Most martial art students today make a big mistake in their combat training. They think mistakenly that practicing free sparring is the way, often the only way, to combat efficiency. To a large extent this came about because many people were disillusioned with kungfu, as much of (so-called) kungfu practiced today is merely performing external forms with little or no combat training.
In genuine traditional kungfu, free sparing is never used to train combat efficiency; it is used to test combat efficiency, to confirm that the students can really fight. In other words, it is not a training tool — it is a testing tool. You engage in free sparing only after you know how to fight, not as a means to train you to fight.
Practicing combat sequences is an essential link between form training and free sparring. In form training you develop the techniques as well as the skills that you will need for fighting. In combat sequences you methodically apply these techniques and skills in simulated combat. In free sparring you confirm that you can fight efficiently.
There are many stages and sub-stages in combat sequence training. “Black Tiger Steals Heart” is the first of a long series of combat sequences we use in our school, Shaolin Wahnam, to go through these stages and sub-stages systematically.
Most students would under-estimate this combat sequence, thinking it is too simple. This would be a big mistake. The techniques are purposely made simple because the aim of training here is not to learn new techniques but to develop skills. If the techniques are complicated, the students would waste much effort remembering the techniques rather than focusing on developing skills.
Before you even make any move, you must observe the “four modes of preparation” — one, you must be mentally and physically ready; two, you access your opponent; three, you seek an advantage or an opening; and four, when the opportunity arrives you move swiftly.
When you move in to attack, you must “ask the way”, i.e. you access your opponent’s strength and weakness, and you open the way for attack as well as prevent him from suddenly counter-attacking. You must also achieve “three arrivals”, i.e. the arrival of the heart, of the feet and of the hands.
The two fundamental skills developed here are right timing and right spacing. And the skills are applicable to both the initiator (attacker) and the responder (defender). In other words, when you move in to attack, you must move in at a right time, and space yourself at a right distance. A very common weakness is that the initiator is too far from the responder in his attack, in which case the responder can counter-strike immediately, without bothering to defend first.
On the other hand, when you defend against an attack, you must move at a right time. A very common weakness defenders make is that they move back too soon. A trained attacker would exploit such a weakness. He would skip the first attack, treating it as a feign move, and follow in with a second attack, striking the defender at a time when he is still in the process of defending the first attack.
Nevertheless, now you should not worry about this skill of exploiting the opponent’s weakness. It is practised at an intermediate level. At an elementary level, your focus is to avoid making such weaknesses. If you can just do this, you would have done well. Many combatants today, including those at black-belt level, commit many such mistakes, thus throwing advantages to their opponents without their opponents having to make any effort.
You must also remember that all combat principles in Shaolin Kungfu are applicable to daily living. You should use these principles to enrich your life and the lives of others. For example you should not blame the traffic if you miss an appointment; it just shows you have not developed the skill of correct timing. You should not blame the waiter if you have been seated amidst a cloud of cigarette smoke in a restaurant; you have not developed the skill of correct spacing.
How You May Avoid a Heavy Object Crashing into You
After you have developed some reasonable skills in correct timing and correct spacing — two of the most fundamental skills in combat application — you can proceed to developing the skills for fast judgment, quick decision and instantaneous change. This combat sequence, White Snake Shoots Venom, is effective for developing these three skills.
In the previous combat sequence, “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, you are used to defending against the opponent’s middle strike. Suddenly he changes his attack to a top strike. You have to judge correctly, make a quick decision and apply the appropriate defence.
In this sequence, the attack is purposely reduced to only two choices, a middle hand strike or a top hand strike. If there are too many choices, as in free sparring, it would be difficult for the defender to judge, thus defeating the purpose of developing the skill of judgment.
Before this, there is no need to make any judgment because there is only one pre-arranged mode of attack. Now only one of many controlled factors is released, marking the first step in judging and decision making — to judge whether the attack is aimed at the top or at the middle and to decide what response to make. Only very gradually, the control is released. If too many controlled factors are released suddenly, the training would become brawling, not developing skills.
The two skills of judging and decision are closely related. At this stage the decision is premeditated, i.e. it has already been made for you (basing on the rich experience of centuries of past Shaolin masters) so that you can focus on right judgment and right response. In other words, if you judge the attack aims at your top, you respond straightaway with “Golden Dragon”, if it aims at your middle, you respond straightaway with “Single Tiger”.
Later, when you are more skilful and have a greater range of techniques, you may insert decision making before your response. For example, when you have judged that the attack is aiming at your top, you may decide which of a number of alternatives you will respond, depending on what advantages or situations you wish to create.
Suppose your opponent makes a top attack but you misjudge it to be a middle attack. So you respond with “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” instead of “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”. It is a mistake, and in a real fight the opponent’s attack may have pierced into your throat or eye. But, of course, in training your partner would stop a few inches before target.
Untrained persons would just freeze, not knowing what to do. But you don’t. You just tilt your body slightly forward to your side, and simultaneously change your tiger-claw into a dragon-form and “thread” it upward, deflecting the attack. Your partner would have stopped his attack momentarily for you to implement the belated move.
Initially you would be hesitant. There would be a gap of a few seconds between realizing your wrong judgment and making the appropriate changes. But gradually you would reduce the gap until eventually the change would be instantaneous. You would have developed the skill of instantaneous change.
These skills are, of course, very useful in our everyday life. In the business world, for example, there is a saying that a bad decision is better than no decision. So, if your host asks whether you prefer chicken curry or beef steak, don’t say you don’t know. Make a decision.
Shaolin students are trained not just to make decisions fast but also correctly. But if we make a wrong decision, we do not just remain frozen, and blame others or ourselves; we make correction immediately.
Suppose a heavy object is crashing onto a person. Often, taken by surprise he remains motionless. But you would have jumped aside elegantly. What makes the difference? You have undergone systematic training but he hasn’t.
In the first combat sequence in our combat training programme, “Black tiger Steals Heart”, you developed two fundamental combat skills, namely right timing and right spacing. These two are fundamental skills, meaning very important skills that form the foundation of future development.
The third fundamental skill is appropriate force, which is developed in our force training programme like “Golden Bridge” and “One-Finger Shooting Zen”, and which we apply in our combat sequences. It is important that the force must be flowing, and not mechanical or staccato.
Without these three fundamental skills, a person cannot be combat efficient, even if he knows a lot of techniques. This is a common fault with many kungfu students — they think mistakenly that they can be more combat efficient by learning more techniques.
