(Developing Confidence to Overcome Problems in Life)

element of threat

Sifu Roland and Sean sparring with an element of threat at the Choy-Li-Fatt course in Winter Camp

Except for those who have taken part in and won free sparring competitions -- we have a few international free sparring champions with us in our school -- if you were to enter top level free sparring competitions now, you would have less than 30% chance of winning. Do you know why?

It is not because of techniques. You know how to counter any attacks your opponents make, including throws, locks and pin-downs. Bear in mind that knowing is not the same as being able to. You know how to counter all their attacks, but you may not be able to. That is why you have less than 30% chance of winning top level free sparring competitions now.

Do you know why you can't counter your opponents' attacks even when you know how? This will be explained as you read on.

It is also not because of skills, tactics or strategies that you will have more than 70% of being defeated if you enter top level free sparring competitions now. You actually know and are able to put into action more skills, tactics and strategies than your opponents who defeat you. Please note that you know the skills, but may not be skilful yet.

For example, you know the skills of right timing and right spacing, the tactics of safety first and of avoiding strength and attacking weakness, and the strategies of not handing your defeat and of creating victory for yourselves. Most of your opponents who defeat you do not know any of these. All your opponents do is to rush in and attack you threateningly.

This is the answer. This is the reason why if you enter free sparring competitions now, you have more than 70^ chance of being defeated. Your opponents have the crucial factor of winning, the element of threat, but you don't.

For better understanding, this element of threat is twofold. You are not threatening to your opponents at all, but your opponents are very threatening to you -- to the extent that you throw away all your other advantages and fight like them and lose the fight.

This point will become clear if you imagine a scenario where this element of threat is not present. Imagine your opponents attacking you slowly, gently without any threat, like what you do in your combat sequence practice. You will be able to defeat them easily.

Saying that you lose the fight because you lack the element of threat is another way of saying you lack a lot of internal force and lack confidence and experience.

If your internal force is so powerful that your opponents, irrespective of their age, are like children in terms of force, and you have confidence and experience in dealing with children attacking you threateningly, you will also defeat them easily.

But in this post, I shall talk about the element of threat, leaving internal force, confidence and experience for another time.

Here is an excellent way to develop threat in your attack and to be able to handle threatening opponents comfortably. We tried this method in the recent Choy-Li-Fatt course in the Winter Camp and the Iron Wire course in the Valentine Festival in Ireland, and even relative beginners felt confident and had the ability to handle threatening opponents only after a few days of systematic training.

Two crucial factors in the element of threat are speed and force. If an opponent attacks you slowly and without force, it is not threatening. If an opponent attacks you in high speed with a lot of force, it is threatening.

We can classify speed and force into three levels, as follows.

Level 1 speed -- slow motion
Level 2 speed -- normal speed
Level 3 speed -- very fast

Level 3 force -- without force
Level 2 force -- normal strength
Level 3 force -- a lot of force

For more sophistication, we may further divide each level into three sub-levels. In level 1 speed, for example, level 1.1 would be very, very slow, level 1.2 very slow, and level 1.3 slow.

Speed and force usually operate together, especially in external martial arts where muscular strength is used. If an attack is slow, it is usually not forceful, if it is forceful it is usually fast. But there may be occasions when an attack is slow but forceful, or very fast but lacks force.

In your sparring practice, start with level 1 speed and force. This will also give you an opportunity to focus on skills like picture-perfect form, good timing and spacing, and observing your opponents' movements.

Gradually progress to level 2 speed and force. This is the normal way of fighting, and may not be very threatening.

When you are proficient at level 2, upgrade to level 3 speed and force. It will be helpful if you first practice a short sequence of three attacking moves in solo with high speed and a lot of force.

When you are used to performing these pre-arranged movements in high speed and with a lot of force in solo, you can execute these same movements in high speed and with a lot of force against your sparring partners. This should be done in two parts.

In the first part, the attacker hits with high speed and a lot of force a few inches from target. If the responder fails to respond correctly, he will not be hit. Please note that both the attacker and the responder already have the appropriate skills and techniques. The crucial point of the training is to enable you to attack with threatening speed and force, and be able to respond correctly and comfortable to threatening speed and force.

When you are well versed in the first part, you can, and should, proceed to the second part where the attacker really hits in high speed and with a lot of force. If you and your sparring partner spread out the training systematically over a few weeks, you will be able to respond comfortably to real threatening attacks in high speed and with a lot of force.

In the unlikelihood that you are accidentally hit, take it as a good lesson. You can get over the injury with chi flow. You will find the training contribute not just to winning free sparring competitions, but more significantly to enabling you to confidently and efficiently face problems in life, which are inevitable despite our positive philosophy. You will perceive and turn problems into opportunities for improvement.

If you are threatening to your opponents as well as be able to handle their threatening attacks comfortably, you will have at least 50% chance of winning free sparring competitions. If you also increase your internal force and undergo the 30-Opponent programme, you will have at least 75%.

The 30-Opponent programme is our close secret. You can find out about this programme from your sifu, and you have to keep it secret. I repeat: you have to keep the 30-Opponent programme a secret. You should start working on the element of threat and the 30-Opponent programme now so that by July this year you will be ready to enter and win free sparring competitions.

The 30-Opponent programme is a fantastic training method. By the end of the programme you will have 95% change of beating your most formidable opponent who at the start of the programme had 95% change of beating you!

Understandably, as in many other aspects of our kungfu training like experiencing internal force on the first day and being able to spar for hours without feeling tired and without panting for breaths, other people would think us boastful and would not believe it is possible to change an opponent who had 95% chance of beating you to one you have 95% chance of beating him just within a training programme. That is their problem, not yours. Your problem, which is an opportunity for improvement, is for you to help your sifu set up the 30-Opponent programme and actively participate in it.

Even when you have 95% chance of beating your most formidable opponents after the 30-Opponent programme, you have only 75% chance of beating them in free sparring competitions. This is because conditions in the 30-Opponent programme and in free sparring competitions are not exactly the same.

As scholar-warriors we fight only when we are sure of winning. Here is where the Free Sparring Competition Committee will be of great help. They have surveyed available free sparring competitions and their rules, and will enter you to those where you will have 95% chance of winning, allowing 5% for unforeseen circumstances.

Needless to say, we want to win free sparring competitions not for vain-glory but to restore the greatness of kungfu. You don't want to be a laughing stock of the martial art world, do you, where you learn from what you believe is the best available martial art school in the world (it would be unwise if there is a better one available and you don't learn from it), yet you are afraid and unable to face opponents attacking you as in free sparring competitions?

More personally, the training to win free sparring competitions and emerge unhurt is tremendously rewarding for you. Life is not a bed of roses, though our training has enabled us to find beauty and joy in everyday things. This training will enable you to face life confidently and change problems into opportunities for improvement.

But this opportunity won't last forever. While we want to win free sparring competitions, it is not our top priority. We have made it one of our two themes this year, the other being to help people recover from so-called incurable diseases. Then we shall revert back to our top priority, which is good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness and spiritual joys. We walk our talk. So make use of the opportunity while it is available.

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Madrid, 20th February 2012.

Shaolin Kung Fu

Iron Wire training in Ireland that generates a lot of internal force enabling you to be confident in free sparring competitions and in life


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