stance training

Stance training is very important in kungfu


I have been reviewing the video of the fundamental training program, especially the first few sections on footwork, hand techniques and the section on “Lohan Asks The Way”, in an effort to refine the quality of my movement and improve my flow.

— Sifu Gordon Pfeffer, Shaolin Wahnam Canada


Many people mention that the basics are important, which is very true, but they do not really know what the basics are. There are many stages of basics, depending on one’s developmental level.

For beginners, the basics are the stances and footwork, and fundamental hand techniques, i.e. the four hand strikes to the top, middle, bottom and sides, and their defence.

These basic hand patterns are linked together into a fundamental set, “Lohan Asks the Way”. This leads to the next stage of basics, the basics of set practice.

There are three levels in the basics of set practice, namely form, force and speed.

First we aim at picture-perfect form. Then we perform each form with appropriate force. This leads to fa-jing, or exploding force. In Shaolin training, “Black Tiger Steals Heart” is a good technique to develop the skill of fa-jing.

When we have sufficient skill in fa-jing using “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, we can progress to using fa-jing with the other three fundamental patterns, namely “Poisonous Snake Shoots Venom”, “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus” and “Hand a Golden Star”.

Then we go to fa-jing with the defence patterns, “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”, “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”, “False Leg Hand Sweep”, and “Immortal Emerges from Cave”. The difference between hard force and soft force, flowing force and consolidated force is introduced. “Golden Dragon”, for example, is soft and flowing, whereas “Immortal” is hard and consolidated.

At the next level we learn various breathing methods for breath control. We link various patterns together and perform them in one breath, as if they were one long, continuous pattern. In this way we attain speed without sacrificing force and form. We systematically speed up the performance of “Lohan Asks the Way” from 36 seconds to just 4 seconds.

We then progress to combat application. The first four combat sequences, which compose “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, focuses on developing basic combat skills. The second set of four sequences, which compose “Happy Bird Hops up Branch”, focus on extending the range of techniques.

When we are skillful in the first 4 combat sequences and understand their underlying philosophy, we can handle any hand attacks! This is very cost-effective. Instead of learning each defence against countless hand attacks one at a time, we just learn the four basic attacks and defences, and by extension we can counter any hand attacks.

The next four combat sequences provide the philosophical framework to expand our basic hand attacks in countless ways. Various tactics, like defence-cum-attack, and no-defence-direct-counter, are also introduced.

Hand strikes are the basic of the four categories of attacks, namely striking, kicking, felling and chin-na. When we are skillful in hand strikes we just add the other modes of attack. We also use the instructional framework when learning the other attack modes.

The above is taken from Question 1 August 2013 Part 2 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.


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