The post event write-up is worth reading:
At MartialCamp 2010
Wow, that's what I can say about the 1st MartialCamp event.
Firstly putting on my "Organiser's Hat" a sincere thank you
for all the speakers & masters that were present, and who whole-heartedly shared the knowledge and enthusiasm for promoting TCMA. The level of quality was excellent, what was shown could be considered 'rare' and unique, styles and techniques that were not normally encountered. Then with my "participant's hat" the following:Choy Lay Fatt
First to present, their Master, Lim Chee Hoong, could not attend as he is in China studying accupuncture. However he sent a very disciplined team lead by his senior students. They started by briefing us on their history and the 3 major lineages. They explained the 3 core forms (5-element stepping, Yin-Yang hands, 12-Striking methods
) of the System, that contains all major defensive and attacking strokes used in their system.
They then demonstrated the basic techniques and drills of their system, explaining some of the finer points and applications. Choy Lay Fatt has long and mid-range fighting strokes, developing full-power strikes by using the waist, stance and legs to generate the energy. Their performance was impressive, with a group of 15, all synchronised in motion!
The discipline, high level of training and professionalism of their relatively young team members, most of whom are students from the Confucian Chinese High School, shone through.Futsan Wingchun
As the Wing Chun speaker that was planned for this event could not turn up, the speaker slot was filled by James Lau, my fellow organiser who spoke on Futsan Wing Chun which he learned while studying in Adelaide, Australia. This flavour differs from the conventional flavour of Wing Chun that spread to the world from Hong Kong.
James focussed on the differences between both, not only technique but also the way you practice "chi-sao". He then proceed to talk about weapons, and how weapons, in Wing Chun's eyes are just extensions of the arms.
He then showed a pair of Butterfly Knifes commonly available in Martial Arts supply store, and drew an interesting comparison in design between a real traditional Wing Chung design and the 'commercial' version, and showed how incorrect these were.
But despite that he demonstrated, quite elegantly, how some common Wing Chun hand technique could be 'translated' into Butterfly Knives weapons stroke and movements!Fujian White Crane
After a brief history of their White Crane, originally from Anhui they went into the action directly, explaining that the central focus of White Crane training is the Sanchin form. How this is central to everything, from being used to perfect the movements, for developing strength and endurance, as well as for development of 'yi' (intention) and 'jing' (energy), and to develop the 'fa-jing' explosive power, technique itself.
Master Kow explained the principle of projecting the 'jing' to the finger-tips. I also appreciated their explanation of the Yin,Yang principle, where each stroke has both Yin & Yang in it, both hard and soft.
This was followed by a very impressive demo of the Sanchin form, complete with breathing techniques, showing all the above, put together in a form, complete with dynamic tension and explosive fa-jing. After that came a quick but interesting demonstration of the application of the techniques from San Chan in combat situations, showing devastating explosive striking force to the arms, body and head.
Then Master James Lee, another speaker raised the issue "what about weapons?". Master Kow then demonstrated some techniques with the staff (pole), showing how some of those techniques can be applied to the staff.
Another impressive aspect was: all the White Crane practioner's had well muscled and built bodies and arms, including older masters well into their 70's (which they displayed photos of); all achieved just by practising Sanchin!Hakka Tiger
Master Lee started by explaining that the martial art-form is actually based on the "Beggar's Art". He started off by showing a very unique technique of stick fighting, that uses humility and non-confrontation as a philosophical concept! Also it moves and fights very close-in. Very different from the Filipino Kali style commonly seen. And being a MA and stick-fight practitioner, I fully appreciate the beauty of his technique! He then followed-up by showing us the meaning of the 'tiger' in the name of their art. Like a tiger subduing its prey, they seek to circle round to the opponents back and gain control of the back of the neck, just below the skull. From there, they then take the opponent down or apply chokes and locks to the neck! He finished off by showing the use of "improvised" weapons, and using common objects to distract the opponent. His is definitely not a "sport technique or martial art"!
[In Western eyes, 'beggars' may be seen as a degatory term, but in feudal China, where abuse of power & human rights was rampant, 'beggars' where a social group that could be considered 'victims of the system'. As in Europe, up until Victorian times, when someone could not repay a debt to a landowner/feudal lord, stole a sheep/goat, or poached wildlife from a landlord's huge estate; they were considered criminals and they and their families became indentured labourers, working for the creditors to pay of the debts or their 'crimes'. This system created a lot of 'criminals', (which in the case of Victorian England, they shipped off to penal colonies) or in China, those that decided to escape from the system became outlaws and could only make a living by begging. The alternative was to be a 'bandit'.
