Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Guidelines for Correct Choy Lay Fut Practice

Below is an excerpt from the Hung Sing Martial Arts Association regarding how to practice correctly. Many of these principles, or different analogues to these principles apply to other martial arts training as well. The full post may be read here.

Choy Lay Fut’s 5 Guidelines for Correct Practice

The Choy Lay Fut System has a vast amount of material rich in concept and theory.  Approaching the system as a conceptual method will allow the Choy Lay Fut practitioner to cut through the vast quantity of material and understand how to effectively apply the system in combat. The conceptual method of training a martial art can be compared to learning a new language. Learning only the forms and techniques with no understanding of the concepts behind them is similar to attempting to communicate in a foreign language using a phrase book. You may be able to ask specific questions like “where is the bathroom” but you will not be able to express your own ideas and converse fluently. The conceptual method of learning a martial art is similar to learning a foreign language in its entirety. You begin with the core concepts and theories which can be compared to an alphabet then you move on to combining concepts and theories together which is like forming words and sentences. Finally you can put together combinations and apply these concepts where they are needed and, in essence, converse freely with your opponent.

Practicing the Choy Lay Fut system as a conceptual method of martial arts leads to a greater adaptability and freedom in the application of the systems combative technique. However, practicing the system as a series of separate concepts can lead to confusion as to how these concepts interrelate to one another to form a cohesive method of combat.  The Choy lay Fut system is governed by 5 “laws” or “methods” to be used as a guideline to build a framework in which the concepts can be brought from a series of ideas into physical technique employed for self protection by the practitioner.

When practicing the Choy lay Fut system these 5 guidelines should be applied to each maneuver to ensure proper and efficient usage. These 5 guidelines are Sun Faht (身法), Bo Faht(步法), Sung Faht (松法), Ang Faht( 眼法), Sau Faht( 手法). Each of these categories contain rules that are universal in all Choy Lay Fut technique that aid in proper usage, proper power generation and correct technique.

Following the 5 guidelines in combination with each other is the key to what is called “total body unity” in the Chinese martial arts. Total body unity doesn’t rely on vaguely defined concepts such as qi(internal energy) but rather is a combination of good body mechanics, positioning, focus and structure.  Similar to the core concepts, learning and following the 5 guidelines leads to a greater understanding and application of the Choy Lay Fut system as a whole.

Sun Faht (身法)
Sun Faht or body law/method refers to the method of utilizing the practitioner’s body mechanics to achieve the greatest possible efficiency in power generation. The method is not limited to single strikes, Sun Faht also includes using the positioning of the body during rotational power generation methods to place the practitioner’s body in an advantageous position to continue an attack, defend or counter attack. Power generation in the Choy lay Fut system follows a pattern of movement that starts from the ground up. The body is divided into 3 major sections, the stance (Ma馬), the core(yiu 腰 ) and the shoulders(bok膊), power generation typically begins from the stance initiated by legs whether by stepping, pivoting or driving the legs into the ground. After the movement has been initiated by the legs the next major section of the body to move is the core. Rotating the waist for power is common not only in other methods of martial arts but for most movement in general. Following the rotation of the waist the next and final section of the body responsible for generating power are the shoulders. A loose and flexible shoulder is paramount to the delivery of a powerful strike. (see sung faht for more on looseness). In addition to generating power the rotation and alignment of the shoulder plays an important role in maintaining correct structure.(see sau faht)     
There are 3 main methods of power generation used in the Choy Lay Fut system 
  • Sinking
  • Sliding 
  • Torque 
Sinking the stance is a method of generating power by dropping the weight as a strike is executed. Similar methods of power generation are used in other combat methods such as western boxing where it is described as “sitting on your punches”. When done properly sinking can increase the power of a technique by allowing the practitioner to take advantage of a lowered center of gravity providing a solid base from which to deliver devastating striking power. Sinking is often mistakenly done as a deliberate lowering of the body by bending the legs or bouncing. Sinking when properly done is a releasing of the hips allowing the practitioner to “sink” into his center of gravity as the strike makes contact with the intended target.    

Sliding is a form of power generation that relies of a specific type of step. This shooting step, Biu Ma (標馬), is done by the Choy Lay fut practitioner to drive forward into position while taking advantage of the forward momentum to generate power. Using the practitioner’s body weight and forward momentum to drive the strike into the opponent the sliding method is often used in conjunction with sinking for maximum efficiency.  

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