Sanshou training: the old guy against the young guys

Last Saturday, I participated in a Sanshou training session for the selection of the Belgian national team. I was asked to come take a look at the new talent and also to consider taking up the post of national trainer again.  So I put on my gloves and shinguards and spent an hour or so sparring with a bunch of  20-something young guys (and one girl).

Training Sanshou athletes as National Trainer, back in 2002 at the ECs in Portugal.

Here are some random thoughts that came out of that session:

  • I can still hang  with the young bucks. Yay for me! :-) I’m 39 and well past my prime as far as competing is concerned. I never stopped training since I hung up my gloves, so I’m in fairly good shape but it was still nice to see I could hold my own. Also, these guys are not yet at their peak right now as the world championships are still a long way out. And maybe they were taking it easy on me, who knows? But as far as I could tell, I landed a lot more shots than they did and I wasn’t the one counting stars when that happened.
  • My timing has improved a lot. Some things never worked for me when I competed, like slipping punches. I saw them coming but always reacted too late. Which is why I usually blocked or parried them. But the last year or so, I noticed that I instinctively started slipping and bobbing my head to make my training partners miss. I first figured it was because we’d been training together for a long time and I could “predict” their moves now. But it turned out this works just as well with fighters I haven’t met before. Cool. But I sure would have liked to have had this skill 15 years ago when I needed it…
  • Nothing works better than basic techniques. Pretty much all I did was throw jabs, leg kicks, a cross here and there. Maybe a hook or two and a few trips/sweeps. I did do one spinning heel kick but only because he was wide open for it and my orientation was just right. Other than one more crescent kick, nothing fancy. Those basic techniques worked just fine. Like I said in the previous bullet, my timing seems to have gotten better as I didn’t throw them as fast as I could have but they hit the mark well enough.
  • My basic strategy has changed compared to 20 years ago. Just like most fighters, I’ve changed from when I started competing. I was pretty aggressive back then. Not so much nowadays. I’m no longer interested in running after an opponent and much rather have him come to me (when it suits me best.) That way he does all the work for me. As a result, I’ve developed a more defensive and specifically, a countering style of fighting. It seems to work well enough for me at this point in time.
  • The basic requirements of full contact-fighting haven’t changed. I teach my students two things when they start training for competitions. IMO, everything else flows from there:
    • You have to be able to generate forward pressure.
    • you have to be able to absorb the forward pressure of your opponent.

If you mess up either of these two things, I don’t believe you can fight effectively in the ring, cage or on the leitai. You can fake it for a while and if you’re in shape, that can last for a while longer still. But the first time you face serious opposition, you crumble. [Read more…]

“Lying Tiger” and a trip to the past

I just stumbled on this pretty cool clip here of Steve Cotter doing “lying tiger” (fu hu gong) training:

It brought back memories, and then some.

When I started in Hung Chi Pai, these drills were the toughest part of the training. My teacher never called them “lying tiger”, but we’d do them over and over, especially the push up bouncing and walking. Obviously I didn’t get far at first but after a while it got better. Mind you, my teacher would make it more interesting if he noticed you could keep up. He’d come stand on your back or hit you with a stick a couple times. Sometimes both at the same time. Either way, he kept us going until our muscles trembled and finally gave in. [Read more…]

Book Review: Shaolin Chin Na by Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming

Shaolin Chin Na by Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming

Mr.Yang Jwing-Ming is a Chinese martial artist who has become well known over the years. He has written numerous books on Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Kung, Chang Chuan and more. He currently lives and teaches in the USA.

This book, “Shaolin Chin Na” starts with a basic explanation of “Kung fu” and “Chin Na”. The former is well known where as the latter remains more obscure. The author explains Chin Na as the “seizing” and “controlling” of an opponent. He states four categories:

  • Dividing the muscle
  • Misplacing the bone
  • Sealing the breath or vein
  • Cavity press.

A detailed list of the origin of Chin Na is also given.

In the next two chapters, Mr. Yang covers the four categories mentioned above a bit more in depth. He also demonstrates different ways of training stances, hand forms, power and speed training. There is also a brief demonstration of different techniques against several forms of grabbing, called “Neutralization of pressure”.
After this comes a chapter on massage. Mr. Yang reasons that if you are willing to injure somebody, you must also be willing to treat the injury. This is not so much meant in a self-defense situation, but more towards keeping your training partner in good health. I feel there is some truth in this statement. The concept of “Chi” is also explained as well as the theory of massage and its applications.

Dr Yang Jwing-Ming

Dr Yang Jwing-Ming

The bulk of the material, Chin Na techniques, is covered in the next chapter. The author gives two important recommendations towards practitioners, which I find very valuable. [Read more…]