Losing Faith

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Losing Faith

Postby Balloo » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:25 pm

Hello, I have been studying many styles, and practicing several to try to find that one art or couple arts I wish to pursue. Every time I try a different style, it goes well for a while, then I start thinking in my head about the applications I am practicing, and I ask myself a series of what if questions. Then I lose faith in the art and think of it as ineffective merely because I think too much. It's kind of like a "what if the opponent does this" sort of thing then I lose faith in the art, and more importantly myself because I think it would be ineffective. I will look at several styles and see openings in the defense when a counter is used, for example, Mantis Kung fu, I see openings when a hook is used and a counter punch is thrown. I understand there will always be openings and vulnerable targets, and that if they are accounted for by the defender it will work out, but I cannot seem to break the cycle of this. I also know it is the practitioner not the art that matters. I just lose faith with the styles I practice. I don't know if I just haven't found the right one yet, or if I am thinking too much. How do I choose and commit myself? I also have another question. I have looked at several styles of Northern Kung Fu, and Southern, and practiced a few of each. I wanted to ask opinions on something. Generally speaking I see the northern styles use more circular moves, and it seems that those moves leave the practitioner more exposed to counter attack. Why are the long arm motions used when shorter motions could be applied to the same effect? Do those long swinging moves or block leave the practitioner open needlessly? I am referring specifically to styles like Hung Gar Kung Fu, Choy Li Fut, I mean no disrespect and I understand my point of view is limited and probably incorrect, but that is why I am asking. I see several southern kung fu styles use moves with shorter motions and closer delivery when launched from the body. (Wing Chun, Southern Mantis) So far I prefer southern styles just because they seem to expose less target area when defending or attacking. Please correct me if I am mistaken. I want to understand. This is why I ask. I mean no disrespect.
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Postby yat_chum » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:09 am

Hi Balloo, you seemed to have answered most of your own questions. By the way never be afraid to ask questions it is how you learn. All styles have strengths and weaknesses and any style is only as good as the person doing it. When you see a weakness ask your Sifu about it, also try exploiting it (in a controlled manner) when sparring with senior practitioners of the style in question.

I once went to Pai Mei class, when the instructor noticed that I was able to do the moves easily (for want of a better word) he asked me if I had done some Pai Mei before? I told him that I USED to do Wing Chun. After which he ripped the Wing Chun style apart mostly focusing on the weakness of the Bong Sau but remember "Bong Baat Ting Lao" (wing does not stop or stay). When I next went to Wing Chun Kuen I tried to attack the vulnerable spot and found it to be very difficult.
yijing zhidong

use stillness to overcome movement
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:28 am

Many of the movements you are considering are from forms originating in arts with weapons use. Much of the same movement technology you see in these motions that you dislike applies to the use of weapons. I think you may find that the motions make more sense to you if you consider that they are rarely oriented around only hand work.

Seeing vulnerable spots in practice is misleading, drills are not designed to cover everywhere at once, no posture or move lacks a weak point and or viable lines of deflection and displacement, if you look for open or weak areas you will find them everywhere and in every art.

Do you know who Ehsan Shafiq is? He is a tremendous fighter who uses movements that a novice could never get away with, you could easily lose faith in the practicality of excellent techniques if you don't master them. Watch some youtube/online videos of Ehsan Shafiq and let me known what you think.
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Postby Balloo » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:46 pm

I have heard of Shafiq, and he is good, no doubt. I understand the notion that all styles have weaknesses and openings. From there how do I choose then? I like White Crane, but I suffer the same problem, should I choose on principles of the art alone? If I agree with the principles I can make the art what I want after I study for a long time. What about xingyi? I dont understand the movements well, but it seems to be very good. I see that I answered many of my own questions as well, but I still cannot commit to one art. My real question is how do I choose and commit, understanding that no art is flawless and its up to the practitioner to make it work. Thank you both
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Postby Balloo » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:49 pm

I also notice that circular moves do well to open up the opponent for a follow up strike. The block comes in a linear fashion to redirect the punch then the circular motion follows to open them up and follow with a counter.
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Postby lilman » Sun Apr 19, 2009 5:03 am

balloo, I hope you don't mind if I make a suggestion, I am currently a practitioner of taijiquan and zuiquan because I like the theory behind them, and my understanding. Makes it work. Based on your last post, this is what I would suggest. Combat xinyi and bagua, and/or sun style taiji complete with sun xinyi. And bagua.

The reason I would suggest this,

Xinyi, xinyi is the straight line. Every movement is meant to kill. In fact, in the old days, a practitioner wouldn't consider a fight a victory, even in sparring matches, unless they killed their opponent. It uses a number of different strikes based on energy patterns and the 5 element theory. To understand xinyi you must understand the 5 element theory and the paths of mutual relation and destruction. It also makes the theory a lot more clear through ziyi practice. I

Bagua, bagua is the circle. All though at first glance it looks like your just walking in circles, its applications are isaislly brutal. It has a lot of wrestling, takedowns and chin na, but it also has strikes. Bagua bruteslizes and uses the oponents attack against them, and you never stop moving. An example of the effectiveness of the style, one master. Named snake eyes, was up against several Japanese guards when japan invaded Taiwan. The guards had guns and he was unarmed. They fired at him, and hit him several times, but he killed all the guards. The Japanese released to the press snake eyes died, but he showed up several times later in history. The reason this happened was if a bullet hit him in his left shoulder for example, he would turn his waist to the right, and walk the circle in the opposite direction. So the bullets connected but missed all his internal organs. Bagua is based on the circular arrangement of the 8 trigrams around the yin yang symboluxung unlimited change.

