AGAINST MULTIPLE ATTACKERS AND AGAINST A HIGHLY SKILLED OPPONENT
As an art that specialises in mass combat and multiple attackers, it is said that Choy Li Fatt is relatively weaker in high-level individual fighting. Generally, is it correct to say that one who can handle multiple armed assailants would have no difficulty in dealing with even a skilled individual opponent?-- Sifu Zhang Wuji
The first statement is correct, but the second statement is not. Of course, the answer carries the condition that all other things were equal.
The core reason for both situations is that the philosophy, skills and techniques in fighting multiple attackers are different from those in fighting a skilful individual opponent.
Choy-Li-Fatt is geared towards multiple fighting where opponents are normally not of a high combat level. If they are of a high combat level, they would not, in fact do not want to, group together to attack one individual.
It is not just a sense of fairness. For a high-level fighter, fighting alone is more effective than helped by a group in defeating an opponent because the other group members often come into the path of his continuous attacks, or interfere with his combat tactics or strategies.
A skilful fighter fighting a group of attackers will choose long-reaching techniques as they are more effective than short-range techniques. On the other hand, long-reaching techniques are more exposed, but the group attackers, being of a low combat level, do not know how to exploit these weaknesses. Even if they knew, the skilful lone fighter would be able to neutralize them.
The situation is different when he fights with another high-level opponent. If he is used to long-reaching techniques in multiple combat and applies them on a high-level opponent in solo combat, he is exposing himself unnecessarily. He may be able to neutralize the counter-attacks of the high-level opponent, but this does not negate the fact that he is giving his opponent unnecessary advantages.
Moreover, while long-reaching techniques are useful in fighting multiple attackers, when fighting with just one opponent, short-range techniques are a better choice, even when we leave aside the question of exposure and even when the lone opponent is not of a high-level. For example, a short inch-punch is more effective in hitting an opponent than a long swinging fist.
On the other hand, a high-level exponent skilful in solo fighting may have much difficulty fighting in mass attack if he is not trained for the purpose. This is expressed in the kungfu saying, “seong kuen pat tik seai sau” (Cantonese), which means “two fists are no match against four hands”.
Such a situation was well illustrated in a special course a few years ago. Even our advanced practitioners were initially at a loss when facing multiple attackers. But once they had learnt some important strategies, they could handle multiple attackers easily -- even when they used weapons. It was amazing to see the transformation that took place within an hour! You may have a glimpse of such a transformation if you make a search for the appropriate videos on my home page.
In this respect of solo fighting and multiple combat, Wing Choon and Choy-Li-Fatt are an interesting contrast. Wing Choon Kungfu is geared towards high-level solo combat, whereas Choy-Li-Fatt is geared towards fighting against multiple attacks. Even a high-level Wing Choon master may have difficulty when confronting multiple attackers, whereas a Choy-Li-Fatt master, unless he can make the necessary adjustment, will be in a comparative disadvantageous position meeting another high-level master. Hence, our Choe Family Wing Choon practiced in Shaolin Wahnam, which combines the best of Wing Choon and Choy-Li-Fatt, is an excellent answer to this intruding topic.
-- Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
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The above is reproduced from the thread 20 Questions for Grandmaster: Choy-Li-Fatt and Kungfu against Other Styles in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.