The more seminars I attend, the more it rings true that each martial art is just a different path up the same mountain.
In 2013, it was my goal to attend a a seminar as my schedule and finances would allow, which wound up being about every two months, on average. By picking up different pieces from different styles of karate and different martial arts all together, I feel that I’m able to do a number of things.
One, I can take the similar ideas and techniques in order to gain a better understanding of my style of karate. Two, I get to meet awesome new people that I’ve never met so I can have friends in different areas. Last year, for example, I made friends from all over Illinois, Kansas, Florida, Minnesota and more. It was great. And three, I can toss out of the stuff that doesn’t appeal to me.
Sifu Chris Childs presented a seminar in the Chinese martial art of choy lay fut at Five Animals Kung Fu in Springfield this past Saturday, Jan. 18. I was able to translate most of the moves to Shuri, but I also kind of wanted to “empty the cup,” so to speak, and try to shed my predispositions and understandings to understand a different perspective.
Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
Where it worked well was with generating power from the hip and putting a person in a disadvantaged position. I know how powerful techniques can be when the come from the hip due to a rooted stance. Shuri-ryu does that – just look at Wansu or Bassai Dai for clear examples of that. Blocks (strikes) are designed to disorient the attacker in order to give you the opportunity to finish the confrontation before the attacker has time to react.
Where my prejudices came were with the positioning of my own body. Choy lay fut (and other Chinese arts, such as tai chi chuan) stresses different body positioning than karate.
For instance, in karate, many punches involve the body being pretty straight on to the attacker – your shoulders are at 9 and 3 on a clock, if you think about it that way. With choy lay fut, I had difficulty executing (if I’m punching with my right hand) putting my right shoulder at 12 and my left shoulder at 6. The theory makes sense: your reach is increased while making your reverse hand spring-loaded with potential energy. For me, however, it felt slower and unnatural.
Obviously, it’s hard to break 10 years of habit in a four-hour seminar.
Overall, though, the seminar was a great experience with even better people. If you’re in the Springfield area, I would highly recommend trying out a few classes with Josiah Mott.