Dealing with Boxers
Sifu Zhang Wuji - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Singapore
22nd October 2009
Dealing with Boxers
Ah Steve, you gave away 2 big secrets there No fear, I shall continue with them in my very next post.
Thanks for all the encouragement, guys. And Alex, look carefully - there may be more than initially perceived.
Concluding Day 2.....
We continued with our review of the 16 Basic sequences into the afternoon, where we revised the 4 felling sequences. It was obviously more difficult than usual to throw people who had very solid stances and agile footwork. We also practised unbalancing the opponent before throwing him, and it never ceases to amuse me when Shaolin practitioners see the contrast between Fell Tree with Roots and Wahnam Taijiquan's Black Bear SInk Hips, which only requires a seemingly effortless sinking down once your stance is in place (I confess though, I was not able to pull this off against sparring partners with far superior force).
Next, we went on to dealing with boxers, and we practically spent the whole session on this part alone. The material covered, I think, was less than what was covered in some other regional and intensive courses, but Sifu's meticulous attention to skill-development made this one session stand out. We first went through the basic repertoire of boxing techniques, and Sifu once again reminded us that while a boxer's techniques are relatively limited and simple, a good boxer with better skills can beat a kungfu exponent with better techniques. We were fortunate to have among us many excellent former boxers, although when they demonstrated their techniques, the Shaolin influence was apparent. You can take the man out of the Shaolin Temple.........
For this session, the "defensive" counter against jabs and crosses was, interestingly, a Taijiquan technique taken from Lifting Hands / Play Pipa; against a hook, Jade Girl (Double Bows) and Fan Through Back (White Horse Returns Head); against an uppercut, various qin-na techniques. There was much emphasis on ensuring our own safety when both defending and attacking, whether in covering or simply taming the opponent. Incidentally, I should point out one point that Sifu never fails to drum into our heads in every single course I have attended - correct footwork and weight-shifting when moving into an attack. Shaolin Wahnam students are familiar with this - move from the back leg, and be able to move back into another stance. I practice this religiously but I found I had so much room for improvement. This one fundamental ability has multiple layers of progression.
We went through a few sequences formulated for dealing with a boxer. As Sifu has explained in his video clips pages, one might ask how this can be applicable to real fighting against a boxer who will not fight in a fixed sequence against us. The answer to that is found in how we train our basic combat sequences - systematic progression by gradual release of control. Throw a student in the deep end, to deal with a flurry of ferocious attacks, all he will learn is to haphazardly apply his kungfu techniques in a scattered manner. He will never build a foundation for his kungfu skills because he never gets a chance to practice his techniques properly. And emotionally and mentally, he will know only fear. Instead, Sifu's methodology builds not just skills, but also confidence.
A boxer bounces around you, right? Sifu reminded us not to lose the spirit of our art, and follow him in his bouncing-dancing. We remained in our stances, staying at our dan tian while observing the boxer darting around, adjusting our footwork when necessary. Sifu also taught us to anticipate or move ahead of the boxer, and to make a split-second adjustment if he does not react as we had planned.
Finally, Sifu demonstrated what it is meant by "when there is form, strike the form. When there is a shadow, follow the shadow." This was one of the best highlights of the course for me. I am still assimilating the full import of that lesson, but if you would like details, Sifu's "The Complete Book of Shaolin" has some nice expositions of this principle.
And we were off with Sifu for dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant, where we had a most illuminating dinner conversation (illuminating partly because we were without lights most of the time, and whenever the conversation resumed, the lights usually came back on). Sifu shared quite a bit of his personal experiences, but I am sorry that that is not really appropriate to relate here.
P.S. Steve (and anyone else?) - thanks for the meal!
PPS Over lunch (yummy porridge), Sifu regaled us with stories of a treacherous Chinese emperor and the kungfu warriors he betrayed.__________________
Persevere in correct practice
Qigong and Shaolinquan classes in Singapore
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread “ 2009 Advanced-Combined Shaolin-Taijiquan Course ” started in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum on 6th October 2009.