Skills have to be developed methodically, not merely learnt from a book or even from a master. A master provides you the method, and shows you how to do it, but you have to practice and practice to so that the skills become second-nature to you.
Free sparring is not a method to develop skills; it is a method to test whether you have developed the necessary skills to apply appropriate techniques in combat. This is a common fault with most martial art students today — they mistakenly think they can be combat efficient by practicing free sparring.
In this combat sequence, “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”, you consolidate and improve upon the combat skills you have learnt, namely right timing, right spacing, right judgment and instantaneous change. We also have increased the choice of attack and defence from two to three alternatives.
In the first combat sequence, there is only one choice, which is actually no choice. The initiator attacks with “Black Tiger Steals Heart” and the responder defends with “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. Both the initiator and the responder know what the movements will be. The movements are pre-arranged so that being free from worrying what to move next, they can better focus on developing the skills of right timing, right spacing and appropriate force.
In the second combat sequence, the initiator has two choices — he can attack with “Black Tiger Steals Heart” or “White Snake Shoots Venom” — and the responder has to react accordingly. In this third combat sequence, the choice is increased to three, with the addition of “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”. If the responder makes a wrong judgment, his instantaneous change is more difficult. In the previous two combat sequences, if he judges wrongly, he can still defend against the coming attack — his “Golden Dragon” can still defend against the ”Black Tiger”, and his ”Single Tiger” can still defend against the “White Snake”. But here he has to change his “Golden Dragon” or “Single Tiger” into a “Hand Sweep”.
Two new skills are introduced in this sequence. One is adjusting footwork. This skill is a development of right spacing. After defending your partner’s “White Snake” with your “Golden Dragon”, you have to bring back your front left leg a small step before moving forward a big step with your right leg for your counter-attack with “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”. If you do not adjust your footwork, you would give your opponent a free advantage, i.e. an advantage he gains without having to do anything. You would have made it easy for him to strike you or fell you to the ground.
The second skill is covering yourself in your attack. You can do this by “taming” his front left hand, i.e. pushing it aside or “floating” it upward, with your left palm maintaining contact with his left arm, while you strike his side ribs with your right punch. Covering yourself is extremely important in any attack. This is what many other martial artists never do, exposing themselves to serious counter-strikes.
In the previous two combat sequences, the counter-attack mode is “first defend then counter”. Here the mode is “no defend direct counter”. As an opponent attacks you with “Precious Duck”, you need not block or ward off the attack first, then counter-attack. While moving your front left leg backward into a left false-leg stance, you directly strike his attacking arm with your hand-sweep.
“No defend” is a misnomer. It is not ignoring your own safety and go all out to attack, which would be foolish. Here, the defence is already incorporated in your counter-attack. As you move into your false leg stance for your counter-attack, you already have moved your body away from his attack.
COMBAT SEQUENCE 4
SHAOLIN WAHNAM KUNGFU — COMBAT SEQUENCE 4
“HANG A GOLDEN STAR AT A CORNER”
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 techniical or tactica 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 skills 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.
Combat Sequences 1 to 4 which have been posted in previous webpages constitute one stage of combat training, and they form the kungfu set “Black Tiger Steals Heart” in the Shaolin Kungfu programme of our school. The main objective of this stage is to develop fundamental combat skills as follows:
flowing movement and force
The first two skills, right timing and right spacing, are the most fundamental. Without them the other skills, as well as all techniques and force, lose their significance. An exponent, for example, may have some fantastic techniques and tremendous force, but if his attack or defence cannot reach its target on time, all his techniques and force are quite useless.
All the principles you learn in combat training can be, and should be, transferred to our daily work and play to make our life more rewarding. This is a main reason why we devote our time and effort to kungfu training. The principles of right timing and right spacing are of utmost importance in life. You may be the best computer programmer in the world or have the most advanced marketing skills, but if these skills are not used at the right time and at the right place, they are as good as being useless.
Some people, who may actually have many talents or much knowledge, constantly complain that society or Mother Luck never gives them an opportunity to use their talents and knowledge. What they need is to develop the skills of right timing and right spacing like what we do in our combat training, and transfer these fundamental skills to daily life.
In the previous set of four combat sequences, besides the fundamental skills you also learned the basic techniques for hand attacks and defence. You should practise these four sequences in stages, as follows:
At the pre-choice stage, the initiator begins with a pre-chosen sequence, and the responder responds accordingly to complete the sequence. At the self-choice stage, the initiator may start with any sequence he likes, but the releasing of control must be gradual so that the responder can respond accordingly too and both partners can complete the sequence smoothly.
At the end-point continuation stage, after completing one sequence the initiator (or sometimes the responder) starts another sequence without retreating to poise patterns. For example, after completing Combat Sequence 1, instead of returning to poise patterns, the initiator continues by repeating Combat Sequence 1 or starting Combat Sequence 2. You should continue to the next sequence at the start of the next sequence, but later you may continue at any suitable point of the next sequence. Hence, at this stage an encounter will consist of five or six exchanges instead of three.
At the mid-point continuation stage, either one of the partner may continue with another sequence at the mid-point of the first sequence. For example, you may start with Combat Sequence 2, but at any suitable point during the sequence you or your partner may continue to Combat Sequence 3. You may enter Combat Sequence 3 at its beginning or at any suitable point of Sequence 3. Hence the exchanges are less although this stage is a progression from the previous stage. But later you may have three instead of two sequences in one encounter.
At the end-point addition stage, you or your partner may add a suitable hand-attack pattern and the other person will respond accordingly. The additional attack pattern need not be any of the patterns found in the four sequences, but it must be a hand attack. For example, instead of a level punch of the “Black Tiger”, you may use a palm strike or a phoenix-fist. You are to add only one pattern, and after the respond both will return to poise patterns.
Once you have practised these four combat sequences well, you can defend against all hand attacks — although at this level the range of techniques is limited. Hence, you will soon find that neither you nor your sparring partner can beat the other. No matter what hand attack or counter- attack one uses, the other can defend against it effectively. None has an advantage over the other because now both have the same level of skills and techniques.
To overcome this impasse, you have to find at least one advantage over your partner (or opponent in real fighting). This can be achieved by either improving your skills or expanding your techniques. In other words, although you and your partner are at the same level of techniques, if you are faster or more powerful than him, you can still beat him. Alternatively, although you and your partner are at the same level of skills, if you can use techniques which he is unfamiliar with, you will also beat him. A main objective of the next set of four combat sequences, Sequences 5 to 8, is to expand your hand techniques.
