LEARNING TO USE KUNGFU PATTERNS IN FREE SPARRING

Shaolin Combat Application

Participants at the Andorra regional Shaolin Kungfu course in August 2006 used kungfu patterns in sparring

To be Able to Free Spar in Just a Few Days

The reason many kungfu practitioners cannot apply their kungfu patterns for sparring is simply because they have never learnt how to do so. It is straight-forward, but surprisingly many don't even realize this.

They may have learnt and can perform kungfu patterns in solo very well. Though it is unreasonable, they presume that if they can perform kungfu patterns in solo, they can use them for combat. Some “masters” even suggest that this is so. When asked by students how they could defend themselves if they never learn sparring, it is not uncommon for some masters to say that if the students practice the routine sets long enough, they would automatically know how to fight. This is not true.

If you wish to spar well, you have to practice sparring, just as if you wish to paint well, you have to practice painting. If you only practice patterns in solo even for a long time, you may become an expert in solo performance, but you would not be able to spar well, just as if you practice drawing with a pencil for a long time, you may become an expert in pencil drawing, but you may not be able to do colour painting.

The video series here and the one before this show participants of a regional Shaolin Kungfu course in Andorra in August 2006 learning how to use kungfu patterns for sparring. Similar courses were also held in Switzerland also in August 2006, and in Finland in September 2006. Another will be held in Portugal from 31st Jan to 2nd February 2007.

These video series reveal some of the secrets that enable our students to free spar using kungfu patterns. Some Shaolin Wahnam members have rightly expressed concern that we reveal these secrets. We do so for the following good reasons.

  1. We are actually generous. Our training intrinsically makes us so.
  2. We have so many secrets that we can afford to reveal some even to the public.
  3. We have to reveal secrets if we sincerely want to preserve the greatness of kungfu, including its combat efficiency, otherwise in another generation or two virtually all kungfu practitioners would be bouncing about like Kick-Boxers.

A common question many course participants ask is whether they still can become combat efficient if they do not have sparring partners to train with after the course. The answer is yes, they will become combat efficient if they continue training on their own even without a sparring partner. They should focus on the following three areas:

  1. Set practice to develop the “six harmonies”
  2. Combat sequences to develop fluidity and spontaneity
  3. Stance training to develop internal force

But isn't this contradicting what has been said earlier that solo practice alone cannot make a practitioner combat efficient?

No, it isn't a contradiction. The key word is “alone”. Solo practice alone — i.e. without the benefit of having undergone combat training as well as without the benefit of knowing how to train with an imaginary opponent — cannot make a practitioner combat efficient. But if you have undergone combat application as in the various regional Shaolin Kungfu courses, and know how to train with an imaginary opponent, practicing on your own is not only possible but actually essential in making you combat efficient.

To continue the analogy earlier, if you only practice pencil drawing, you will never be proficient in colour painting. But if you already know colour painting, by improving your pencil drawing — which forms the base of your picture — you will also improve the colour painting of that picture.

Please note: you can download the video clips onto your own computer and view them at your leisure. Place your computer pointer at the link or the picture and right click. Choose “Save Target As”. Select the directory or sub-directory where you wish to keep the video clip. Click “Save”.

Learning How to Use Kungfu Patterns in Free Sparring

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Combining Two Sequences into One

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Grandmaster Wong leads course participants in performing Sequence 2 and Sequence 3 of the 8 Simplified Combat Sequences, which are a shortened version of the 16 Basic Combat Sequences taught in regular classes and Intensive Shaolin Kungfu courses. The two sequences are combined into one. The video clip here shows the initiator's or attack mode.

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Training of Energy and Mind

Shaolin Combat Sequences

This is the responder's or defence mode of combined Sequences 2 and 3. Notice that in our school every kungfu movement, in Shaolin or Taijiquan, is chi kung, i.e. a training of energy and mind. Notice that the sequence is performed in a chi flow mode.

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Training of Energy and Mind

Shaolin Combat Sequences

The initiator's mode and the responder's mode are matched here in combat application. This video clip shows Grandmaster Wong making an “instantaneous change”. He initiates with Sequence 3, but Sifu Riccardo of Shaolin Wahnam Portugal responds with Sequence 2. In Sequence 3 the planned respond is a “Black Tiger” to which the planned counter is “Bar the Big Boss”. In Sequence 2 the planned respond is “Hang a Golden Star” to which the counter is “Immortal Emerges from Cave”. Hence Grandmaster Wong has to instantaneously change his planned “Bar the Big Boss” to an improvised “Immortal Emerges from Cave”.

