Bridges Chinese Martial Arts

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Kung Fu Information

Instructor: Terry Bridges


Kung Fu (Pronounced Gongfu, which generally means energy & time) is the general term for the "external" side of the Chinese martial arts. Any skill or craft which requires one to expend a lot of energy (Gong) over a long period of time (Fu) can be referred to as "Kung Fu." The Chinese term for "martial technique" is WuShu, Wu meaning 'Martial' and Shu meaning 'Technique', but in the Western part of the world, Kung Fu has come to denote the martial art itself. According to Master Yang, Jwing-Ming in his book, "The Essence of Shaolin White Crane - Martial Power and Qigong", the word 'Wu' is comprised of two words which he interprets to mean "Cease Fighting", so the Chinese word 'WuShu' actually means the techniques of stopping or avoiding a fight. My own interpretation is "The Art of Not Fighting." In our classes, the term Kung Fu is used to denote the training of the Chinese martial arts with the emphasis on applications. Two distinct Shaolin styles are taught; Northern Long Fist and Southern White Crane. The Long Fist style emphasizes many middle to long range applications as well as a wide variety of kicking techniques. The Southern White Crane style teaches short to middle range fighting techniques characterized by very powerful striking techniques using waist jerking movements coordinated with arcing the back and concaving the chest.

Class Format

A wide variety of stances, kicking and striking techniques are learned and practiced. The student will first practice these techniques and then learn traditional Long Fist and Southern White Crane bare hand forms or routines. These forms practice the coordination of stepping, blocking, striking, and kicking during fighting situations. These solo forms are essential to the overall mastery of the art of Kung Fu. A variety of bare hand and weapon forms are taught with the weapons being taught after one year of training.

Each class also features the training of one's reaction and fighting skills. This entails practicing with a partner a variety of fighting form drills which train one's timing, reaction, proper positioning, focus, movement in relation to an opponent, as well as bravery. This "bravery" and "self-confidence" is automatically trained because the student becomes accustomed to "dealing with" the energies and forces from a given opponent. When this happens, the mind can remain calm during any situation and react accordingly, neither under-reacting nor over reacting.

When the student becomes familiar with the structured fighting forms, he will then move on to basic free fighting. In Kung Fu, the concept of merely kicking or punching at an opponent is very basic and can lead to bad habits, if that is the only thing the student learns. Kung Fu fighting is done while being relatively relaxed and calm with all movements and techniques being done in relation to the opponent's actions. Movements are smooth and continuous rather than sharp and rigid. Free fighting training begins very slowly, to bring the student's calmness of mind along with the physical training. It is very important to ensure the speed of the training is slow enough to keep the practitioner calm and relaxed thus allowing the student to develop correct techniques. As one's reaction improves and comfort level increases, speed will naturally increase, but only to the extent that the student can do so and still remain calm and unexcited. Stepping is eventually introduced and the student must then coordinate his techniques very smoothly and effectively with the stepping. Again, this process is done very gradually for the purpose of simultaneously training calmness of mind at the same time.

Kicking is then introduced into the free fighting training, again doing so gradually until proper habits are established and again, the calmness of mind remains.

Kung Fu fighting is comprised of four components; Kicking (Ti), Punching (Da), Wrestling (Shuai) and Chin Na (Na). Employing these components entails flowing very quickly with the opponent, taking advantage of his every move. A 'presentness' of mind is required so one can quickly, but calmly react to all changes in the situation as they happen. This ability to 'Flow' with the opponent is developed gradually through all the training mentioned above. The ability to flow is the ability to connect with the opponent so that you are not reacting to what you 'see' him doing, but rather to what you 'feel' him doing. Once you connect with your opponent, you'll sense the slightest change in his movement, you'll then react to what he is actually doing instead of what he 'appears' to be doing. As I tell my students, "Perception is what your eyes see. Reality is what punches you in the face."

Throughout the training the student will be taught Chin Na and Shuai Jiao techniques to incorporate in free fighting.

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