SECRETS OF BEING UNDEFEATED IN FREE SPARRING
In my younger days, from about 20 to 50 years old, I sparred with many martial artists of different styles, and managed to remain undefeated. Looking back at these 30 years of my sparring and some real fighting, I can divide the period into 3 phrases as follows:
- About 7 years from the time learning from Uncle Righteousness and Sifu Chee Kim Thong to before learning from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam
- About 5 years during the time learning from Sifu Ho Fatt Nam
- About 18 years from the time learning from Sifu Choe Hoong Choy to establishing Shaolin Wahnam Association.
It is interesting to note that while I was most active during the first phase, less during the second and least during the third, my combat efficiency was the least in the first, better in the second, and the best in the third.
This is in line with genuine kungfu training. Whereas in most other martial arts, a young man has an advantage over an older person because of the young man's strength, in genuine kungfu an older person has an advantage over a younger one because of the older person's internal force and experience. I am more combat efficient now at over 70 than when I was 50.
Now, if I want, I can cause serious damage to an opponent with just one strike as soon as he makes a move, irrespective of his movement, but I was unable to do so when I was 50. If an opponent were to attack me when I was 50, I had to neutralize his attack before I could counter strike.
Although I was not combat efficient in my first phrase of sparring, I was still able to remain unbeaten because I was smart. As I was the one looking for sparring partners, I could choose those whom I knew I could beat. Not only that, I studied their ways of fighting, which were sterotyped, and practice over and over again prepared counters to beat them. Hence, on the day of free sparring, I just applied my planed counters on my opponents.
While the secret of my sparring success in my first phrase was selecting beatable opponents, the secret in my second phrase was superior techniques. I learned a lot of effective combat techniques from my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. When I applied these techniques on my opponents, they did not know what to do.
I still sought opponents to spar with, but it was far less frequent. By this time I did not have to plan beforehand what sequences of counters I had to use. This was because I just waited for my opponents to attack me in their sterotyped ways, and I responded accordingly. They often had no means to escape my counters.
There were three counters I used very frequently, because they were excellent against attacks opponents commonly used, namely "Lohan Tames Tiger", which I learned from "Four Gates", and "Two Tigers Subdue Dragon" and "Double Dragons Cross Steps", which my sifu specially taught me.
When an opponent threw me a punch, which was very frequent, I gripped his wrist, glided in with one leg, and pressed him sprawling forward onto the ground with "Lohan Tames Tiger".
If an opponent executes a front kick or a side kick, which was also frequent, I sat back into a sideway Horse-Riding Stance to avoid the kick, and simultaneously grip the kicking leg with my tiger claws, using "Two Tigers Subdue Dragon", and the opponent would be standing on one leg not knowing what to do.
If an opponent applied a round-house kick, and then a reverse round-house kick on me, I slanted back my body to allow the first round-house kick to pass, then following the opponent's momentum as he applied the second reverse round-house kick, I moved to his back with "Double Dragons Cross Steps" to strike him. It was interesting that the opponent often did not know where I was as he completed his reverse round-house kick, as I would be at his back.
In my third phrase the secret of my sparring success was my superior combat skills.. By this time I did not go out to find sparring opponents. It was the other way round. Other martial artists asked me for free sparring. My opponents were formidable, and included national and international free sparring champions, masters and grandmasters of various styles, and professional fighters.
I had become so skilful that I could often overwhelm my opponents. Irrespective of how they moved, they would find me a step ahead of them controlling their movement. I could use sophisticated techniques to defeat them, but often that was not necessary as I could defeat them with very simple techniques due to my high-level skills.
From my sparring experience I have now devised a strategy for our instructors and students who want to defeat opponents of any martial arts in free sparring. Practice a combat sequence 30 times every day for 3 months. Then apply this combat sequence relentlessly on your opponents in free sparring. Cover yourself well in your pressing attack.
I shall teach this method, among other things, at a special kungfu course during the coming UK Summer Camp. Students are to choose one out of four combat sequences provided at least 30 times every day for at least 3 months. At the course I shall also teach students how to modify their combat sequence should their opponents succeed to counter attack.
Wong Kiew Kit
12th February 2016
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