Everything that is taught at our school is designed for sparring – for the martial purpose of defending yourself and others and ultimately controlling your opponent(s). The demanding regimen of punches and kicks, exercises, stances, forms, San Shou and Chin Na are all done to not only learn and develop proper movement, but to also sap the student’s energy before sparring begins at the end of class. With exhausted bodies, the student is forced to rely on technique and proper breathing during sparring instead of trying to out-muscle or out-speed his/her opponent. Speed and strength are certainly important to fighting ability - but good technique is superior and sparring when there is nothing in the tank draws it out of the practitioner.
Because sparring is the ultimate expression of our art… spend time thinking about it and studying the higher rank. When sparring, understand that your fellow kung fu brothers and sisters are not going to kill or injure you like someone outside of the school might in a street fight or if they broke into your house. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to try new techniques with them. Learn from both your victories and failures on the mat. Study your forms – what are the purposes of each movement? Pay attention in class when Sifu is teaching techniques. Practice and drill down on movements you are interested in developing during San Shou and Chin Na before implementing them in sparring. Don’t give up if they didn’t work perfectly the first few times. If the movements survived hundreds of years of actual use in actual combat, there is certainly something to them.
Sparring is the closest thing to real-world fighting we have – without beating each other to a pulp. It’s purpose is to prepare you for anyone outside of the school… both untrained and trained fighters alike. You MUST have the attitude in class that you are training for a potential life or death situation. Imagine invisible opponents in front of you during kicks, single step movements, forms, etc. Do not give up during sparring or cower should you be bested in an exchange. Roll out or do our best to escape or counter the situation before being forced to bow to your opponent to stop. Having purpose and intensity in your training at the school will make you a very formidable opponent outside of it.
Yes, incalculable benefits are derived from this training beyond those of fighting. Much of the valuable philosophy of our martial arts can not be taught and understood with words, but only learned through the resolve of consistent effort and the skills that result from it. Fantastic physical fitness is a given after many years of consistent training. Confidence and character are earned – not given simply by putting on the uniform. All of these are the result of training with sparring in mind.