Ch'uan Fa Kempo

Basic Training

All successful martial movement/choreography depends on mastering the basics, i.e. stances, arm drills, leg maneuvers, primary weapons training, proper breathing.

Basic Training focuses on lower body conditioning and external hardening of the upper body  to provide an essential, primary base for effective maneuvering, proper stepping, powerful attack launches. The 3 components of Basic Training are Foundation Work, Weapons Studies, Hand-to-Hand Combat.

Foundation Work

This work is essentially on-going, continuous, performed daily before you get to the more fun and complex stuff. It keeps you honest in the arts. Foundation Methods include: 

1) the Iron Man system, with 25 dynamic and challenging exercises to loosen and strengthen the whole body, originally devised for battle conditioning;  2) Yi Bai Ching Kung (100 Muscle Changes)--this stretching-loosening system targets all major muscle groups, as well as specific requirements for effective kicking; it is used successfully in rotation with Iron Man; 3) Stance Training: Both immobile and moving line drills are practiced. The 5 basic postures (Cat, Horse, Crane, Dragon, Bow) are drilled in 3 intensities: high, medium, low. Hand skills are gradually added in conjunction with mastery of these essential stances;

4) Foot & Hand Combinations: The added conditioned and skills of these 100 maneuvers quickly bring the practitioner up to intermediate level in kicking and hand strikes. Performed in linear fashion, they're great for increasing stamina, coordination, balance. Both left and right sides are practiced, at slow and normal speeds;

5) Shaolin Chi-Kung: These 10 hypo-gastric/diaphragmatic breathing exercises develop external upper body strength, and are also designed to generate chi/ki. This is the first of many chi exercise systems available. Wonderful for developing focus, long-term health and active later years;

Weapons Studies:  There are 18 groups of classical Chinese weapons. Suggested here are a few of those we study.

Major Weapons

Saber: This curved blade works vigorously and quick, and is often likened to a "fierce tiger". Primary saber techniques include: chopping, hacking, cutting, blocking, pushing, and knocking. We will study both single saber (dahn dao) and double saber (cern dao) routines.

Staff: The staff is considered the "father of all weapons" since all other long-handled  weapons derive  inspiration in training from it. Staff use emphasizes sweeping actions, chopping,  jumping, smashing, blocking, and poking.

Minor Weapons

Batons/Double Batons: Short sticks are good for in-fighting techniques aiming at pressure points, joints, head. They don't work well against heavy weapons, but are surprisingly effective against long-handled weaponry, including blades. Primary training targets:  evasion techniques, wrists and forearms strength.

Double Axes: These short-handled weapons are used in pairs for short-range fighting. Primary Techniques:   chopping, slashing. The forearms comprise the primary strengthening focus.

Butterfly Swords:  A short, single edge blade, used for close range combat. Its primary techniques are slashing, stabbing. Its primary strength development: wrists, forearms.

The Training:

For those who can handle it, two weapons are picked/assigned to train with simultaneously. Basic techniques are drilled until you're sick of them--then we do it some more. Two classes a week, one hour each, are minimum inputs. Later--much later--in the training, one-on-one routines are taught, some with same weapons, some not.

Hand-to-Hand Combat:

These techniques present combinations of throws, locks, breaks, holds, chops, kicks, punches and other strikes arranged in 11 levels. The first four levels concentrate on dealing with how to get yourself out of holds and locks, and leave the assailant down-and-out in the process. A total of 1200 techniques comprise this elementary stage of hand-to-hand combat. Although some time is spent on defending against fist and leg attacks, not until the following two levels will you focus entirely on such problems (700 maneuvers).

The seventh and eighth levels then concentrate almost exclusively on resolving multiple opponent and weapon attacks (400 techniques).  And finally, the defense curriculum of the last three stages requires you to elicit longer and more complex responses, drawing on the incremented training of the previous levels (1200 maneuvers).

All of these techniques insist on development of the capacity for fluid adaptation according to circumstance, practitioner, and opponent. The idea here is to place the onus of responsibility directly on the practitioner where it belongs. Adaptability and resourcefulness are sought, not robotic responses. There is no way you can effectively apply this information without Foundation Work.

The Training: Twice weekly one-hour sessions would be a minimum input for retention.