Quick Way to Condition the Forearm for Sao Chui

Sao Chui can be a great strike in that if you hit a person in the head with it you will literally knock him down if not out.

However, before you actually try to hit someone with Sao Chui there is something you need to do first and that is to condition your forearm. If you don’t then you may hurt your own arm when you hit someone hard.

In Pok Khek Kuen training conditioning the forearm with an iron bar or barbell is a must. Alternatively, you could use a sledge hammer as shown below :-

A suitably weighted sledge hammer can do the job of conditioning your forearms nicely. Its probably cheaper than a barbell plus if you ever need to relieve stress you can use it to go pound a truck tire ……..



How to Generate Power in Sao Chui

A photo essay on generating power in Sao Chui :-


The source of the photo sequence is the first Sao Chui performed in the video BojiLite Drill 3 – see below :-

Though I have tried to explain the process using scientific terms, however, the learning of how to generate power Sao Chui is best accomplished by actually practicing. Make your share of mistakes and learn from them.

As the noted author Henry Petroski said in “To Engineer is Human” :-

He learned to make things that work by steadily improving upon things that did not work. He learned to learn from mistakes. My son, at eleven, had absorbed one of the principal lessons of engineering……..


BojiLite Drill 3

Our third drill is the Sao Chui drill which tests your mastery of in-situ body turning. This is because if you do not grasp the key principles of moving the body it would be difficult to execute the Sao Chui forcefully.

On top of this if you may find yourself losing balance if you try to perform Sao Chui with power and speed particularly when stepping in the Leung Yi Bo.

The Sao Chui is our knockout punch due to its forcefulness. When I first learned it I didn’t like it because I thought a circular strike would leave me exposed to a straight punch. But then I saw how Master Leong did it and it intrigued me.

So I put aside some time to investigate and play with it more over the years and here is the result of my learning to share with those who are interested in Pok Khek Kuen.



BojiLite Drill 2

This is actually the third BojiLite strike, Chau Chui, but I number it as the second drill because it is easier to perform than Sao Chui in terms of power.

As with the Yum Chui every move must be expressed clearly. Outwardly, it seems like we are training how to strike but there is more to it than meets the eye.

A drill that only trains one thing at a time is not a very good drill because then we would need a lot of drills to train different things. It is much more efficient to have a drill that can train several things even if some of the things we are training is not clear at first.

On the other hand, to have a complex drill to train several things can be counter-productive because it makes the learning more difficult. In Chinese martial arts drills can be designed to look as if they are teaching one thing when they are actually teaching several things.

Usually, these non-obvious things that a simple drill teaches will only be revealed once the beginner can perform the drills to meet basic requirements. In this way, learn more by training less.



BojiLite Drill 1

I have a day job so between the one thousand and one things to do I do what I can when I can. Here is a drill I filmed when I had a few minutes to spare during lunch hour.

This video is to help members of the BojiLite online study group here to study Pok Khek Kuen on their own.

The Yum Chui is the first of three strikes that we practice to help us understand defense and attack when standing in-situ and when moving.

Beginners aim to define clearly the requirements of the movements at a slower pace before attempting to move fast and performing the strikes continuously.

If you are interested to learn BojiLite go to this page for more information.



Keeping It Real

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?

Plenty, right?

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.



Of Rootedness & Power

I am writing to my friend to answer his question about how to cultivate power and rootedness using non-standing posture methods.

I might as well write a general post on it since a lot of readers would be interested to know too.

To start off with I would say that :-

a) If you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer

b) If you make the wrong assumption, you travel the wrong path

c) Ignorance can impede your progress, so make sure you arm yourself with knowledge

d) Find a baseline to compare your practice to. Adjust and change the baseline when necessary

e) Keep your mind open to possibilities, including those that you know nothing about, never heard of before or beyond your current understanding

The first thing I want to address is can standing posture teach you how to generate power. I will say this – standing perfectly still will not allow you to generate power. Even when we use intent we still need to move, even if the movement is very little.

I once read a story of a Yiquan master who stood in a standing posture for three years to train the ability to mentally pull a tree in the distance to his hands and push it back. Some may point to this as evidence that standing posture teaches fajing.

I would say no, this is missing the point. The standing still is to teach you to calm your mind to the point where you can feel your body, and by forcing you to stand still to reduce the amount of unnecessary movements you are making.

It is only when you reach a state of calmness and elimination of unnnecessary movement that you are able to use intent to move your body in a different, more optimal manner. So you see you still need to move your body.

The form route basically uses the same method but approaching it from another direction. We keep training the movements using intent, moving from gross to fine, big to medium to small, until by compliance to the principles we are moving optimally.

But as I mentioned in another post today it is very difficult to teach kids to generate power by the use of standing postures. It is just as difficult to teach kids using forms.

Actually, to cultivate power it is not important which method you want to use. When I teach Tai Chi to students I would tell them not to focus on power but rare is the student who would actually listen because they think of fajing ability as a magic pill that would bestow martial invincibility on them. Actually, this is not true.

Good fighting skills are reliant on the person and his technical abilities. If a person’s heart is not in it he will still lose a fight. So will a fighter without good skills but the right heart. To be a winner one should have a good balance of personal and technical abilities.

As personal abilities are subjective we normally do not go into them. It is easier to discuss technical abilities as these are more objective.

The question of power and rootedness need not be the same, yet they can be.

Consider this – if you run fast and throw yourself at another person you will have power but will you have rootedness?

Similarly, if you sink really low into your stance you will have strong root but would this lead to stronger fajing ability?

My conclusion is that a balance of both would work best. I suspect this is why a lot of internal systems use small frame characteristics because it would allow them sufficient rootedness with minimal compromise on fajing ability.

So back to the question of how to use non-standing posture method to train power and rootedness. My views as follows :-

a) Basic rootedness – use the Pok Khek basic posture. The basic procedures are listed here.

They are necessary but not sufficient if you want to have a more internal way to do it. You may find it hard to believe but if you get the basic posture right you will have instant rootedness.

The problem why this does not work for most people is because they do not diligently follow the instructions nor try out as many times as necessary to get it.

b) However, nobody stands still in a fight. You need to move, and move while keeping your balance even as you are under attack or returning fire.

This is where you need to train yourself to move. In Pok Khek Kuen we learn how to move by learning the Leung Yi Bo.

There are a few other ways to move, however, the Leung Yi Bo teaches a basic, essential principle that we use in combat. So if you don’t get this principle then your ability to apply the techniques properly will be compromised.

c) The basic posture when applied to the Leung Yi Ma posture lay the foundation for a posture that will allow you to generate power in different ways.

The best part about the above is that in as little as 6 months you can generate decent power………… but only if you actually put in the training. Reading about it, fantasizing about it, intellectualizing about it is useless and for keyboard warriors.