How White Crane Kung Fu Has developed my Karate

My personal karate has obviously changed from my three months of training in China, some of the changes were pretty obvious, whilst others completely surprised me.

Starting with the obvious training every day from 5.30 in the morning till 5 in the evening had obviously left me pretty fit, my stamina improved, energy I was running two or three times a day and spent my lunchtime usually doing an extra training hitting the weights. I was conditioned well against blows, as white crane spends the majority of its time conditioning the body to be as hard as rock, there can be no weak spots as an attacker can hit you anywhere on the body.

The obvious aspects of the White Crane kung Fu style I was learning had become integrated into my motor skills such as its extremely short range power generation. I want to make one thing clear styles like Wing Chun and Goju Ryu are close ranged fighting, but White Crane takes this to the extreme of virtually face to face, where you only have an inch of space to generate power to deal with an attacker with maximum force. What makes this impressive is that whilst Wing Chun and Goju Ryu generate their close range power from the stance and the hips, White Crane doesn’t, it generates from a strong stance and by connecting all the muscles in one motion. Sifu Yen use to say it’s like splashing water you have to use your lats and other muscles to generate this relaxed power. It takes a very long time to be able to generate this power, let alone understand how you are doing it.

8 months later I am still able to deliver this inch power, that helps me not only in sparring through disrupting or winning the battle, but also because I can disguise when I am about to fire it out.

The two traits that really surprised me was my new found speed and my increased defence. The way I use to spar prior to China was just to go forward, rely on the strength on my punches to make my opponent go backwards, whilst having the ability to absorb the blows, as my muscles were a little to heavy and therefore slow to block or deflect any attack. So in essence my defence was basically rocky balboa style. Post-china there was a big difference, whether it was from White Crane Kung Fu or my one week of Baji Quan (my last week of training in china before I went travelling around China) where the key to the style is relaxation) helped me to speed up my punches, and learn that I don’t need to put all my strength in a punch to make it work, being relaxed had increased the power of my punches, with less effort, more energy and the ability for me to fire out more punches.

But it was and still is my defence that shocks me, some of it has to do with the increased speed and relaxation, I am able to do more combos in a shorter amount of time then I could. Also being lighter, much lighter meant that I couldn’t rely on just absorbing the blows like I use to, which meant I wanted to rely more on speed. My defensive speed has increased a lot, but it isn’t down just to my knew found defensive speed.

Let me try to explain it like this, I started to incorporate my of a Kakie style of defence, which when introduced in sparring is similar to the Wing Chun defence. But I never did that in china! I didn’t do that much sparring, because I wanted to focus and spend as much of my time on White Crane as I could, I really loved it there, I wanted to absorb as much as possible. Then if I wasn’t sparring, and we weren’t practicing kakie, or Wing Chun type drills, then how did this aspect of my karate develop tenfold?! The answer I realised was its basics, the basics we had to practice every day, which students of other styles mocked because it looked boring compared to what they were doing. The basics are similar to Karate and Wing Chun basics, but the two limbs are acting in unison together, part of a big circular wheel. You’re not only practicing short range attacks, or short range blocks in a drill, but most of the time they were a strike and a block at the same time. This Unison of the limbs, I am sure is the main reason why I now not only have a good defence, but now I have an instinctive defence system in my muscle memory.

All those endless drills actually paid of, I know the reason why my defensive reflexes have improved so much, it shows to me that practicing the absolute basics time after time helps you to build on the blocks of what you have been learning. You are never too advanced to do the basics.

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