Red Jade Martial Arts
Traditional Chinese Martial Arts
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Sifu's Tea Table

Sifu's Tea Table

Harder? Faster?

The issue is not how many techniques or systems or styles a person does or does not know. The issue is whether they can see the fundamental similarities between all their various bits of acquired knowledge. If a kicking method is striking with the foot, the power of the strike is determined by the coordination of the supporting leg driving into the earth alongside the engagement of the torso and turning of the hips. Whether it is a front or back kick does not matter so much anymore if the relationships in the body are not well built enough to create power. Certainly, each technique has its requirements, but without foundational correctness they are all just flailing about.

 

We see martial arts in our youth from movies, television, and the internet. We see teachers raised on old movies from Karate Kid back to the Shaw Brothers classics. We see people whose first impression of martial arts was from theatre and as such from performance artists more worried about appearance than usage. These people have copied that movement and style for years and now are the walking picture books of that thinking. Martial arts are fast, hard, and clean. But, if we change our thinking and look directly at function instead of appearance we see that it makes more sense to be hard to see, relaxed, heavy, and destructive to opponents. Very different from what our own minds produce when we think internally about what martial arts are like. Everyone wants to be like the men in the kung fu movies, beautiful to watch, snappy, and skilled. That’s why the mind is the most important part of training.

 

My teacher would always say “You do not have to be stronger or faster than your opponent, just smarter.” But smarter has many connotations. Clever tricks in technique, more training time spent, these are very smart ways to look at training. But bringing yourself far enough away to see the paradigm of thinking you may have buried in your martial arts from the very beginning you can see that perhaps you are working to live up to the wrong first impression.  I know looking at my own life and training I was caught very much in this trap as well. I saw karate kid when it came out, trained under a teacher who looked snappy and clean like people in the movies and of course I did my best to copy him, as we all do. It took me a long time to notice that my outlook on martial arts itself was flawed and that I needed to unwind it myself. Luckily, I found other teachers who had already done so and were able to help me on the path to tearing apart and unwinding my bad habits.

 

So, don’t look at things the same way everyone else does or you risk becoming just like everyone else. Is that enough?

 

 

Neil the Kung Fu Guy