Skip to Content

Category Archives: Kung Fu

Life Patterns and Flexibility

Life Patterns and FlexibilityEvery day we are faced with challenges of routine, whether it is creating a routine, maintaining a routine, or changing a routine. More often than not, these happen without intervention, and the results present themselves whether you designed them or not.

The Morning Routine

The day breaks either at whatever time your body clock is set, or the time of your alarm clock. The latter is not ideal because it is an unnatural rising and you’re off into a forced routine. The trouble with this is that you will undoubtedly feel stiff, and your day starts with a ‘forced’ movement, and muscles can stiffen accordingly.

I was on this path for a long, long time, and never considered myself a ‘morning person’ – and always battled with normal, every-day flexibility when starting my day.

The solution: I decided to buy a “Lumie” alarm clock. This was designed to wake you up without noise, without sudden rising, and mimics ‘real light’ to gradually wake you up. The result? By naturally waking up, your body automatically adjusts over 20-30 minutes without you having to do anything at all; the result being you reduce and even remove the standard stiffness you can feel in the morning. Check the light out here:
Lumie Bodyclock ACTIVE 250 Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Extra Audio Options

Once you’re up, you must, must, have a quick morning stretching routine, to get the muscles moving, blood flowing, and generally loosen up. If you don’t do this on a daily basis, or even miss a few days, you perpetuate a stiffness that will lock up your joints, muscles, and hamper any of your sporting and martial arts. My morning routine consists of me pressing myself against the skirting board (!) to push my legs wider and gain myself that bit of leverage. It doesn’t take long before I’m pressed fully against the wall and have full flexibility once more.

All Sit Down?

We’ve all seen the evolutionary picture of ending up crouched over a computer desk, typing away with a hunched back. This is, unfortunately, extremely common and very true. The truth of the matter is, we are more certainly not designed to sit in a chair. Chairs are destructive to our mobility, flexibility, and our overall posture. If you are sitting in a chair, set yourself a simple timer for 15 minutes every day to ensure you get up out of your chair, move about, loosen up, and stop those joints from stiffening up. If you ca, get a standing desk – they will increase your productivity, improve your muscle tone, even burn more calories, but most important they will stop your spine from becoming compressed and causing disc and sciatic injuries.

If you are already in the unfortunate position of having back pain, please check out these videos for relieving sciatic nerve pain.

Beware the Slow Tense

Regardless whether you are in a chair, standing, leaning, kneeling etc. Be very conscious of your body and its positions. Again perhaps use a timer such as a “ring timer” (see below) to force you to check every 5-10 minutes until you make it a habit. What you’re checking for is any constant tension in the shoulders, arms, elbows, buttocks and particularly lower back. Modern day work demands hours and hours of constant work and tension, which too often results in over-tightness of particular areas, which in turn leads to over-compromised positions, disrupting your natural posture. These are very difficult to break unless you pay particular attention to it.

Check out a round-timer to force yourself to check every few minutes for it:
Boxing training round interval timer. Perfect for Boxing MMA Interval Tabata Training Kettlebells by Athlete Technologies

Stretching Before Sleep

Just as you should stretch when you wake up, it is equally important that you stretch yourself out before going to sleep. This will ensure that any tensions you have picked up throughout the day will not stiffen further overnight, and cause the typical and all-too-familiar trapped nerve sensations and full-body stiffness syndrome of the morning.

Conclusion

These routines are not exercise, they are not training, they should be part of every day of your life, and are indeed mandatory in many Japanese companies, where they have the best employee health and fitness ratios in the world.

You need to concentrate on them and do them mindfully, otherwise naturally bad patterns will creep into your life and compromise your body, flexibility and fitness.

0 Continue Reading →

Discover the secrets of Kung fu at Shaolin Temple

After spending 20 years training at Bruce Lee’s martial art Jeet Kune Do,Hollywood actor Jason Scott Lee decided to visit and train at Shaolin Temple to discover the secrets of Kungfu.

0 0 Continue Reading →

The inside look at Martial arts in modern china

Fightland team travels to Beijing and Shanghai China to get an inside look at one of the most exciting emerging markets for MMA. They meet Andy Wang and Andy Pi, two Asian-American’s teaching jiu jitsu, and Joel Resnick an ex-pat promotor who convinced the government to license an MMA event for the first time. Finally they visited M-1, an event that pitted locals against Russian fighters to see the Chinese talent firsthand.

0 0 Continue Reading →

The art of destruction and why you should practice it

I have observed that destruction has been prevalent in and around discussion topics of training methods, gradings, demonstrations and technique; but why?

0 0 Continue Reading →

Bruce Lee, Globalization and the Case of Wing Chun: Why Do Some Martial Arts Grow?

Wing Chun has been doubly blessed by Bruce Lee’s ongoing fame and the recent interest that the Ip Man movies have generated. Yet popular name recognition by itself is not enough to sustain an art

0 0 Continue Reading →

Martial Arts Against Horrors Of The Night

It’s The Time Of Year Where Things Go Bump In The Night

We are in the month of October where horrors and everything else supernatural related come from every dark place, nook, and cranny. It’s very important that you keep yourself and all your loved ones safe at all times. Evenings are no exception, especially during the month of Halloween which was originally a special holiday strictly for witches. As martial artists, this especially rings true.

Remember, the primary purpose for martial arts is being able to effectively and intelligently defend yourself in life-threatening situations where other parties plan to inflict bodily harm on you and other people.

Rhetorically speaking, why should Halloween and Dia de Muertos (translated into “Day of the Dead”) be an exception?

With the month of Halloween being the time where you can wear whatever you want, as long as it’s legal, expect a lot of festivities and other events to take place. If you like to enjoy the fun, it’s very important to keep your guard up as all sorts of unknown threats will come your way.

For example, some masked person could try to mug you or hold you up for all your belongings. Halloween’s a common holiday for criminals to take advantage. Another example would be all sorts of degenerates coming out from the shadows to do harm. You have to think about rapists (including pedophiles), robbers, anarchists that want to hurt you for the sake of it, etc.

At house parties, crowded bars, and vibrant night clubs, you have to worry about the date rapist slipping a roofie or two in your drink.

Those are just the “normal human threats.

Clearing the air on those threats, Halloween’s the time where you have to deal with the “not so normal” threats. What I mean, you have all sorts of supernatural threats lurking around. You have to deal with vampires, banshees, werewolves or other different lycanthropes, mummies, zombies, revenants, ghouls, cannibalistic killers, mutants, spirits, demons, wendigos, succubi (plural for succubus; if male, it’s incubus), wacko cultists, evil fairies, different monsters, evil children, killer toys, possessed puppets, etc.

You cannot deal with these threats with normal means. Even if you are a martial artist, you are not dealing with your typical human attackers. Trained fighters and experienced soldiers need to understand this too. Dealing with these threats have to be handled differently; there is no “catch all” or “one size fits all” plan on dealing with these threats.

