Saturday, 24 September 2016

Special Footwork Technique 3: Following Step


Today's footwork technique is found in Karate and Kungfu. I have originally found it in Taijiquan in a sequence of steps called "Push Four Corners". Long before that, however, I have found it in some of Karate's katas.

The function of this step is to throw your weight into the punch you deliver.

It throws body weight as far forward as possible with as much momentum as possible. The difficult part of this movement is that you end up having only one foot to stop this forward charge from going too far. Judoka can easily exploit the situation of having your weight on your lead foot, so you will most likely find that teachers of Japanese Karate will discourage you from using this step in a fight.

Nonetheless- it is a better way to close the gap between your opponent and you than bending your body to reach over to him (or her- I swear I mean either gender whenever I say "him"!)   

In my Taijiquan forms I start off with this back-legged stance found with the lute playing move and shoot my hips forward onto my front foot.



 The forward momentum is channeled into my fist and it shoots out like a passenger in a head on collision who has neglected to wear a seat belt. The fist clenches at the end of course for that extra burst of power.


When doing a Canon Punch (Chinese Uppercut) I use the same method. The upward shot with my fist is synchronised with my weight arriving at my front foot.




I have adopted this type of footwork after incorporating Taijiquan and Xingyiquan into my fighting style of Wenhsiuquan. It ended up looking less like kickboxing. Practicing this type of movement is also less strenuous than with Jeet Kune Do/ Kickboxing movements and feel a lot more earthed and relaxed. 

I found with my first couple of months learning WSKF Karate, however, that the habit of my rear heel raising whenever I have stepped into a forward stance during kihon practice gets noticed by Senseis and they are not pleased with it. 

That is only with kihon and kata, though. In kumite I get left alone with it. For kihon purposes I have found that the heel-raising issue is solved when I do not throw my weight into the punch during kihon. This robs the punch of a considerable amount of power, but keeps you rooted and more resistant to grappling techniques.

In spite of this step not really being taught as part of kihon in Karate schools a number of katas feature this step:


Heian Godan
https://youtu.be/dBFe54glhTs
Pinan Godan
https://youtu.be/RC-xzOEm2eU

The Shukokai Kata Matsukaze:

https://youtu.be/dAiiYi0hBAc

Gojushiho Sho
https://youtu.be/0_0MMzh2E3U

Bassai Dai
https://youtu.be/qkg4IvPMbsU

Enpi and Kanku Dai
https://youtu.be/jBP8-6DtBBs


Compare these katas with the Xingyi form you see here.

Xingyi Five Elements
https://youtu.be/iQZ3xn-UmjI


That concludes my three-part series of posts on special footwork techniques. Until we meet again- stay well!

This is the last page of my book on Pulling and Pushing!

The cover of my book on Defense

Here is the blurb to the book on defense now. Next week you will get the first on the content.


Saturday, 17 September 2016

Special Footwork Technique 2: Crushing Step

Today's footwork technique ought to look familiar to karate people.

The best video I could find about it is Sifu Tony Puyot's video on his Mantis Boxers Youtube channel, though.

Ironically, where our Shotokan sensei wants to discourage us from starting to move with the rear foot first, because it is too obvious Sifu Puyot says that it is better to do so , BECAUSE, moving with the front foot first is too obvious.

Regardless of what your opinion on this type of step may be, it can't be disputed that it improves your reach with a metre or so. This helps to launch penetrating attacks against an opponent who prefers to retreat out of reach when you attack.

Here is the video if you prefer that to text:

https://youtu.be/cntomHWi5b4


Let's look at what makes this step effective:



1. You start off at what may feel like a "safe" distance. Opponent may retreat every time he thinks you are advancing...


2. Although not obvious here, the upper body and hands play a large part in getting the opponent's attention raised away from your feet as you take the half step to launch you into the opponent. 


3. And off you go! I don't get why they say it, but it is said that to hit the body take half a step, to hit the head take a full step. This step counts as a full step and you can see that the face can be reached.

This concludes my second post in a three part series of posts on special footwork techniques.

