This weekend was a basic application seminar. This means that we worked through the so-called ‘levels’ – at least partially. We use the term ‘levels’ to describe basic concepts that become freer to implement as the level increases.
The different levels contain applications and concepts that are considered central and important in my Sifu’s school. While the lower levels have very clear names (‘Don’t get knocked down’ or ‘Block and punch’), it becomes freer and more open towards the top. The clear techniques change to concepts, for example ‘Clockwise / Counterclockwise’.
Over the past few years I have learnt and practised many applications. Especially for the upcoming exam for the first Dan I have drilled them extensively. However, with good reason, the focus in training is not simply on the many individual elements, but on concepts. Hung Gar Kung Fu is, as a comparison, not a solution book for calculus problems, but the corresponding collection of formulas, which enables the student to work out the solutions himself. Accordingly, the focus of the training is on principles that provide the basis for the student’s own reflections.
Sifu Martin Sewer has structured those concepts and ideas for the training programme of his students (and in the meantime from his grand students). This list makes it a little more measurable which topics a student has already encountered and which not. Not surprisingly, they follow direct relevance, which is particularly evident in the first four levels.
Level 1: Don’t get knocked over
As Hung Gar fighters, we prefer to stand on our feet. While the system has a small repertoire of ground techniques, the focus is different. (Not surprising, considering we are talking about an art of war.) For this reason, a student first learns how to counter the attempt to knock him down.
Level 2: Block and strike
Assuming that the most common attacks are fisticuffs, students are taught to protect themselves and (so that the situation can be resolved) to strike back. The techniques at this level are brute and not very elegant.
Levels 3 and 4: Simple and complex hand releases.
The situation of being grabbed and pulled by the wrist is also considered dangerous. Simple (one-handed) and complex (two-handed) hand releases are therefore the third and fourth levels. The techniques are chosen in such a way that they can also be performed with a very clear difference in body strength.
My own experience
Although I have practised levels one to four often and a lot, it took a while until it worked to some extent. At this seminar I was able to practise levels six to ten for the first time and was able to notice that movements that would have thrown me off my game a year ago have become easier and more catchy. It is much easier for me to see and understand what is happening, to recognise directions and angles and to imitate my instructor. This is a nice feeling and clearly shows me that all the application practice I have done over the last year has paid off. In addition, I am experiencing that I am more and more able to integrate learned individual applications into the concepts and from this in turn gain more understanding for the concept. This creates a positive learning spiral for me personally.