Unless it’s the only last resort, you do not want to engage those threats hand-to-hand. If you can, use weapons. If you are able to, run and hide. There is no shame in doing so. You are dealing with supernatural threats that will kill you or do something far worse if you’re not careful.  Martial arts defense can work on these monsters as long as you’re intelligent about it.

Monsters Of The Night And How To Deal With Them

Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. It’s very important to be able to effectively identify each different monster, then you can learn how to effectively deal with them. Only go hand-to-hand with them only as a last resort. If you think you’re at the end of the road, give those monsters something to remember you by. Make sure you’re at least armed with a weapon, including a firearm (legally of course or you find one lying around). There’s no shame in using a firearm to defend yourself. Many martial artists, in the United States of course, are registered firearm owners. I know a few martial arts experts and masters that have concealed carry licenses. One of them I know took a concealed weapons course from one of my martial arts instructors.

A gun is a tool just like a sword, a staff, a set of nunchukus, kali sticks, sais, etc. Technique is required to make the proper shots. Like in the martial arts, proper stance is important when aiming and firing a weapon. The size and weight of whatever projectile weapon you are holding is also important.

It’s important to understand that not all monsters are bad. If you can, make friends and enlist those monsters to your aid. That goes a long way.

Vampires

[youtube id=”qorxrlemQVw”]

Vampires are the undead lords of the night. They look like normal humans, but they usually have pale skin due to staying indoors during the day and emerging at night. In most cases, sunlight is fatal to vampires. Even if the sun’s not out, anything that emits UV light will do the job. A stake to the heart is also effective, though, you don’t want to engage a vampire head on unless you are prepared and well-protected.

If you get close to a vampire, you risk getting bitten. If you get bitten, you have to kill that vampire. The other vampire lore is to take out the head of the vampire’s next. Make sure that the vampire hasn’t fed. If you can, have at least a partner or two to help you deal with the vampires. These attacks should prove effective in dealing with vampires. However, no human’s killed a vampire using empty-handed attacks.

  • Jabs and crosses. These are the most basic hand attacks found in Boxing and Kickboxing (including Muay Thai). However, normal jabs and crosses aren’t going to faze the vampire you are going up against. Make sure you are wearing anything made out of blessed silver. Indeed, make sure you are wearing bracelets with wooden stakes attached. If you are taller than the vampire, you will need to squat down to strike the heart.
  • Uppercuts. Make sure you have a wooden stake or a blessed silver spike attached to the outer wrists. When you make impact, drive the fist into the chest. Do not stop the uppercut as soon as your fist makes impact with that area. Keep driving it and the stake will penetrate the heart.
  • Vertical fists. These are close-range hand strikes that you see in many Chinese martial arts flicks. Donnie Yen and Bruce Lee are notable martial arts stars that used the vertical fist in their attacks. Vertical fist strikes, however, are effective when fired off in rapid succession. Make sure you have wooden stakes or blessed silver spikes attached to your wrists. If it helps, yell at the defending vampire Bruce Lee-style.
  • Commando grip strikes. Martial artists should already know what a commando grip is. Do not confuse this with the ice pick grip like you would see in Scream or Psycho. Make sure your back fists are fast enough. If you fail the first time, you need to be fast enough to attack multiple times before the vampire grabs your arm and bites it.
  • Hammer fist strikes. Hammer fist strikes, normally, strike downward like Norman Bates would repeatedly stab someone. But, there are horizontal moving hammer fists. You have the spinning hammer fist that resemble either a spinning hook punch or a spinning back fist. Also, they resemble your hand blocks learned in Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Put a wooden stake or blessed silver spike in your hand and these hammer fist strikes are dangerous to any vampire that dare crosses your path.
  • Elbow Jabs. Have wooden stakes or blessed silver spikes attached to your elbows.
  • Clinch & Knee Combo. Make sure you have stakes or spikes attached to your knee pads. If you are lucky enough to get a vampire in a clinch, knee the chest repeatedly. Feeling risky? Do a jumping knee or jumping double knee strike and use your body weight to help the stake punch through the vampire’s heart.
  • Throws and takedowns. Before attempting to take the vampire to the ground, throw seeds onto the ground. Vampires are compelled to either eat or count them one at a time. If you make the vampire lose count, s/he has to start over again. While the vampire is counting, use that chance to take that person to the ground. The vampire can’t count if you won’t let him/her. Then, you can place the vampire in a submission. Only use chokes to subdue the vampire. They don’t need to breathe air to survive. Be fast though, the vampire will power out. Before that happens, your partner will need to impale the vampire. If you have a third partner that person can decapitate the vampire.
  • Fencing thrust. If you have done European Fencing, you know what the thrust is. If not, this is similar to the lunging spear hand strike done from a front stance.

Jiangshi

[youtube id=”MS-hEkBgF8Y”]

Jiangshi are undead in Chinese folklore. In the case of vampiric Jiangshi, normal vampire-killing methods won’t work. Make sure you have access to anything made out of peach tree wood. A stake made out of peach tree would is an example. Other weapons made out of peach tree wood also do the trick.

Werewolves

[youtube id=”xvOpO1iMaF8″]

It’s suicidal to take a werewolf unarmed. They possess superhuman physical and sensory attributes which adds to the danger level posed. If you are scratched or bitten, you will turn into a werewolf. To cure yourself, you have to kill the werewolf that originally bit or scratched you. The only thing that harms and kills the werewolf is with silver. If you can, make sure you have pure silver.

Vampires have to be killed with a strike to the heart. Werewolves can be killed with a strike to the head or the heart. Ideally, destroy the brain and the heart to make sure the werewolf stays dead. Silver bullets aren’t normally purchased at your local gun store or range. You need to make the ammo. Of course it’s a waste of silver, but the safe way to deal with werewolves is at a distance with a bow or firearm.

If you don’t, make sure you have silver blades. To be on the safe side, make sure it’s an alloy between mercury and pure silver.

Most of the methods I have already mentioned when dealing with vampires. Make sure you are armed with silver blades. For the vertical fist strikes, use silver push-daggers as you hold the blade handle between your fingers.

Avoid going for Wrestling-style takedowns. There is a level of upper body strength that is needed to successfully do a takedown. Go that method and expect to be overpowered by the werewolf. Under no circumstance allow the fight to go to the ground. If that happens, get up as soon as possible. If you need to get the werewolf to the ground, use a Tomoe Nage and time it. That way, you catapult the charging werewolf to the other side. Hopefully you can catapult the werewolf into a wall and stun it enough that you can kill it.

Martial arts training of any kind using bladed weapons proves effective like Pentcak Silat, Kobujutsu, Kenjutsu, Iaijutsu, Kali, Krabi Krabong, etc.