Next weekend's technique shall be the Following Step.

Until then- Stay well and train diligently. 






O! I have posted all the pages of my first book!!!

Next weekend we will start with the Wenhsiuquan Book on Defence!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Special Footwork Technique 1: Vanishing Step

Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well.

My Saturday has started off pretty well with what WAS in this bowl!



Yep. Life is just wonderful if there is a lovely Chinese woman in your life who makes dumplings for you... :D

Besides making dumplings disappear I want to talk to you about one of the techniques the Ninjas use to make them disappear: The Vanishing Step!

I play a lot of video games- and this move actually featured in games like Tekken (used by Kunimitsu), Soul Blade (Taki) and Street Fighter EX2 (Doctrine Dark). I actually wanted a sample of Taki or Kunimistu, but ended up finding this Street Fighter sample.


https://youtu.be/HSg_p5us7-4


That looks a lot more realistic than what we have seen Goku do in fights like this:


https://youtu.be/0w-kOKioMhE

Well- the first time I have learnt about this move was from a very short kata called the "Mi Lu" (Lost Track) kata. I am not even 100% sure whether its origins are Chinese or Japanese (because I have never heard any words with an "L" sound in Japanese before), but I found this video via Google of it and it seems to be known to more people than just Ashida Kim.

https://vimeo.com/18239771

This is me doing it after learning it from Ashida Kim's book. Looks like I was not that far off. :D


I'm afraid the Vanishing Step is done in the video with me ending up with my back turned to you. :D

The principles that make this step work are actually simple enough to understand. 

For one thing- this move does not work when you are standing too far from your opponent. We see Doctrine Dark even grabbing hold of his opponent to prevent him retreating.

It starts off with distracting your opponent- preferably making him blink.

This can be done in a number of ways. Well prepared Ninjas will have powder to throw into the opponent's eyes (more economical than trying to fill a whole room with smoke. If anyone knows where I can buy those smoke bombs, please hook me up! :D). There is nothing wrong with just throwing a jab to the opponent's face, though.

That's what the little fighting man is doing in my sketch:


In the kata the move ends in a knife hand strike from behind. In my sketch I have made it end in a choke-hold. I am sure that you can be creative as well and find other moves to use with this step.

While your opponent is distracted you have to step past him. So far the best way to do that involves momentarily standing with your back to your opponent. It is because of the pivot at the end that places you with your front facing his back after that. If you step past with your  front facing him you will find that the pivot at the end now has your back to his back. That can't be useful at all...

Like I said- at the end there is that pivot that places you facing your opponent with your front to his back.

Another element that is essential in making complicated footwork like this work is maintaining balance while starting the movement with the lower body. In Chinese martial arts this step is called "hsiao pu" and the movement would start at the feet.

If you are a Shotokan karateka you will probably want to start with your hips.

The Chinese method is safer on slippery surfaces in my opinion.

The Vanishing Step can of course also be used as a defensive move to evade attacks. It is sure to teach an over eager attacker the folly of over-committing.

In Wenhsiuquan this is not an opening gambit, but falls within a class of techniques I call "desperation moves". One only resorts to these moves when you are certain that simple moves are not going to work.  

I have started this series of posts of footwork after Abisha Soans had a question about footwork on the G+ group Martial Arts Forums. I realised then that I have never written much about footwork yet. Well- not about these special pieces of footwork anyway. 

I shall deal with another type of footwork technique in next week's post.

Until then- train well and have a good week!











Friday, 2 September 2016

Gathering and discharging of Energy in martial arts- as promised :)

Earlier this week Abisha Soans from our Martial Arts Forums group on Google+ asked what I have meant by "gathering of energy" in an earlier post about kata.

I always know in the back of my mind that not all martial artists emphasise- in some cases give any regard to- the same things that others do, but I I am often so careful not to ramble off the topic in my posts that a lot of explanations never come.


The best example I can think of giving you to illustrate when energy is gathered and when it is released is with strikes and percussive blows.

