The fourth type of sparring we are studying serves to familiarize ourselves with the idea (extreme but unfortunately common in street situations) to face more opponents simultaneously.
In a first time, this type of confrontation must be run at moderate intensity (based on the level of the current "victim") and always with controlled power; the idea is to develop skills such as spatial intelligence, strategy, timing, adaptability, deception, economization of energies (etc.).
Let's see what are the rules of this type of sparring.
- In addition to us we need at least 2-3 opponents
- Scenario size must be at least 10x10m
- The fighting scenario must have obstacles (small, large, mobile or immovable but not dangerous)
- In the fight scenario, there must be some training / non-dangerous weapons (proper, improper, to be thrown, impact, cutting, etc.)
- The opponents (armed or disarmed) attack as they prefer, their goal is to subdue us
- Our goal is to stay free, save energy and fight our opponents (by exploiting combat strategies, the environment and everything that is in our favor)
- Attackers must attack and try to immobilize us for 10 seconds (in this case we restart the game until the time is not ended)
- The fight must always be imagined as real (this is not a game)
- The battle (even if we win or we lose) do not stop and can last more than 30 minutes (minimum 2 minutes)
- The roles are exchanged at the end of time
What we can do:
- We can move completely freely between the obstacles
- The attackers can hit us but absolutely without full power
- Defenders and attackers can use weapons, obstacles, levers, punches, kicks, knees, elbows, etc. (in a controlled way)
- The defender can simulate the use of killing strikes / techniques that must be validated by the instructor (if he approves them the "killed" aggressor must temporarily abandon the clash)
- It is also possible (and encouraged) to use verbal and body deception
What we can not do:
- The attackers can not simulate free hands killing techniques (only with weapons)
- It is not allowed to bring any kind of technique to cause damage
- We can not lead real shots on pressure points (lethal, pain, etc.)
- If we use weapons the attacks must be very controlled
- The main goal is to teach our body to maintain a general control of the environment, its spaces and what is inside of it
- Learn to economize energies, to breath correctly and to increase our resistance (cardio)
- Learn to naturally use each element of the scenario (opponents, weapons, obstacles, etc.) at our advantage
- Learn how to force the opponents to face us in an unpredictable / disadvantaged way and / or one at the time
- Learn to give a priority to the opponents (by distance, level of skills, occasions, etc.)
- Learn to recognize good occasions / space / time to act and use all kinds of deception
- Learn to convert everything into neutral elements of the same type (more about this later)
- Depending on the level of the fighters, can be used or not more or less complete protections (gloves, helmet, etc.)
- Both who defend both the attackers must think to the safety of their companions (we must always think as a team)
- We can increase the number of attackers and / or we can fight 2 vs. 2, 2 vs. 3-10 (etc.)
- We can use an object to be caught as "trophy" (win who maintains its hold for more than 10 seconds, ideal for children's training)
- We can allow the aggressors to elaborate an accurate (and obviously secret) strategy to better prevail on us
- To train disarming, we sometimes we can use fire weapons that shots at slow speed plastic spheres (wearing eyes protections)
- We can start from advantage / disadvantage positions and / or conditions (in a lever position, with hands tied, at a close distance, encircled, lying on the ground, etc.)
- In a first approach, the exercise can also be done without power and with simple pressures (as for the attackers as for the defender)
- In the case of skill disparities, we can apply some other handicaps (more about this later)
- With real attacks, this is not a good exercise for novices (the risk of injuries is very high), with soft pressures it is instead a good training
- At the maximum difficulty, this type of sparring forges the ultimate level of 6DKF's warrior
- Doing only this kind of sparring is useless, we can not develop technique precision
- As we have already said a lot of times, it is almost impossible to prevail over multiple (prepared) opponents, this is only an exercise ("we fight giants, to easily win normal people")
In future articles of this series we will see the other types of training fight.
