Are you still dreaming of mastering that elusive topic called fajing?
Fajing is power generation. It is but one topic in the study of internal arts. Correction, it is but one topic in the study of any Chinese martial arts.
So why do people make such a big deal of one topic to the almost exclusion of other topics?
I guess practitioners love a good mystery, one that they cannot figure out so easily. They also want something they cannot get. And the more they cannot get it, the more they want it. Of course, the more you want it, the more elusive it becomes except for those willing to pay the steep price to get the knowledge from unscrupulous masters out to milk the unwary.
Unfortunately, such sellers of fajing give the combat arts a bad name. Oh, they also forgot to tell you that fajing ability is useless unless you can deliver it to the intended target. Guess what is required to deliver the power?
Techniques! You need techniques. Along the way as you are moving in to deliver the payload you gotta make sure your opponent doesn’t hit you first with his bombs.
Take a look at the video below of actual full contact tournament where the focus is on striking.
How many internal arts-like striking do you actually see? Now, look again and see how many basic strikes such as straight punches and curving punches such as hooks?
In fact, you see a lot more basic strikes than anything else. You barely see display of fajing which takes a while to set up. Why do you suppose this is so?
No prizes for guessing that the opponent will not give you the time to get ready to fajing. If you can’t hit him within the next second he will not be there. And all this while he will look for the opportunity to hit you back.
I’m not saying there is no value in learning internal arts or fajing. I’m just saying that we should remember to keep our eyes on the ball, to remember to keep our learning practical and relevant, rather than engage in useless fajing demos that will fail the moment you try to actually use it. Remember the case of the China master going against an MMA upstart? In case you forgot here is that fight again (Xu Xiaodong vs Wei Lei) :-
This is why I salute Grandmaster Nip Chee Fei’s foresight in creating the Pok Khek Kuen system to enable his disciples to handle challengers who came calling to test his Tai Chi students.
However, Grandmaster Nip did not create Pok Khek for his students to fight challengers or full contact tournament. Instead, his reason for creating the art as told to me by my senior was for a simple purpose – to knock out people he was tasked to catch for the China government in his day.
These people would resist capture because of wait awaits them – harsh interrogation, possibly torture and execution at the end. As such, Grandmaster Nip expected them to fight tooth and nail to resist capture. He did have a gun but in the event the opponent managed to grab it Grandmaster Nip did not want it to be turned on him. Grandmaster Nip may be conditioned to take strikes but bullets, no sireeeeeee………
As Grandmaster Nip mentioned some of the people he had to catch were also martial arts practitioners so he can expect a fight. It was one thing to fight one person and another to fight a few. Since a real fight is different from a tournament fight in that you don’t get points for scoring hits, the logical and smart thing to do was to take out the opponent as fast as possible (see video below for example of one versus a few). This was what Grandmaster Nip had in mind for the application of Pok Khek techniques and why the strikes look simple and straightforward.
When I first saw Pok Khek I wasn’t impressed. Too crude. Too un-internal arts like. Looking back, I think Pok Khek wasn’t agreeable with me then because it was unfamiliar rather than anything else. But now, I see its value and I teach it to my regular Tai Chi students at a certain stage in their learning, just in case they have to deal with push hands partners from other schools who turn nasty when they are pushed out. I remember seeing one old man wanted to fight when he lost what was supposed to be a friendly push hands exchange in a public park a long time ago.
For those who are curious to learn more and start at the ground level I created the BojiLite training to make it accessible by keeping it simple. However, the bread-and-butter techniques that you see in the above videos are there. Even our basic stepping, Leung Yi Bo, looks a lot like the stepping used by Xu Xiaodong to chase the Tai Chi master, Wei Lei, as shown from 1:52 to 1:54.
Just because Pok Khek techniques are simple and straightforward does not mean that there is no complexity in them. There are but it is not something we get hung up about. The value of Pok Khek is that you don’t years of training to gain basic competency.
From the members’ videos in our Facebook study group here we can see that it is possible to pick it up reasonably one step at a time even from watching videos. Its time to restore some reality to our training. By all means learn fajing but not at the expense of picking up proper techniques. If you ever forget this remember the lesson of Wei Lei.