Chi Ho later passed on this art to his protégé Ken Ming Kwai, who passed it to his son, Ken Yung Kwai, who then, passed it on to his son, Ken Tak Hoi.
2. A History of Tai Shing
The history of Tai shing Kung Fu begins at the turn of the century, near the end of the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911). A short-tempered fighter from northern China, Kau Sze was a chief of an armed escort service in the early 1800’s.
On one particular job he was sent to escort some gold and silver being transported from north to south. When he reached a small village in Guangzhou he helped three young men to escape from being impressed into the army. Several army guards were killed by Kau Sze in the fight, and, in turn, the army chief ordered his arrest.
Kau Sze was on the run. He went to a local Pek Kwar Kung Fu master named Kan Wing Kwai for help. After he had explained everything to Kan Wing Kwai, Kan decided to help him. Kan Wing Kwai let Kau Sze wear his kung fu school uniform and pretend to be his student when the army came to search for him. However, the soldiers returned many times and finally caught on to his disguise, and arrested Kau Sze. He was sent to prison for eight years.
Kau Sze went to the prison near the forest inhabited by many monkeys. He wanted to escape from the prison, but he learned that other prisoners’ attempts failed not because they were stopped by the prison guards, but rather by the monkeys. Kau Sze was an expert of Tei Tong Kung Fu (Great Earth Style – a lower body kicking and ground rolling Northern Chinese Kung Fu style), so the security guards were not the obstacle; Kau Sze’s problem was the monkeys.
Therefore, he needed to find a way to get past them, and decided to observe the monkey fighting and playing through the small little window in his cell. Because there was nothing really to do in the prison, Kau Sze dedicated all his time to watching and learning from the monkeys. Kau Sze discovered that each monkey had its own characteristic when it fought or played.
Basically, monkey fighting places emphasis on movement (smooth, quick, unpredictable and clever), ground rolling and sudden attack. Since there are similarities between Tei Tong and monkey fighting techniques, Kau Sze decided to combine them together and call the style Tai Shing (Great Sage) Kung Fu, in honour of Sun Wu Kung, the Monkey King in the Chinese folktale “Journey to the West”.
Through careful study, Kou Sze was able to break down all of the monkeys’ reactions and categorize them into five different personality types. Thereby he founded five different forms: the tall monkey, the lost monkey, the drunken monkey, the wooden monkey and the stone monkey forms. These five forms make up the Tai Shing art.
Unlike other systems of Kung Fu, Tai Shing has its own principles of maneuvering; including grabbing, falling, lunging and light art jumping and turning. In addition, there are five principles of mental attitude that must be cultivated in this art. They include deviousness, elusiveness, unpredictability, sneakiness and destructiveness. Each of these is employed in each of the five monkey forms.