Why is Shaolin Kungfu more effective in combat than other martial arts?
– Tomas, United Kingdom
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
We can derive a good answer from my own experience.
In my younger days, as now over 70 I still consider myself young, I actually went out to look for sparring opponents to test my combat efficiency. I soon discovered that when I used techniques which were also found in other martial arts, like Black Tiger Steals Heart which is a thrust punch, and Happy Bird Hops up Branch which is a side-kick, my opponents of other martial arts could defend readily. But when I used techniques not found in their martial arts, like Lohan Tames Tiger and Rising Dragon and Galloping Tiger, my opponents would have difficulty defending.
The underlying philosophy, which occurred to me not at the time of sparring but much later, was quite obvious. If techniques A, B, C, D were found in their martial arts, and you used A, B, C, D against them, they would know how to defend. If techniques P, Q, R were not found in their martial arts, and you used P, Q, R against them, they would not know how to defend.
When you attacked your opponent, you must make sure he could not attack you at the same time. This was not difficult for me because “safety first” was a cardinal principle in my kungfu training. I always covered my opponents before attacking them, and as I used attacking techniques that they did not know, I always beat them.
Skills are more important than techniques in combat. Even when your techniques are superior, but if your opponent is more skilful, like he is faster and more powerful, he will still beat you. I did not realise this important principle at first. I only differentiated between skills and techniques much later. But I overcame this problem because initially I chose opponents who were of a same level as or lower level than me. Later when my combat skills improved, but still without consciously knowing the difference between skills and techniques, my choice of opponents became more liberal.
Another very important factor in combat is force, especially internal force. When I had developed remarkable internal force, I found that I could not only defeat opponents more easily but also opponents who were younger and bigger-sized than me.
A significant factor contributing to victory in combat is the application of tactics and strategies, which are rich in Shaolin Kungfu but not frequently found in other martial arts. At first I was unaware of combat tactics and strategies, but they were already incorporated in the combat sequences I used. Later with better understanding of combat tactics and strategies, my combat efficiency improved.
Hence, the many reason why Shaolin Kungfu is more combat effective than many other martial arts are a rich range of combat techniques not found in other martial arts, the focus of developing skills in genuine Shaolin training, the development and use of internal force in combat, and the application of combat tactics and skills.
What benefits you can find in Shaolin Kungfu that cannot be found in other martial arts?
Answer by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
An excellent answer was supplied by Kai (Sifu Kai Uwe Jettkandt, Chief Instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Germany), who was already a world known martial art master and an international all-style free sparring champion before he learned from me.
Kai told many Shaolin Wahnam members that he practiced Shaolin Kungfu because it fulfilled to a very high-level all the three attainments he looked for in any martial art — good health, combat efficiency and spiritual cultivation. Kai explained that many martial arts were good for fighting but bad for health. Some martial arts were good for health, but not effective for combat and lacked spiritual cultivation. Shaolin Kungfu has all these attainments to a very high level.
One can have these three attainments irrespective of his age. In many other martial arts, as a person ages, his health and combat efficiency are affected. But in Shaolin Kungfu, a practitioner actually becomes healthier and more combat efficient.
Many Shaolin Wahnam members told me that they were healthier and fitter at 50 than they were at 30. In many other martial arts, as a person becomes older, his strength and stamina become weaker, and therefore his combat ability is less efficient. But due to internal force which is independent of age, size and gender, and which also contributes much to his health, vitality and longevity, he becomes more combat efficient as he grows older.
Shaolin Kungfu is extremely rich in philosophy, which records the essence of centuries of past masters. Not only the combat tactics and strategies enable present Shaolin practitioners to be more combat efficient, its philosophy enriches their daily life.
Not many people may realize that Shaolin Kungfu and Taijiquan are the only two martial arts that originated from spiritual cultivation. All other martial arts gear towards fighting. Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of the Shaolin arts, and Zhang San Feng, the first patriarch of Taijiquan, practiced their arts to attain Zen or Tao, which in Western language means return to God the Holy Spirit.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to Grandmaster Wong via his Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, country and e-mail address.
I always write after a course and this time will not be different. As always, Wahnam courses are so enriching that exceed my expectations.
It has been a while since I don’t practice Western chess. It has been so because I don’t particularly feel attracted by it. But, with Chinese chess, the situation is very different. It is much more fun and much more realistic.
As in all Wahnam courses, the Chinese chess course (1st and 2nd October 2011 in Ireland) is full of philosophy, advices and strategies to apply on real life too. I made a list with the ones that impressed me most:
Situations can Always be Turned Around
In just one move, one can change from an adverse to a favorable situation. Those in the course had the opportunity to experience this when playing with Chun Yian Siheng. In my case, in one of the games, I was in a favorable position and Chun Yian Siheng gave three advices to my opponent and I lost the game. That taught me a lot. If one knows how, almost any situation can be changed.
Don’t Waste Unnecessary Movements
Like in Zen, it is better to be simple, direct and effective. Again, playing with Chun Yian Siheng, I learned this valuable lesson. I was making a short movement and then, I moved the same chess piece again. Chun Yian Siheng told me: “You did two movements to arrive here. That could be done in only one move. You wasted one movement and you gave that advantage to the adversary.”
Have a Whole Picture of What is Happening
Like in life, one tends to focus only on one perspective or view. It is easy to forget that many other facts can affect the game. One chess piece placed on the back can change everything in only a couple of moves. Again, Chun Yian Siheng demonstrated to me this precious advice within the game. Once, I was so focused on my attack that I forgot about the rest of the chess pieces. In a couple of movements, I lost the game. I didn’t pay too much attention of what Chun Yian Siheng was doing with the other pieces.
Many people on the course was attacking without paying attention to defense. What Chun Yian Siheng told us about was: “One cannot think about an attack when defense is weak. First defense, then attack.”
Reduce Your Mistakes
I am very sure that everybody within the course remembers this advice. The more mistakes we were committing, the less opportunities we had for winning the game.
Don’t Lock Yourself
That is another extraordinary advice from Chun Yian Siheng. Within the game, we were locking our chess pieces in order to accomplish one strategy. But, what we forgot, was that we couldn’t use those pieces for the rest of the game because they were locked. Then, most of our resources were wasted and limited. Again, playing with Chun Yian Siheng, he demonstrated to me how important this advice was. He killed 4 pieces of mine with only one piece of him. My other pieces were locked doing something else so I could not do anything about it.
Sometimes You have to Choose to Lose
That is another excellent advice. Chun Yian Siheng was teaching me that lesson as follows: He was placed his chess pieces in the way that always two pieces of mine were in danger. One of them always had to die and I was the one choosing which one of them I was going to sacrifice. Then, I remember in exact words what Chun Yian Siheng told me: “Sometimes, you have to decide what you want to lose in order to get something else.”
It is Better to Lose a Game but Win a Friend than to Win a Game but also Win an Enemy
Chun Yian Siheng finished the course with this excellent advice and quote mentioned by Sifu, Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit, his father.
As always, it is difficult to return what Shaolin Wahnam is giving me. I feel very blessed with Shaolin Wahnam family within Ireland. Thanks Chun Yian Siheng for coming to teach us this treasured game. It was a wonderful weekend. Thanks also to Joan Sijie for taken care of me and thanks to all Shaolin Wahnam family, here in Ireland, for making me feel like at home.