About injuries, fighting and "safe" martial arts.
Since I started with MMA, my kung fu community started to have a problem with that. Not everyone, some were actually very supported, which I am still grateful for. But many people around me kept telling me the same things: “You are always hurt”. “MMA is so violent and dangerous”.
“It is brutal. Violent. No rules!” I heard from my kung fu friends and mostly sifus. Same people, who teach how to kick the groin, stab eyes with fingers or attack the Adam’s apple on the neck. Just saying.
Kung fu is my love. There are many aspects of the art, and not everyone actually wish to fight. That is very OK and does not make anyone a lesser student. However, if you want to understand deeply and teach others, you need to study the function. I found my love in MMA too, but I’m not saying that this is the only way. It is just my way.
My sifu is a modern and open-minded person, he remembers the way his generation used to train as well as the fights, so he understands why now, in the time when most people only want to practice forms, I need to fight. He is proudly announcing it to anyone around when we visit a kung fu party. But also he hates seeing me hurt.
(Not only) For fighters and kung fu/wushu serious practitioners
The premise is simple. Adults, at least in my Curriculum, do not learn only the movements or forms, but also how to apply them. Even if they join more of a "self-defense fitness oriented" program, we would do some exercises with the help of partner drills, boxing gloves or pad work.
But how about children?
âChildren's classes are different. They focus on different skills, are more general, so even if the kid won't stick with kung fu, he or she will be ready for anything else. They do lots of strength training, games, speed and coordination exercises. We spend big amount of time on basics, which I believe are more important than forms.
But we also do application. Altought, the kids maybe don't know.
I made a decision of making every step possible to give myself the highest chances to start a good fighting career. In January I teamed up with a sport psychologist. Yes, I do have a Doctorate in sport psychlogy, but I cannot give a session to myself. So, we had many topics to talk about, such as fear, agression, focus etc. One of the things that helped me a lot was self confidence.
I am the person who would always criticise myself in my mind. During sparring, I would tell myself: "What was that?!". That's the way of how I used to pushed myself over the last 20 years. Never satisfied. But now, I need to change this. One of the homeworks I got was to draw a staircase, and after each training session write down what I have improved in, on one step. It's great, not only I have a record of some, even they are small, achievements. Now when I ask myself what I am "good" at, instead of "nothing", I have my staircase as reference.
But also I started to talk to myself much more in a positive way. "That was better. Try it again!" So many things fighting is teaching me...
For my kung fu coaching, I have developed several programs based on what people are coming for to me. Generally, for the Hung Kuen kung fu Curriculum, I use colored stripes as levels (similar to belts) and I adopted BJJ way of having a range of color stripes for kids, but nothing between white and blue for adults. The top box shows a screen shot of a part of my lesson plan, where I remind myself what are the technical goals for the current level (such as what kind of strikes they are learning at this stage).
Except for kids, I teach adults too. So far, there was a demand for two types of training. The first one I would call something like Asia-Combat-Fitness. Simply said, people want to work out, hit the pads, do some self-defense drills, and also learn a form or do some breathe exercise. It is a combination of what kung fu offers and what is a typical combat class for non-fighters. I usually hope this will bring them to the other program I have.
The third one, green on picture, I call by a working title “Complex Program”. This one is much more oriented on detailed technical site, application in fighting, as well as pads, breathe etc. Surprisingly I offer this one the least, but it is the most important one.
For these two adult programs, I again remind myself in the lesson plan what the goals and the contents are, and as you can see, I use shades of the color to note for myself how important/how much present they should be in the lesson.
To write regularly is really easier to plan but much harder to do! I am happy I decided to, except for normal articles, write a personal post just once per a season, not once per week…
The summer has passed and many things happened. To start with, I had a pretty down time after my fight in Thailand in March, which resulted into sitting down and deciding whether I still wish to be in Hong Kong. I stayed and switched gyms. This was a particularly painful decision, because I pretty much was at home at the old one. At first, I planned to have sessions in one gym and some in the other, but later I found myself much more in the other one. My new head coach is the same guy who cornered me in Thailand, so I call it a destiny that I went there. With that, my training has radically changed over the past two months. Especially, when I got into a camp. It was my first camp, when I really had a training plan to follow and all my training partners to help me (push me).
It was emotionally very difficult.
I get this a lot. People keep asking me about kung fu and MMA. I have traditional martial arts background, not only kung fu, but also karate. However, kung fu does define me and creates a big part of who I am. I got many messages from kung fu practitioners and also coaches, being very positive about both my wins and losses in MMA, and I am very grateful for them. I also got several comments, mainly from people here in Asia, about how MMA full-contact fighting is opposite of kung fu, too violent, etc. This makes me usually quite angry, not only because kung fu is fighting, but also because MMA is a rules-based sport, as opposite to often mentioned and promoted self-defense by kung fu practitioners, which is in fact much more violent than MMA. But that is a different topic. Transitioning to MMA with kung fu background is specific. I do not hesitate to start from scratch and get lots of beating, because I understand that forms and fighting are not connected naturally, the bridge needs to be built. And that is what I am doing. Kung fu definitely gives me many positive aspects for my MMA training, but today I would like to talk about one single thing, that I believe we do not talk about it enough.
Let me start with giving you some context. I am in traditional martial arts since 1999. Here, I talked about how I define traditional wushu (kung fu). Not only I am a practitioner and athlete, but also a coach of a traditional southern style called hung kuen, and I fight full-contact, too. This year at the World Championships in Emeishan I took the 4th and 6th place, competing with hung kuen forms in “gun” and “other nanquan” events.
This spring I also competed at the European Championships and I was very delighted to see what EWUF is doing for traditional wushu. It is a huge step forward, really employing people who are experts in the field, to build the standards based on actual traditional styles. In IWUF, on the other hand, you can often see at the traditional events very awkward performances, because athletes simply take out nandu from their forms, or create something highly creative but closer to dancing than traditional wushu, often seen for example in the “imitation styles event”.
This time it will be a bit rough. I have been living in different parts of Hong Kong. At first I was trying to avoid English speaking community as much as I could, which brought me some deep (deep ≠ good) experiences. I realized that how I live here is a topic worth writing about.
I first moved to Hong Kong for a longer period of time as an exchange student. That was great, I used to live at a dormitory in the middle of hills, inside of a university campus. You could say in terms of living, it was easy. Then I came back to work here (and mainly train martial arts) and everything suddenly became complicated. When I look back now, it was crazy, and I don’t know how I survived that. If somebody would tell me how much I will need to sacrifice, I don’t know whether I would walk this path, but luckily, you never know how much you will need to pay, as it always comes in little bits and you are thinking, I still got this, I still can get through this…
With the World Kung Fu (previously called Traditional Wushu) Championships just behind the corner, I would like to reflect just a little bit on what is this traditional in traditional wushu. I say a little bit, because it is an enormous topic, and there are whole academic papers talking about traditional martial arts (search for example for articles of Paul Bowman and Benjamin Judkins), and I don’t want to spend so much space on it here. But I come from a traditional martial arts background, I train and teach kung fu, a style called hung kuen, and previously I had been practicing traditional karate for some 8 years (which is absolutely not contradicting my MMA training, though I am asked about this a lot).
I have been practicing martial arts since 1999. It became the reason for moving to Hong Kong and it guided many of my life decisions. I am addicted to hung kuen kung fu and MMA. Follow my path to pro fighter on this blog or my social media.
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