[youtube id=”mC40qHwgTmk”]

Mummies

Mummies move around like zombies do. They have been mummified in their tombs for a long time. When they move around, they are usually slow. Also, they hold out their arms like zombies do. The surefire way to kill a mummy is with fire. If you have to deal with a mummy without anything to defend yourself with, take advantage of the fact that mummies are bandaged up.

Grappling works best against a mummy. Imagine a mummy as an opponent that is wearing a gi. Using the mummies own bandages against it opens up all sorts of new possibilities. Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, Hapkido, or Russian Sambo would prove effective. You can restrain the mummy before you torch it. If you go for the takedown, use the mummy’s bandages and bind the legs together.

Like other undead, mummies’ bodies have gone through rigor. This is why they are slow and stiff. If and when fighting, keep moving around and attack at angles. Kicks to the legs and ankle prove effective as they slow down movements. You can go for the kill after.

Wendigos

There are superhuman cannibalistic beasts, in Native American lore that hide out in the forests. They usually reside in the Great Lakes. You need silver weapons to kill them. If you don’t have silver bullets, silver blades and pointed weapons work fine. Make sure you pierce the heart and dismember the body.

Lore says that the ax must be plated with silver.

Don’t attempt to deal with a wendigo alone. Make sure you have partners with torches on hand to keep the wendigo from attacking you.

Use any sort of weapon moves you learned in these martial arts: Fencing, Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, Battojutsu, Naginatajutsu, Sojutsu, Kyudo, Kali, Pentcak Silat, Krav Maga, US Marine Corps MAP, British SAS, etc. Make sure there is enough distance between you and the wendigo even though that’s easier said than done.

Succubi and Incubi

They look like normal human beings, but look very sexy and attractive. That is the whole point as they seduce people in order to feed on them. In one lore, they feed off of sexual energy until their victims are dried out (dead). Furthermore, some lore states that they can only feed off the sexual energy when engaging in the act of sex.

[youtube id=”ztGSkra5zMk”]

Another lore, in the case of Jennifer’s Body, succubi feed on human flesh instead of sexual energy.

[youtube id=”LCSzYioSeT0″]

The best time to attack is when they need to feed. If they haven’t fed, they become weak and can die of hunger.

If and when being seduced by one, think back about the code, tenets, and values you learned in the martial arts. Let’s take the Tae Kwon Do tenets for example. You can focus on the tenets of perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. If you study Shotokan Karate, look to Gichin Funakoshi’s “20 Guiding Principles of Karate.”

In the lore that requires you to destroy the heart, use any number of techniques that require the use of a blade or other sharp weapon. The last thing you want to do when fighting a succubus or incubus is take the fight to the ground. They feed on sexual energy according to most lore. If and when on the ground, they have the upper hand as they can initiate sexual contact to get you arouse. Once that happens, they win.

Assume they have superhuman physical and mental attributes.

Cannibals

Cannibals are usually normal humans that eat human flesh. However, there’s a line that separates cannibalism and human flesh consumption. You have to remember that cannibal is a term for “meat eater.” In science class, you learn about the three classes: carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore. Herbivores eat plans and omnivores eat both. There are omnivores that eat plants and human flesh.

To be cannibalized is to be eaten alive. Being dismembered while you’re still alive is pretty close.

You have your cannibals that act normal and your cannibals that act insane. Keep in mind, there’s nothing normal about cannibalism.

Since they’re usually normal living breathing humans, any martial art move will prove to be effective, but don’t let them surround you. It doesn’t hurt to be armed as well. If they are like any typical human, their fighting skills are as refined as yours. Don’t pull your punches if and when defending yourself against them.

If any of them are armed with a chainsaw, run. However, you can make use of your environment and manage to take control of the chainsaw. In that case, Kenjutsu training works nicely. If they are the lightweight chainsaws that you can hold with one hand, Kali, Silat, or Krabi Krabong moves work nicely.

Masked Killers

These are normal killers that wear masks. Still, be on your guard.

If you are going up against someone like Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise, use something like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, or Sambo. Myers is tall killer; going force on force isn’t going to work. Going for a Wrestling-style takedown is too risky. Pay close attention to the knife he has in his hand.

[youtube id=”PGeGXk2WvPA”]

Then, take him to the ground. Keep moving around maintaining the superior position. Do moves like triangle chokes, omoplatas, gogoplatas, ankle locks, kneebars, armbars, etc. Myers is human just like you and me, hopefully. However, that’s up to debate all thanks his creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill.

Striking is out of the question because he doesn’t feel pain. If Myers is human, use these techniques: index knuckle strike, open toe groin kick, and the carotid strike. Make sure you strike certain parts of the human body like the pressure and vital points. Myers won’t feel most of them, certain points will knock him out when struck.

In the case of a killer like Ghostface from Scream, any martial arts move will do. You don’t have to kill him. Just hurt Ghostface enough that s/he can’t move and call the cops. You can claim self-defense.

[youtube id=”ae5TX2QEH9I”]

In the case of a masked killer like Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, get the chainsaw out of his hands first before you do anything else to fight him! After that, get Leatherface on the ground and away from the chainsaw.

[youtube id=”gax1swkMILE”]

If you need to, soften Leatherface up with Muay Thai roundhouse kicks to the legs. If you are a Tae Kwon Do or Jeet Kune Do user, side kicks to the outside of the knee caps work. Kick as hard as you can and dislocate Leatherface’s knee caps.

Even though we’re discouraged from taking a life, Leatherface is an exception. If you don’t kill him, he will kill you.

Depending on what martial arts you train in, there are many solutions to kill Leatherface. If you manage to get Leatherface on his knees, a well-placed front snap kick or side kick to the head would work. A Muay Thai roundhouse kick to the side of the head works just as fine. Make sure you kick Leatherface in the head a couple of times.

In the case of Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, run! If you have no choice but to fight, get the machete out of his hands. This is a masked killer that is no longer a human. Normal attacks won’t work on Jason. No matter how badly you hurt Jason, he will heal and regenerate from damage. There’s no killing Jason Voorhees.

[youtube id=”CeBvL_u1Mwk”]

Best way of dealing with Jason, don’t deal with him at all. STF away from Crystal Lake if you know what’s good for you.

In the case of dealing with Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, you need a partner or two. If not, Freddy’s going to win. Freddy exists in your dreams; if you are in Elm Street, his dominion over your dreams are strong. You need to first go into the dream world and lure him out. Dealing with Freddy has to be carefully timed and planned. Your partners need to wake you up after a certain amount of time or when there’s a signal. Make sure you have a hold of Freddy when they wake up you.

[youtube id=”Ia7k8U01vnE”]

Once you wake up, you drag Freddy with you to the real world, where he’s mortal and powerless. He does have his clawed glove though, be careful of that. Other than that, Freddy can be dispatched by a number of martial arts moves like a butterfly kick, spinning hook kick, meia lua de compasso, axial kick, tornado roundhouse kick, double leg takedown, suplex, hurricanrana, Kani Basami, DDT, uppercut, double elbow slash, Muay Thai roundhouse kick, etc.