Some premises before we start:
- The Chin Na are not a substitute for other fighting techniques (knees, etc.) but rather a complement (kicks and punches are simpler to apply and simplicity is a winning card in a fight)
- Against a skilled opponent, Chin Na is difficult to apply (he probably knows, counterattacks, liberations, etc.), if we do not have spatial intelligence, conditioned limbs, instant adaptation capability, speed, deception ability (etc.) their use can be deleterious
- Not all Chin Na work with all opponents; if from one side the best techniques largely outweigh the tolerance of naturally flexible people, on the other side, we may find a limit of effectiveness facing highly conditioned practitioners (we talk about contortionism)
- Chin Na works better when the opponent is not aware of what we want to do (he does not have the time, he has been deceived, etc.); in the other cases, even a middle-level fighter may be able to withstand, react or get rid of them
At the base of the Chin Na are the following compositional elements:
- Equilibrium and rooting, more our pose (or movement) is stable more we can apply our technique; on the other hand, more rooting we are able to subtract to the opponent more opportunities we will have to completely control him
- The ability of our limbs to interact with the opponent (grasp, wrap, compress, twist, push, pull, align, etc.) in a coordinated, fast, natural, intense, safe and extremely precise way
- Position, we must occupy spaces that keep us safe from opponent's reactions (counterattack, sudden release, etc.) throughout the application of the technique
- Knowledge of the mechanics of the levers and the human anatomy, through which always find the way to subdue the opponent (eg. through the use of a small force against a larger one)
- The ability to block / trap dynamically the opposing action; If we are not able to stop / parry / divert / etc. an attack or to impose our own initiative the Chin Na techniques are completely useless
- Practical experience (active and passive); only with a constant training and experimentation we can gain the proper mastery of physiological concepts behind the Chin Na
The Chin Na work on tendons, muscles, bones, cavities (etc.) we will see how through various techniques and examples but first, we will expose the ideal exercises to bring our psychophysical skills to the right level.
A good conditioning for flexibility requires long times, constancy, commitment and remarkable patience, for this reason, many aspiring practitioners tend to underestimate (if not even avoid) these kinds of activity.
As we have already said, a flexible body offers however crucial advantages in terms of combat aptitude:
- Increased resistance to joint levers (arms, etc.)
- Greater elasticity and therefore resistance to direct and indirect damage (falls, etc.)
- Greater power and speed (the movements do not undergo the passive brake of limited mobility)
- Greater amplitude of movement and technique (head kick, etc.)
- More performance during stiffening (when we are exhausted by the forces, having better tendons gives us a further margin of operativity)
- In some cases shorter recovery times (eg. after a slight injury)
In 6DKF, good body elasticity / flexibility must respond to very stringent parameters, dictated by the inevitable need for application outside predetermined contexts.
- Conditioning must be so much more than we choose to use in combat
- Performance must be at our disposal even in the absence of heating (eg. after a surprise attack)
- Flexibility must also be able to operate / resist under any force coming from any direction (opposite, lateral, etc.)
- Flexibility must be dynamically accessible from any position (in flight, in ground combat, etc.)
- Flexibility must be instantly and instinctively available (no preparations, no breathing, no relaxation, no concentration, etc.)
To achieve this kind of results, we need what (at the dawn of the Shaolin Temple) Bodhidharma called the gradual "mutation of the tendons".
This is a work of breathing, relaxation and advanced body control through the right Yoga, Qi Gong, power stretching (etc.) exercises (we will all see them all).
Reconnecting to the article "Earth movements: the sand whirls exercise" (and all the others related with the sandbox training) we would like to point out some useful details to optimize the quality and safety of the practice:
The raw material:
- The ideal type of sand is that of construction (better the refined one, costs a little more)
- We can also use rice as an alternative
- The amount of ideal sand to buy for a 40x40x40cm vase is 50Kg (about 10-15Kg of surplus)
- Let's do not throw off the excess sand (it will serve us for future refilling)
- The container must be circular shock-resistant and stress-resistant (eg. a middle size plant vase)
- The minimum size is 40x40x40cm, without this capacity many exercises can not be executed
- Let's do not put the sand directly in the jar but inside a sturdy plastic bag (eg. those of the garbage but of high quality and without holes)
- Let's attach to the upper borders of the vase the plastic bag firmely
- Under the jar, it is convenient to put a very robust plastic protection (so we can eventualy move everything without damages and to let the spilling out sand does not damage the surrounding environment)
- Before starting, it is useful to put 400ml of water on the sand (to avoid harmful dust for the lungs and at the same time to make the raw material more compact)
- If possible, let' isolate the sand from the outside environment in order to avoid the nesting of parasites and / or insects
- Let's wash our hands before and after training by removing any residue of sand
- Most of the exercises we will see will be performed with one hand at the time, the other hand may be used in various ways for other practices (conditioning the grip, etc.)
