I am aware that this article ( like many of my articles before) will make a lot of people angry . On the other hand , facing the reality is never easy and often , when forced to face real facts , people react with anger , refusing to accept the truth . The truth in this case , Chinese Traditional Martial Arts , known as kung fu are a joke . Yes a joke . As a practitioner of traditional kung fu I am painfully aware of this. It is not once that people give me that “look” when I say I practice kung fu , especially people who practice boxing ,MMA , BJJ ,kick boxing … and I cannot say they are wrong , because ,for the most part , they are not .
While western boxing, Thai boxing , BJJ , wrestling proved them self in full contact competitions , Chinese kung fu failed tremendously to do the same . The question is why ? How systems advertised as the most effective fighting arts ever have no real fighting skills , at all. Even more , how systems which were used for real fighting in the past ,today fail to do the same ?
Well , it is all about the training , everything revolves around that . Just like there is only one way to learn how to swim , you have to actually enter into the water and …swim , same goes for fighting , if you want to learn how to fight , you have to fight , for real . Nothing can replace fighting , no drills , no sticky hands , no “internal” powers , nothing , fighting can be learned only through fighting , there is no other way . More you do it , better you become .
While each and every kung fu style is “the most effective martial style” , at least that is what everyone says , the sad truth is that maybe one Sifu in 1000 can actually fight . Even that one who can fight usually uses some kind of kick boxing which has nothing in common with a style he actually teaches. They use kick boxing because no one taught them how to use kung fu in a real fight .
I am a practitioner of Wing Chun and White Crane . Both are “internal “ styles . I have visited many schools and maybe one or two actually have sparring I their regular training schedule , the vast majority of schools do not spar , ever . Many believe that chi sao (sticky hands) practice is a replacement for sparring . Other styles have similar practice , they put accent on drills , “techniques “ and forms. While there is nothing wrong in practicing drills , forms and “techniques “ , problems begin with a lack of sparring . Where there is no realistic training , drills and techniques become useless , self sufficient and goal to them self . They become more and more complicated , the accent is on visual effect , not on effectiveness . Now , if we have two or three generations of teachers who didn’t fight or spar , we have styles with a lot of theory , and a lot of “If he comes at you like this , you do this and this and this” . Kung fu stops to be a fighting art and becomes a performing art . People master forms drills and techniques , they are visually pleasing and look really attractive , sadly they have nothing in common with real fighting . Drills are too precise , too complicated to be used in real fighting under the adrenalin rush , there too many steps , they are based on memorization , which has no sense in real fighting where everything is random . Techniques have too many steps , “opponent” is compliant and , of course , everything and anything can be done on such opponent , but in real fight ,if you try to do three blocks on one hit …well … Of course , there is also a financial moment , where many teachers deliberately make their systems complicated in order to keep students as long as possible .
There is one more significant moment in this story and that is “internal” practice . More than often and from the side of many teachers deliberately misunderstood , internal practice promises great fighting powers without any real effort . Physical fitness is often despised by practitioners of “internal” arts , most of them cannot do even 10 pushups . It is like someone lifts 5 kg weights every day and that will is some amount of time make him so strong that he will be able to lift 100 kilos . That is not going to happen. If you practice without power , you will have no power , period . The truth is , there is no internal without external , relaxation and softness comes from experience and from the fact that there is something to be softened and relaxed . Like Mohamed Ali , probably the greatest “internal” master of all times . But his softness and relaxation came from hard training and everyday sparring , and of course , he was physically very strong . His softness and relaxation was very powerful , totally different form “softness” and “relaxation” in many kung fu schools , where people scream if you use even a little power .
The last thing is complete misunderstanding of principles and concepts , it is like my French , I can read French perfectly , but I don’t understand a word of it . Same goes with kung fu people and kung fu principles and concepts . Even if people learn proper structure , power generation , footwork ect , they practice it wrong ,because they do not fight , do not spar , so they have no sense how to use those things properly , which leads to the things I already described , too complicated and unrealistic drills and techniques .
The main ,and probably the only problem in kung fu is lack of sparring , if people fight , that resolves all other problems , like politics , lineage wars , “originality” , false histories , debate of which hand position is right or wrong and all other bullshit .
I practiced and believed , like so many others ,wrongly , for years , and wasted so much time ,but eventually I realized where is the problem and I changed my way of training . It is still the same wing chun and white crane I have learned from my teachers , I just put accent on different things , on basics , I train to hit stronger , to hit faster ,and don’t care how does it look like as long as I have results that can be really measured .