This sequence, “Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley”, introduces the right leg mode in attack. So far, from Combat Sequences 1 to 4 with the exception of the “Precious Duck” pattern, the left leg mode is used. The left leg mode and the right leg mode have their own strong points and weaknesses. Some martial artists, often without their own awareness, favour one mode to the other. Later when you are more skilfull and know more techniques, you can maneuver your opponent to his unaccustomed leg mode, often without him knowing, thus gaining a tactical advantage.
In the previous four combat sequences, continuing from one sequence to another was easy when you were executing Sequences 1 and 2, but you probably experienced some difficulty if you were executing Sequences 3 or 4. This was because of your leg mode. After completing Sequences 3 and 4, your right leg was in front, and you might not know how to continue your attack as your attack patterns in the right leg mode were limited.
Now this limitation can readily be overcome. For example, after defending against your partner’s Black Tiger or Green Dragon with your right Single Tiger in Sequences 3 or 4, you can “thread” with your left Golden Dragon and continue with your right Fierce Tiger as in Sequence 5. You will find a lot of attack patterns in the right leg mode in subsequent sequences.
In Combat Sequence 5 all the attacking techniques are the same as in the previous four sequences, namely middle punch, low punch and horn punch. However, the right Bow-Arrow Stance, instead of the left Bow-Arrow Stance, is used in the attacks. This right-leg mode makes a difference.
Besides enjoying some other advantages, being able to use the right-leg mode efficiently enables the combatant to change or continue easily from the previous four combat sequences to other new sequences. Before this, his techniques are limited. Combat Sequence 5 marks the first step whereby he can expand his techniques remarkably.
Before this, he might move into a right-leg mode accidentally, or forced to do so to his disadvantage, often without his conscious knowing. Now he moves into a right-leg mode artfully and purposely, usually to his conscious advantage. Herein lies a crucial difference, and it is one of many points why many students may remain at the same standard after many years of free sparring, whereas you may improve tremendously after a few months of systematic training.
Once you can change artfully and purposely from a left-leg mode to a right-leg mode, and vice versa, even if you do not learn any new techniques, you have expanded your techniques two fold relative to an opponent who, often unconsciously, use only one favoured leg mode.
If you observe exponents of Western Boxing, Karate and Taekwondo spar, for example, you often will notice that they use only either the left-leg mode or the right-leg mode, but seldom both modes equally well. If, for instance, both of you have 25 techniques, now because you can use both modes well and he can’t, you will have 50 techniques whereas he still has 25.
Your advantage does not end here. Not only you can change your leg-mode, you can also change your stances to your best advantage, whereas most other martial artists pay little attention to stances. Moreover, you can change your hand forms, but most others don’t. For example, instead of striking with a level punch, you may change it into a phoenix-eye fist, a willow-leaf palm, a leopard punch or a tiger-claw, but most other martial artists seldom do so. Hence, from your basic 25 techniques, you can have literally hundreds of variations, even without learning new techniques!
But you must not rush into these hundreds of variations. They are mentioned here to remind you of the great variety and potential in store for you when you have mastered your fundamental skills. Now we still have to pay a lot of attention to skill development. If you are not skilful, knowing a lot of techniques is a liability, not an access. This is a main reason why many kungfu and wushu students, despite knowing many techniques, are no match against exponents of Karate, Taekwondo, Kickboxing and Western Boxing
Yet, from Combat Sequence 6 onwards, you are going to learn some useful combative techniques. Two attacking techniques are introduced in this sequence — a left hand palm strike in “Dark Dragon Draws Water”, and a top-diagonal palm chop in “Chop the Hua Mountain”.
“Dark Dragon Draws Water” provides a good opportunity for you to practice applying your internal force. Focus your chi at your dan tian, then “sink” down your Bow-Arrow Stance as you channel your force from your dan tian through your left palm into your opponent.
“Dark Dragon Draws Water” also provides a good opportunity to apply the principle and develop the skill of progression in techniques and speed. At first you use three moves for the attack — tiger-claw, cover elbow, and palm strike. Next, you reduce to two moves — tiger-claw cum cover elbow, and palm strike. Then you perform the same attack in one move — palm strike which includes tiger-claw to cover elbow.
A helpful way to train is to count the moves. At first you count “1 2 3” as you perform the three moves of the attack. After some time of training you count “1 2” for the two moves. Then you just count “1” as you attack. If you train this pattern 50 times a day for six months, you may be able to break the ribs of an average attacker as soon as he moves in to attack with a right punch.
Here is a quick review of what you have learnt. Combat Sequences 1 to 4 are meant to train fundamental combat skills like right timing, right spacing, flowing movements, safe coverage, foot adjustment, and instantaneous changes. The four fundamental hand attacks to the top, middle, bottom and sides, and their corresponding defences are used. The stances used are mainly in the left mode. These four sequences constitute the kungfu set “Black Tiger Steals Heart”.
Sequences 5 to 8, which constitutes the kungfu set “Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley” introduce the right leg mode as well as many hand techniques for attack and defence. Sequence 5 introduces the tactic of pressing attacks, where a skilful exponent may press an opponent against a wall almost irrespective of the latter’s defensive moves! Sequence 6 introduce the left palm strike, applying internal force. It also illustrates the progression from 3 movements to only I movement in apply the pattern “Dark Dragon Draws Water”.
Needless to say, all techniques, skills, tactics, principles and so on are trained progressively, not exclusively. In other words, although fundamental skills like right timing and right spacing are emphasized in Sequences 1 to 4, these skills are constantly improved in all other sequences. Although tactics like pressing attacks and “alert the east, attack the west” in Sequences 5 and 6, they can be used in any other sequences.
So far we use “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” to defence against “Black Tiger Steals Heart”. In Sequences 1 to 4 the left “Single Tiger” is used, and in Sequences 5 and 6 the right “Single Tiger”. In this sequence, a new defence technique is used against the “Black Tiger”, namely “Bar the Big Boss“.
In this situation and if all other things were equal, “Bar the Big Boss” has a technical advantage over “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. In applying the “Single Tiger” you have to bring back your front right leg from the right Bow-Arrow Stance to change into the right False Leg Stance, and bring back your right hand from “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley” in a big arc to change into the “Single Tiger”. But in applying “Bar the Big Boss”, you merely need to shift from a Bow-Arrow Stance to a sideway Horse-Riding Stance, and change your horizontal arm to a vertical arm position, which is technically faster.
