You have said in your writings that high kicks tend to be discouraged in Shaolin Kung Fu, as they expose the kicker's groin to the opponent, making it easy for the opponent to counter-attack.

However, I was watching some video demonstrations of Northern Kung Fu styles, and I noticed some of the masters using high kicks. Especially, the style called Chuojiao used them very often.

How can this be? If high kicks are indeed risky, wouldn't this make Chuojiao ineffective for actual fighting?

-- Reinhardt, USA


High kicks are discouraged in Shaolin Kungfu. If a Shaolin exponent wishes to kick high, like kicking the opponent's throat, the exponent would jump up with the non-kicking leg protecting his groin.

I clearly remember that when I was learning Shaolin Kungfu from my first sifu, Uncle Righteousness, I saw advertisments displaying some Taekwondo masters showing high kicks with their groins exposed. I was a small boy then and didn't know much about combat philosophy, but I knew that they were dangerously exposed. In Uncle Righteousness' class, we were told to always cover ourselves well.

Later I sparred with many Taekwondo exponents. I asked them that if they used high kicks they would be exposed. Their answer shocked me. They said, "See who is faster." We never did that in Shaolin Kungfu. We also expected our opponents to be knowledgeable and fast, and could exploit our innate weakness. If he couldn't, it would be to our advantage.

I may add that if we kick high and expose our groin, it is an innate weakness. An opponent just attacks the groin without doing anything extra. As said earlier, if he is slow or does not know how to attack the groin, it is to our advantage. If the groin is covered, an opponent has to "open" it before he can attack the groin.

Taekwondo is actually a sport governed by safety rules. In Taekwondo sparring, you cannot attack the groin of your opponents. But in a real fight, a fighter may not follow safety rules.

There is a Shaolin kick called "Kicking the Sky". It is a high kick with the groin exposed. But it is used only when the situation warrants it, like when you are on the ground flood and someone jumps from the first floor (called the second floor in the United States) to attack you with no chance of striking your groin.

Chuojiao is a famous kungfu style. If a Chujiao master shows a weakness, be aware. It may be a trick.

Except its typical "Back Reverse Kick", where an exponent turns around and kicks with the sole in a reverse sweeping manner, Chuojiao kicks are generally low. The jumping kick to the throat which I mentioned earlier with the non-kicking leg protecting the groin, is also found in Chuojiao.

A skillful Chuojiao exponent would know how to respond when he uses the "Back Reverse Kick". Indeed if you use a technique often, you must know how to respond when an opponent exploits that technique.

Chuojiao is a beautiful, effective martial art where both the hands and the feet are used. In our Western societies where fighting seldom occurs, Chuojiao gives good health, vitality, longevity, agility and flexibility.

Reproduced from May 2020 Part 1 of Question-Answer Series


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