- A sand exercise is performed in the right way only if we find the right balance bethween effort and fluidity of motions (without resistance or quality of movements the practice it's useless)
- Depending on the exercise we gradually have increase factors like penetration, amount of sand moved, speed, inertia, precision, etc.
- Let's never exaggerate with the movements that directly or indirectly include the effort of the fingers and / or the wrist
- If we have fingers or wrists even slightly painful let's avoid subjecting them to the stress of sand
- If the sand is too compact for our workout level it is good practice to move it making it more soft
We will soon see further exercises to be carried out with the sand pot.
The conditioning tests that we are going to expose are always and in any case related to specific goals (combat, breaks, etc.). There should never be a limit to the mastery of a given skill.
Before we start it is important to say that:
- The purpose of this discussion is not to explain how to create conditioning (we will see it later)
- Our current focus is to understand how to have an effective check to the goals that we are getting
- These tests are dangerous if done without graduality and the right experience (even the smallest discomfort signal must lead us to stop immediately)
That said, if we really want to use 100% of the options that martial arts make available to us, good impact conditioning is indispensable:
- In a real situation we will never have gloves or bandages with us
- Many of the human body bones are extremely hard to strike and can cause disabling fractures (eg the front of the skull cap)
- During a clash the bones move and are disposed continuously in different angles (missing targets is inevitable)
- When we fail to hit (or we are induced to do so) even a technically perfect blow that does not require any particular conditioning (eg. an open hand blow) may be knocking against an unexpected surface (eg. a wall) and / or through an unexpected trajectory (eg after a deviation)
- The hits inflicted by the adversary on non-conditioned limbs exalt the incidence of a damage that might have been "secondary"
Let's go now to the exposition of one of the the 6DKF's conditioning tests.
In proportion to the strength we want to impress (from the simple leaning of the novices to the blow at maximum power of the experts), the conditioned limb must (without the intermediation of any kind of protections):
- Be able to withstand to a not moveable fullfill surface (eg. a building's supporting column)
- Be able to withstand a moving surface (eg. a bag full of sand)
- Be able to withstand an unstable surface (eg. an irregular stone leaning against another)
- Be able to withstand a granular surface (eg. a jar of sand)
- Be able to withstand an irregular surface (eg. a stone cavern wall)
- Be adequately supported by the rest of the body; it's useless to have such steel knuckles if our wrist is not able to resist to the slightest bump (we must follow the correct developement order, we'll see it)
These points tell us once again that our body needs to be able to express much more than it needs to reach the primary goal.
It is no coincidence that we have listed these specific checks, in fact they rapresent the typical limits of most martial arts practitioners and when they occur often correspond an injury (fractures, lacerations, etc.).
In the next article we will talk of conditioning in terms of flexibility (later we will go much in details about the development of the various specific skills).
In many kung fu styles (and not only) there are particular types of interaction with the body of the adversary named Chin Na, these are fighting techniques (with significant differences between schools / styles / masters) aimed at:
- Control / immobilize / force the opponent to surrender
- Paralize / hurt / break one or more opponent's bodily elements
- In the extreme of cases to take the life of the adversary
The word "Chin Na" or "Qinna" literally means "grasping and holding" and it encloses various categories (according to the styles):
- Breathing blocking techniques
- Bone breakage / displacement techniques
- Techniques for locking / closing of veins / arteries
- Techniques for separating muscles / tendons
- Pressure points
- (relative countermoves and recovery / cure techniques)
Despite the eyes of today's civilized world these practices may seem extreme but, in the past, they were considered compassionate, because in most cases they allow to end a clash (potentially lethal) without committing a murder:
- Immobilizing the opponent with the intent of demonstrating overwhelming superiority
- Causing slight damage but able to discourage the continuation of the fight
- Causing serious damage that makes impossible to continue the fight
In fact the most part of Chin Na can be efficiently performed at multiple levels of incisivity:
- From the lowest (for instance in learning / teaching)
- Up to the highest (which involves serious injury if not even death)
Behind this millennial knowledge (still widely applied) there is a profound and articulated scientific study of bodily mechanics (double-stranded with traditional chinese medicine).