Then, why bother to learn “Single Tiger” when “Bar the Big Boss” is better? The answer is that other things are not equal. There are other situations where the “Single Tiger” is technically better than “Bar the Big Boss”. Even in this combat situation, there may be other factors which make “Single Tiger” a better choice. For example, we may not merely want to deflect the attacker’s pinch, but use the tiger-claw in the “Single Tiger” to grip the attacker’s elbow or wrist.
Bar Big Boss
In the previous sequence, we learned the progression from 3 moves to just 1 move when applying “Dark Dragon Draws Water”, hence increasing our speed but without actually trying to be faster! This sequence also provides us with a good opportunity to learn and develop this skill of minimizing movements, as follows.
When you have become skilful in applying “Bar the Big Boss” followed by “White Snake Shoots Venom” as two separate patterns (with a short pause between the patterns), you can perform the two patterns continuously as if they were one pattern (i.e. without any pause between them). Gradually you will discover from your own experience that instead of first applying a vertical block as in “Bar the Big Boss”, then followed with a taming hand as part of “White Snake”, you can achieve the same effect by using a smooth curve of your right hand in one movement instead of two.
Then you will also discover that you do not even need to change from Bow-Arrow Stance to sideway Horse-Riding Stance. All you need to do is to swerve your body in a smooth curve as you apply “White Snake Shoots Venom”, even without the need to apply “Bar the Big Boss”. In other words, from the previous “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley”, you can proceed straight to “White Snake Shoots Venom”, thus reducing three patterns to two.
If you execute this “White Snake” well, not only you can be very fast — striking the opponent’s throat almost the same time he thinks he can hit you with his thrust punch — but you will also have “tamed” his hands in such a way that, apparently, he could not defence against your counter-attack. Yet, by withdrawing his front left leg a small step back into a front False Leg Stance, he could free his hands to counter your palm thrust with a “Golden Dragon”. This should reminds us that in real life, even when the situation appears hopeless, by taking a step back, one can often find a viable solution.
Your opponent counterattacks with a low punch. He must adjust his foot position before moving in with a low sideway Horse-Riding Stance, otherwise without you having to do anything he offers you a free advantage that you can exploit. You response to his low attack with a hand-sweep, breaking or dislocating his elbow or wrist.
As he moves his arm away to avoid your hand-sweep, you move in with a palm chop using the pattern “Chop the Hua Mountain”. Remember to cover yourself as you move in, otherwise he may jab his right palm into your ribs or abdomen.
You may notice that this is a progression or developmental lesson from “Precious Duck”. Previously, you learned that if your opponent struck your low punch with a hand-sweep, your brushed away his attack and counter-attacked with “Golden Star” or “Chop the Hua Mountain”. Now you reverse the role. If your opponent attacks you with a low punch, you strike him with a hand-sweep, but before he can counter-attack with “Golden Star” or “Chop the Hua Mountain” (like we have learned), you follow up with “Golden Star” or “Chop the Hua Mountain” instead. This is giving your opponent what he intends to give you.
Your opponent has an excellent counter — “Tame Tiger with Double Bows”. Here he applies the tactic of “no defence direct counter”, like what you did when you applied “False-Leg Hand Sweep” to his low punch. But this “Double Bows” attack is even faster. In “Hand Sweep” you counter-attack when his attack is just spent. In “Double Bows” he counter-attacks when you attack is still on its way.
Chop Hua Mountain
This “Double Bows” counter-attack provides an excellent opportunity for you to practice and develop your flexibility. To defend against this counter-attack, you move your front right leg backward from the right Bow-Arrow Stance to a right False Leg Stance, and simultaneously deflect his strike with a right tiger-claw. This movement demands much skill because you have to shift back your forward moving leg immediately it touches the ground in its forward movement.
This skill, which is essential for sound defence, has been introduced right at the start of the combat sequences. It involves the left leg mode in Sequences 1 to 4 (from “Black Tiger” to left “Single Tiger”), and the right leg mode in Sequences 5 and 6 (from “Fierce Tiger” to right “Single Tiger”). Speed was not as urgent in these combat situations because the opponent used the tactic of “first defence then counter”. Here the opponent not only uses “no defence direct counter”, but also his counter comes at a time when your attack has not even been completed. If you are trained to defend against this counter-attack well, defence in other situations will be relatively easier.
All these wonderful techniques and tactics are possible if our stances are both solid and flexible, showing how important stances are in combat even at this level, which is actually at the beginning stage of our kungfu training programme. In other words, those who prefer to bounce about, mistakenly thinking that stances are ineffective in fighting, have not been exposed to even the basics of kungfu philosophy and practice.
Attacks can come in countless ways, but to facilitate learning, masters have group them into four major categories, namely:
Sequences 1 to 8 deal with striking attacks. While Combat Sequences 1 to 4 use the left leg mode with “Black Tiger Steals Heart” as the leading pattern, Combat Sequences 5 to 8 use the right leg mode leading with “Fierce Tiger Speeds Through Valley”. And while Sequences 1 to 4 focus on developing skills, Sequences 5 to 8 focus on expanding techniques.
Numerous fundamental skills have been developed, and they include:
Flowing movement and force
Numerous tactics are also introduced, and they include:
First defence then counter
Defence cum counter
No defence direct counter
Alert the east attack the west
Feint moves and exposure
In order that you can develop the skills to using typical kungfu techniques spontaneously in combat, these combat sequences are practiced in progressive stages, as follows:
“Bar the Big Boss” was introduced in the previous combat sequence in place of “Single Tiger” against the opponent’s thrust punch. In this sequence we learn a new technique that develops from “Bar the Big Boss”. Instead of blocking the opponent’s arm, we can chop at it, using the pattern ”Attending Meeting with Single Knife”.
The opening attack “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley” in this sequence, as in the other sequences, is used as a feint move to tempt the opponent to counter-attack. That is why the left guard hand, which is normally held near the right shoulder in this pattern, is purposely left exposed.
As the opponent falls into our trap and counter-attacks, we can respond in numerous prepared ways, such as executing another “Fierce Tiger” in Sequence 5, “Dark Dragon” in Sequence 6, and “White Snake” in Sequence 7. In this sequence, we use “Single Knife” to fracture his attacking arm or dislocate his attacking elbow, followed immediately with “Horizontally Sweep a Thousand Armies” at his neck. Hence, if you are well trained, like having practiced selected techniques at least 50 times daily for a few months, you may defeat your opponent the moment he responds to your feint moves.
