In the previous three combat sequences, we learned three attack techniques using hand strikes at the top, middle and lower parts of the opponent. We also learned the corresponding defence techniques. In this combat sequence, “Hang a Golden Star at a Corner”, we learn attack techniques at the sides, i.e. left and right. These four modes of attacks — top, middle, bottom and sides — represent the whole range of directions any hand strikes can come from.
If you can execute a middle attack using “Black tiger Steals Heart”, i.e. a middle thrust punch, you can also execute other forms of middle attacks by changing the hand form and the stance. For example, instead of using a thrust punch you may use a palm strike, and instead of using a bow- arrow stance you may you use a false-leg stance. Similarly by varying the hand forms and stances of the other modes of attacks, you can have an unlimited range of attack techniques.
On the ther hand, if you can defend against a middle thrust punch, you can also defend against other forms of middle attacks. In other words, if you can effectively use “Single Tiger Energes from Cave” to counter “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, you can also counter his attack even if he uses a palm jab instead of a thrust punch, and uses a unicorm step instead of a bow-arrow stance, or any other hand forms and stances. The same principle applies to the other modes of attacks. Hence, when you are efficient in defending against these four representative hand strikes, you can defend against any hand strikes.
We use “Black Tiger Steals Heart” as a representative middle hand strike, and “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” as its representative defence. For some reasons, such as to gain technical or tactical advantages, we may use another middle attack technique instead of the “Black Tiger”. Similarly we may use another middle defend technique instead of the “Single Tiger”. But we shall leave these considerations to later lessons. At this stage, it is sufficient to focus on these four representative attacks and defence so that we can develop the necessary combat skills to apply these techniques well.
Generally, skills are more important than techniques — a fact most martial art students today are ignorant of. Another important fact they are ignorant of is that skills, as well as techniques, need to be systematically acquired — not just read from a book or a webpage. Hence, traditional kungfu masters did not allow their students to engage in free sparing unless they were ready. But due to their ignorance, present-day students rush into free sparring. Not only they do not acquire skills and techiques, they hurt themselves unnecessarily.
Briefly, the skills we have learnt include right timing, right spacing, right judgement, quick decision, instantaneous change, fluid miovement, footwork adjustment and safe coverage. If you are not sufficiently proficient in any of these skills, or worse if you do not even know what these skills mean, it is better to go back to the previous combat sequences for more training.
Two new skills are introduced in this sequence training: the skill of flowing attack and the skill of pressing attack. As your opponent sweeps at your low punch at “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”, you flow with the opponent’s momentum and swing your attacking arm upward in a curve into a “horn punch” at his temple, simultaneously you press in a small step and guard his sweeping hand. If you do not cover his hand, he may pierce it into your side ribs or bowels. Hence, this attack movement involves three skills: the skills of flowing attack, of pressing attack, and of safe coverage.
“Hang a Golden Star” is a short range attack but involves much movement. Thus, due to this innate disadvantage it is not a commonly used attack technque. But there may be situations, such as this one, where it may be useful.