Bak Mei kung-fu is a style that functions best at the close quarters distance. With that being said, a Bak Mei practitioner needs to close the distance to employ their tools. For a successful execution of Bak Mei techniques an understanding of the 3 distances (saam gwaan - which is long range, mid range, and close range) is required along with having the proper counter measures if an opponent attacks with their longest weapon, which would be the leg (ie the longest limb of the human body).
An answer to an incoming kick is the Boi Jeung (literally back of palm), which is one of the many tools a Bak Mei practitioner can utilize to counter a kick, close the distance, and jam/disrupt the opponents attack. With the Boi Jeung two basic permutations can be used. The first method would be a simple stop hit, and the other would be used as a kick catch into a sweep.
As actions speak louder than words, here is a link showcasing the stop-hit for a kick:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS1myqWIAA8&list=UU9oJAU6yEtkJXhtOoLC7Qsw&index=2&feature=plcp
followed by the kick catch into a sweep:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSO-QdDLeWs&list=UU9oJAU6yEtkJXhtOoLC7Qsw&index=1&feature=plcp
While Bak Mei is not known for having a large variety of kicks, the kicks that are present in Bak Mei follow the same principals as most Southern Chinese Martial Arts in which the kick is kept low targeting either the lower or middle gates.
Another defining point of Bak Mei kicks is that they are hidden, meaning that the kick is either masked behind a feint/deception or a hand strike to distract away from the kick. A loose analogy would be that the kick is like the snake in which the strike is fast and that there is no warning.
The areas to strike with the kick in Bak Mei are usually focused on the legs, knees, groin, and abdomen.
Some signature Bak Mei kicks include daang gek (nailing kick), tek sa gek (sand flicking kick/groin kick), and chuun sum gek (piercing heart kick).
Food for thought: "A kick to the head is like a punch to the foot"
Enjoy the attached video clip showcasing the daang gek (nailing kick).
Among the many virtues of martial arts an essential trait is patience (Yun). Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances to allow one to persevere when under stress or strain which is very likely to be encountered in martial endeavour.
As a martial arts practitioner you may at times find it difficult to grasp new techniques or perhaps you become frustrated while working on existing skills. Patience with oneself allows you to overcome such obstacles giving you the persistence to continue and get the technique right. Patience can also provide you with the fortitude and mindset of: no matter how menial or boring the drill is, you recognize and appreciate that the effort and quantity invested yields a great improvement of quality on current skills.
It is equally important to have patience for others whether one is a student or an instructor. This equates to tolerance conveyed to fellow training partners who may not be as skilled as you. Patience should also extend outside of the training halls because not only is it wrong to just lose your temper and strike out at someone because they bumped into you on the street or looked at you the wrong way, but it is against the martial code of conduct. As an instructor you may be demonstrating or explaining certain details in high repetition. Therefore patience for trainees is paramount as you must recognize that students learn at different rates and allows you to comprehend and appreciate the differences in the individual student.
In conclusion while the aim of martial arts is the delivery of swift and powerful strikes, it is equally as important to issue patience to others to endure complications or annoyances with ease and provide you with a means to make the appropriate choices. After all it is a respectable demeanour which defines a proper martial artist.
Diligence is a mainstay of any professional, academic, or athletic, endeavour, especially true in martial arts. Only through determined application of work ethic can you have significant results in martial performance.
In the ancient martial tradition of Mo Duk, one of the main criteria for a teacher choosing a student, is that one must be devoted to martial arts, be willing to learn wholeheartedly, be ready and willing to “eat bitter” that is to endure hardship, which will bring an increase of quality.
Hard work encourages in students’ greater discipline, concentration, conformity, and spirituality, so naturally when training Kung fu, the greater the work ethic the greater the martial skill. After all ‘Kung Fu’ directly translates to Work Hard.
The last word of Buddha was “strive on with diligence”.
A common trait amongst "rookie" practitioners of martial arts is a desire to collect as many techniques as possible. There is no inherent problem with increasing ones arsenal however it does affect martial ability when insufficient time is spent on fundamental techniques. What this means is that learning techniques without putting in the proper amount of time, effort, and attention will equate to poor quality of the technique itself.
It is of utmost importance that we strive for excellence in one or two techniques at a time, in this way a practitioner can devote the needed length of time to practise the technique and its proper execution and to furthermore develop and increase its power.
Like the classic quantity versus quality, it is not how much a practitioner learns but it is the absorption and retention rate of the technique that is critical. With regular practise and continuous effort individual moves can be improved (increase speed and precision), maximized (add power) and maintained.
