Shaolin Wahnam sparring methodolgy

If you think kungfu cannot be used for combat, have a look at these videos

How did kungfu masters in the past fight? Did they use kungfu patterns in their fights or did they bounce about using Boxing or Free-Style techniques as many kungfu practitioners today do?

There is no doubt that past kungfu masters used kungfu patterns in sparring and real fights. This fact is clearly recorded in both texts and pictures. There are even records describing how some masters sparred or fought. The great Southern Shaolin master, Hoong Hei Khoon, for example, frequently used the patterns “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”, “Black Tiger Steals Heart” and “Hungry Tiger Snatches Goat”, and the great Taijiquan master, Yang Lu Chan, frequently used what is now called “Grasping Sparrow's Tail” in Yang Style Taijiquan.

Sparring by kungfu masters in the past had the following characteristics:

  1. They used recognizable kungfu patterns.
  2. They used kungfu stances.
  3. They were relaxed during sparring, and not tired nor panting for breath after it.
  4. They used internal force. (Some lesser masters, however, might use muscular strength.)
  5. They had excellent control. Although a single strike could be fatal in a real fight, in friendly sparring they merely touched their sparring partners without exerting force. This is known as “tim tou wei chi” in Cantonese, or “dan dao wei zi” in Mandarin.
  6. Being hit a few times never happened, because being hit even once was sufficient to end combat. Hence, being hurt in free sparring almost never occured.
We in Shaolin Wahnam aspire to these qualities of past kungfu masters in sparring. We are happy that during the Advanced Combined Shaolin and Taijiquan Course held in Malaysia from 29th July to 7th August 2005 where only the most advanced disciples of Sifu Wong were invited, and where an important objective was to spar like past masters as shown in the video clips Shaolin Combat of Hoong Hei Khoon in Movies and Taijiquan Combat of Yang Lu Chan in Movies, these Shaolin and Taijiquan masters of Shaolin Wahnam exhibited all the six characteristics above in their free sparring, although their kungfu level was far below that of the past masters.

Having enjoyed and hopefully benefited from viewing the free sparring of Shaolin Wahnam beginners in Shaolin Kungfu and Wahnam Taijiquan, one may like to view the free sparring of the Shaolin Wahnam masters for comparison.

Many videos were taken impromptu during the Advanced Combined Shaolin and Taijiquan Course, where almost all the participants are Shaolin Wahnam instructors, with two grandmasters and four international champions amongst them. We shall gradually release some video clips on their free sparring. It is worthy of note that in Shaolin Wahnam regardless of whether at the beginners' or the masters' level, not only on one is hurt in free sparring, but also it is beneficial and full of fun.

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

Sparring between International Champions

kungfu free sparring

Sifu Kai Uwe Jettkandt is a grandmaster of Jiujitsu and former international all styles free sparring champion, and Sifu Emiko Hsuen a former international wushu champion. It is a rare opportunity to see how two international champions spar.

Shaolin Kungfu against Wahnam Taijiquan

kungfu patterns

Here is a free sparring session between Sifu Andrew Barnett of Switzerland and Sifu Jeffrey of Australia. Sifu Andrew is using Shaolin Kungfu while Sifu Jeffrey is using Wahnam Taijiquan. Both of them are quite cautious, exemplifying the important combat tenet of “safety first, win or lose unimportant”.

Variety of Free Sparring

kungfu free sparring

The sparring between Sifu Antonio Teofilo of Portugal using Shaolin Kungfu and Sifu Javier Galve using Wahnam Taijiquan is vigorous. Next, both Sifu Robin Gamble of England and Sifu Rama Roberto of Costa Rica use Wahnam Taijiquan. Then Sifu Riccardo Puleo of Italy and Sifu Mark Appleford of Scotland move into the picture, using Wahnam Taijiquan and Shaolin Kungfu respectively.

Recalling the fighting of Hoong He Khoon

kungfu patterns

The way Sifu Anton Skafar of Canada spars with Dr Damian Kissey of Malaysia reminds us of the fighting of the great master Shaolin master, Hoong Hei Khoon. Both Sifu Anton and Dr Damian use the tiger-claws of Shaolin Kungfu extensively. On the other hand, Sifu Robin Gamble of England and Sifu Rama Roberto of Costa Rica use Wahnam Taijiquan.

International Champions and Age Difference

kungfu patterns

Sifu Michael Chow of Canada is a former international wushu champion, whereas his sparring partner, Sifu Manuel Tiraro is a Taekwondo grandmaster and former international free sparring champion. Sifu Chow uses Northern Shaolin while Sifu Manuel uses Wahnam Taijiquan in their free sparring. In the next pair, although Sifu Riccardo Salvatore of Portugal is twice the age of Sifu Eugene Siterman of the United States, the younger Shaolin master has no advantage over his older counterpart.

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

Free Sparring of Snake and Crane

kungfu free sparring

Both Sifu Marcus Santer and Sifu Michael Durkin are from Shaolin Wahnam England, and both of them specialize in the Shaolin Five-Animal Set. Here they use the snake and the crane forms in their sparing. Don't be misled by their apparently gentle movements. As internal force is applied in these movements, they can be quite devastating.

Fun and Laughter in Free Sparring

kungfu free sparring

Not only there is no injury sustained in free sparring in Shaolin Wahnam, there is usually much fun and laughter. This video clip shows a variety of free sparring during the Advanced Combined Shaolin Taijiquan Course in Malaysia from 29th July to 7th August 2005 where only Sifu Wong's top disciples were invited to attend. Amongst those shown in this video clip are Sifu Kai Uwe and Dr Damian, Sifu Michael Durkin and Sifu Anton Skafar, Sifu Riccardo Puleo and Sifu Attilio Podesta, and Eugene and Dr Riccardo Salvatore. In this free sparring practice, kicks are emphasized.

Free Sparring in a Crowded Room

kungfu free sparring

There is a saying that “Kungfu can be practiced within the space a buffalo lies”, which means kungfu exponents can adjust their movements so that they can practice their art in limited space. Here in a crowded room, top disciples of Sifu Wong try out various skills or techniques in their free sparring. For example, Sifu Kai Uwe, who is a former international all styles sparring champion, senses his sparring partner, Dr Damian Kissey, without looking at him. Other practitioners work out various ways to create opportunities for kicks.

Wahnam Taijiquan in Action

kungfu free sparring

A number of Wahnam Taijiquan instructors are shown in free sparring in this video taken impromptu during the Advanced Combined Shaolin Taijiquan Course from 29th July to 7th August 2005 in Malaysia. Sifu Jorge Leon attacks Sifu Javier Galve with quick moves before attempting a throw which Sifu Javier manages to neutralize. Sifu Rama Roberto employs numerous palm thrusts at Sifu Robin Gamble to prepare for a felling attack as well as a kick, both of which Sifu Robin successfully neutralizes. On the other hand, Michael Chow uses the Shaolin pattern “Tame Tiger with Beads” to neutralize kicks from Sifu Manuel Tiraro, a former Taekwondo sparring champion.

Please click the pictures and the captions above to view the videos

You can view all the videos here

How do Masters Spar? from Wong Kiew Kit on Vimeo.


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