During this week Sifu Randy Brown from our G+ Community collaborated with another favourite member of mine-Sensei Ando to give us a really good demonstration (good meaning practical and straightforward) of how to deal with a rear bear hug.
Because I know both instructors are Kungfu instructors and because Kungfu has a very special place in my heart (Wenhsiuquan is about 70% Kungfu) I felt like sharing my take on this classic Taijiquan move with them.
You are welcome to see it too.
Now- I must apologise in advance. My ability to get a partner for a demo video is about the same as a Jehovah's Witness getting invited in. So- I had to create my own Uke for this post.
I know he is not as good as a real person, but he gets the job done...
Now- Although I will agree that modern arts like BJJ and Krav Maga have done a lot to teach us real solutions to real problems I still have a strong preference to a martial art that you can study your whole life long and have more to show for the longer you study. And by that- I don't mean a belt or a medal...
The technique I demonstrate won't work for everyone. As a matter of fact it just came to me one day during meditation and after a couple of trial runs I decided to use this move to show people the effect of prolonged training and specifically the difference between a martial artist and someone who knows self defense. So- see this technique as a test of where you are and if you are a beginner- as one of the goals you wish to attain.
The photo above shows what the move "Punch Under Elbow" looks like in a Taijiquan Set (Form). It starts with the arms spreading out and ends with a fist punching under your elbow as you twist from your feet and hips.
Now- one of the things you need to have to make the move work against a bear hug is what we call the "Iron Shirt". Normally it means that you let your energy flow freely throughout your body and as a result become resistant to blows.
With the bear hug however it means that you will feel your body expand within the grip so that your attacker feels that your muscles are as hard as iron while you feel that you can actually breathe normally.
This is a great way to start teaching the Iron Shirt as the grip is safer than blows. You should condition your body with blows as well, however.
Okay! So you have your Iron Shirt. Now the next skill you need is called "Sinking your Qi".
This is really not some weird mumbo-jumbo. This move actually demonstrates the principle really well. When an untrained person gets a fright his/ her energy usually shoots upward, making them less sturdy on their feet. One of the first responses you train to have in Shaolin and Taijiquan is that you face adversity by sinking your Qi. This does not only mean lowering my stance like I am doing in the picture above, but also calming down and rooting myself firmly in the ground.
At this point the grip is not crushing me and I can't be picked up or moved.
Just having the above mentioned two skills is enough to let you escape a bear hug with ease, but who says I want to break my attacker's grip? In fact- I like having both his arms and hands occupied! :D
So- I now just twist and wind up...
Now- the last skill you need to make this work is a One Inch Punch. This punch actually starts from more than one inch away, but still- you don't have a lot of room within which you can gather your energy and wind up your punch. The power that you are able to put into your punch under these circumstances is the mark of how much you have mastered the delivery of percussive force in your attacks.
Moves like this one remind me why it is important to preserve the traditional while we remain open to the new. It also teaches us that the internal is as important as the external.
That's what I had to share for today. Hopefully- one day- I will be able to make demo videos. :) Until then I hope everyone stays well and keep on training!