DIFFERENT LEVELS OF SOPHISTICATION IN SPARRING AND FIGHTING

By the courtesy of Ogingo Videography, Sabah, Malaysia.

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Jamie demonstrate some high level sparring using sequences and tactics

Sparring and actual fighting may operate at the following levels of sophistication:

The lowest level is that of haphazard fighting, where combatants hit each other randomly. Kungfu sparring has been debased so badly that today this is the level many kungfu practitioners operate at.

Kungfu masters in the past operated at much higher levels. They did not throw away their kungfu forms and punched and kicked randomly. Not only they used kungfu techniques individually, they linked them into meaningful sequences. Further, they employed principles, tactics and strategies to enhance their fighting efficiency, and generalized particular advantageous ways of fighting into combat principles.

The progression from random fighting to using techniques to tactics and to strategies represents the development of combat sophistication over many centuries. At first people fought randomly. Then they discovered that certain ways of fighting were advantageous, and these were stylized into techniques. As they became more sophisticated in combat, they discovered that using techniques in some particular ways was more advantageous than using techniques at random. This led to the use of tactics and strategies.

From their fighting experiences, past masters formulated principles from their applications of techniques, tactics and strategies. For example, instead of executing a kick straight-away, they found it more effective by first throwing a punch, and when the opponent responded to the punch, they executed a kick. They often gave poetic descriptions to such combat principles, and this example is called “Sound the East, Strike the West”. Hence, by understanding such principles and applying them, we benefit much from the experiences and teachings of past masters.

We must also remember that when we fight at a higher level of sophistication, it does not necessary mean we will defintely win the combat. An opponent who operates at a low level of sophistication but is very skillful may be victorious. As an analogy, a skillful cyclist may travel faster than a driver of a car if he is incompetent in driving.

But if all other things were equal -- even when they are not equal but the difference in skills is not too great -- a combatant operating at a higher level of sophistication certainly has many advantages over his lower level opponent.

The video series here shows some examples of these principles, tactics and strategies at high levels of combat sophistication.

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Changing from One Sequence to Another

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

If you use sequences in combat, you operate two levels higher than an opponent who spar or fight randomly. Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Jamie demonstrate Combat Sequence 10, which is called “White Horse Presents Hoof”, after the name of the kicking pattern. This sequence is a development from Combat Sequence 9. If you opponent does not move in to attack you when you offer a false exposure, or if he hesitates in any way, you may change from Sequence 9 to Sequence 10 by moving in with a thrust kick.

The size of the video clip is 0.54 MB.

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Some Important Combat Principles

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Here Grandmaster Wong performs the sequence slowly to show some important combat principles. Sifu Jamie counters the kick with the pattern “Save the Emperor with Single Whip”, applying the tactic of “no-defence-direct-counter”, As you move in to attack the opponent's throat after avoiding his Single Whip, it is important to “tame” his hand. Sifu Jamie uses body-movement to avoid the strike to the throat, which reverse the earlier advantage of Grandmaster Wong.

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Neutralizing an Opponent's Advantages

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

The initiator's and the responder's roles are now reversed. Grandmaster Wong shows how you can employ “shen-fa” or body-work to neutralize an opponent's closure on you. Not only you can release yourself from an awkward position, you may also reverses the technical advantage of the situation. Sifu Jamie is quick to move back to negate this new advantage Grandmaster Wong has created. As Grandmaster Wong follows in, Sifu Jamie swiftly moves back. These movements are impromptu, and show that Sifu Jamie is well trained in neutralizing an opponent's advantages.

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Using Sequences in Sparring

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Grandmaster Wong leads the class in performing the initiator's mode for Combat Sequence 10, which is called “White Horse Presents Hoof” after its kicking pattern. Solo practice is a good way to ensure that you can apply your techniques smoothly in a sequence for combat. Using sequences in sparring or fighting, of course, gives you many advantages of haphazard sparring and technique sparring.

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Advantages of Picture-Perfect Forms

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Here Grandmaster Wong demonstrates the responder's mode of Combat Sequence 10. Notice that his forms are picture-perfect. Having picture-perfect forms will give you many advantages in combat. In fact, many techniques may not work if the forms are not picture-perfect. Solo practice is a good way to develop picture-perfect forms.

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Lacking in Jing, Qi and Shen

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Here is an example of what you should not do. Grandmaster Wong purposely perform the sequence poorly. Even though the forms are not too bad, there is little elegance, force and presence of mind. In other words, the internal harmonies of “jing”, “qi” and “shen” are lacking.