Zombies

No need to explain. Watch The Walking Dead on AMC.

You don’t want to deal with zombies hand-to-hand. You want to at least have weapons when dealing with zombies. Firearms can effectively deal with zombies, but the sound of the shots attract them to your location. Many resort to melee weapons instead of firearms with the latter being used as a last resort.

It’s very dangerous to engage a zombie in empty-handed combat. That increases the risks of you getting infected. Once you’re infected, you will turn. In the case of Resident Evil, there’s a vaccine for the infection. Most other cases, you turn. If you have no choice but to fight hand-to-hand, make sure you have protective clothing. You don’t want to get bitten or scratched as that’s how one gets infected.

They feel neither pain nor emotion, only the eternal need to feed. Dealing with a few zombies is all right, but dealing with a large crowd is far from it. Since they don’t feel pain, trying to hurt them is futile. Strikes to the head are what counts. Also, rigor kicks in making them very durable.

In order to put a zombie down, you have to destroy the brain. Decapitation won’t kill the zombie as the brain is still functioning. Make sure you slice the zombie as if you were going to give it a lobotomy.

There are moves to use, though they won’t kill zombies, that can be used to make things easier to you.

Kicks to the joints work perfectly as they will slow down zombies. If rigor is very bad, then more power to you. Then, you can get a zombie to its knees and go for the head shot. If a zombie grabs you, then Judo works fine. Throw the zombies to the ground and destroy the brain. If the situation goes to the ground, use bone breaking submissions to break their joints. Be familiar with your guards and sweeps. If your Wrestling is good, suplexes and DDTs are very effective as you have a good chance of destroying the brain.

If you’re a Tae Kwon Do expert and you’re feeling confident, fast and relentless kicking combinations to the head works wonders. Make sure your legs are protected first.

If your Hapkido is very good, you can tear the arms off a slow very decomposed zombie.

[youtube id=”AfHyh-Ft0Rw”]

Don’t let the zombies bite or scratch you. Refer to Stephen Kesting’s YouTube video called “Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse.

[youtube id=”kb7-SpJdgQI”]

Don’t bother dealing with freshly turned zombies. Rigor hasn’t kicked in, yet. Those zombies, without the need to breathe, will run after you relentlessly.

Witches

That all depends on the lore and mythology. If they are normal humans, get close enough to them to attack. If magic is all they know how to do, then they suck at hand-to-hand combat. Be careful though, witches usually have minions to do their bidding.

Evil Psychic Children

[youtube id=”OR9ha5l9FzM”]

Evil psychic children, like the ones from Village of the Damned, are a legal gray area. Hurting children is frowned upon. You are in this predicament: hurt the children and survive only to go to jail if caught or let the psychic children mind control you into committing. In most cases, it is a no-win situation. If need be, you may have to make an example out of them.

Be careful though, they can mind control other adults into killing you. If that happens, either have to incapacitate or kill those adults. Preferably, we want to incapacitate. The most dire circumstance requires you to kill.

If there are no other adults around, the evil psychic children are ineffective against the strong-willed.

Refer to the tenets or code of your martial arts training. Use that to construct a mental barrier. That won’t be enough, make sure you have anything you can use that would block their telepathic abilities like a metal helmet similar to the one Marvel Comics’ Magneto wears. Without their psychic powers they are normal children.

Diplomacy could work, but they have all the leverage. Ideally, avoid the evil psychic children and let someone else deal with them. If you do kill the children, you have the legal stuff to deal with. You’ll be thrown in prison and you can imagine what happens next.

Spirits

They’re mostly intangible. You cannot hurt what you cannot touch.

Cenobites

[youtube id=”0lzC0aIVFvw”]

If you’re a fan of Clive Barker, you’ll know what they are. You can’t fight these things hand-to-hand, it’s suicidal. All you have to show for it is getting killed and turning into one of them. Should you come across something that remotely looks like the Lemant Configuration, leave it alone. If you find yourself dealing with the cenobites, the Lemant Configuration is the only thing that’s going to save your skin.

Should the cenobite you’re dealing with happens to be Pinhead, their leader, don’t bother trying to fight him hand-to-hand. You need the Lemant Configuration to deal with Pinhead. If you need to, you can offer sacrifices to Pinhead. There’s no shame in doing so, there are many bad people in this world that deserve Pinhead’s wrath and torture.

Demons

That depends on lore, mythology, and theology.

There’s no universal way to take on demons. In hand-to-hand combat, superior technique is key. Look at how the demons fight in CW’s Supernatural with the overhead punches which can easily be blocked and countered. Don’t engage in a hand-to-hand fight with demons unless the situation absolutely calls for it.

Using Weapons

Be smart about defending yourself against the denizens of the night. Engage in hand-to-hand only if that’s the last resort. Other than that, use weapons when dealing with them. Remember, weapons are simply extensions of your body. Anything can be used as a weapon. You have your typical martial arts weapons and your improvised weapons.

Wooden Stake

In order to kill a vampire, being armed with wooden stakes are a must. It doesn’t hurt to carve religious symbols onto your stakes to give them that boost. To be on the safe side, let those stakes soak in holy water. Make sure the vampire you’re dealing with isn’t an atheist.

Silver Weapons

In horror lore, pure silver is said to be able to vanquish evil. When dealing with most monsters, going silver is the way to go. Silver can be forged into different weapons.

  • Silver Stake. If you are an expect in knife-fighting, the silver stake makes you a threat in the eyes of most monsters.
  • Silver Karambit. This is a blade that’s short and compact. If you have the proper training, the silver karambit is effective against monsters. Should you get grabbed by a vampire, use the silver karambit to slash the arms and work at the joints.
  • Silver Blades. Any sort of martial arts training with blades make you lethal to any monster. Blessed pure silver blades in your hands will make most monsters hesitant to mess with you.
  • Silver Punch Dagger. Effective in the hands of any martial arts expert.
  • Silver Claws. Effective in the hands of any Kung-Fu expert. There are Karate and Tae Kwon Do moves, in kata, that involve scratching the face and eyes.

Peach Tree Wood

Peach tree wood is one of those certain things that will dispatch a jiangshi. You can carve weapons from the wood such as kali sticks, jo staffs, nunchukus, three-way staffs, bokkens, etc.

Zombie Killing Weapons

Any martial arts weapon capable of destroying the head is useful. Make sure the blades or points are constantly sharpened. Time is of the essence when killing zombies. You don’t want the blade or point of your weapons to be stuck in the zombie’s skull. What if you don’t have access to martial arts weapons?

There are useful tools that can be made into weapons.

