Friday, August 22, 2008

All the same to me

Last night was another interesting experience for me. Recently my sifu moved over to China, and the san shou side of our school has been taken over by a new instructor. Obviously this new instructor is particularly good at fighting, but for me the interesting thing was that his background is that of a both a ninjutsu practioner and a choy lay fut martial artist. His focus however has been more towards the ninjutsu side of things.

Last night he was demonstrating some basic ninjutu techniques for possible inclusion in our san shou repetoire. Almost all of the moves that he demonstrated were moves that I personally had encountered during my training in either chang quan, hong quan or choy lay fut.

From the very choy lay fut sau choy and pek choy, to some more chin na type movements every move had its parallel in one or more of the traditional styles of kung fu that I have encountered. Indeed, even the ideas behind the application of the movements seemed to be the same, such as using the been choy to attack the attack as it were (Not as a block or an attack, but both in one).

For me this was a concrete realisation of the discussions that my sifu and I were having before he left for China; discussions about how at the heart of all of the martial arts, there is a core set of tools that we all share, although the tools might have been refined to suit a particular style or even philosphical ideal (as in the case of the hung gar 3/4 tiger claw). These core tools can be seen as the basics of any art, and are often the most neglected too. The repetitive and focussed practise of these basics is (in my opinion) the sign of a true martial artist. As the saying goes, "Do not fear the man that has practised a thousand kicks. Fear the man that has practised one kick a thousand times".

- Nameless

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Too traditional for san shou?

The other evening I was having a discussion with one of the more senior fighters from the school where I train at about the place of traditional kung fu in competition san shou. He was of the opinion that in my particular case, that I was (inappropriately in his mind) approaching competition fighting from the stand point of a traditional kung fu practitioner. To me this seemed like a fair enough criticism based on the fact that most of my martial arts experience has been in the realms of traditional kung fu (originally chang quan and hong quan, but more recently Choy Lay Fut).

I started training san shou at the same time that I started training choy lay fut (before then I had no experience with full contact fighting, suffering from what some people would term "classroom syndrome"). The "classroom syndrome" I refer to is where one gets used to light contact fighting in an environment where one is unlikely to get injured. The danger in this is that one is tempted to over-estimate their martial skill, and as a result may end up in a dangerous situation that they are unable to truly handle. Full contact san shou was thus a breath of fresh air into my martial career, and also a bit of a wake up call for me. However, my intention was to bring my past knowledge of traditional kung fu to bear in my san shou training and I believe to a large extent I have been successful in this.

However, the fighter I was debating with seemed to feel that there should be more distinction between traditional kung fu and san shou. Now, from my chang quan days (which for me was my formative experience in martial arts) I became used to fighting from a "cat stance" / "false-leg stance" with the hands held front and centered, and this has carried over into my san shou as my preferred fighting stance. The other fighter, coming from a Choy Lay Fut background had a preferrence for a more side on almost horse (sei ping ma) like stance with the hands held in a more boxer like position with hands closer to the body typically protecting the sides of the head. I believe there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and learned the hard way that no matter which approach you choose, probably the most important thing in san shou is to keep your hands up at all times.

I will probably continue this line of thinking and moving into some more in depth comparisons of ideas between what I was taught in traditional kung fu classes and what I have learned from personal experience on the lei tai.

- Nameless

In the beginning

Welcome to my blog. As this is the first entry, introductions are probably in order. The idea of this blog is to cover a couple of key areas in my life, those being Software Development / Engineering, Games Development, Philosophy, Poetry and of course Martial Arts (please forgive any random seeming capitalisation of words in my postings. I tend to capitalise words that I feel are important). I will be your host for the duration of this post (and hopefully, the lifespan of this blog).

I suppose I should give a bit of background on myself before we go into any of the more in depth topics that I intend to cover, but before I do so, please understand that I will typically be posting while at work so my post frequency and content will typically be highly variable. There are many aspects to my personality and I list them in no particular order (apart from what comes to mind first). I am a software developer, with experience in C / C++, C#, Delphi and a little bit of PHP on the side for good measure. I don’t claim expertise in all of the above, as for instance the PHP work has mostly been done in passing / experimentation. My career in software development was a side effect of one of my other loves, that being the design, creation and of course playing of computer / video games. Recently I have been working with XNA and will be posting some of my experiences with it, as well as any projects that make it to a form that I am happy releasing (having a full time job does of course leave me with less time to do the game development side of things, but where possible I try fit in a few hours a week).

My other loves, as mentioned previously are of course Philosophy, Poetry and Martial Arts. Currently, I am a practitioner of Choy Lay Fut Kung Fu, but was originally trained in Chang Quan and Hong Quan (I apologise in advance for any changes between Cantonese and Mandarin spelling / Romanisation. It is often difficult to keep to Mandarin when referring to Southern Style kung fu, and Romanisation has always been a bit tricky even with the pinyin system). I will be jotting down ideas and my personal philosophies particularly with reference to the concept of the Warrior (the spiritual martial artist, a martial artist that displays wu shen – Martial Spirit).

Please feel free to comment on any of my posts. I am new to the whole blogging scene and will be interested to see what you think of my ideas, writing style, etc.

- Nameless.