The Beggars formed clans, had their own code of conduct and devised their own methods of Martial Arts to defend themselves. Due to the constant honing of their skills, the 'Beggars Art' gain repute, for its efficiency and effectiveness. The most renowned being the different versions of "Beggars Stick", known to be a very effective stick-fighting systems!]
Five Ancestors Fist
I was the next to present, explaining a bit on the history and its lineages and then on our lineage, that of Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong, and the Great Grandmaster, Lim Sean. I then moved to elaborate on the 5 styles, Monkey, White Crane, TaiZu, LoaHan, Damo that make up our style, their unique characteristics and how each of them add their influeneces.
- Monkey - swiftness, agility, quick footwork
- White Crane - blocking and sriking techniques back up explosive striking power.
- Taizu - using form-arms and hands as 2 blades.
- Lohan - Fists and arms being used like a "ball and chain"
- Damo - Breathing techniques.
I then showed the opening sequence of our 1st form, with Ken performing the San Chan form; and explained how each of the 5 styles are represented in the strokes, the breathing, the stance and the body structure.I finished off by showing the few applications against an attack using techniques from Shan Chan.
This explains why the southern Fujian styles, this applies to White Crane, 5 Ancestors, Southern Mantis etc. usually have short jerky strokes that appear 'ugly' to the eyes of the uninitiated. In the words of Grandmaster Chee Kim Thong: "Not nice to look at, but very practical when applied (in a fight)"Xingyiquan
Master Goh explained the detailed history of Xingyiquan, (the northern Chinese Arts are better at documenting their history) He then proceed to show the principles and techniques. His descriptions was pretty detailed, unfortunately, I could not remember all of it! Xingyi can be used to train for health benefits, as how the different strokes represent the Chinese 5 elements and how that in-turn affects the health of one's
organs in the body. If you focus on traing the 'gold/metal' element, represented by the lungs, it should give you healthy lungs, etc.. He also explained its applicaton in combat. Xingyi was historically the Chinese military standard Martial Art. And then explained how it would be used in a few scenarios. Unfortunaely, due to the lack of a partner, he could not actually demonstrate it.
After the meeting ended, the organisers had a hard time getting the participants to vacate the venue, as all attendees were still 'highly charged' with interest and enthusiasm, formed 'breakout groups', to continue discussing various subject matter, in all different combinations between students, masters, members of the public, members. We finally managed to 'herd' everyone to the vegetarian restaurant nearby for lunch, which was 'on the house' by the organisers of MartialCamp!
All in all a great 1st time event. Sorry for those who missed it!
Yap Boh Heong
May 23rd, 2010
To kick off this first ever MartialCamp, we present a series of essays martial arts the camp itself. (Note: these essays are not directed at senior practitioners the writer has met but for newcomers who may be unclear on concepts and protocol.)
The Journey Begins
Because with Traditional Chinese Martial Arts (TCMA) we are embarking on a journey, we start with the first small step, then the next and before you know it you are already on that journey.
Also, your first teacher, the one who guides you on this journey, becomes very important, for he may guide you down different paths. And the student reflects the qualities of the teacher… for if the teacher is aggressive and loves physical encounters, so too will the student be like him. If the teacher is calm, patient and philosophical, so too will his student.
And the journey never ends, because learning and mastering TCMA takes a life-time, if one chooses to. That knowledge has no end.
We all learn martial arts for various reasons, but after much contemplation, it boils down to a combination of these 3 reasons: 1) For self-defense 2) For health and fitness 3) As an art
Much like a person takes up pottery, painting and expresses themselves through creating a tea pot, or paint a canvas, a TCMA seeks similar joy and fulfillment in studying his art, discovering new techniques etc… and expressing themselves through movement with their bodies. It can said that when 2 martial artists are sparing they are communicating.
Furthermore, TCMA is an art where you can start when very young and continue practicing and learning until a ripe old age. Compare it with the more physical martial arts, where by 40, you get out-kicked or out wrestled by the 'youngsters' in your dojo! Like fine wine, a TCMA ages gracefully, still maintaining and being able to utilise their skills.
While on this journey, I faced obstacles, one of which fills every beginners mind, "What types of TCMA are there out there? What are they like? Where can I find a master?"
