ULTIMATE TECHNIQUES AND NEMESIS
My "double-question" is related to techniques and skills.
In martial arts there is no ultimate technique by itself, except if someone has mastered a technique to an ultimate level. Is this pre-condition for techniques also valid for skills like the 72 Shaolin Arts and how much effort does a practitioner need to acquire such a high level?
There is always a nemesis to every technique. What is the nemesis to the Shaolin Arts taught at the 72 Shaolin Arts course in Finland?
Sifu Leonard Lackinger, Austria
Thank you for this question which highlights a very important point.
The term “jue zhao”, which means “ultimate technique”, is often used in kungfu circles. It means that a master is so skillful in this technique that whenever it is applied in combat, his opponents have no chance to escape defeat.
Although the term refers to a technique, it is actually the skill in applying it that decides victory. If a less skillful practitioner applies the same technique, his opponents may readily counter it.
In kungfu conversation, normally no clear distinction is made between skills and techniques, although strictly spearing “skills” are referred to as “gong”, and “techniques” as “fa”.
It is in our school that we make a clear distinction between “skills” and “techniques”. This distinction has brought us much benefit. For example, we have become very cost-effective because we realize the difference between skills and techniques.
Hence, this pre-condition is also valid for skills. In fact, it actually refers to skills. It is the skill of a master that is “ultimate”, not his technique. “Ultimate” here means that his skill in applying the technique is so high-level that opponents cannot avoid the technique.
Although skills are crucial, the term “jue zhao” or “ultimate technique” usually refers to the technique. The master uses the same technique every time he executes his “jue zhao”.
Will he be equally successful if he uses a different technique but with the same skills? He will be less successful, though he may still defeat his less skillful opponents. “Jue Zhao” is seldom used. It is used only when the master find it difficult to defeat an opponents with other techniques.
In kungfu history, it is well known that the “jue zhao” of Wong Fei Hoong, a famous Southern Shaolin master just about 150 years ago, was “no-shadow kick”. He seldom used it, but if he ever used it, it was a sure hit. His “no-shadow kick” was so secretive that even his inner-chamber disciples did not know it, though they had heard about it.
One night a few of his inner-chamber disciples, led by his most senior disciple, Leong Fuun, stole into Wong Fei Hoong’s room to “steal” the no-shadow kick. Leong Fuun pretended to assault his master, who gave him a no-shadow kick, sending him many feet away.
Wong Fei Hoong taught Leong Fuun the no-shadow kick. Later, with the no-shadow kick, Leong Fuun defeated another well-known master called Chow Yen Kit in a public duel.
The “jue zhao” of another well known master, Kuo Yun Sheng, was “beng quan” or “crushing fist”. Kuo Yun Sheng was a Xingyiquan master who also lived about 150 years ago, But he and Wong Fei Hoong never met because he live in north China and Wong Fei Hoong lived in the south. Kuo Yun Sheng fought Dong Hai Chuan, the modern patriarch of Baguazhang, to a draw in a public duel.
There was a saying in north China, “ban bu beng quan da tian xia”, which means “Defeat heaven and earth with half step crushing fist”. Why was it called “half step”? It was because the crushing fist was executed in a triangle stance. If an opponent could defend the first crushing fist, Kuo Yun Shen would move forward half a step still in the triangle stance to execute a second crushing fist. He would continue in this manner until the opponent was defeated. Kuo Yun Sheng always won, except a draw with Dong Hai Chuan. Hence, “half-step crushing fist” was his “ultimate technique”.
There was a story about how Kuo Yun Sheng trained his “ultimate technique”. He went behind a horse to develop his speed of “half step”. Each time he patted the horse, it went forward, and Kuo Yun Sheng would follow. Soon the horse went trotting quite fast, and the Xingyiquan master followed with his patting. When the horse came to a stream, it could not go further, so it lept over it, with the master following!
The crushing fist is just a vertical punch. We learned the half step crushing fist at a Xingyiquan course during the UK Summer Camp a few years ago. But it is not my “ultimate technique”, nor that of the participants.
Past masters took years practicing every day to accomplish their “ultimate techniques”. But due to our cost-effectiveness and given the low level of combat today, course participants at the Selection of 72 Shaolin Arts need only a year of daily practice to attain a high level considered to be “ultimate techniques” for today’s free sparring – if our participants are willing to spend the time and effort, and apply their “ultimate techniques” in combat.
The three arts to be taught at the Selection of 72 Shaolin Arts are Marvelous Fist, Golden Bell and Thousand Steps.
If our course participants are willing to practice daily for one year, and more importantly apply their “ultimate techniques” in free sparring , their Marvelous Fist will be a sure hit for they can injure their opponents witout physical contact. With Golden Bell, they can just walk into their opponents, irrespective of the opponents’ attacks unless the attacks are to the eyes, throat or genitals, and smash down their opponents. With Thousand Steps, they can run away from their opponents if they sense defeat, and their opponents would be unable to catch them. The other hand, if they are confident of victory, they can move quickly into their opponents, provided they also have Golden Bell or be able to cover their opponents from attacking.
The nemesis of Marvelous Fist is Golden Bell. A master of Marvelous Fist can injure an opponent without physical contact, but he may not have any effect on a master of Golden Bell. The internal force of a Marvelous Fist master is bounced off the body of a Golden Bell Master.
The nemesis of Golden Bell is dim mark and chin-na. Although Golden Bell can withstand the force of a fist, it can be penetrated by dim mark and chin-na which attack energy points.
The nemessis of Thousand Steps are one of the three ultimates of martial arts, which are One-Finger Shooting Zen, Strike-Across-Space Palm, and Marvelous Fist. The Art of Thousand Steps enables a practitioner to run for a long distance without feeling tired and panting for breath. One-Finger Zen, Strike-Across-Space Palm and Marvelous Fist can injure opponents without physical contact. So while a Thousand Steps practitioners is running, a master of one of the three martial art ultimates can injure him without contact.
The answer here is based on knowledge from classics referring to these arts in the past. It must be realized that the level of these arts today is relatively low. Nevertheless, even when the level now is not as high as that in the past, having a chance to learn these legendary arts is an opportunity not to be missed.
This question and answer are reproduced from the thread 10 Questions on the 72 Shaolin Arts in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.