At the end of the day to be an efficient martial artist it is not how many moves you have in your arsenal, it is how well you trained and developed the individual technique!
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
- Bruce Lee
Students of martial arts dedicate themselves on countless hours of hard work in and out of the class to improve their martial skills and self growth which often leads them to promotions to higher ranks (be it by belt, sash, patch, etc). However once a practitioner reaches the black level rank, there is a danger of a plateau of skills as they will find they spend so much time at the same rank and in the same class leading them to the thought of “that is all there is” and in turn can lead to the relaxing of their training.
Remaining comfortable in any atmosphere creates complacency and stagnation. Worse than idling and decline of skill, some practitioners will fall into the black belt trap of sitting on their laurels, off on the sidelines critiquing and commenting on their junior ranks and engaging in the classic do as I say and not as I do hypocrisy, all the while losing their skills and fitness level.
To prevent getting caught in the trap, a black level practitioner should keep growing, improving, and evolving by setting new goals, to constantly challenge themselves, and by changing up their training regime. It is important to also remember where you came from and what it took to get to where you are.
Black level practitioners can best represent their system by being at the top of their game. Set the standard by maintaining your skills and level of fitness to refine your martial art. Lead the way and lead by example by “getting in the mud with the grunts” as no type of training regardless of how menial or basic you think it is, should be too lowly for a black level martial artist. After all it is those basic foundations that provide cement to your overall structure!
Earn the respect of your juniors, peers, and senior ranks by continued hard work and dedication. Honour your lineage, roots, and your art. Don’t stop, stay sharp!
Gung Hei Faat Choi!!!
In martial arts the main goal of a practitioner is always self improvement. While there is a plethora of apparati, drills, and aids that are available to assist a martial artist achieve this, there is one tool that allows for the greatest amount of improvement of techniques, and the development of reflex, speed, and timing, that tool is the focus pad/mitt. Pad work allows a practitioner to hone their precision, efficiency, power, cardio, speed, timing, and combos by working with a pad holder (called a feeder) through a series of drills where you can execute single techniques or a sequence of strikes done at full speed and power.
Focus pads offer a greater number of options in training rather than a speed bag or heavy bag which are only stationary apparatus and thus cannot simulate the dynamic nature of combat. Whereas a skilled pad feeder can move and hit you back. Exercise drills you can do with pads are many: ranging from perfection of a pre selected combo, sharp-shooting with a specific punch, or going free style to work reflex by reacting to the pad feeder with evasions, blocks, or parrying his attacking pad and countering by blasting back at his target pad at full force. This manner of pad sparring allows you to close up gaps in defence, execute proper and precise techniques under pressure, and attack without worry about injuring your training partner as you are hitting the pads and not the person.
Other drills you can perform could be focused on cardio by going all out on the pads in a set amount of time leading to increased endurance and stamina. Or instead of the usual hand dance you can liven up a form/kata by having the pad feeder move with you to provide striking areas. You may also do a multi opponent scenario by having two or more feeders attacking you to simulate surprise-ambush situations and really test your skills.
Overall the versatility of focus pads and mitts are a great way to hone all your natural weapons from your hands, elbows, knees, legs, head butts, and shoulder checks. Through imagination, ingenuity and creativity, you and your training partners can expand your training with unique, realistic and challenging pad drills and scenarios. This will enhance and improve your martial arts abilities by leaps and bounds; making focus pads a valuable and important staple in pragmatic training!
Best of the seasons greetings to all, keep safe, and train hard.
As discussed previously, most martial arts were born from the ancient battle fields. Today combative martial arts generally can be broken down into two variations; sport and self defence/reality based. While both have their place, they have different goals and purposes.
In sport combat such as boxing, kickboxing, mma (ufc, etc), one trains with rules, drills of specific combinations, is equipped with safety gear (hand wraps, gloves, head guard, etc), fights in a controlled environment such as a ring, cage, mat, etc, has set time limits, is overseen by a referee, and is governed by strict rules of engagement. The focus is on finishing the fight within the defined rules and in an acceptable manner set by the sanctioned event.
Whereas reality based martial arts such as Krav Maga, Wing Chun, Bak Mei, etc focuses on pragmatic self defence methods, multiple opponent engagements, targeting of “illegal” areas such as the groin, eyes, spine, etc, trains striking without the use of padded gloves, and defence against armed opponent(s), which in turn is more suited for the reality of the street as there are no refs, time outs, and perhaps there is more than one opponent. The main goal in self defence is to do what is necessary in order to protect oneself or loved ones and to ensure survival.
