Odd Strikes

What is odd to one is normal to another.

I have learned different styles and also examined many more styles. Among those styles I have learned I have picked up different ways of skinning the same cat. By spending years to practice the same form I have also discovered a lot more details such as non-obvious techniques and hidden techniques  than is apparent at first glance. And if you happen to have a good teacher you will also learn a lot of stuff you will never discover on your own.

Over the years as these movements become natural to me they start to manifest themselves in how I use techniques. In this way what is not normal becomes natural to me. However, to my student who has never learned broadly or taught to look beyond the obvious what I do seems odd to him.

If I apply the art shallowly without referencing the full range of techniques that is found in forms then it is easy for my student to catch up to my skill. With a huge repertoire it is more difficult for him to catch up, which is why I kept reminding them to practice forms.

For example, in the straight sword form we have a movement called Wind Sweeping the Lotus Leaves (風捲荷葉). Though it is a weapon technique it can be readily used for emptyhand striking in line with the principle of hand is the sword, sword is the hand. So when I use this in push hands my student is suddenly confronted with a technique he has not seen before. But if he had been diligently training the straight sword he might have made the mental connection right away when he saw the waving, side-to-side movements.

This is why when we study any art we should first study it in depth. After we reach a certain level of competence we can begin working on acquiring breath of knowledge. In this way a simple technique can conceal a certain level of sophistication that allows you to keep using it despite your training partner’s efforts to resist it.

When he finally manages to overcome it he will find that this simple technique can become something else and continue to go through his defense. This is one of the key teachings I picked up from Master Leong and a reason why I finally used his Pok Khek techniques even though I didn’t really like it in the beginning.

In this sense, Pok Khek seemed odd to me at first but given enough time it has become natural and it is actually quite practical and handy.


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