But if you opponent is well trained too, he can of course neutralize your rehearsed attacks. In this sequence, for example, he intercepts your “Horizontal Sweep” with a “Single Knife”, and irrespectively of whether you could shift your arm away in time, he follows immediately with a “Golden Leopard Speeds through Jungle” into your ribs.
As you strike his attacking arm with “False Leg Hand Sweep”, he “flows” over your attacking hand and swings a “Reverse Hanging of Lotus” on your right temple, guarding your right leg with his right leg. You may neutralize his “Hanging Lotus” with “Golden Dragon”. At this point, both you and your opponent have a good opportunity to continue combat. You may, for example, move forward with a “Black Tiger” or a “White Snake”, thus continuing with any of the Sequences 1 to 4. Later, when you have learned kicking techniques, you may continue with a right thrust kick or a left side kick.
Having trained Combat Sequences 1 to 8 well, you should be competent to handle any striking attacks. The following four combat sequences, Sequences 9 to 12, provide you with fundamental kicking attacks and their defences.
As in strikes, kicks may come from anywhere but may be generalized into four main directions, namely:
If all things were equal, it is disadvantageous to execute kicking attacks. The following are some important reasons.
Kicks, especially high kicks, leave the groin dangerously exposed.
Kicks are technically slow. One needs to make some prior bodily adjustment, like bending the body backward or lifting the kicking leg, before he can kick effectively.
Consequently a skilful exponent often can tell before hand when his opponent is about to kick as the kicker normally telegraphs his intention by his bodily movements.
When a person kicks, his balance is much affected.
While a person executes a kick, his range of mobility is much reduced. For example, if you strike an opponent while he is kicking, it is difficult for him to move away.
When executing a kick, the ability in using other parts of the body in simultaneous attacks is much reduced. For example, while you kick at your opponent, it is difficult to use your elbow to strike at the same time.
After kicking, it takes time to recover before another movement can be effectively made.
Kicks are generally less powerful than striking with internal force. (Many martial artists may be surprised at this fact. The main reason is that they are ignorant of internal force.)
Hence, before you use kicks, you must fulfill the following conditions.
You must have practiced your kicks thousands of times so that you are skilful in using them.
You must be familiar with the common counter-attacks your opponent is likely to response to your kicks, and you must know how to neutralize these counter-attacks.
The combat situation is such that despite their innate setbacks, using kicks is advantageous.
You must “open the way” so that you are safe and your kicks effective.
Previously, the initiator used “Lohan Asks the Way” as the poise pattern, and the responder used right ”Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. In Sequences 1 to 4, the initiator moved in with the left leg mode using “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, and in Sequences 5 to 8 he moved in with the right leg mode using “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley”. In all these previous sequences the responder responded with a left “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. In Sequences 9 to 12, both the initiator and the responder use “Lohan Asks the Way” as the poise pattern.
In this sequence, Sequence 9, you as the initiator employ pressing attacks to open the way, starting with “Black Tiger” and pressing in with “Fierce Tiger”. Then you purposely pause, leaving your left guard hand down to give a false exposure to tempt him to attack. Your opponent attacks with a right “Black Tiger Steals Heart”, which is a representative attacking pattern. In fact he may attack in almost any pattern and you can respond as follows.
As his attack approaches, slant your body backward and simultaneously execute a middle side kick with the pattern “Happy Bird Hops up Branch”. Unless he is well trained, he is likely to be hit.
You will notice that you are using the tactic of “no defence direct counter”. There is no need for any defence against his punch, because by slanting your body backward, you have moved yourself from his reach, but at the same time adjusting your body position or the middle side-kick.
If the space between you and your opponent is too wide for your right kick to reach, you would have to move your front right leg a small step backward, turn your body and execute a left side kick, using the same pattern “Happy Bird Hops up Branch” but with your left leg.
Your opponent retreat his front leg into a sideway Bow-Arrow Stance and strike your kicking leg with “Lohan Strikes Drum”. As you pull back your attacking leg, he follows up with a reversed palm thrust to your throat or ribs using the pattern “Dark Dragon Enters a Well”. You respond with “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”.
From this point, either of you can continue the combat, moving in with “Black Tiger Steals Heart” to continue with any of the Sequences 1 to 4, or with “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley” to continue with any of the Sequences 5 to 8.
In this practice, your opponent (or partner) falls into your trap and counter-attacks with a “Black Tiger” as you pause at “Fierce Tiger” leaving your body exposed. But what should you do if he hesitates or does not attack you. In this case, you move forward with a left thrust kick or a left side kick.
The tactic of pressing attacks was introduced in Sequence 5. Indeed, if you practice the tactic well and be able to make appropriate adjustments according to the opponent’s responses, you can press in effectively almost irrespective of how he responds. This sequence, Sequence 10, enhances the effectiveness of this tactic by adding a kicking attack.
How would you respond if your opponent uses the pressing tactic on you. If you move back, as most untrained combatants do, you will only play to his trick and be forced against a wall.
There are a number of ways to stop a pressing attack. This sequence provides an example using the pattern “Beauty Looks at Mirror”. Subsequences sequences provide other methods.
In this sequence you press in vigorously, using “Black Tiger”, “Fierce Tiger” and “Present Hoof” as if they were one long continuous pattern. As soon as your opponent responds to your “Black Tiger”, you ““threads” away his defence and press in with a “Fierce Tiger” As soon as he responds to your “Fierce Tiger”, you “open his gate” and execute a frontal thrust kick using the pattern “White Horse Presents Hoof”.
Irrespective of whether he could respond to your thrust kick, you follow up with a palm thrust at his throat or eye, using “Angry Leopard Charges at Fire”. If your opponent strikes at your kicking leg, as in this sequence, you have to “tame” his hand before striking with a leopard punch, otherwise he may grip your groin or jab his palm thrust into your ribs.
To intercept your pressing attacks, your opponent swerves his body backward and then forward, without moving his feet, and effectively apply “Beauty Looks at Mirror”. In this way, he reverses his previously unfavorable situation to become favorable with just one simple move. Now you have to move your front leg backward into a False Leg Stance to avoid his threatening hand.
