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  • Writer's pictureJohnny

Theory, Practice, Understanding

Am I Ready?

With my "Seven Star Fist" training nearing completion, I was given my Shaolin Training Robes and the next weapon that I would be learning. The Pu Dao. With my new items in hand I slowly walked up the steps to my room. A question churned in my brain, "I am ready for a new form?". In my mind, Kung Fu was all about developing a few skills really well. Not learning a bunch of forms, with little understanding. Quickly, I went back downstairs to ask Master Zhang a question.

"Do you think I've grasped the form?".

I asked again, to clarify my question, and he smiled with some understanding. He said one aspect I need to work on is, "斗神/抖身". It's a type of "power" in Kung Fu where after throwing a strike; like fist or elbow, the body "shakes" and the power is said to have gone outward towards your opponent.

Master Zhang continued to speak. At first he mentioned Basic Forms. "Five Step" and "Continuous Fist" being examples. Easy forms meant to teach students the basic motions/stances of Kung Fu. They are not hard to perform once you've been trained. Now, traditional, or difficult forms, are another story.

Master Zhang explained how there are a lot of theories when it came to Kung Fu and martial arts. Theories are easy to talk about but hard to actually do. For training, you first learn the moves with little explanation. Through practice, the moves become comfortable and more natural. Some applications might be taught to the student from the master but the true understanding comes from a master teaching his student the theories. Then, the student being able to understand the theories through practice. It's this constant cycle of learning about a new concept, and then trying to actually perform that concept in your training.

There was a lot of information "lost" due to my poor Chinese, but these were the few ideas I was able to grasp from our conversation. He even told a story about when Shaolin was getting famous. How many people were kneeling outside the temple for days; not to become monks but to train Kung Fu. People would sleep on little benches due to there not being enough beds. Those folks would simply begin practicing whenever they would wake up (usually because they fell off the bench!).

I'm glad I have my bed, pillow, and blankets.

Back to the main question of this article, "Am I ready?". In a simple answer, no. I have not grasped the form. There is still a lot of practice that I need to put into this form. Most of that practice will come from my own work, and own ideas.

I will enjoy the journey.


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