Once a xinyi master and a bagua master fought. They fought for 3 days straight, so the story goes. Finally the bagua master one, and they started training together. They come to the eralization that the 2 styles compliment. Each other perfectly. They are both based off of theories from daoist thought, and where ones weakness lies, the other. Compliments with a strength. So since you would practice both, you would be questioning one styles movements, and find the answer in the other. Make sense?

And if you decide to add taijiquan to the equation, you can neutralise the straight line, follow or stop the circle, all while making your offense your dedense and vice versa, and eliminating the use of muscle strength.

Hung ga purposely leaves itself open at times, it practices iron wire and has no fear of getting hit. It always moves forward and practices trades, meaning you hit me face, but I hit your throat and you die. Fair exchange.

I would first suggest, if you haven't already reading the Tao Te ching, the I ching, and reading up on the 5 element theory. If you can grasp them and like or agree with them, then maybe follow what I suggest. If you don't, no point in pursuing any soft styles.
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Postby Balloo » Sun Apr 19, 2009 2:16 pm

I do not understand the 5 element theory. I have tried, but I cannot grasp the meaning of it, or the applications. I also do not understand the I Ching. I do not understand how Bagua uses it in application to combat. The only application I can see is in the footwork, and correlating to the hand techniques that counter one another. I also do not understand how Xingyi applies the 5 elements in combat. As for the Tao I can understand the poems, but what is the purpose of the book as a whole? What should I get out of it?
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Postby Yatish Parmar » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:15 am

Think less, practice more.
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Postby lilman » Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:18 am

Lol Yatish is 100 prevent right with his advice. But I can see how the advice would do litymore than confuse and frustrate you. Let me help you put.

The 5 element theory is simple. There's 2 paths, the path of mutual relation and the path of mutual destruction.

The path of mutual relation,
Fire creates earth by fertilization
Earth produces metal
Metal melts into water
Wood feeds fire

The path of mutual destruction,
Fire destroys metal by melting
Earth destroys water by stopping
Water destroys fire by extinguishing
Wood destroys earth by using its resources
Metal destroys wood by chopping

These energies apply to different things such as our bodies, cooking, feng shui, etc. To get that info there are many charts available online. Xinyi has 2 forms. One is just different energies and different ways to express power. The other is the 5 elements. Based on those 2 lists, the movements counteract or setup the other. You have to learn the forms to truly understand. Don't get frustrated trying to understand everything, just take your time and soak in the info through practice, and it will just hit you.

Bagua is more difficult to explain. The 8 trigrams are represented in the 8 steps in circle walking, and each technique represents a trigram or a hexaheam. The best way to understand is by learning the forms and applications and comparing them to the I ching. As far as combat, the endless circling and changing directions represent the never ending changes of the I ching.

The Tao Te ching and the I ching are not easy to understand. They tell about martial arts, morality, longevity, sex, life and death, enlightenment, and meditation, and qigong all in one passage. I ching is also used for devinition. To me it seems like your looking for something simple and quick. If its simple and quick its not worth your time. The theories behind these 2 are profound and simple, yet complicated. It takes a clear mind, preserverance and relaxation to understand. If you think to much, you'll never get it. The books speak to you when its time. Don't rush things. You have the rest of your life to understand. If your only interested in fighting, learn the forms. The more you practice the more the other benefits will come naturally. So again, stop thinking about it, just practice. its like when you loose something and you can't remember what you done with it, and you stop looking, then you remember. That's how your practice should be. Once you grasp the concept and quit trying and thinking, you will naturally improve.

The best student gears of the way and practices it assiduously. The middle student gears of the way, and as soon as they grasp it, it is gone. The worst student gears of the way and laughs. If they did nor laugh, it would not be the proper way.
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Postby clairvoyager » Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:07 am

Ballo, that's an interesting question. I think that everyone that's been into martial arts for a while has had to face some phases of disillusionment.

Master Yang has said it in several books, you need to know what is your motivation for the art, its principles and its methods. Otherwise, you will easily reach to stages of doubt and will not persevere, and you will not achieve your goals.

You say that you have studied many styles, and practiced several and you cannot commit to any of them. To me, this seems like a case of "head too much ahead of your body". I've been there. I know how it feels. I'd be the kind of guy who would be reading about complex qigong stuff and couldn't
do basic seated meditation. I would reason about everything but could not relate strongly to anything. At some point, I realized I was wasting my time. Now, I try to focus on practice and learn through experience (guided by the theory) rather than "borrowing" knowledge, if you know what I mean.

Any style with roots in tradition should offer you the appropriate system to develop yourself to a high level. Just find a school that is accesible to you, has honest teachers, and a group where you find comfortable, and stick to that. Be humble enough to acknowledge that you may not get all the answers or be the most effective fighter. In the end, it's not about the techniques or the fighting, it is about the self-development and self-discipline. Just find the right framework to develop that. Most important of all, smile and enjoy!! :wink:
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