RE-LEARNING MANY CRUCIAL LESSONS THAT HAVE BEEN TAKEN FOR GRANTED
Review of Essence of Shaolin by Sifu Zhang Wuji
Sifu Zhang Wuji
Shaolin Wahnam Singapore
9th December 2017
Indeed, Dr Damian, I have been waiting all week to see you. Good thing Bernie is here with me on this course.
Ok, before the graduation dinner, let me finish my review for the day.
As one of the "demonstrators" on stage (which almost all agreed is a stressful experience) and under the watchful eye of Sifu, I learnt, or rather, re-learnt many crucial lessons that have been taken for granted. The key lessons were that of swallowing or avoiding the attack before counter-attacking, and to cover and guard against the opponent in the advance.
In my own solo practice, I have tended to minimise the resistance and danger from my imaginary opponent. In the freee sparring or even sequence practice, I found this gap tested several times, as I walked into a palm to the face or was surprised by a kick or a side attack. All these were taught to me at my first intensive kungfu course but I had to be reminded of them again.
There were something like 40 or more pattern-sequences taught today, and some were exotic, but one stood out for me - the simple triple punch. Sifu emphasised the distinction between skills and techniques in this simple move. Anyone can advance with 3 punches in solo practice but the trick or key is to do so safely, covering the opponent, closing or opening him to clear the way for each punch. It is a lot harder as it looks, as those who have tried this on non-compliant opponents in and out of Shaolin Wahnam would know well.
Sifu highlighted that the focus on skill highlights the "depth in simplicity" of Shaolin Kungfu. Throughout the course and especially today, this rang true for me, as I noticed that many of the counters that we defaulted automatically on stage or used in the sequences taught by Sifu were the most basic sweep and thread, with the most common attack being the Black Tiger.
Sifu then instructed us to practice each sequence in the most efficient and effective way - first, to get the form and sequence correct, and next, to do so with flowing force. We can then proceed to simulate intereceptions by the opponent in all 4 ways - strike, kick, felling and qin-na. To this, I would add rapid change of direction by the opponent, which I encountered not from Baguazhang practitioners, but Kuntao and Escrima fighters I had sparred with.
The above discussion is reproduced from the Post 61 of thread Essence of Shaolin in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
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