The Elements of Fighting Arts » Martial Arts Philadelphia | Seven Mountains Kung Fu

7 Aug

The Elements of Fighting Arts

Taking advantage of the weather and small class tonight, I decided to help some students get together for a group sparring practice. I pulled some practical techniques and extracted the fighting elements of the Chinese/Vietnamese Martial Art, which is very different than the sport sparring, but can applied there (but is very dangerous). The art emphasizes on different angles of attack and defense, getting in and out quickly and effectively, using efficient movement to avoid wasting time and avoiding the dangerous confrontation. We can apply every single animal form into any fighting situation. The Kung Fu animal hand formation changes depending on the situation. The hand itself can be thought of as a Swiss Army Knife. For example, with the Tiger claw or Dragon claw you can grab and rip. The White Crane wings can cut like a knife or poke in like a spear. Depending on the size of the fighting space and the distance, there can be multiple chops like a machine, or one cut like a katana or Chinese Da Dao. The hand can punch with a fist or be used as a hammer for a quick knock down. This is all without considering the legs. The legs are always ready to move in conjunction with the hands, and gives the opponent no chance to lift their legs up and get a kick in the face.

Performing the form helps the body memorize the movements, but when facing reality, the body will express its response spontaneously. A cat stays still and silent as it approaches the mouse, and then it explodes and just rips everything. The nature of a cat is graceful and gentle, you don’t see the cat move with a stiff or heavy movements. So, we use our body just like a whip, or a staff, or a knife, based on the animal Kung Fu form. Not just by watching the masters doing forms without showing the art of self defense, you may misjudge deeply the insight of the practical arts. You can’t just look at a piece of Thai chili pepper, it is very tiny, but by taking a bite it may kill you! So, the art can be applied by any sized human body. A smart fighter can kill you with a little razor knife, or with the same body movement, you can use the kitchen knife. Our body is a tool, using the Kung Fu animal movements in order to improve the health and enhance your fighting skill.

Each animal characteristic presents the spirit of the animal fighting. So, you can fight aggressively like a Tiger, tricky like a Monkey, or like a Crane. You are in tune with the natural energy of the animal Kung Fu which brings the art out. Martial Art is just like any form of performing art– like dance, you have to express your feeling. Just like when an animal gets mad, it has to show its aggression, but when they are in a playful mood, they can also be passive. So, Kung Fu can be that way– soft, or hard- you can work on your own form at your own pace. No rush, like riding a bicycle, you can go fast or enjoy the nice day, but when you race, you race to win!

As I stated earlier, don’t judge the Kung Fu form on looks alone. Some masters do not show the hidden form. Some Chinese forms are practical, and some have turned into art forms that are not practical for fighting. What you learn depends on the master who teaches you. If you want to be a good calligrapher by training the art, but your teacher doesn’t show you how to read and write and apply the language int other art, what a waste. So, our art requires the students to learn the art along with the form sparring, and free sparring (depending on your partners and if they know how to control or not). Just like when two cats are playing, if one goes too hard, the other will lash out to signal. Aggressive fighting to hurt the opponent is easy, controlled fighting and keeping your friend safe is not easy. Control requires a good, precise form, and good techniques. Our system emphasizes that a good fighter must have a good form. A good painter must have a good knowledge about color, composition, and painterly techniques (depending on the art which they focus on).

In our art, the mind is the body movement, and the In the art of Than Vo Dao, the Seven Mountains Spirit Fist, we train the form to help the movement become in tune with the mind. Your mind is your body movement, and your movement which is your mind. You cannot separate in fighting, your soul and your body become one. So, in any situation, the form will bust out to protect you spontaneously. The form adds layers, like the peel around an orange and protect the fruit– and so, the purpose of our form is to build the layers around you, or the peel around the orange. Some people find it boring because the form is repetitive, but the form actually teaches us so much to understand our body movement, and it teaches us how to think, and replace the mind with the body movement when confronted with a real situation to face with.

Than Vo Dao gives you so much confidence because of the knowledge of self defense. When an opponent approaches you, they are more vulnerable, but not you. You are secure around you wit health layers of Chinese Kung Fu, or Chinese Martial Art. Or any other culture or country of martial art, such as Vietnam, we are all related. When you light the firework, it explodes. We don’t just light fireworks for fun. When the opponent attacks you, that’s when the Kung Fu actually comes out, it explodes like the firework. Some people may say that they don’t see us sparring much, but the truth is that the form is hidden in you like a hive of bees. Touch you, and the bees come out. This concept is very different from modern arts, but it can still fit with any interests. As a Kung Fu traditionalist, I prefer the classic fighting styles, and a good fighter must have a good form!

For Than Vo Dao, the lower body is foundation, and the upper body is series of sets of abstract body movements which each have individual definitions. Many people mistake this movement for made up nonsense, but each movement has a practical application. We believe, in the art of fighting, at the most you may injure one hand by mistake and still survive. But, if you injure one leg, your foundation is destroyed and your capability is drastically reduced. This is why we do not show the leg much, our system is mostly southern hands and we limit the northern high kicks as much as we could. Like building a house, we don’t bring the foundation in reversely, it’s incorrect Feng Shui. In the art of sparring, or sport Karate, they emphasize on high kicks to earn points. But, Than Vo Dao does not use the high kick because it is very dangerous to the fighter. For instance, how can you raise a high kick in a small space? So, the art is very suitable for any king of angle, space size, ground, or distance fighting. Each animal shows the special techniques hidden in the form. Even though this clip is the Spirit Martial Art, it shows some aspects of the physical form, and you may find some similarities in the arts which contains soft linear and cursive (Yin/Yang principle).

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