This is a very effective sequence to implement the pressing tactic. If you practice this sequence 50 times a day for six months, unless your opponent is very experienced and skilful, you have a very good chance to defeat him. It is of utmost importance that in your attack, you must never neglect your own defence and safety. Always be prepared that your opponent may intercept your pressing attacks and counter-attack suddenly
COMBAT SEQUENCE 11
SHAOLIN WAHNAM KUNGFU — COMBAT SEQUENCE 11
“YELLOW BIRD PLAYS WITH WATER”
In the previous sequence your opponent (or partner) intercepted your pressing tactic after your third attack, using “Beauty Looks at Mirror”. He could also intercept you at your second attack.
In this sequence he intercepts your pressing attacks much earlier, after your initial attack. As soon as he deflects your first attack, he threads open your attacking hand and counter-attacks with a “Fierce Tiger”. This is similar to the attacking role in Sequence 5 earlier. Hence, if he wants and if he is competent, he may reverse the role of the pressing attacks. In other words, he may intercept your pressing attacks as soon as you start them, and use pressing attacks on you instead.
But you don’t allow this to happen. You too break his pressing attacks at his initial move, by first threading away his “Fierce Tiger” with “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”, followed instantly with a second “threading hand” to attack his eyes.
The second “threading hand” is a “shadow hand” or feint move. Your real attack is the organ-seeking kick below applying the pattern “Yellow Bird Plays with Water”. However the feint move above could be a real attack if your opponent fails to neutralize it. This is the tactic of “feint-real attack”.
A double-attack to the eyes and the groin almost at the same time is certainly formidable. If your opponent attempts to ward off your strike to his eyes, you kick at his groin. If he attempts to ward off kick, you strike his eyes. If he tries to ward off your right hand strike with one hand, and your organ-seeking kick with his other hand, you can jab into his throat with your left palm thrust. You are using three “stars” or attacking points against his two hand defences.
So, what can he do? Simple, if he knows how. He retreats his front right leg into a right False Leg Stance and simultaneously strikes your right kicking leg with his right palm. Employing the pattern “Trim Bamboo together with Branches”. This is an excellent counter, changing an unfavorable situation into a favorable one. With just one move, he neutralizes your double attacks and simultaneously fractures your leg at a time when you think you could kick him.
Quickly you pull back your leg, “tame” or cover his right hand, and execute a leopard punch at his throat or temple, employing the pattern “Angry Leopard Charges at Fire”. He moves a small step backward and “floats” your attack with “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”.
Various Ways of Intercepting an Opponent’s Attacks
Applying the tactic of pressing attacks is a very effective way to defeat an opponent, especially when his combat training consists only of free sparring. Free sparring, it is helpful to remember, was never used by traditional kungfu masters to train combat — a fact many martial artists today must be very surprised to know. That does not mean there was no free sparring in kungfu history.
In fact free sparring was an essential part of traditional kungfu training. It was known as “san da”, which literally means “miscellaneous fighting”, i.e. fighting not based on planned routines. San da or free sparring was used to test — not to train — combat efficiency.
Due to various reasons, the methodology to train combat efficiency has been generally lost. The great majority of kungfu practitioners today only practice solo kungfu sets. This situation was much aggravated when traditional kungfu evolved into modern wushu, which is now practiced as a demonstrative sport, and not as a fighting art.
As officials of wushu organizations became embarrassed at the inability of modern wushu for combat, san da was introduced. But because wushu as well as most kungfu practitioners cannot apply their techniques in combat, they resort to Taekwondo, Kickboxing or free-style fighting.
We at Shaolin Wahnam are extremely lucky that we still have the traditional methodology to train combat using typical kungfu skills and techniques. We should persevere in our training so that this methodology, which has been proven to be effective, will not be lost.
We have learned that we can intercept pressing attacks in many ways and at different points. In the previous sequence, Sequence 11, we intercepted an opponent’s pressing attacks as soon as he has made his first move. In this sequence, we are even faster; we intercept him and counter-attack while he is still in the process of his first attack.
This is technically faster and therefore more effective than intercepting an opponent after he has made a few moves. Then, why do we still practice the other methods. There are a few reasons, and two important ones are that the other methods help us to develop our skills progressively, and that there are conditions when intercepting an opponent at a later stage is more advantageous.
Of course the techniques presented here — “Single Tiger” followed by “Chop the Hua Mountain” — are used not just for intercepting pressing attacks. If you have practiced these two techniques well, you can defeat an opponent as soon as he attacks you. First you practice them as two separate patterns, which will take three movements — retreating to “Single Tiger”, covering the opponent’s elbow, and moving forward to strike him with “Chop the Hua Mountain”. This involves the tactic “first defence then counter”.
Gradually you progress to just one smooth movement — adjusting your footwork to strike him with “Chop the Hua Mountain”, covering his attack in the process. This involves the tactic “defence cum counter”.
Bar Big Boss
The counter against the whirlwind kick presented here is comparatively hard. You must be aware that your head is exposed. This is a weakness for untrained combatants. But if you are aware of this innate weakness, and able to turn the table round against your opponent should he attack your head, you can reverse the weakness into an advantage. But we shall leave that to later lessons.
An alternative counter, which is better for beginners, is to slant your body backward into the pattern “Tame Tiger with String of Beads”. As his kick is spent, brush away his leg, shift your body forward and strike him with “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus” or “Golden Leopard Speeds through Jungle”.
You may have noticed that as you advance in your combat training, the combat sequences become shorter. This is to provide you with better opportunities to make your own modifications, changes or continuation, as part of the progression to eventual free sparring.
This sequence completes the set of Combat Sequences 9 to 12 for kicking attacks and defences. These four sequences make up the kungfu set “Happy Bird Hops up Branch”.
Bar Big Boss
COMBAT SEQUENCE 13
SHAOLIN WAHNAM KUNGFU — COMBAT SEQUENCE 13
“FELL TREE WITH ROOTS”
For better understanding, all attacks can be divided into four categories, namely striking, kicking, felling and gripping. We have learnt striking and kicking attacks, and their defences. In the following four sequences, we shall learn felling attacks. Some gripping techniques are also introduced.
The following combat principles are important when using felling techniques:
It is of utmost important to “close” the opponent before applying felling techniques so as not to expose yourself to serious counter attacks.
Felling an opponent is not a test of brutal strength. Off balance him so that you can fell him easily.
Make sure that your opponent cannot kick or strike you, especially at your groin, as he falls and after his fall.
