Kung Fu is a complex and sophisticated system of combat. It takes years of diligent and continuous practice to learn. There are no short cuts in Kung Fu. There is a reason for this and a valuable component to the long road of training. When you first learn a single form or technique it is explained in a very exact way for a specific type of use. If you only go to class and do not practice these movements and put in the time to understand them, you will only know what their basic usage is and nothing else. It is only through repetition and and training each movement by yourself and with a partner in application, that you begin to discover that there is an almost endless amount of potential possibilities that a single move may contain.
In the intermediate stage of training we have learned how to connect our strikes to our whole body to generate maximum power. The various forms and techniques have built on each other at this point to prepare the student for most possibilities of attacks. During this phase of training there is a larger emphasis on contact, conditioning and partner training. Even though everything students learn from the beginning are applied in a controlled way with a partner to understand application, It is still not full contact free sparring. The basic understanding of an application has to be drilled extensively for the movements to be ingrained in the muscle memory as an instant reaction without thought. Only after building the foundation in a controlled application environment, students will be ready for free fight training. This type of training is used to develop the reaction time and distance required in order to respond correctly to attacks. This is a testing ground for all the movements that have been learned thus far. It’s often hard to apply certain techniques and motions. It’s very common in this stage for a student to feel confident in themselve and ability, but to have a hard time using certain techniques in sparring. They will say, that this or that technique “doesn’t work,” because they feel like if it didn’t work for them, then it doesn’t work at all. this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. This is very common and can be where some students either hinder their ability to further understanding the motions, or they learn to keep seeking how to properly do the technique and understand the potential it has in various situations. There is a lot of analysis and focus on the details rather than just remembering how to do a technique during this stage of training. You can spend hours and months just drilling movements over and over until they expose themselves to the student, in which they develop a deeper ability to see further than just the surface of the art.
Nowhere is the skill level of someone more apparent than in the ability they have to control the attacker. Within our style of Choy Lay Fut we have a large emphasis on controlling the attacker using various techniques from trapping and locking the arms and legs, as well as controlling the opponent’s balance and root. Someone who has spent years of training feels a lot different when sparring than someone who is at an intermediate level and only knows how to use the techniques at a surface level.
Something my Sifu repeats often to us is, “every counter has a counter.” The meaning behind this statement refers to the basic meaning in which, for every type of attack there is always a counter attack to neutralize it and attack back. There is also a deeper meaning to this statement as well. The only way to learn all the counters to every counter is by continually practicing and studying for many years. It’s not always about who is stronger or faster, but who knows more that may count the most.