Tennis vs Martial Arts 

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Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about a sport that I recently just got into. So this semester, I decided to take a tennis class for my Physical Education credit, and WOW! It was the best decision on my life!! I absolutely love tennis! The feeling of being on the court and acing a person or just winning a set is awesome! Well, I’m not that good yet being that I’m in beginner’s tennis, but it’s still fun. What I’ve also noticed is the similarities of tennis with martial arts! My tennis coach uses a lot of the same methods to explain tennis as I would in martial arts, and at the same time playing tennis made me realize that this is also a good way to improve martial arts. Here’s what I mean:

1.) The most obvious reason would have to be “Hand-Eye Coordination.” Being able to swing and hit the ball just right is like staying on target with a kick or a punch.

2.) Timing. You have to time the ball just right before you just swing and miss like in martial arts you are anticipating a person’s attack so you can defend.

3.) Rhythm and patterns. I’ve learned a lot about rhythm and patterns in martial arts like throw 2 kicks and a punch over and over, then trick them buy changing it up after a few sequences. It’s like in tennis when you hit the ball to a certain side of the court for a little while, then suddenly throwing in a top spin or something.

4.) Most importantly, Technique. I can’t stress enough how important technique is in anything! Technique is how you perform your move, and it makes a big difference when you can do it right. For example, if you don’t chamber enough for a side kick, you can possibly shorten your kick or have your kick stopped half way. In tennis, the way you hold the racket and the angle that you swing is very important because it determines where the ball goes.

Well, that’s it for today. If you haven’t tried tennis, I would highly recommend it because it is a very fun sport! For now, I’ll just leave it at that.

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Northern vs. Southern Shaolin

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Hey everyone! Sorry that I haven’t posted in over a week, but I got a little tangled with extra classes in the past week. Not only am I taking an online legal environment of business class while training, I was stepping out of my comfort zone and learning a new style! See, whenever I tell someone that I’ve trained at Shaolin, the next question would be, “Did you train at the Northern or Southern Shaolin?” Well, honestly in the past I never thought that there was a big difference, until I went and tried it for myself. So, for the past week, I’ve been spending extra time outside the normal class time to practice and to learn more about the Southern Fist! The best way to describe Southern Fist is that it a lot of short range attacks and hand techniques versus Northern Shaolin practicing long stances, extending moves, and kicking. For example:

Instead of the long, pretty stances like long arrow stance that you will typically see in Northern Shaolin, most of the stances in South fist are either horse stance or “Dragon Riding Stance” (as shown below).

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Long arrow stance

Long arrow stance

Additionally, the punching is different. Instead of the typical, fist horizontal punch as shown above, the punches in Southern fist are vertical. Vertical punches are generally used more for short ranged power shots.

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In forms, Southern Fist moves differently as well. In North Shaolin, generally forms move left and right, but in South Shaolin, forms move everywhere. There are a lot cross overs and side steps, kind of like the form is moving like a grape vine. For example:

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Southern Fist also seems more solid and power based versus Northern Fist with more fluid movements. Some popular examples of Southern Shaolin styles are like the Fujian White Crane and Wing Chun. I’m still getting used to South Fist. I’m so used to being fluid, flowing, and flipping in most of my forms that it’s kind of weird performing this one. Well, all I can really do is practice. You guys do the same! Train hard!

Wushu vs. Kung Fu

Two notorious styles in China are Wushu and Kung Fu. While they are very similar, Wushu is more recent and is a more modern version of Kung Fu. Kung Fu is more traditional and spiritual, while Wushu is more of just a sport and competitions. There are more applications and techniques involved in Kung Fu versus in Wushu. The biggest difference is the forms structure. Both Kung Fu and Wushu have many sub styles that are distinct to each style. Here are some examples of the various styles under either Kung Fu or Wushu:

Kung Fu:

1.) The most popular style under Kung Fu would be the animal forms like Praying Mantis, Eagle Claw, Tiger Fist, Monkey Fist, or whatever other animal form you can think of. I kid you not, when I traveled to the shaolin temple, I saw a frog form, dog form, and even hippopotamus!

Part of Eagle Fist!

Part of Eagle Fist!

Part of Tiger Fist!

Part of Tiger Fist!

2.) Qi Xing Quan is modernly popular. It is translated into 7 star form. It is used a lot in Shaolin demonstrations.

Master Du performing Qi Xing Quan!

Master Du performing Qi Xing Quan!

3.) Lohan is another popular style. It is translated into “enlightened Buddhist kung fu.”

A sample of Lohan Quan!

A sample of Lohan Quan!

Wushu:

1.) Weapons! Wushu is common for weapon forms like Daoshu (broadsword), Jianshu (straight sword), or Gunshu (Staff). For more weapon forms, check out the video performance on my last post for Chinese New Years!! Click here to see more! 

A sample of Ying Yang Kun! Possibly my favorite staff form!

A sample of Ying Yang Kun! Possibly my favorite staff form!

2.) Tai Chi Quan. Taichi basically, and it is a great looking style with nice slow movements.