Felling an opponent by itself is normally not decisive in combat. He can rise up and fight again. Thus, you often have to follow with a decisive strike. On the other hand, felling an opponent and holding him in control is a clear indication of your victory without hurting him unnecessarily.
The poise patterns for the attacking mode and the defending mode are also changed. In Combat Sequences 1 to 8 we use “Lohan Asks the Way” as the poise pattern to initiate an attack, and “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” (right mode) to respond. In Sequences 9 to 12, both the initiator and the responder use “Lohan Asks the Way”. In the present section, Sequences 13 to 16, the poise patterns adapted by the initiator and the defender are reversed — the one poising in “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” initiates, and the one in “Lohan Asks the Way” responds.
In the Combat Sequences constituting the set “Fierce Tiger Descends Mountain” which is practiced at the intermediate level and where gripping techniques using the Tiger-Claws are emphasized, both the initiator and the responder use “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. In this way, students become familiar with both the right mode and the left mode for attack and defence.
Both combatants observe each other from their poise patterns. As usual, the initiator opens the attack with “Black Tiger”.
The responder counter-attacks with “Fierce Tiger”, and if the opponent is incompetent he can follow up with pressing attacks, like in Sequences 5 to 8. You should practice such continuations as variations.
But here the initiator is competent. In fact his initial “Black Tiger” is a “lead”, tempting the opponent to respond with “Fierce Tiger” or any attack using the right mode. It is expected that if the opponent wants to counter-attack, it is likely he will use a right hand attack in a right leg stance, because doing otherwise would be disadvantageous. If he wishes to change to a left Bow-Arrow Stance, for example, he would need a split second to do so, and the initiator can exploit the transitional period.
So, the initiator is ready for the opponent’s right thrust punch executed at the right Bow-Arrow Stance. He adjusts his footwork, “threads” the punch, grips the punching arm, moves forward to secure anchorage with his right leg, “closes” the opponent’s left hand, off-balances him, and fells him onto the ground. Many movements are needed for this felling technique, but he can do so effectively because he has planned the strategy well. If he has practiced sufficiently and the opponent untrained, the opponent will find himself on the ground without knowing what has happened. By the time he realizes what has happened, he will find a leopard punch on his temple or a tiger-claw at his throat.
But the responder is also well trained. By changing his footwork from a Bow-Arrow Stance to a Unicorn Step, he neutralizes the felling attack, and follows up by moving his front leg forward with “Butterfly Palms”.
The initiator separates the double-palm attack and counters with a organ-seeking kick. The responder retreats his front leg in a False-Leg Stance and strikes the kicking leg with “Trim Bamboo together with Branches”, using the tactic of “no defence direct counter”.
The initiator quickly withdraws his leg, “tames” the opponent’s front hand, and moves forward to a right Bow-Arrow Stance to attack with a leopard punch, using the pattern “Angry Leopard Charges at Fire”. It is important to “tame” the opponent’s hand, otherwise he would jab a palm strike to the initiator’s ribs or stomach.
Seeing that the responder could neutralize his series of attacks effectively, the initiator withdraws his front leg back into a right False-Leg Stance using the poise pattern “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” to observe the opponent. This is a wise move. When your opponent can neutralize your series of planned attacks, it is advisable to withdraw a step to assess the situation again, instead of continuing to attack and may therefore expose yourself to risky counter attacks.
If the responder wishes to reverse the initiative, this is a good opportunity to do so. Before the initiator could withdraw, the responder can continue with any of the Sequences 1 to 12. You should practice such continuations on your own.
COMBAT SEQUENCE 14
SHAOLIN WAHNAM KUNGFU — COMBAT SEQUENCE 14
“LEAD HORSE BACK TO STABLE”
In the previous sequence we used “Fell Tree with Roots” when the opponent has his right leg in front. How would we feel an opponent when he has his left leg in front? Can we still use “Fell Tree with Roots” but reverse the left and right side We can but that is not to our best advantage because we would then be using our left leg, which is normally our weaker leg, as anchor.
If we wish to fell an opponent when he attacks with his left leg in front, a good pattern to use is “Lead Horse Back to Stable”. On the other hand, if we wish to apply “Lead Horse Back to Stable”, it would be advisable to plan a strategy to maneuver him so that he uses his left leg mode as he attacks with his right hand. A simple example is shown in this sequence.
The two combatants observe each other in their poise patterns. Anyone can initiate an attack. But for this sequence practice, the one at “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” (right mode) will initiate. He moves forward with “Black Tiger Steals Heart” and the other responds with “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave” (left mode).
The initiating attack is a feint move. As soon as the responder reacts, the initiator presses forward with “Fierce Tiger Speeds Across Valley”, forcing the responder to move back into the left leg mode.
Notice that the initiator may continue with any of the Sequences 5 to 8. But here his objective is to lay a trap for the opponent so that he can fell him with “Lead Horse Back to Stable”. Hence, he purposely hesitates to tempt the opponent to counter-attack.
The responder moves his left leg forward to counter-attack with “Black Tiger Steals Heart”. If he maintains the initiative, he may continue with any of the Sequences 1 to 12.
But this is a trap laid by the initiator. As soon as the responder counter-attacks with a right thrust punch at a left Bow-Arrow Stance, the initiator releases his planned movements. He adjusts his footwork, grips the attacking arm with his right tiger-claw at the opponent’s right wrist and with his left tiger-claw at the opponent’s right elbow, moves his left leg forward to act as an anchor, and feels the opponent face-forward onto the ground.
Like the felling technique in the previous sequence, many movements are involved, but if you are well trained you can execute these movements swiftly and flowingly, and fell the opponent before he realizes what has happened. You would have to follow up with a coup de grace.
But be very careful when you practice this technique with your partner. It is very effective, so make sure you do not dislocate your partner’s elbow or smash his face onto the floor. Also make sure the landing is soft.
The responder is well trained too. He neutralizes the leverage advantage of the initiator by adjusting his footwork (not shown in the pictures), and releases the opponent’s double tiger-claw grips by circulating his arm and completing the movement with “Hide Flowers in Sleeves” (also not shown in the pictures). Immediately he counter-attacks with “Precious Duck Swims through Lotus”.
The responder has applied an excellent counter, using the tactic of “defence cum counter”, reversing a seemingly hopeless situation into an advantage. He “floats” the initiator’s both hands, blocking his sight at the same time, and strikes him below, often with the opponent not knowing where the punch comes from.
