Entrance to the Barn Dojo....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Short Power

Liu Chang'I, lineage heir to the Liu family Feeding Crane system (Shi He Quan), will be giving a seminar in Boston on October 15th and 16th. I first met Sifu Liu when Kimo Wall sensei brought him to the states in the 90s. It was an eye-opening experience. If you have never seen real short power, or as Sifu Liu jokingly calls it, "inchy power," you really should try to make it to this seminar or any of the other seminars Sifu Liu is giving on this tour across the states. Sifu Liu is able to deliver power from all points of his body; that is, if you are in contact with his body at any point, he can use his short power to either throw you off or attack. One of the very useful things about this system is that Sifu Liu is so willing to teach other martial artists exercises that will develop this power.

I'm not really interested in proselytizing the obvious link between Goju-ryu and Feeding Crane. I think it's an unanswerable question as to whether Feeding Crane is the real Chinese antecedent of Goju-ryu. There are certainly very obvious similarities--the stance and breathing being just two. But more interesting for me is what light a little bit of training in Feeding Crane can shed on Goju-ryu. One begins to see how to truly relax one's technique and how the power generates from the body's core. Once you can see this (or feel?), it doesn't matter what part of the body delivers the attack--the open hand, the fist, the forearm, the elbow--it's all the same. The other thing that this admittedly very simple understanding of power gave me was--and I don't really know how to put it succinctly--a better understanding of what was going on in the Goju-ryu katas; that is, how the forearms, for example, were used to attack the opponent even though one might not see any significant arm movement. Since the arms are attached to the body and the body moves naturally in kata--either forward, as it does at the beginning of Sanseiru, or 90 degrees to the side, as it does in Shisochin--this forearm can, and quite effectively does, attack the opponent's neck with significant "fa jing," for lack of a better term (though one used by Sifu Liu himself), without any noticeable movement in the kata itself. One begins to see that the application of this short power is everywhere in the classical katas. And it also helps one see that there is very little of what some call "chambering" of techniques in Goju-ryu. A kind of chambering may naturally occur when the body is turning in kata, from one direction to another, where the body really catches up to the arm rather than the arm being pulled back into chamber. But there are also many cases where one should avoid this extra movement that chambering often requires. It leaves a "gap," and the Chinese Classics are very clear that there should be no gaps in one's technique. Gaps leave spaces for the opponent to enter.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't know the word back in 2006but saw the fajin/shisoshen connection the instant I saw this video. (@ .49 min)