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3.) Nanquan or Nan Gun- Southern fist, or southern Staff. Southern forms are distinctly defined by their short, cardinal directional and weird, awkward movements.

Nangun, or southern staff!

Nangun, or southern staff!

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!

Like most Sundays, today was just another one of those ‘Lazy Days’. Honestly, we all need one of those sometimes so instead of practicing kicks, tumbling, or punches, I decided it was a good day to work on stances. More specifically, I was working on Wushu and Kung Fu stances (hence the title). There are three stances in Gong Fu that are more prominent in Wushu and Kung Fu compared to any other style. In addition, these stances aren’t used in combat, but they are cool stances to learn for competition and demonstration purposes though!

1.) Crouching Stance! A personal favorite of mine. To do this stance, start off in a horse stance, turn one foot 90 degrees towards the outside, then drop on one knee.

Here is an example of it used in the Tiger Fist.

Here is an example of it used in the Tiger Fist.

2.) Sì Liù bù (四六步) Translating to “Four-Sixth Stance”. The base is like a horse stance as well. To do this stance, get into a horse stance, turn one foot 90 degrees, and sit back on your back leg. It is very similar to the Tae-Kwon-Do back stance.

Example of the stance used in Mantis Fist.

Example of the stance used in Mantis Fist.

3.) Ding Bu. Translates into T-Stance. Basically, your feet are together, crouch down but have one foot crouching on the ball of the foot.

Example used in Eagle Fist.

Example used in Eagle Fist.

Style Shifting

Recently in my anthropology class, we discussed the idea of identity. More specifically, style shifting. Style shifting is basically when people change their way of identity depending on the environment. For example, you wouldn’t say the same things you do at a party or sports event in front of your teachers or your parents. Well, today I will be using this anthropology lesson as an analogy to martial arts! Like style shifting in human speech depending on the environment, a martial artist shifts styles depending on the surroundings. For example, if the fighter was getting ganged up on by 2 or more people, his style would quick and more attentive than compared to the fighter being in one on one situations.

There are 3 different hand-to-hand combat situations: close range, long range, and being ganged up on. Here are some other examples of style shifting for different situations:

1.) Close Range Combat.

I define close range combat as when you and your opponent are locking arms or legs and wrestling each other. In close range combat it is hard to throw kicks like in Tae-Kwon-Do or punches like in boxing. So, the more ideal style of combat would be throwing and body locks like in Judo or Jujitsu. For example, locks and take downs.

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2.) Long Range Combat.

Long range combat is when you are a good distance away from your attacker so it is nearly impossible for him/her to try and  grab you. Using styles like Tae-Kwon-Do or Boxing would be effective. 

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3.) Being Ganged Up On

Nobody likes this situation. When two or more people are ganging up on you, you become more attentive. The initial instinct is to run and you’re always trying to avoid getting cornered. Well most people unless you’re Bruce Lee as shown below… 

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The final message of this post wasn’t to say that in these situations you have to use this style or this style is only effective in this situation. It is to show you examples of different situations and what you may have to do compared to how you normally fight! In addition, this post isn’t to say that the Tae-Kwon-Do doesn’t have defensive techniques or Judo doesn’t have any techniques for longer range combat. I’m looking at the style as a whole and what the style is notorious for.

Style Saturday!

One day, a curious friend of mine asked me what is my favorite style of martial arts? My answer…I come from a very diverse background of martial arts so I personally don’t have a favorite to be honest because all styles have their advantages and disadvantages. There is not a set number to how many styles of martial arts there are in the world. There may be over a hundred known styles of martial arts but under each style there are sub-styles. For example in Wu Shu, you can separate from traditional style and then you can even say there are animal styles like tiger, mantis, dog, or even hippopotamus! Plus each martial artist has their own style or way to do something, but here are some examples of styles that I’ve had experimented with!

1.) Wu Shu (武术) is a sweet art with a plethora of challenging movements and most well known for having different ‘Animal’ forms like tiger or mantis. My personal forte is the Eagle Fist. It is an excellent style of martial arts not only for show but agility and balance. It is notorious for its sharp, powerful talons and powerful beak to rip open prey.

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2.) Tae-Kwon-Do is a style that I started with! It is a cool style to get you started with basics like simple kicks, blocks, and strikes. It is a good style for medium range combat.

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3.) Karate! The Japanese Martial Art of self-defense. It isn’t fancy or anything but definitely a strong, tradition based style. This style is also known as “Infinite Hand”. It is endless of what you can do with it! This is a good style for close ranged combat. As the saying goes, “A Japanese Karate trainer will fight you in a phone booth”.

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After I told him about my background in the arts, I explained to him that I don’t have a favorite because I like moves from all different styles like the Eagle Claw from Wu Shu, an over the shoulder throw from Karate, or a powerful spinning back kick in Tae-Kwon-Do! As I said before, there is not a set number on how many styles of martial arts there are in the world. Because there are so many styles, there are endless amounts of techniques that can be used and to be learned! There isn’t a style that is better than another. It is all based on preference of technique.