While combative martial art in either form promotes effective striking, the difference stems from the mindset, and the specific targeting of striking areas of the body. In sport combat, you are looking to execute strategies and a plan that was practiced in advance, to gain the upper hand on your opponent. With self-defence, you are training so that, should the need arise, you can react/respond effectively, appropriately and swiftly, working on trained instinct and reflex to do all that is necessary in order to survive.
In the end after all a punch is just a punch and a kick is still a kick, it is how one trains in purpose, mindset and striking intent.
The etymology of Martial arts comes from the Latin word Mars (the Roman god of war). In simple terms it means war arts. In ancient times, warfare involved melee combat with edged or blunt weapons and often times hand to hand. Now in modern times, warfare is mostly waged by various advanced technology and as such has replaced the man on man type fights on the battlefield. Today, martial arts are instead used for personal self defence, sport combat, as an art form, or preserving tradition. In this discussion we will look at the martial aspect of training.
As we know, most traditional martial arts training begins with forms play (katas). Forms are good as they catalogue the array of techniques of the respective style, it can also be loosely seen as a type of shadow boxing. However some practitioners focus solely on forms whilst falsely believing that it encompasses all facets of martial training. Mind you if it is the practitioners objective to utilize the forms for acrobatic/performance nature then that is a different story altogether, as it is the artistic element that they are attaining (i.e. Wushu demonstrations showcasing forms).
On the other side, if a practitioner truly wishes to attain pragmatic combative ability then they must also focus on other areas. These include bag/pad work (striking punching bags and having a feeder to work target mitts while you apply combos in a dynamic manner) which are essential to building power and timing. Physical conditioning is another important step. This entails cardio and strength training, as a certain amount of strength and endurance are required if you plan on using you skills against a live opponent(s). Which leads to the next stage, sparring (including chi sau, luk kiu, etc). This is required to gain perspective on distance, speed, and timing. There are different levels of sparring ranging from point no-contact to full power. To gain FULL potential in your combative value, full power and speed must be used (of course you may always choose to tone down the level of power if that is your preference, but keep in mind this will cause a reduction of training efficacy accordingly). Some practitioners may argue that certain techniques would be too deadly to use at full power. This can be offset by safety equipment ranging from the wide variety of head guards, chest protectors, and gloves which are available and can be worn to suit the practitioner preferences. Still others would argue that the big 16 oz boxing gloves would hinder certain hand techniques. Certainly this can be solved by using open finger gloves such as the 4-6 oz mma glove which allows the practitioner to apply any and all ranges of motion as a bare hand would while still providing safety.
In conclusion Martial arts focusing on the combative side should be trained as such. Comparitvely looking at other athletic endeavours such as hockey, a player gets on the ice with the proper gear, a baseball player does more than just play catch with his dad, and as Bruce Lee stated: "a swimmer cannot train on dry land, they must get into the water to do that". So in a nutshell a martial artist who wants to acquire combative skills should then do more than just play forms…
Be without ego, have respect, and train hard.
Most everyone is familiar with the caged combat sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Raison d’etre is there are monthly events being aired on PPV and cable TV from big promotions such as UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator, to name a few. In turn it leads more and more of the general populace to seek out training in MMA due to the growth in popularity. So what does this mean for TMA (Traditional Martial Arts), is there a place for it in the modern era, and can it be effective in MMA?
For sure it does. Let us look at some well known pro-fighters with TMA backgrounds that compete successfully in MMA: Georges St. Pierre - UFC welterweight champion (Kyokushin Karate), Lyoto Machida - UFC light heavyweight contender and former champion (Shotokan Karate),
and Cung Le - Strikeforce middleweight contender and former champion (San Shou Kung-fu).
MMA as we know it today is in fact a style in and of itself. It consists of stand-up striking (boxing and various forms of kickboxing), grappling (wrestling, judo, shuai jiao, etc), and ground submissions (BJJ, sambo, etc).
Of course each of the mentioned fighters are well versed in all the aspects of MMA but also that they have a solid base in their respective TMA, they can utilize their styles and techniques to bring something “different” to the fight game and capitalize on it.
So what does this mean? Simply put, learning other arts/styles does not dilute or taint YOUR art. In fact it goes to enhance it as you become familiar with the opponents arsenal while formulating how to effectively employ your skills.
At the end of the day be open minded, learn new things, think outside the box, and in turn you will grow and adapt as a martial artist. Just like all life must – evolve.