  • Pickaxes. Think of a pickaxe as a double-edged sword which you can swing back and forth. It’s an ideal zombie killing weapon because of how it’s shaped. Applying proper martial technique allows you to inflict more damage while conserve energy. Remember, head shots are the only things that matter.
  • Axes. Axes of any sort are effective as long the blades are sharp. Apply proper martial technique when wielding an ax.
  • Spiked baseball bats. Good for penetrating the brain multiple times with one strike. Exercise proper martial technique.
  • Shovels. Sharpen the sides for better efficiency.

Makeshift Weapons. Put a bunch of items together for one effective makeshift weapon. Look at Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 3 for example. If you’re good with your hands, you can make weapons that increase the damage of your hand strikes like a pair of brass knuckles with spikes attacked or a set of “bar ‘n nails.

Be Smart, Be Prepared, Be Safe

Only engage monsters only if you have to. Ideally, keep your distance. Make sure to keep a gun or two around with plenty of ammunition. In case of dealing with werewolves, keep a stockpile of silver bullets. Certain lore says that silver bullets also work on vampires. There are so much lore about monsters that there is no exact absolute solution in dealing with them. Not all denizens of the night are out to make you their next meal. There are plenty of good monsters, make sure you tell the difference between them and the baddies.

Go out and have a happy Halloween, but be safe and responsible.

DISCLAIMER

Don’t take this seriously, this is just getting in the spirit of Halloween.

0 0 Continue Reading →

Kung Fu Negotiation: Using the Multi-Level Attack

The multi-level attack relies on the fact that people have trouble keeping their attention on more than one dangerous stimulus at a time.

0 0 Continue Reading →

Inside the Life of Shaolin monks

Shaolin Monastery, the Cradle of Martial Arts

Known as the cradle of Chinese martial arts, Almost all martial arts originated here, and the combat skills of Shaolin monks are known legendary. However, the monks here are not arrogant, but training hard to continuously improving their skills every day.

The monks here are not arrogant, but training hard to continuously improving their skills every day.

The monks here are not arrogant, but training hard to continuously improving their skills every day.

Not only martial artists, but many people around the world quite familiar with the extraordinary skills of the Shaolin monks. They train to be able using 36 different kinds of weapons, and each monk has to pick at least two animal movements and styles to specialize in.

They train to be able using 36 different kinds of weapons, and each monk has to pick at least two animal movements and styles to specialize in.

They train to be able using 36 different kinds of weapons, and each monk has to pick at least two animal movements and styles to specialize in.

The temple was founded in 495 AD by the Indian Buddhist monk Bhadra with the support of Emperor Xiao Wen Di. The monastery had become famous as a center of martial arts by as early as 620 AD. The Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty was a supporter of Shaolin Temple, and he wrote the calligraphic inscriptions that still hang over the Heavenly King Hall and the Buddha Hall today. The Buddhist monastery is located in central China, Henan province, near the city of Dengfeng, on Mount Song.

The Buddhist monastery is located in central China, Henan province, near the city of Dengfeng, on Mount Song.

The Buddhist monastery is located in central China, Henan province, near the city of Dengfeng, on Mount Song.

The most famous about this place is ‘The Shaolin Temple‘ which was released in 1982. The movie is about The Tang emperor is betrayed by one of his generals, who installs himself as emperor in the East Capital. The son of one of his slave worker escapes to the Shaolin Temple, learns kung fu, and sets out to kill the traitor, who killed his father. After the success of the movie, many people across the country have come here to practice.

There are many martial arts schools that trace their origins back to Shaolin.

There are many martial arts schools that trace their origins back to Shaolin.

There are many martial arts schools that trace their origins back to Shaolin. Among the schools that claim to have a spiritual kinship with the Shaolin Temple are the Chinese School of Shaolin Chuan and Japanese Shorinji Kempo.

With the popular of Shaolin in the society, there are many major investments made to develop the region and promote tourism in China.

With the popular of Shaolin in the society, there are many major investments made to develop the region and promote tourism in China.

With the popular of Shaolin in the society, there are many major investments made to develop the region and promote tourism in China.

Feast of the Shaolin monks

Feast of the Shaolin monks

These days, practice in Shaolin temple is not only the Chinese monks, but also a lot of foreigners came here and experience the daily life as well as practice martial arts here. There are many commercial martial arts school for foreigners inside the temple and around it.

These days, practice in Shaolin temple is not only the Chinese monks, but also a lot of foreigners came here and experience the daily life as well as practice martial arts here.

These days, practice in Shaolin temple is not only the Chinese monks, but also a lot of foreigners came here and experience the daily life as well as practice martial arts here.

Today, masters and grandmasters at Shaolin temples are not that’s powerful like before. During the interview Huffpost, Sifu Wang Bo, a Shalin monk:

Masters are not as powerful today due to the electrical signals such as wi-fi, satellite, radio, television etc. As a result masters are 15 percent less powerful than in ancient times.

Today, masters and grandmasters at Shaolin temples are not that’s powerful like before.

Today, masters and grandmasters at Shaolin temples are not that’s powerful like before.

Not only stayed in China, Shaolin temple is also exported in the US. In 1994, Yanming Shi, a 34th generation of Shaolin monk, founded a first Shaolin temple in the United States. He taught the philosophy of Chan Buddhism through martial arts training and mediation techniques, such as Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Ki Kong.

0 0 Continue Reading →

The mystery of Shaolin levitation was revealed by scientists

Shaolin Levitation

The study of sound waves, magnetic fields that causing objects to fly had turned on the light on the mystery of levitation Shaolin Kungfu.

In ancient time, levitation was practiced in India and Tibet. Buddhist textbooks mention that in 527 A.D, Hindu founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma, visited the Tibetan Shaolin Monastery and taught the monks to control their body energy, which is a mandatory condition for levitation.

Nowaday, there are always people practice levitation in India and Tibetan. And there quite a lot of oriental researchers described the phenomenon of flying lamas in their works. For example, the British explorer Alexandra David-Neel observed herself the Buddist monk sitting motionless in the lotus position, flying tens of meters, hitting the ground and raising it again the way a ball bounces up and down after a throw.

According to Chinese martial arts, Shaolin levitation represents the Buddha contempt, get Zen practice, meditation and qigong aggregates as the core. Many people believe if you practice meditation. Super levitation can be obtained by releasing the perfect human consciousness and lift your body up in the air. In the conclusion of the Shaolin study, to achieve levitation, it must follow three principles: excitation energy; magnetisation (magnetic field); and enter the static (meditation).

[Tweet ” Three principles of shaolin levitation: excitation energy; magnetisation and enter the static.”]

A monk named Shi Liliang from South Shaolin Temple demonstrates the legendary Shao Lin Qing Gong -“flying on water”

A monk named Shi Liliang from South Shaolin Temple demonstrates the legendary Shao Lin Qing Gong -“flying on water”

Explanation of humanity’s levitation by magnetic field

Scientists of that time observed his levitations more than a hundred times and left behind official evidence of their research.

