Shaolin Kung Fu Combat Application

Grandmaster Wong and his son, Sifu Wong Chun Nga, demonstrating Shaolin combat application at the regional Shaolin Kungfu Course in Portugal in February 2007

As the video clips show, our combat training including free sparring is gentle and elegant, without the aggressiveness and brutality often associated with fighting. Understandably, some people, including our Shaolin Wahnam members, may wonder whether such sparring can be used in real combat.

We should view such comments as compliments, though they are not intended as such especially by our critics. These comments help to confirm what we practice as genuine, great kungfu, which is of course rare today. Records indicate that practitioners of great kungfu in the past were relaxed and graceful in combat, happy and peace-loving in daily life — and certainly not rough, angry and belligerent. It is heartening that our Shaolin Wahnam members exhibit these qualities of great kungfu practitioners.

It is also significant that after training and sparring for many hours, our Shaolin Wahnam practitioners are not tired or panting for breath! More significantly, we enjoy our training and sparring where we build camaraderie and help one another. Translated into daily life, it means that our training enables us to work well and enjoy our work. This itself is a remarkable accomplishment.

But, notwithstanding this, is our training methodology effective for combat? Of course it is, otherwise we would not waste our time training this way. We always pride ourselves to be practical and cost-effective. While we never glorify fighting, we have sufficient direct experience to verify that our sparring methodology has proven its worth. On the other hand, we must not forget that other martial artists training in other ways can be better fighters than us.

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“Shaolin Lohan Tames Tiger

Grandmaster Wong shows the application of “Lohan Tames Tiger” from another angle. As an opponent chops at your head, you move away to the opposite direction, and simultaneously straighten his arm and press on his elbow. Be careful when working with a sparring partner. Don't dislocate his elbow. Even when fighting a real opponent, it is usually sufficient to subdue him without breaking his arm or elbow.
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“Shaolin Changing Defeat into Victory

It is important to make sure you are safe even when you are at a favorable situation. For example in this situation when you have subdued your opponent, you must ensure he has no chance to surprisingly turn his defeat into victory. The same principle applies in combat as in real life.
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“Shaolin Shaolin Patterns are Combat Functional, not merely Decorative

You may make it more difficult for your opponent to escape by deepening your control. In this situation you may change from “Lohan Tames Tiger” to “Hungry Tiger Returns to Den”. Many people may think this Hungry Tiger pattern to be merely decorative. They could not think how it could be used in combat. Here Grandmaster Wong shows a beautiful combat application of this pattern.
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“Shaolin Importance of Stances and Footwork

Sifu Wong leads the class in solo performance of the patterns leading to “Lohan Tames Tiger”. Notice that “Lohan Tames Tiger” may be performed in a forward Bow-Arrow Stance as shown here, or in a backward Bow-Arrow Stance. Stances and footwork, known as “ma-bo”, are very important in combat, an aspect in kungfu many kungfu practitioners neglect nowadays.
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“Shaolin Being Relaxed and Following Momentum

Grandmaster Wong demonstrates how to counter an arm lock cum elbow press. He explains that it is very important to be relaxed and to follow the opponent's momentum. If he goes against the opponent's momentum, his elbow may be dislocated. The counter pattern is called “Hiding Flowers in the Sleeves”, followed by “Precious Duck Swims Through Lotus”.
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“Shaolin Co-Ordination of Footwork, Body Movement and Hand Technique

This is a close-up of the technique in releasing an arm lock cum elbow press. The footwork, body movement and hand technique must be well co-ordinated, constituting the three external harmonies. If the opponent's lower body is well covered, Grandmaster Wong explains, you should change to attack his upper body.
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“Shaolin Safety First is Essential

It is of utmost importance that you must have sufficient coverage while countering an opponent's attack. In this situation, if you fail to cover yourself adequately, your opponent may strike your eyes, for example, as you turn your body and move in to counter attack.
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“Shaolin Result of Systematic Training

In sparring or actual combat the counter movements should be smooth and spontaneous. Some people may wonder how this could be possible. They erroneously think that one would not have sufficient time to think of a correct response, hence he has to respond intuitively, which often means haphazardly. Correct and spontaneous responses come as a result of systematic training.
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“Shaolin Can the Sparring shown here be used in Real Fighting?

Those used to aggressiveness and brutality in free sparring elsewhere may be surprised at the gentleness and gracefulness shown in the free sparring here. It is legitimate for them, as well as for Shaolin Wahnam students, to wonder whether such apparently gentle sparring can be effective in real fighting. It may be inspiring to note that the two course participants here are experienced martial artists. One of them was a former professional boxer, and now has derived much benefit from Shaolin training.
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“Shaolin Using Kungfu Patterns in Free Sparring

It is inspiring that although the two practitioners here are relatively new to martial arts, they are able to use kungfu patterns for free sparring, and not merely bouncing about throwing punches and kicks wildly that even long-time kungfu practitioners do. They are also important professionals, yet take time from their busy schedule to enjoy and benefit from Shaolin training. One is an architect and the other a film producer.
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“Shaolin Kungfu Practitioners should be Gentle, Happy and Peace-Loving

Records mention that genuine kungfu practitioners are gentle, happy and peace-loving, not rough, angry and belligerent. We are proud that our Shaolin Wahnam members exhibit these qualities even in their free sparring. It is significant that the free sparring recorded at random in these video clips occurred many hours after vigorous training, yet they were not tired or panting for breath. They serve as an inspiration for our training.
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From Combat Sequences to Free Sparring

  1. Training Combat Sequences to Prepare for Free Sparring
  2. Counters against Kicks and Throws
  3. Systematic and Gradual Progression to Free Sparring
  4. Some Formidable Attacks and their Beautiful Counters
  5. Gentle and Elegant, yet Forceful and Combat Effective


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