Last weekend I took some of my more senior students to another state to attend a seminar by a well respected Chinese martial arts teacher. Some people find this unusual, since many instructors try to isolate their students and keep them from seeing other teachers and approaches. But as I have said many times in the past, I have never had an issue with it; I am trying to educate my students and I have always found that training with quality instructors reinforces what I have already taught them and they actually appreciate me MORE.
The seminar would always begin with form, something that initially my students were not accustomed to. That is, until they realized it was just practicing a technique in isolation, just as we do shadowing or warming up. Then the real “meat” would begin, after every form practice people would partner up and begin drilling. THIS is how I learned. THIS is how all Chinese martial arts used to be practiced. But, sadly, today it seemed so rare. It was partly why I brought my students, to see it up close and personal.
The forms and the initial drills were not to confine the practice, they were just the launching point for practice. The more we practiced, the move variations there were to do, the more material there was to add. Every technique had at LEAST five variations. So, “five elements” was at LEAST 25 techniques… If you walked in just during these segments, it would have looked like an MMA seminar!
Training with this teacher reminded me so much of my teacher. As he got to know us, he beat up my arms, he punched me (multiple times) in the spleen and the kidneys. He locked me up and threw me. All the time, laughing. He was laughing, we were laughing. We were getting the crap knocked out of us and ENJOYING IT… that is what real kung fu was about, what in my opinion it should still be about.