In 1971, University which specialises in studying levitation was established in Fairfield, Iowa. After that, the school also opened research centers in Europe, such as Switzerland, Germany, England and centers in India and other countries. They gather expert physical, Indian Philosophy, mathematicians, doctors, engineers and psychologists. One of their main objectives is to study superiors Zen that teaches people to fly.

Because people cannot win over the gravity to fly up. However, an event that took place in 1991 has led the scientific community to rethink the criticism of itself. In March of 1991, Nature magazine published a sensational picture: the director of the Superconductivity Research Laboratory in Tokyo was sitting on the dish of superconducting ceramic material. There was a gap of air between him and the floor. The total weight of the director and the dish was 120 kilograms, which did not prevent him from levitation.

This phenomenon was referred to later dubbed as the Meissner effect. It is the expulsion of a magnetic field from a superconductor. Since 1933, two physicists Walther Meissner (Austria) and Robert Ochsenfeld (Germany) discovered the phenomenon by measuring the flux distribution outside of tin and lead specimens as they were cooled below their transition temperature in the presence of a magnetic field.

Flying Shaolin Kung Fu Monk

Flying Shaolin Kung Fu Monk

Explanation of human’s levitation by sound waves

Not only the magnetic field can impact the ability to beat humans but also sound waves. According to research by Dr. Christopher G. Provatidis in the article about the relationship between the principle of anti-gravity and levitation published online in The Journal of Rose Croix Journal 2012-Vol 9, said the monks in Tibet can vibrate the large rocks at an altitude of 200m-300m easily. The only thing they did be practice Buddha recitation along with the drums. In particular, this is the sound of chanting to the beat frequency very carefully 1: 4: 5.

This study also matches the findings of two scientists from the University Denis Terwagne Liage in Belgium and John Bush at MIT in June 7.2011. Two scientists were so delighted when they discovered a special device is employed in rituals of Tibetan meditation.

It is the bowl that contains water inside when meditating and chanting the sound of a certain frequency can cause the droplets vibrate and soar. And again In May 1.2014, scientists at the University of Tokyo also demonstrated ultrasound can make objects levitate as well.

Despite the controversy, but the study of sound waves and a magnetic field that can lift up objects when meditation, as well as miraculous achievement of various Shaolin disciples has started opening up evidences prove that the story of levitation is not entirely illusory.

6 0 Continue Reading →

The Story of Ip Man’s Wooden Dummy

Introduction: A Very Brief History of the Wooden Dummy in the Southern Chinese Martial Arts.

I have been shopping for a new wooden dummy (Mook Yan Jong). Obviously Wing Chun has a long and fruitful association with the wooden dummy, but this training tool is used throughout the southern Chinese martial arts. Southern Mantis and Hung Gar boxers occasionally use the dummy, as do Choy Li Fut practitioners. In fact, Choy Li Fut employs a great variety of somewhat more mechanical complex training tools.

Nor is the use of the dummy restricted to martial artists. Wooden training devices have been used by military forces from time immemorial. Sima Qian, the brilliant ancient historian, is the first individual to discuss the wooden dummy. In Records of the Grand Historian (written between the 2nd and 1st centuries BCE) he mentions that Emperor Wu Yi of the Shang dynasty (circa 1200 BCE) made “Ou Ren” (a wooden human figure) that could be used for Shou Bo (bare handed fighting) practice.

Scholars debate how much weight to place on Sima Qian’s early histories, but for our purposes the details aren’t actually all that important. Whether their attested use stretches back 2100 or 3200 years, wooden dummies have long been used in traditional Chinese combat training.

Nor has this use been restricted to the military. In more recent centuries wooden dummies became a feature of southern Chinese popular culture. Stories of the southern Shaolin temple included its hall of diabolical mechanical dummies that a student had to defeat in order to “graduate” and leave the temple.

Much of this lore was conveyed through popular novels, stories, street performances and of course opera. Cantonese Opera troops attracted large crowds with feats of martial prowess and “military plays.” This made it essential that they have tools for training martial artists. Wooden dummies, very similar to the sort still used today, helped to train performers. The Cantonese Opera Museum in Foshan even displays an antique dummy along with the other artifacts of the industry’s 19th century past.

As a side note, I have always found it interesting that in translating their signage the museum refers to these training devices as “instruments” rather than “dummies.” Obviously there are lots of percussive instruments in traditional opera, and dummies make a very distinctive set of sounds when struck. In my lineage of Wing Chun we count a “movement” of the dummy form as being completed when the dummy makes a sound rather than when the martial artists move a limb. I don’t think it requires all that imagination to see the “instrumental” quality in all of this.

Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of examples of really old dummies. After all, these objects were made of wood and when planted in the ground they would eventually rot. This must have been an issue in a climate as humid and wet as southern China.

The Foshan Period

Dummies likely started to disappear from the local landscape around the turn of the 20th century. Opera was being displaced by other forms of entertainment and the martial arts were decidedly unpopular in the years following the boxer rebellion. Luckily these swings have a habit of reversing themselves.

By the 1920s there was increased popular interest in the martial arts. Part of this was the result of efforts by reformers (such as the Jingwu Association) to promote the traditional hand combat styles as a distinct form of unique Chinese physical culture. However, the growth of the economy and the transformation of the traditional teaching structures into market-based public schools also helped the martial arts to gain a following in middle class and urban areas where they had traditionally been frowned upon. As the southern Chinese martial arts grew more dummies were produced and put into place.

A Dai Jong or “Buried Dummy” outside of the Foshan Jingwu Association

A Dai Jong or “Buried Dummy” outside of the Foshan Jingwu Association

Most of these dummies were of a type now called Dai Jong (Ground Dummies, also sometimes referred to as “buried” or “dead” dummies). They were constructed from a log or tree trunk that was anywhere from eight to ten feet long. Generally speaking the lower three and half feet would be worked into a thick square and buried in a stone or cement lined pit in the ground.

The still round main-body of the dummy would sit about three inches above the ground. This was enough room to allow shredded rattan strips to be slipped into the spaces between the square base of the dummy and the side of the pit. Packing the area in this way supported the central pole in an upright position, but it also allowed for a little give and spring when the dummy was struck or pushed.

Occasionally I see accounts stating that small rocks are gravel were used to line the hole. I am not sure how widespread that practice was. It certainly could have been done, and it would have provided a much firmer body. Nevertheless, the resulting dummy would not have had much movement.

All of the surviving dummies of the pre-1940s era, including both the example at the Opera Museum and the Jingwu Hall in Foshan, are of this type. The picture of the example at Jingwu is quite interesting because it clearly shows how the main body is reduced to a square cut, and how that is positioned in a hole in the ground.

