Kung Fu Training Camp 2016; An Article by Mr Russell Suthern, Chief Instructor WCMA

Once again our annual Kung Fu camp was held in the beautiful scenic grounds of Ardingly College.
With our annual club competition fast approaching, the theme for the camp was to be competition training, but I wanted to add something different.
On the first day we focussed on our second pattern- The stance form.
Most people assume this pattern is simply for training stance strength & flexibility, but there are a myriad of hidden techniques buried away within the patterns innocent looking moves.
The guys all had their eyes opened by the graceful yet deadly moves I showed them!
There is a video clip on our Facebook page of me demonstrating an application for the part of the form where you shift from lower crane stance into bow stance. Well done to Jason Lee for being my fall guy in this particular demo! These movements are great for the full contact sparring as they can be used for takedowns & ground fighting.
As usual we had a very nice evening eating, drinking & talking martial arts.
The next morning we realized just how hard we had been training the previous day- all that stance training for a whole day meant our legs were aching like mad!
Still, some Chi Kung & Tai Chi first thing in the morning loosened us up a treat & we were soon ready for action.
The second day focussed on footwork. A personal gripe of mine is that many Traditional schools practice patterns, but then when they spar, they just do kickboxing- not a Kung Fu technique in sight! Especially the footwork, no proper stepping, just bouncing around like Bruce Lee with a pogo stick jammed up his arse! (As I like to delicately put it…)
If you are doing San Da kickboxing, fair enough, it will look like kickboxing, but if you are doing Kung Fu sparring it should look like Kung Fu!
This is why I introduced light, open hand sparring to both the curriculum & the competition, so students can practice authentic techniques safely.
So I was very keen to sharpen up the guy’s footwork, which is the essence of good Kung Fu sparring.
We started with stepping, then shuffling. Then we added the triangular step, the side step & the cross step. I finished by teaching & adding the White Crane crossover step which is the most advanced stepping manoeuvre in the White Crane system.
Finally we put all these footwork drills together & I made the guys spar using only these footworks. No bouncing around allowed!
The focus & concentration needed for this exercise meant that the guys sparring really improved.
They actually looked like they were trying to employ proper White Crane techniques rather than just attempting to bash each other!
I was very pleased with the guys improvement &, as yet another camp drew to a close, we all went back to reality, tired & aching, but happy & content.

Please regularly visit the WCMA calendar for information on future events & get involved!

Mr Russell Suthern
Chief Instructor

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