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Be Graceful and Elegant even in Fighting

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Here participants practice “self choice”, i.e. a responder does not know beforehand what sequence an initiator would use. This is part of the systematic releasing of control from pre-arranged to free sparring. Those used to wildly punching and kicking one another in free sparring may complained that ours is not sparring as it lacks brutality. That is their view and we do not wish to waste time arguing with them. Our view is not to brutalize others or be brutalized ourselves.

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Addition and Subtraction

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Sifu Riccardo Salvatore attacks Grandmaster Wong with Sequence 2, then he continues with Sequence 3, but takes out two patterns in between. This is the process of “continuation and external change”. The underlying method is “addition and subtraction”. These are effective ways we use to progress from total control in pre-arranged movements to spontaneous movements in free sparring.

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Securing Technical Advantages in Sparring

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Sifu Riccardo Salvatore of Portugal and Sifu Inaki Rivero of Spain demonstrate a few exchanges in sparring. The patterns are taken from Sequence 2. They are so familiar with the sequence that their responses are spontaneous and accurate. They use those patterns because those patterns give them various technical advantages in their given combat situation. In other words, had they use other ways of fighting, such as bouncing about and throwing their body weight forward while attacking, they would have denied themselves the advantages the kungfu techniques give them as well as exposing themselves to certain disadvantages.

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Introducing Randomness in Pre-Arranged Sequences

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Grandmaster Wong attacks Sifu Inaki with Sequence 2, then continues with Sequence 3 but taking out two patterns in between. This is the methodology of “continuation and external change” or “addition and subtraction”. The sequences are pre-arranged but the responder does not know what sequence will be added and what patterns will be taken out. Hence, the elements of randomness is gradually introduced. Gradually the randomness elements are increased.

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Continuous Attacks and Safety First

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Sifu Riccardo and Sifu Inaki continue their earlier exchange. Sifu Riccardo adds a few more patterns and Sifu Ianki responds accordingly and spontaneously. The patterns are from Sequence 2 and Sequence 3. Both Sifu Riccardo and Sifu Inaki use the tactic of “continuous attacks” in this exchange. Notice that Sifu Inaki “opens” Sifu Riccardo's defence before moving in to attack, illustrating the principle of “safety first”.

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All in One Sequence like Continuous Waves

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Grandmaster Wong leads the class in practicing Sequence 1. Although the movements are not fast, all the patterns in the initiator's mode and then in the responder's mode are performed smoothly in one sequence, and not pattern by pattern. The participants are not panting for breath after the performance, and they enjoy a chi flow at the end.

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Performance in Picture-Perfect Forms

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Here the initiator's mode of Sequence 2 and Sequence 3 are practiced pattern by pattern, and not in a sequence. This is to focus on picture-perfect form, which will give a practitioners the best technical advantages in combat situations those patterns are meant for.

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Fast yet Relaxed and Powerful and Not Panting for Breath

Shaolin Combat Sequences

The responder's mode of Sequence 2 and Sequence 3 combined is performed in a sequence. The performance is not hasty, not even fast, but smooth. The pauses in between patterns are removed so that one pattern flows smoothly into the next like a continuous wave. Such fluidity of movement, backed by internal force, enables a practitioner not only to be fast yet relaxed and powerful, but also not panting for breath in solo performance as well as in combat.

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Performance in Patterns and Performance in Sequence

Shaolin Combat Sequences

Grandmaster Wong and Sifu Riccardo demonstrate the combat application of Sequence 2 and Sequence 3 combined into one sequence. But they perform in patterns, rather than in sequence, focusing on picture-perfect form to ensure the best possible technical advantages from the patterns. When performing in patterns, there is a slight pause after each pattern to differentiate it from the next pattern. When performing in sequence there is no pause in between patterns; many patterns are linked together as if they were one long, continuous pattern. Each mode of practice has its purposes and advantages.

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All the videos in this webpage can be viewed below. Please click the picture or the caption to view the video.

Learning to Use Kungfu Patterns in Free Sparring from Wong Kiew Kit on Vimeo.


The result of these training methods for free sparring can be viewed at the Switzerland Regional Shaolin Kungfu Course of August 2006

LINKS

Overview

Andorra Regional Shaolin Kungfu Course of August 2006

Courses and Classes