The Objective of Kung Fu
‘Mow Suk’ or ‘Wu Shu’?Translated as ‘Chinese Martial Arts’, ‘Mow Suk’ is the Cantonese word for the Mandarin term ‘Wu Shu’. They are both generic terms for a series of Chinese combat sports that originated several centuries ago in the old China, a country continuously at war. Each and every community (soldiers, monks, farmers, etc.) developed its own style of martial arts used to protect a village or group, often in life-and-death struggles. They are based on the attack and defending techniques of animals (tiger, leopard, etc.), persons (Buddha, General Kwan, Lohan, etc.), weapons (stick, sword) and even utensils (fans, etc.).
Most of these arts were (and still are) taught by means of combat forms (a sequence of techniques) and they were used in systematic sparring to obtain a free form.
What does ‘Kung Fu’ mean?Literally, Kung Fu means ‘the perfection of a person in three ways’: work, study and time. The real translation of martial arts is Mow Suk (Cantonese) or Wu Shu (Mandarin). Kung Fu is the popular term used in the South of China and spread to Europe by means of film and literature.
Is it wrong to use the term ‘Kung Fu’ then? Absolutely not! It is however important to know Chinese usage as well as the specific vocabulary. In the south, people called their martial art ‘Ta Kung Fu’, meaning ‘the perfection of assault techniques’. It was later abbreviated to ‘Kung Fu’.
This definition is closely intertwined in the principles of our institute: we believe attack is the best form of defence, in other words, we don’t act first, but we do strike first.
Combat runA combat run (Kuhn-toh) is a series of fixed patterns linked to each other for specific purposes. Some are very short, others very long. Some styles have many forms, others just a few. A combat run constitutes a fundamental element in Kung Fu training, but it is definitely not the only aspect of importance. The main purpose is to provide the trainee with the possibility of assimilating the correct execution and correct understanding of the technique and to reinforce his or her responses. That way, the trainee will be able to reach perfection. A combat run improves the position of hands, body and feet and the fluent transition from one pattern to another. Trainees have to be able to execute the combat runs correctly before they can execute the application.
Combat runs can be unravelled in order to isolate specific patterns and improve on them.
It is not enough for these combat runs to be exercised externally (by means of techniques such as kicks, punches and blocks), it is equally important that they be understood so their deeper meaning can be applied. If not, these combat runs just take the form of a dance. Be patient and learn your art step by step. Learning too quickly at the beginning causes slowness at the end and can even damage the internal organs. A body needs time to adapt gradually to control the newly acquired skills, strength and speed.
Increasing the speed may never be at the expense of the correct execution of the combat run or the strength.
Specific techniques (Saan Saw)
By specific techniques we mean Kung Fu techniques adapted to certain combat situations. Patterns used in specific techniques are extracted from full combat runs to be practised separately. In other words, after having assimilated the correct form, the trainee has to try and apply it by means of specific techniques, executed in pairs. These techniques have to be repeated time and time again. This training also serves for remembering the correct application.
The term ‘power training’ refers to several exercises used to develop the body or a specific part of it. One example is the punching bag exercising, which develops power, speed, accuracy and stability. Push-ups on the fingers give a lot of strength etc. After all, each technique not only demands technical perfection, but power and speed and well. The learning methods can differ between schools, but the general principles always remain the same.
By performing an exercise, practitioners build their mental reaction. When performing exercises demanding quick and powerful moves, they practise their speed of mind. After a certain time, they will however start to react instinctively and without hesitation and that is the objective of each and every martial artist. Secondly, by practising with different partners, the trainee gains experience, helping him to react faster and more instinctively.
Weapons constitute a vital aspect of the Kung Fu training. In the past, these techniques were more important than the unarmed techniques since weapons could be carried freely. For this reason, martial artists always started off fighting with weapons before they fought unarmed (after loss of the weapons for example). However, weapon training still retains its functional value. The procedures used to handle weapons are the same as for the unarmed techniques. First, pupils learn the combat run, its usage, individual applications, applications involving a partner and afterwards strength and free combat.
The practice and application of Kung Fu techniques are always guided by general as well as specific principles. So, if we succeed in understanding and knowing these supporting principles, we can better direct our exercises and obtain better results, in less time and with fewer efforts. The knowledge of principles often makes the difference between a pupil and a master (irrespective of the time he has been practising the art). The knowledge of principles allows the master to judge any martial art in-depth, even without having practised it.