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Element of Threat in Attack

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Grandmaster Wong demonstrates how kungfu should be performed — with the six harmonies of feet, body, hands, elegance, energy and mind. Although the patterns are the same as those shown in the previous video, the performance here is vastly different. It contains an element of threat, which is important in an attack.

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The Method of Continuation

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Using combat sequences is more sophisticated than using individual techniques, which in turn is more sophisticated than fighitng haphazardly. After completing one sequence, you may continue with the same or another sequence. Here, Sifu Jamie applies the continuation method to attack Daniel, starting with Sequence 10 and continue with Sequence 7. At this stage of our sparring methodology, participants starts with either Sequence 9 or Sequence 10, which incorporate kicking attacks, and continue with any one of Sequences 5 to 8, which use the right leg mode and a variety of hand attacks. Grandmaster Wong says something is lacking here. Do you know what it is? The next video will give the answer.

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Speed and Force in Element of Threat

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

What is lacking in the attack shown in the previous video is an element of threat. The opponent does not feel threatened by the attacker. Grandmaster Wong uses the same two sequences Sifu Jamie used earlier, but Daniel could defend against Sifu Jamie but not against Grandmaster Wong. Why do you think it is so? It is not because Daniel does not know how to defend against the attack, but the attack comes in such speed and force, which constitute the element of threat here, that Daniel is overwhelmed.

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Helping One Another in Sparring

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Participants practice free sparring using the combat sequences they have just learnt. It is worthy of note that unlike in many other schools, in Shaolin Wahnam sparring is not only injury free but is full of fun. Participants help one another and not attempt to out do each other. This video also shows Sifu Jamie uses an element of threat in his attack against Mark. Though the attack is threatening, it is under full control and no one is hurt.

The size of the video clip is 0.90 MB.

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We wish to thank Mr Godfery Kissey of Ogingo Videography, Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia for kindly provideing us with the videos. (Godfery is also a member of our Shaolin Wahnam Family.) His telephone number is 60-88-731788, and e-mail address is godfery@pc.jaring.my .


You can view all the videos here

LINKS

Review of the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Sabah in March 2007

Click here for an Overview of the entire course

  1. The Basics of Shaolin Kungfu Training
  2. Fundamental Combat Skills
  3. Defeat you Hand to your Opponent, Victory you Create Yourself
  4. Avoiding Disadvantages and Seeking Advantages
  5. Basic Principles and Tactics of Combat
  6. Skills derived from Sparring can be Rewardingly used in Daily Life
  7. Some Secrets in Practicing Genuine Kungfu
  8. Various Ways to Move into an Opponent

  9. Applying Combat Sequences in Sparring
  10. Linking Sequences to be More Combat Efficient
  11. The Secrets of Continuous Cannons
  12. The Mechanics of Continuation
  13. Marvelous Techniques Beget Marvelous Techniques
  14. Perfecting Forms and Developing Force
  15. Applying Tactics in Combat
  16. Objectives of Form Training in Solo

  17. Being Fluent in Kicking Techniques before Applying them in Combat
  18. Using Tactics in Kicking Attacks and Defences
  19. Different Levels of Sophistication in Sparring and Fighting
  20. The Legacy of Uncle Righteousness: Secret of Continuous Cannons and their Counters
  21. Benefiting from the Experiences and Teachings of Past Masters

  22. Poetic Patterns Can be Very Deadly
  23. Moving Back One Step when in Diffiuclt Situations
  24. Linking Sequences to Form a Kungfu Set
  25. Felling Techniques in Kungfu are Different from Judo and Wrestling
  26. Butterfly Palms and Hiding Flowers are Excellent in Countering Felling and Gripping Attacks
  27. Let Mercy Flow from the Hands

  28. Benefits of Solo Set Practice — Combat Sequences 13 to 16
  29. From Pre-Choice Sequences to Free Sparring
  30. Applying Shaolin Patterns Correctly and Spontaneously in Free Sparring
  31. Shaolin Kungfu against Boxing and Kick-Boxing
  32. Shaolin Counters against Wrestling Shoots
  33. The Secret of Grandmaster Ho Fatt Nam
  34. Why Shaolin Kungfu is Technically Faster than Boxing
  35. Shaolin Techniques, Tactics and Strategies against Boxing
  36. Revealing Secrets of Past Taijiquan Masters
  37. Overwhelming Opponents with Just One Pattern
  38. Poetry and Elegance in Effective Combat

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