Four Gates, Floating Clouds and Multiple Armed Attacks

Four Gates

Old students of Grandmaster Wong performing "Four Gates" in the 1980s

Zhang Wuji

Sifu Zhang Wuji - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Singapore

3rd November 2009

Four Gates, Floating Clouds and Multiple Armed Attacks

And here we are on the last day. And a busy day it was.

We began with a session with our sparring opponents at the beach terrace, and adjourned to the training hall where Jamie demonstrated the "Asking Bridges" used in Hoong Ka. It was very much like "Push Hands" in Taijiquan, inasmuch as it required maintaining contact and keeping an opponent at bay.

We then went on to another treasure of Shaolin - the "Four Gates" set. I think everyone present already knew the set fairly well, so we went through the form quickly. Unfortunately, we had no time to learn the combination set (sequences), but Sifu did tell us that we would be able to compose our own sequences if we had attended a Special Course which included sessions on just how to do this.

Next, Robin demonstrated the Wahnam Taijiquan "Floating Clouds Flowing Water" set. Again, due to a lack of time, we did not have time to learn or revise the set there and then. I already knew all the patterns in the set from my Yang and Chen forms, but before the course, I was not able to memorise the sequence in which they appear in our Wahnam set.

We spent the rest of the morning practising how to use a weapon to defend against armed attackers. We began with 2 against 1, followed by 3 against 1 and progressively to 4 against 1. The fun part was that the attackers could use any weapon they liked, so there was this poor hapless prey up against a Guan Dao, a spear, a big sabre or two, and some other big weapon, while he was only carrying a sabre or staff.

Sifu taught us a few special tactics (techniques) to deal with multiple attackers. The first would be to carry the attack to them, or if one were using the staff, sabre or sword, use the "windmill" or "Shower of Plum Blossums" technique. Someone using the staff would have an additional tactic of sweeping his staff around in a protective circle.

Against Multiple Armed Opponents

Sifu Tim Franklin demonstrates how to coounter three armed opponents

In the afternoon, we learnt how to defend against armed and multiple attackers when we are unarmed. Sifu took us through a plethora of sequences, each dealing with one manner of attack. This is not unlike our basic sequences, in which an attack is classified as middle, high, low and side. And when you consider the four weapons - dagger, sabre, spear and staff - that was quite a lot to handle in 2 hours.

Sifu went through the sequences very quickly, almost cursorily, and just as I was wondering why, he said that there are many techniques to deal with each attack, and the ones we were practising were examples. Indeed, it occured to me then that I could substitute any of the counters with patterns from the specialised sets. Again, this highlighted the nature of the course, where we were expected to develop our own disarming counters.

We spent the next 2 hours on using weapons to deal with multiple unarmed attackers, and this was another fun session. Like the previous day, we would practice as a pair, or in groups and then each group would demonstrate. Someone watching us may have been left with the impression that were just clowning around. When anyone was "symbolically" stabbed or slashed, he was to drop and play dead, so there was a bit of dramatic playacting from the vanquished attackers.

But having fun as we were let us learn more than if everyone was going at full force and without control. We were able to work out counters in a fun-filled session without hurting anyone. If we were just thrown into the deep end, we were likely to thrash out wildly with our weapons and hurt our partners (and I thought this almost happened in one or two cases).

That concludes my account of the course. There were some personal take-aways from the course. One thing I learnt was to always make sure my basics are sound, and to this end, a few weeks after the course, I have been reviewing my first 4 sequences again from scratch. Another important lesson was facing and dealing with feelings of my own inadequacy. Perhaps the most important of all is the re-affirmation that noble and exemplary moral values are the pre-requisite for progress in our arts. The course was for me as much a course in character awakening as it was a kungfu one.

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.



Glimpses of the Advanced-Combined Shaolin-Taijiquan Course

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