Over the years, I met a lot of traditional trained fighters. I know people that are from traditional lineages that are stone cold killers. If you’ve paid attention, I never said that there aren’t ANY skilled fighters in TCMA. What I’ve said is that they are a very small percentage of those who trained.
Being in the Mo Lum for YEARS, meeting all sorts, having seen “inside” in ways many have not, even having trained with some very shady types, I’ve come to see that when it came to TCMA, the fighters were based not so much on the quality of their training or getting any sort of secrets. Rather, the fighting tradition in TCMA is based upon the “tough guy.” By this I mean that those who became known as successful fighters were individuals who would have been nasty and dangerous regardless of what they trained in. They were people who, based upon the lives they led and the things they experienced, were tough guys.
Sifu Chan was a bad kid from DAY ONE. He would go down into the village below the temple, get into fights, hang out with gangsters and revolutionaries. He challenged western boxers. The monks found him impossible! Jyu Chyuhn beat him constantly with good reason! Sifu Chan then went on to be a career military man. In China, career military wasn’t all that different from being an all out criminal. Know anything about Chang Kai Shek and his green gang connections?
The Lama/Hop Ga/White Crane community is FULL of gangsters. That’s one reason it was hard to find info on these styles before we opened up the history to people. When I was doing research, I was dealing with killers. These sorts of guys, IF they lived through the knife fights and gang scuffles, got tougher each time. Of course, many did NOT live to see the next day. So if you end up with a guy in their 40’s and 50’s who lived through all this stuff, y then they were TOUGH AS NAILS. It had nothing to do with secret training or DIM MAK charts.
I have seen a fair amount of these guys in action. Think back to the old UFC; guys whose hands dropped and often both guys getting hit at the same time. Unlike a tight guard with the other hand protecting the head, most of the TCMA people I saw left lots of holes or “leaks” but being rough characters, they got hit and kept going.
I honestly think the fixation on stuff like iron body is because these guys knew from experience that they got hit a lot when fighting, so in their world they worked on being “tougher” and “taking more”, where the modern fighter works on better defense.
The huge irony is, what these guys used was what a lot would call “kickboxing”. I’ve seen tons of punches, elbows, knees and low kicks, some wrestling. Unless you call eye goughing “tiger claws” I never saw much “animal kung fu” in any sense. Among the fighters I knew, regardless of the “style” or the lineage, they all seemed to rely on a lot of the same stuff. When push came to shove, there were only a few things that people learned worked.