Dai Jongs are still commonly seen in a number of places. They are encountered in Guangdong province and appear to be fairly common in Vietnam, where at least some of them have been given a more exaggerated swinging motion. Given the construction of the traditional one story home in southern China they could be planted either indoors or in an outdoor training area.

Pan Nam demonstrates the wooden dummy form.

Pan Nam demonstrates the wooden dummy form.

The preceding series of pictures, taken by Leung Ting and published in his book Roots and Branches of Wing Tsun, show Hak Min Nam (often called by his nickname Pan Nam, b. 1911- d. 1996) working a Dai Jong that has planted in his study. This is a good real life example of the sort of indoor dummy which Donny Yen is seen working in the first Ip Man movie. Master Kwok Fu, one of Ip Man’s original Foshan students, planted his dummy outdoors (presumably sometime after the Cultural Revolution) and was still teaching students on it in the 1990s.

Master Kwok Foo teaching his students the wooden dummy

Master Kwok Foo teaching his students the wooden dummy

This is the sort of dummy that Ip Man would have learned the form on. Obviously Chan Wah Shun and Ng Chung So would have used this sort of device, and it’s likely that Ip Man owned one as well. In general traditional buried dummies seem to be larger than the latter sort, both in terms of their height and diameter. This greater size might help them survive longer when buried in the ground and exposed to the elements. It seems that most telephone poles in the US are good for 10-15 years and it is likely that this is how long a Dai Jong could have lasted as well.

Interestingly all of the early dummies seem to have relatively thick offset arms (rather than the parallel arms that are more commonly associated with the Ip Man lineage today) and smaller legs. However, they seem to have roughly the same proportions as modern dummies. In both cases the top arm of the dummy sits at about the level of the user’s shoulder.

[youtube id=”cl8BDD1JmK0″]

Hong Kong Period: Ip Man Invents the Modern Wing Chun Dummy

While Ip Man probably owned a dummy in Foshan, our story does not really begin to get interesting until we reach the 1950s. In 1949 Ip Man and a daughter fled to Macau and then Hong Kong in anticipation of the Communist conquest of Guangdong. After a number of years of KMT sponsored anti-Communist campaigns it was probably no longer safe for him given his prior employment as the leader of a local police unit. After spending a few months in Hong Kong Ip Man decided to take up the title of Sifu and become a professional martial arts teacher.

Of course there were a number of complications. To begin with, he did not have a dummy. More to the point he had yet to establish a local reputation, a pool of stable students or a location for a permanent school. Ip Man would spend the first few years of his teaching career addressing each of these problems.

Yet by the middle of the 1950s things were looking up. Ip was building a larger group of more advanced students and it was now time to consider installing a dummy so that their training could progress. In fact he was already showing some his students sections of the dummy form which they were practicing like any other set. In Wing Chun parlance this is called “using the air dummy.” While good for a quick review, it is no substitute for the geometric discipline of the real thing.

Life in Hong Kong was very different from Foshan. To begin with, people tended to live in tall apartment buildings, rather than in one story dwellings with flagstone floors. And outdoor space was extremely limited in the city, just as it is today.

Our best source of information on the development of modern dummies within the Wing Chun clan during the Hong Kong era is Ip Ching and Ron Heimberger’s (2004) volume Mook Yan Jong Sum Fat. While this can be a difficult book to get a hold of, it has been a great help is assembling the following account.Sometime in the mid-1950s Ip Man approached a carpenter and friend named Fung Shek. He explained his basic problem and talked about what he wanted in a dummy. He then commissioned Fung to devise some means for constructing a mounting system for a portable dummy (Ip Man moved frequently during this period) that could be used indoors.

There are any number of ways to mount a dummy, but Fung’s idea was both simple and innovative. Rather than supporting the dummy at its base (the traditional method) he instead hung the jong on wooden slats that passed directly through the body. The thin slats acted as springs. By moving the supporting structure up the body, where most of the form was actually performed, the feel of the dummy was substantially changed.

Most Dai Jongs had a limited rocking motion, if they moved at all. The new Gua Jong (Live Dummy) was different. It all had to do with the placement and strength of the slats. When a student engaged the arms or leg of the dummy they were in effect loading a spring which would throw the dummy back forward in a more lifelike way the moment the pressure was released.

In effect a Gua Jong offers a degree of feedback on your movements that you simply could not get from a buried dummy. Given that this instrument is often used as a sort of “silent training partner” every ounce of feedback you can squeeze out of it is valuable. For instance, in Wing Chun students want to punch towards the opponent’s “center line.” If you do that with a dummy, from practically any forward facing angle, you will force the body back onto the slats and then the recoil will return the dummy to its initial position. But if your lines of attack are off and you are punching across the front of the dummy, or simply pushing at its arm, its body will slide along the rails, retreating from your incomplete strike. Again, this is critical because it provides instant feedback to the students on the sorts of subtle pressures that must be “felt” to be understood.

Together Ip Man and Fung Shek fine-tuned the new creation. The basic idea was sound but it took a bit of experimentation to work out exactly what sort of slats and mounting system yielded the best results. The final product was a truly custom, and innovative, dummy for the young Hong Kong Wing Chun clan.

Fung Shek delivered his prototype to Ip Man in 1956. While Ip Man worked with a number of different dummies over the years (as he moved from one school to the next) he always kept the Fung Shek creation with him. It was his preferred dummy to set up in a school, and eventually in his own home. In fact, this is the same dummy that used in the now famous series of photographs taken by Tang Sang in 1967. It was always his personal jong. It can now been seen on display in the Ip Man Tong in Foshan.

Some of Ip Man’s more senior students were starting to branch off and open their own schools in the second half of the 1950s. Fung Shek, with his new indoor mounting system, was the sole source for dummies in this early period. Unfortunately he does not seem to have been very prolific and we do not have many examples of his work.

In reality he was never actually produced that many jongs. Ip Ching estimates that he only produced 10-12 dummies between the late 1950s and the early 1960s when he stopped taking orders.

Bruce Lee working an early Gua Jong, circa 1960.

Bruce Lee working an early Gua Jong, circa 1960.

One possible example of his work might be seen in this well-known Bruce Lee photograph, taken sometime in early 1960. He was working at Ruby Chow’s restaurant and practiced Wing Chun in his spare time. In a letter to Hawkins Cheung (still in Hong Kong) dated May 1960 he mentions that he is having a dummy shipped to him. He probably placed the order sometime in 1959.

This is an interesting photo as it’s a very early example of the new Gua Jong type. Obviously the dummy is not mounted at the correct height. That can probably be forgiven as Bruce’s material circumstances were far from ideal and he didn’t really have much control of his physical environment at the time. But apart from that the dummy looks remarkably similar to Ip Man’s. The body may be a bit more svelte, and its “head” is shorter and more compact. One wonders if that was an intentional choice given the realities of transpacific shipping in the 1950s.

