Years ago, I attained a 2nd degree black belt in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. It took for a good many years. Almost every class had sparring involved. I learned what it meant to face an aggressive opponent. I did get bruised ribs, broken fingers, things like that.

My teacher has since retired. I am currently practicing my forms and techniques. Without a sparring partner can I attain a level of where I can adequately defend myself?

-- Andy, England


Yes, as you have good kungfu background, you can defend yourself by practicing on your own, provided of course what you practice is correct. Indeed, that was how past masters became very combat efficient. They normally trained combat on their own.

It may be a big surprise to many people that what many martial artists, including those at black belt levels, practice for self-defence may not be correct. If their practice is correct, they should be able to defend themselves. They should not sustain a lot of hits from their free sparring. In fact self-defence training today is so bad that that they take being hit for granted. It is ironical that they call their art an art of self-defence. Theirs is actually a free and generous exchange of punches and kicks!

The fact that you asked the question of whether you could defend yourself by training on your own clearly shows that you have not learned to defend yourself. In your sparring you punched and kicked your sparring partners, and be punched and kicked by them. If you could defend yourself, you would not have bruised ribs and broken fingers. You would have asked whether training on your own could improve your self-defence, which is different from asking whether you could defend yourself.

While we place much importance on self-defence, combat efficiency is not top on our priorities. We train Shaolin Kungfu because we want to have good health, vitality, longevity, mental freshness, spiritual joys irrespective of religion, and peak performance in both our work and play. We do not merely state these aims as theory. We walk our talk. We ensure we have these practical results.

For example, when our students spar, they never sustain injuries. This means they can defend themselves. They are not sick or in pain, and they enjoy their work and play, which shows they have good health, vitality and spiritual joys.

I would recommend that you attend my Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course in Malaysia. I offer such a course only about once or twice a year. Because of my tight schedule, there is no Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course this year. You should not miss the next one when it is offered. Please check my website for available dates.

Reproduced from June 2015 Part 1 in Selection of Question-Answer Series


Special Issues of Question-Answer Series

Courses and Classes