For some reason Chinese kung fu is full of many silly myths. I hear them often and I’d like to start addressing them here.
1) The Master Never Gets Hit and Can’t be Beaten
Well, this is true if the master is never in a fight but only then. Can you imagine saying this about any other athlete? You know a good batter never strikes out, a good quarter back never gets sacked and a good basketball player never gets blocked or misses a foul shot. It reminds me of the question put to “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky. “Wayne, how many times have you made your shot”? Wayne replies, “I don’t know how many I made when I took the shot but I do know how many I made when I didn’t, none”. Is there a boxer that never gets hit or loses? So forget this myth, it’s nonsense. If you fight you are going to get hit. As they saying goes, ‘ it’s not what you do when you get knocked down but what you do when you get back up”.
2) An Old Master Can Beat a Young Fighter
Does this idea hold in any other sport? Do old ball players beat young ones? Do old boxers beat young ones? It’s crazy. As you age you lose many physical abilities and there is no way around it; believe me I’ve tried. Maybe an older fighter against a younger inexperienced fighter? Yes, that can happen but two fighters of equal ability years apart chances are great the young one will win. I am a complete failure if my younger students can’t beat me.
3) You Have to be a Better Fighter Than Your Student
Yeah, explain that to Michael Jordan that Phil Jackson could not coach him or to Mike Tyson that Cus D’Amato couldn’t train him. Only in kung fu do you find these ridiculous ideas about ability and teaching.
4) Size Doesn’t Matter
This is not only stupid but potentially deadly. Why are there size classifications in fighting, wrestling or youth football? So the little guy doesn’t get crushed. There is this idea that Bruce Lee would level a heavy weight, well, possible but not likely. I’ve had many experiences with bigger guys who were both skilled and unskilled fighters. Years ago I was with a WWE wrestler on a video shoot. They guy was huge and held a national trophy for heaviest military press. His chest was huge and his arms were not only bigger than my legs but almost the size of my waist. He had this shtick he’d do in bars for free drinks. He’d hold a full glass of beer in his hand and let someone full out punch him in the chest. If it didn’t spill they had to buy him a beer. He got a lot of free beer. In the course of the day we got to talking and he asked if I wanted to hit him to see. I did but didn’t want to admit it. I am very much into internal striking, i.e. – striking into the organs not through them. There were a few times I had floored folks with one blow so I was careful when I did it. In the back of my mind I wanted to know if I could hurt him yet was afraid I could not. Well, he egged me on and I went for it. I hit him with a normal punch first, to check the waters. Nothing, nada, zip, no reaction. So I hit him with 50% internal striking and again, nothing. So I gave him my all out, ‘to the moon Alice” (google it) and walloped him. His body shuttered for a second and he said, “Well, that was interesting, hmmm”. Not the reaction you want when you think you hit him with Thor’s hammer. This is where you say, “Please don’t hurt me sir”.
One time I had a huge guy, ex football player, just sweep me off my feet and held me up in the air over his head like I was a 4 year old. I was afraid he was going to throw me on the floor. He didn’t.
The other night while practicing I had a fellow, who was 5/8” 160 lbs, holding the bag while a very experienced kicker kicked him. Each time he would slide back a few feet from the blow ala Bruce Lee demo. There was another guy there who is 6’3 and maybe 235lbs and I had him step in and hold the bag. He didn’t move an inch when kicked. force = mass x (velocity / time) = (mass x velocity) / time = momentum / time
It’s just physics! Folks, size matters. (It just doesn’t matter when relating to……never mind)
5) Practicing in the Gym, Doing Forms, Prepares Me for a Real Fight
I’ve said this one a thousand times: you cannot practice swimming next to the pool. When in a real fight your cognitive brain is gone, period, it’s flight or fight. Unless you’ve trained your mind under very realistic conditions you will not be able to handle a real onslaught. Plus, when you train against fellow students you train to defend against what they do, not what happens outside. Most martial artists do very clean and linear striking but that almost never happens on the street. You can’t block a bobcat and you’re not going to block a berserk street fighter. I’ve told this story for years; I got attacked by a drug crazed knucklehead in a hallway once. He was bigger than me and came at me flailing like an egg beater. He was beating the hell out of my arms and I couldn’t get near him. I’d never experienced this before and finally shot a kick to his groin that dropped his hands and I ended the fight. In the school no one ever did speed and attacked me so randomly. You have to practice under real conditions and with partners who don’t fight like you do.
Years ago a student of mine was invited to another kung fu school. He is a good and kind hearted person and perfectly suited for dealing with many martial artists as he works in a mental hospital. He did the warm up with this school's students and then they paired off to practice punching and blocking. He was throwing first and his partner told him to start so he threw a few punches and his partner jumped back and shrieked, "Hey, you're trying to hit me!" Frank replied, "Of course I am, I'm punching you'. Frank could not understand that this student had never had real punches thrown at him. The sifu of the school called me later to complain about my 'brute' of a student. He may have been throwing real punches but he wasn't going to land them. The sad thing is that his many students really think they can defend their selves and they can't at any level.
If you don't practice what is real you can't deal with what is real.
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