Basic training in Teng Sau is required before Kiu Sau (Bridge Arm) and Khum Na (Control & Locking) can be applied effectively. In fact the first two are closely interrelated but for the purposes of distinction it can be said that the former trains sensitivity, flow and control whereas the second deals with striking tools, bridge destroying and power generation. Khum Na mainly deals with manipulation and distortion and is Internal by nature. Technical distinctions aside, we need to first establish our core foundation which can be seen collectively as our Basics. As a result, attaining superior skills is a direct result of improved basics. To strive to master our basics is to strive to reach the higher levels of skill, hence 'There are no Advance moves, only Better Basics'. As we become more familiar with the basics we inevitably gain a higher level of awareness and confidence. As a result we will naturally gain speed through being more relaxed and familiar with all the individual expressions making it unecessary to focus on speed drills.
Shaolin Ancestors Kung Fu operates through an Internal framework so it is at the early stages that the basic building blocks of Internal Power are incorporated. Through specific training methods, Internal development is introduced from the very beginning and it is upon this Internal Platform that everything else is built. As a result students are able to develop enough practical power within a relatively short period of training.
The foundation of the Ancestor system starts with Teng Sau (Listening Hands) or Chi Sau (Sticking Hands) as it is more commonly referred to these days. In fact both names are appropriate but to avoid confusion with our better known Wing Chun cousins we will refer to Teng Sau.
In short Teng Sau training develops and improves the ability to 'hear' the opponent's intent once contact has been made. Teng Sau training will develop quicker controlled reflexes when dealing with incoming power.
Initial training is practiced on
a fixed Ma (Horse Stance) and once a higher level of skill has been achieved, footwork is then introduced. This part deals with the core root energies of the body and it is this foundation that forms the basis of our Core.
The second part deals with drills to develop defence and offence within a energy platform which is unique to the Ancestor system. This is also the stage when the various concepts of Ying Yang are translated into physical expressions.
Finally Teng Sau is taken to the freestyle or formless stage where contact is maintained but attacks are random and are taken outside any previous fixed framework. At this stage there must be sufficient level of skill to adapt and to deal with completely random attacks regardless of form and energy.
With the Teng Sau foundation already in place we will have developed increased sensitivity and the ability to deliver Soft Internal power within a framework of free flow. This next part covers the interception and control of the opponent’s Bridges at the various contact ranges. Each individual arm and body position is analytically trained inorder to unlock and to maximise our body's hidden strengths. Importantly and uniquely it is at this stage where the student begins training in the physical representation of the Universal Ying Yang Circle.
This important awareness stage is to develop a deeper understanding of how Internal power is generated and unified through the body. The aim and goal is to be able to establish and express a free flowing framework that can deal with random attacks.
The core power generation centres around both Chong Lik (Heavy Power) and Gin Lik (Explosive Power). Chong Lik provides flexible power for when the arms are de-linked from the body core and thus effective strikes can still be executed without any body rooting as the power is generated solely by the arms. Gin Lik on the other hand develops power from the body core and requires body linking. Both are extremely effective forms of power generation and when combined allow for a highly adaptive striking armoury.
Khum Na training is introduced to develop better bridge control and joint manipulation skills by the hands. Through a series of exercises and drills the student learns how to apply distorting techniques to the opponents bridge along with the various grips inorder to control power. Whether restraining or delivering distortion prior to executing a response technique, Khum Na provides the additional control required to improve the percentage of success. Training in the previous two stages will allow for more effective Khum Na application and defence.
The foundation of Khum Na is based on Internal training i.e ligament training. In essence our focus on control and power delivery is reliant on our ability to manipulate our ligaments and tendons. By linking the power from the various tendons, we can established a conduit through which Internal energy or Chi can freely flow. Without this network of Internal Linking it is not possible to deliver enough power or speed to make Khum Na dynamic enough to be effective.
All three should be trained and drilled methodically before progressing into San Sao (Free Hands). The focus is on body unity and harmony so that both arms and legs are cordinated to deliver a solid core.This part trains our ability to free flow and to deal with random changing energies and positions. At this stage we combine all the various skills from our foundation training and train to apply them in a free sparring enviroment. Our aim and effort at this stage is to gain favourable positions using all the skills we have previously developed so that we can assess what techniques are applicable from the positions we have attained. Our individual ability to maintain balance,flow and intent is normally what determines how effective our expressions are. Once we are able to express ourselves more freely 'then the true training has only just begun'.
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