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Monkey Block Work Martial Arts 24 JAN 2009

Tie Hou Quan 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.

Brief History to Basic Monkey Kung Fu Martial Arts 25 OCT 2008

Tie Hou QuanBasic 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.