Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Sifu Jamie Robson opens Grandmaster Wong's defence and is about to move in to attack

In today's free sparring, many martial artists do not realize that they have given away many disadvantages of themselves to their opponents, without their opponents having to do anything. This is what we call “free-offers”. Some examples are rushing in to attack exposing their body openly, or kicking high and exposing their groin.

All the opponents have to do is to exploit these free-offers and defeat the attackers. However, their opponents often do not know about these free-offers, and hence cannot exploit them for their advantages..

In our combat training, the first principle is to ensure that we are safe. It doesn't mater if we lose a fight but come out unhurt. Some martial arts have a different philosophy. They advocate win at all cost, even sustaining serious injury. Such martial arts pay little attention to safety first. Some are meant to be sports, and as the practitioners are protected by safety rules they often neglect to ensure their own safety first in combat.

To ensure safety, we do not give away disadvantages to our opponents. Not covering the opponent's guard-hand before attacking, and adopting footwork that exposes your groin are obvious examples of free-offers. Less obvious examples are attacking while your chi is floating, and making movements without focus.

Then we should be able to recognize free-offers our opponent may give us and exploit them. But we need to be careful that they are free-offers carelessly made by our opponents and not feint moves or tactics to trick us.

If your opponents are well trained, they will not give away free-offers. In this case we have to create our own advantages. This can be realized by employing tactics and strategies.

The video clips show how you can avoid disadvantages and seek advantages as learnt and practiced at the Sabah Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in March 2007.

Please click the pictures or the captions below to view the videos

Be elegant, focused at the dan tian and mentally calm and fresh

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Besides the three external harmonies of feet, body and hands, a practitioner must also attain the three internal harmonies of essence, energy and mind. His form must be elegant, his qi (chi) focused at his dan tian, and he is calm and fresh. If he is tensed, panting for breath or distracted, he would have missed these three internal harmonies, and would perform below par in his combat.

Correct Spacing in Responding to an Attack

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

When responding, ensure that your spacing is correct. If you move too far away, you may avoid an opponent's attack but miss a good opportunity of counter-attacking. If you are too close, you may not be effective in neutralizing his force, and worse, you may be hit.

The Three Points of Response

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Beside spacing, timing must be correct. Of course if you respond too slowly, you would be hit. But responding too fast is also incorrect. The timing may be at the initial stage of the attack, when the attack is in he middle of its progress, or when the attack is about to be completed. If you are at the beginning stage of our combat training, you need not worry about these details. Begin your response when the attack has started, not before.

Weakness of Responding Too Quickly

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Many martial artists respond too quickly to an attack. As soon as an attacker makes a movement, they instinctively bounce away. If the attacker is skillful and trained, this can be a weakness. The attacker may abandon his initial attack, move in swiftly and attack deeply following the momentum of the retreating responder. Moreover, responding too quickly negates the effectiveness of counter-attacking if the attacker offers this opportunity. Thirdly, it negates the training of shen, or mind.

Tactic of Minimum Force against Maximum Strength

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

A common mistake amongst beginners is to use “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” to block an opponent's attack. This pattern is not a block, but a leaning technique. You “lean”, not block, your Tiger-Claw on the opponent's forearm. When you block, you use force against force; but when you lean you need only minimum force. This is a useful tactic to avoid an opponent's powerful attack and prevent him from further attacks.

Safety First and Exploding Force

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Notice that Grandmaster Wong starts with his back leg, rotates his waist and complete with his punch -- the three factors (feet, body, hands) constituting the three external harmonies. Notice also that Grandmaster Wong asks the way with his leading hand which ensures his own safety first, and his punch spirals out from his waist with the force exploding from the dan tian.

Helping One Another in Combat Training

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Remember that in combat training, the one in front of you is not your deadly enemy but your sparring partner. You should, therefore, help each other.

Threading to Minimize Opponent's Force

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

The “thread” is an effective technique to realize the tactic of using minimum force against maximum strength. First, Grandmaster Wong shows the application of the thread with wrong timing and wrong spacing. Then Grandmaster Wong shows its application correctly. Notice that it is not a block.

An Example of a Free-Offer

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

This video clip shows a common mistake made by many students, i.e. moving into an opponent's guard hand. It is a free-offer. The opponent would just strike you as you move in.

More Examples of Free-Offers

Shaolin Kungfu Show in Sabah

Here are more examples of free-offers. When moving in to execute a low stance arrow punch as in the pattern “Precious Duck Swims Through Lotus”, students often move in too close, thus moving into an opponent's strike. They also fail to cover the opponent's guard-hand, thus exposing themselves to counter-attacks.

You can view all the videos here


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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