If this jong was made by Fung Shek (and that is an open question that needs more research) it would have been one of his last. The carpenter’s son was killed in a car accident. He interpreted this tragedy as retribution by the local gods for his involvement with the Wing Chun clan.

Many of the younger members of Ip Man’s school in the middle of the 1950s were basically angry young men who were frequently involved in neighborhood fights. In this context Fung came to see his own creation as a device that was used to aid bullies in better intimidating and hurting others. He vowed to never make another dummy and he stuck to that pledge.

Ho Leun standing to the left of Ip Man

Ho Leun standing to the left of Ip Man

While Ip Man had the dummy he needed, others were not so fortunate. The Wing Chun clan was expanding rapidly in the early 1960s and Fung’s retirement could not have come at a worse time.

From 1958-1962 Ip Man taught at the Shek Kep Mai school, and for some reason (either a lack of advanced students or a lack of space) he was never able to set his dummy up. In 1962 he moved his school to its Castle Peak Road location, and the dummy was brought out of storage and reinstalled by Ip Ching (who had recently been reunited with his father) and a group of other students.

Unfortunately this location did not last long. 1963 saw Ip Man looking for a new school piece of property. Luckily he ran into an old friend from Foshan named Ho Leun. Ho had always wanted to study Wing Chun but had never had the chance. In 1963 he owned the Tai Sang Restaurant which had a mostly empty warehouse above it. He offered the space to Ip Man who accepted it as a new location for his school.

Unexpectedly Fung Shek’s dummy had to go back into storage. It seems that Ho Leun was mechanically minded and something of a handy man. He had been thinking about his own dummy designs and when Ip Man arrived he found one already installed.

Ho wanted to add additional degrees of realism to the dummy, and so he included an element of mechanical movement. It was designed so that the arms could move in and out. After a period of experimentation it was determined that it was difficult for Wing Chun students to practice their “sticking energy” with this design. Ho Leun then went back to a more conventional, all wood dummy, but he continued to experiment with the mounting system.

Where Fung Shek had used wooden slats as springs, Ho favored metal car springs. These could actually be attached to the wall and adjusted to provide just the right amount of resistance. He later took his designs and went into production. He made dummies for the Wing Chun Community from 1969-1973 before emigrating to Canada.

Ip Man never seemed to settle in one place for long and in 1964 (about a year and half later) he moved into a small apartment on Tung Choi Street. The Fung Shek dummy was once again taken out of storage and installed by the front door where it was used by both him and his son Ip Ching. This was where Koo Sang was able to study the jong in some detail.

Koo Sang

Koo Sang

Koo Sang is an important individual in the history of the modern Wing Chun clan. While a few people had made small numbers of dummies it was never enough to cover the growing demand. Further, it is simply impossible to teach the Wing Chun system without access to a dummy.

Koo took careful measurements of Fung Shek’s original jong and he replicated these in his own work. While Fung and Ho had relatively short manufacturing careers Koo proved to be both much more successful and stable. Compared to his predecessors he produced a huge number of dummies over a period of decades. In fact, he didn’t retire form from the Wing Chun dummy business until the 1990s.

Not only did he make a lot of dummies, but he made them very well. In fact, in some Wing Chun circles today Koo Sang’s dummies are still the standard by which all others are judged.

Conclusion

As I mentioned at the start of this post I am currently in the market for a dummy. It comes as no surprise then that I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about what is currently out there. Nor have my reflections been limited to questions of quality and price, though those are obviously important considerations. Some of my concerns are a bit more on the “philosophical” side.

Traditionally there were only two types of dummies available to Wing Chun students. Almost everyone (and by extension almost every school) favored the Gua Jong design. If you are were going to have a buried dummy you needed at least three things 1) suitable outdoor space 2) mad carpentry skills because no one was going to build one of those for you 3) a real obsession with historical “authenticity.”

Now there is another option. A number of firms are currently offering a “pillar and sleeve” freestanding dummy design. The bodies of these dummies are between five and six feet tall and they have a long rectangular opening carved out of their bottom which sits over a post mounted on some sort of platform. Alternatively the body of the dummy itself might be treated as the “post” and its set into a metal cup that acts as the sleeve. The entire thing can then be attached to the floor.

It is interesting to consider why these freestanding designs are appearing now. They have some obvious advantages. They take up less room, and individuals who rent might not be able to attach a Fung Shek style mounting system to the studs of walls that they do not own. One is also freer to move around these dummies as there are no slats (or walls) to get in the way. Lastly, many post and sleeve dummies are relatively portable compared to Fung Shek’s design (which itself was a big improvement over a buried dummy half the size of a telephone pole).

These are all compelling arguments. Yet I wonder if there isn’t something else going into this mix as well. The recent Ip Man movies presented a compelling view of the past. Some aspects of this vision are simply inaccurate. The real life Ip Man was an eccentric and humorous Kung Fu anti-hero. That has not stopped inventive script writers and movie producers from re-imagining him as a full blown superhero of Chinese nationalism.

Further, the real Ip Man vastly preferred his hanging dummy to anything else that he had worked with. Yet one of the single most compelling moments of the entire series of films happens in the introduction to the very first movie where Donny Yen is seen working a gorgeous replica of a Dai Jong planted right in the middle of a sumptuously decorated living room.

Wing Chun people spend a lot of time thinking about dummies, and that image was hypnotic. The idea of a stand-alone dummy that can be part of your life, rather than part of your garage, is likewise compelling. And thanks to low cost mechanical routing you can now get that same effect without having to explain to your significant other why there is a concrete lined hole in the living room floor.

In short, there are a lot of rational reasons to prefer a modern standalone dummy, particularly if you are on a budget. Yet I wonder to what degree our collective re-imagination of the past has worked its way into our subconscious preferences for dummy designs. Why bother being Ip Man circa 1955 when you can now imagine yourself as Ip Man circa 1925 instead?

Still, “authenticity” can be a slippery thing. Never having used a Dai Jong it is hard to say for certain, but I suspect that a properly weighted “pillar and sleeve” dummy would both look and feel a little more like a buried instrument. On the other hand, Wing Chun has always had a utilitarian streak to it, and it is hard to deny the benefits of the more active “living dummy.”

So here is something to think about. Almost all of the best dummies produced in the world today are modeled directly on jongs that Koo Sang built for leading Wing Chun students. These in turn are almost exact copies of the very first prototype that Fung Shek made. That means that Ip Man’s innovative indoor dummy design is the literal blueprint for almost every hanging jong in the world today. We can go even further than that. Ip Man and Fung Shek are the co-creators of the modern wooden dummy seen throughout the Southern Chinese martial arts.

This is not what Ip Man is ever remembered for. It never comes up in conversations about Wing Chun. It is simply an incidental aspect of his very fruitful career. It may also be an “authentic” element of the modern Wing Chun heritage that is worth making some sacrifices to hang on to.

1 0 Continue Reading →