Also, as I embarked further on this journey, I realise that TCMA is facing a grave risk! Part of our culture, 1 Malaysia and all, and a heritage that goes back hundreds, perhaps thousands of years are fast disappearing! Overwhelmed by the modern "MacDonalds culture", where for the sake of (seemingly) quick results the martial arts have been simplified, sanitised and has the "goodness" taken out of it! And the crass promotion and commercialized pop-media doesn't help either. An alternative channel is needed to create more awareness, to gather the enthusiasts and to spread this knowledge around.
Hence it was with these objectives in mind, that a small group of us came out with the idea of Martial Camp, a place both physical & virtual, where fellow travellers on this journey may meet, exchange ideas, or even just have a fine conversation. To make new friends and perhaps for those who are more energetic, to make other arrangements for teaching & learning or to have a more 'hands on' experience.
Remember, we are here to make friends, to learn and exchange. This cannot happen if your "cup is already too full", or you are not respectful of others. In this, MartialCamp will strive to uphold the traditional values of respect, discipline, sincerity and humility then only can we learn and share as equals.
Hence let this be the first step of our journey….
Yap Boh Heong
On Martial Ethics
For everyone involved. For students to teachers, between teachers, between students. This is a key ingredient, for martial arts. Without this, everything becomes a mindless brawl.Humility and Humbleness
"Knowing what you don't know, is the beginning of learning" You may not know everything, the other guys might be able to show you something. Why waste the opportunity to learn? Not a place for people whose "cup is too full".Willingness to share
If someone has a sincere approach to ask, why not share? If there are conditions for the sharing, then state them. IF you do not choose to share, but others do, then the influence of your art-form can only deteriorate.Open minded to learn
This ties in with the Humility and Humbleness part. Be prepared for new ideas, otherwise what are you doing here? There is no 'best artform', its dependent on the person, and circumstances for which it is applied.
Do compare, do try, but with reason not emotion, and with moderation (of force and aggression).
You're welcomedto compare, ask intelligent questions, not "How to learn how to kill someone with one punch!". And if someone challenges your long-held 'truths', experiment, try, find out what works, what
doesn't and under what circumstances. When you do argue, do so with reason and logic, not with emotions.
Always be prepared to learn. That's what we are all here for, and ALWAYS keep it fun!Always keep your emotions in check
Its not only your negative emotions that lead you astray, but your passion as well as you become too ingrained and attached to certain baggage. Of course if that is precious to you, by all means keep it, but don't fight over it!We are all trying to grow
One of the major objectives of martial arts is to develop discipline and control, both in mind and body. One of the consequences of the above is calmness of thoughts and of mind, and if we can achieve this, in a
discourse, over a subject matter as potentially violent as martial arts, then we would really and individually have grown, and the world would be a better place.
Yap Boh Heong
Benefits of Martial Arts
These are the 3 main things that has kept me going for 30+ years at this hobby! Its far outlasted many other hobbies and recreational activities I've had, and there has been many of those. Sure a lot of our target audience are likely to be in their 20's - 30's, but there are a number of martial artists I have know off and know personally that meet criteria 1 and 2 who are today in their 80's.1. Health
Martial arts should enable you to maintain your health and general well being right up until a ripe old age. Health means not only freedom from illness, but also being able to give you a better quality of life. A simple example would be the fact of maintain healthy muscle tone, allowing you to move about easily, without being confined to a wheel-chair when you are in your 80's. It also means you have a good sense of balance and hence less like to fall and fracture a hip - osteoporosis and all that.2. Self defense
We live in a more violent world nowadays, what with snatch-thieves, Mat Rempits, muggings and stabbings by drug addicts, etc... Learning a martial art doesn't mean that you will take on armed assailants, in fact most martial arts instructors warn you against it. But you can at least learn to get yourself out of a violent confrontation. Or better still avoid such a confrontation in the first place - by calmly talking your way out of it. Because the martial arts training will give you that confidence and you know you have a certain ability to handle violence should it occur.
Also, there may be occasions when you do need to apply what you have learnt, when you have no choice or when friends and loved ones are being threatened. At least you'll learn that a street-fight is very different from sport-fighting!3. Its an Art
Like taking up any art, be it painting & drawing, playing a musical instrument, writing - there is challenge and joy in learning and then mastering the skills. And once you have acquired those skills, you also find joy is expressing yourself through those skills - as in creating a painting, or a piece of music. In martial arts we tend to express ourselves in movement, either in the forms we do, or in a sparring exercise. In fact an interesting comment made by a fellow martial artist: "When 2 martial artists are sparring, they are communicating".
Yap Boh Heong