When non-martial arts folk (can I call them Muggles or something like that?) want to hit someone really hard they inhale, pull back the hand and then swing through. Then- when you teach them to cock the fist at the hip like a karateka to do a straight punch you will still notice some unnecessary preparatory movement before the punch goes. Don't laugh too hard at this. I also know about karate folk who do not make any tell-tale movements, but whose punches have no significant power either. (No! Being able to hurt the smaller guys in the dojo does not count, btw...)






From these tell-tale movements we can deduce that there is a phase in which the attacker first gathers energy- by first relaxing the muscles involved- before shooting the fist out.



In Taijiquan we refer to this phase of relaxing as "Fasong". Karate also has such a phase in its techniques. It is also evident in kata and good "kime"(fixed delivery- best translation I have...) is actually the result of a good management of the phases of Fasong and Fajing.



Fajing refers to that phase in the delivery of a blow when the muscles contract sharply to lend the blow explosive power.

Now- in kata or taolu you will find that a continuous set of fajing movements tend to get you out of breath and tire you out. Some Taiji forms may have a lot of fasong movements. This is usually because the form was then designed for health purposes.

From a qigong point of view- if you placed your palms close to each other you will feel a distinct force (push, pull or both) when you remain in a good posture and relaxed. You will learn quickly that you can feel qi gather in the fasong phase This is usually when one breathes in.

Because many Taijiquan forms are slow it is very easy to become aware of the flow of energy through the limbs during practice.

In styles like karate where there is a lot of sparring you do not have a lot of time to gather energy. Energy is then kept ready in the kamae  or yoi postures and released in an attack or even series of attacks when necessary.

I hope this explains a bit what it means.


I wrote this post a bit earlier than usual, because I will be at a karate tournament tomorrow. Maybe I will have something to show for it next time. :D

Have a great weekend!






Gathering and discharging of Energy in martial arts- as promised :)

Earlier this week Abisha Soans from our Martial Arts Forums group on Google+ asked what I have meant by "gathering of energy" in an earlier post about kata.

I always know in the back of my mind that not all martial artists emphasise- in some cases give any regard to- the same things that others do, but I I am often so careful not to ramble off the topic in my posts that a lot of explanations never come.


The best example I can think of giving you to illustrate when energy is gathered and when it is released is with strikes and percussive blows.

When non-martial arts folk (can I call them Muggles or something like that?) want to hit someone really hard they inhale, pull back the hand and then swing through. Then- when you teach them to cock the fist at the hip like a karateka to do a straight punch you will still notice some unnecessary preparatory movement before the punch goes. Don't laugh too hard at this. I also know about karate folk who do not make any tell-tale movements, but whose punches have no significant power either. (No! Being able to hurt the smaller guys in the dojo does not count, btw...)






From these tell-tale movements we can deduce that there is a phase in which the attacker first gathers energy- by first relaxing the muscles involved- before shooting the fist out.



In Taijiquan we refer to this phase of relaxing as "Fasong". Karate also has such a phase in its techniques. It is also evident in kata and good "kime"(fixed delivery- best translation I have...) is actually the result of a good management of the phases of Fasong and Fajing.



Fajing refers to that phase in the delivery of a blow when the muscles contract sharply to lend the blow explosive power.

Now- in kata or taolu you will find that a continuous set of fajing movements tend to get you out of breath and tire you out. Some Taiji forms may have a lot of fasong movements. This is usually because the form was then designed for health purposes.

From a qigong point of view- if you placed your palms close to each other you will feel a distinct force (push, pull or both) when you remain in a good posture and relaxed. You will learn quickly that you can feel qi gather in the fasong phase This is usually when one breathes in.

Because many Taijiquan forms are slow it is very easy to become aware of the flow of energy through the limbs during practice.

In styles like karate where there is a lot of sparring you do not have a lot of time to gather energy. Energy is then kept ready in the kamae  or yoi postures and released in an attack or even series of attacks when necessary.

I hope this explains a bit what it means.


I wrote this post a bit earlier than usual, because I will be at a karate tournament tomorrow. Maybe I will have something to show for it next time. :D

Have a great weekend!