However, the initiator overcomes this difficult situation by moving a small step backward, and simultaneously striking the opponent’s punching arm with a “Hand Sweep”. This reminds us that in real life, even when situations may appear hopeless, if you just step back you can often overcome the difficulty.
The responder moves his front leg a big step backward into a left False-Leg Stance and uses the poise pattern “Lohan Asks the Way” to observe the opponent. The initiator changes his hand-sweep into a tiger-claw to assume the poise pattern “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”.
Alternatively, if the initiator wishes to maintain his initiative he may continue attacking with “Black Tiger Steaks Heart” or “Fierce Tiger Speeds Across Valley” and continue with appropriate sequences.
Felling techniques are generally not combat-ending by themselves. Your objective in felling an opponent is mainly to put him in a disadvantageous position so that you can follow up with a decisive strike. Otherwise he would rise up to fight you again.
You must also be careful that an opponent on the floor can strike you decisively. Exponents of some martial arts purposely get onto the floor for this purpose. So you have to “close” an opponent on the floor to prevent him from striking you, often surprisingly.
Some felling techniques, however, can be combat-ending if the fall results in serious or sometimes fatal injuries. “Farmer Hoes Rice Field” in this sequence, which implements a shoulder-throw, is an example. If it is executed well, you can first dislocate your opponent’s elbow, then breaks his spine, paralyzing or even killing him.
So, do be very careful when you practice this technique with your partner, or when you apply it to an opponent in a real fight. You must avoid a situation where you may maim a person and regret for life.
From a poise pattern, I move forward to attack Goh Kok Hin with “Black Tiger Steals Heart”. This is a feint move to tempt the opponent to response.
Kok Hin responds with “Single Tiger”, then “threads” away my punching hand, and counter-attacks with “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley”. I respond with “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”.
Immediately I grip Kok Hin’s right wrist with my left tiger-claw, move forward and turn around so that I rest my back on his chest. At the same time I maneuver his left arm to be sandwiched between his own right upper arm and my right shoulder, and grip his right arm with my left tiger-claw at his wrist and my right tiger-claw at his elbow.
It is important to sandwich the opponent’s other arm, otherwise he may strike you as you execute the shoulder-throw. Many people neglect this point, giving the opponent the opportunity to turn defeat into victory.
If I pull with my left hand, press up my right hand, and simultaneously bend my body forward, I would dislocate the opponent’s elbow and throw him over my right shoulder. Be warn. This is a very effective technique. Make doubly sure you do not break your partner’s elbow or throw him over!
To prevent his right elbow from dislocation and to overcome the throw, Kok Hin leans forward slightly and turn his arm, then rolls over the right side of my body, first with his right foot touching the ground, turns his body, then with his left leg touching the ground. Immediately he kicks at the opponent’s dan tian, chest or any exposed part of his body.
I withdraw my right leg backward into a left “Dragon-Riding Step” (which is like a left Bow-Arrow Stance except that the two feet are apart instead of in line), and strike the opponent’s leg with “Save Emperor with Single Whip”.
As Kok Hin withdraws his kicking leg, I move forward into a right Bow-Arrow Stance and strike the back of his head with my right palm using the pattern “Green Dragon Rushes at Face”. If I am fast, I may just drag left leg forward instead of moving my right leg forward, as shown in the photograph here. Kok Hin turns around and defects the palm strike with “Beauty Looks at Mirror”.
To prevent his right elbow from dislocation and to overcome the throw, Kok Hin leans forward slightly and turn his arm, then rolls over the right side of my body, first with his right foot touching the ground, turns his body, then with his left leg touching the ground. Immediately he kicks at the opponent’s dan tian, chest or any exposed part of his body.
While the shoulder-throw technique to fell an opponent in the pattern “Farmer Hoes Rice Field” can cause drastic injury, the pushing technique to fell an opponent in “Fierce Tiger Pushes Mountains” in this sequence is gentle. You merely push the opponent away, without hurting him, manifesting the principle “shou xia liu qing” (“sau ha lou cheng” in Cantonese), which means “let mercy flow from your hands”.
“Let mercy flow from your hands” is an admirable teaching passed down by past masters. All great masters of various styles exhibited this quality. It is especially meaningful in Shaolin Kungfu, which is based on the Buddha’s teaching of compassion and cosmic wisdom.
“Let mercy flow from your hands”, in combat as well as in all aspects of life, is not just altruistic. It also contributes to your benefits. If you maim an opponent, you may regret for life, besides having to be constantly on the look out for his followers to come back to take revenge. When you “let mercy flow from your hands”, you open your heart to compassion, and experience an exhilarating sense of spiritual expansion.
From your poise pattern you move forward to attack your opponent with “Black Tiger Steals Heart”. As he responds with “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”, followed by “Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley”, you are ready with “Golden Dragon Plays with Water”.
As in the previous sequence, you have successfully laid your trap. Now you can choose to throw your opponent over your shoulder with “Farmer Hoes Rice Field”, possibly breaking his spine and paralyzing him for life, or “let mercy flow from your hands” by pushing him away with “Fierce Tiger Pushes Mountain”.
You make a wise choice. You move diagonally forward to your right side, “tame” his left arm, and push him away. The momentum of your push comes not from your shoulder, but from your back leg. You start your push from the back right foot, control the movement with your waist, and complete the push with your palms.
Your opponent responds with an excellent counter. He shifts his left back leg slightly backward to his right side, “opens” your arms, and executes a frontal thrust kick with the pattern “White Horse Presents Hoofs”.
You move your left front leg backward into a J-Step (which is like a False-Leg Stance except that both feet are close together), and simultaneously strike his kicking leg. This pattern, which implements the tactic of “no defence direct counter”, is “Save Emperor with Single Whip”, except here the J-Step instead of the Dragon-Riding Step is used.
Your opponent pulls back his leg and withdraws to “Lohan Asks the Way”, while you withdraw to “Single Tiger Emerges from Cave”. Either of you may continue with another combat sequence.
When you are at the level of “external change” or “internal change” in our combat training programme, either you or your partner may change into another combat sequence before the completion of this sequence. For example, after pulling back his kick, instead of withdrawing your partner may move forward with a leopard punch at your temple. Or before he could do that, you may move forward with “Black Tiger” or “Poisonous Snake”.
“Fierce Tiger Speeds through Valley” is the second combat application set of Shaolin Kungfu in our school. It comprises of basic Combat Sequences 5 to 8, and helps to extend the repertoire of kungfu techniques of Shaolin Kungfu students.