In the specific context of 6DKF, we will see, with time, several of these techniques (from the simplest / most educational to the most articulated, from the most traditional to the ones born / perfected in our days).
To conclude this introduction it should be emphasized that what is most important in the interiorization of Chin Na is not the application of the individual techniques but the understanding of founding concepts behind them; in the next article and in the following we will look at the basics of this important branch of martial arts.
An example of a novice daily session of 6DKF (1 hour, individual, without specific tools / exercises):
- 5 minutes of heating (free soft kicks and at the same time self-infliction of shots with arms, medium-low intensity)
- 5 minutes of poles training (soft, with arms and legs, eventually with protections)
- 5 minutes of free long jumping in all directions (rapid change)
- 5 minutes of fabric cloth training (arms only)
- 5 minutes of fabric cloth training (legs only)
- 5 minutes of fabric cloth training (legs and arms)
- 5 minutes of single long stick and fabric cloth
- 5 minutes of different running with the rope in our hand rotating freely (lateral, backward, etc.)
- 5 minutes of controlled fallings (in all directions)
- 5 minutes of abs (sequences of 25)
- 5 minutes of left arm against right arm (parries, deflections, locks, liberations, etc.)
- 5 minutes of fast punch sequences (25 for each one)
This is a good training for who is starting to know the 6DKF, it is not dangerous and it does require a medium effort. This time we have not included too specific tools, only specific exercises (arm against arm, etc.).
As we have mentioned, there are many types of bodily conditioning (for hands, abdominal, legs, etc.) and to each of them corresponds more and more effectiveness tests:
- Breaking (eg. of bricks)
- Flexion (eg. splitting)
- Resistance (eg. stick strokes)
- Spatial intelligence (eg. handling two flying objects simultaneously)
- Balance (eg. running fight movements with a bowl of water in our hand)
- Accuracy (eg. dynamically targeting very small targets only with one finger)
As it is easy to see, the tests listed correspond to 6DKF's exercises, this is because each of them is potentially a test; at all times we must be able to measure, stabilize and improve our performance.
There is no point of arrival, there is always something harder to break, higher to reach, more difficult to hit, more devastating to undergo (etc.); the important thing for a good practitioner is to know well before attempting a test:
- If he is or is not able to overcome it (without temporary damages, long, chronic, etc.)
- If he can only do a part o the test (in terms of time, space, mode, etc.)
- If the risk of bankruptcy is too high compared to his ability (by putting away pride and / or excessive humility)
Without this kind of aptitude, we will be constantly exposed to accidents of all kinds. We will never stop to repeat that a skill (from the most incredible to the most trivial) is acquired only when it becomes a "normal" thing and never when we can express it only under particular conditions:
- When we're in a perfect shape
- After an (exaggeratedly) long warming
- Through aids / facilitations / educational contexts
- When we have accomplished it only once (for reasons that we did not understand)
In a nutshell, this means that if a certain skill corresponds to 100, we must actually be able (occasionally) to express 120; The key point of a similar way of thinking is that even when we are in bad shape, we still have to be able to express at least 100.
In the next article we will see some tests and reflections in relation to the impact resistance of our bodily elements.
After acquiring a good ability rotating circularly our rope on the cube faces (see "Stance and basic rotations of the rope"), we can quickly switch to the most important and effective "8" rotations (describing in the air the symbol of the infinite).
These evolutions are a key component of fighting with the rope (and of many other flexible weapons), if we fail to handle these movements perfectly, we will be totally unable to advance in our martial growth (in particular, in the absence of solid basis, it is extremely dangerous to try more advanced weapons).
Understood this, it's important that we concentrate the utmost attention on the idea of gaining dexterity:
- The rope must become an extension of the limb that brandishes it
- Our arms, at the same time, must acquire its "flexible power" (see the article "Hitting with softness")
Let's now rapidly describe the exercise:
- Let's assume our basic guard position (of which we have already mentioned)
- Let's sketch the sign of the infinite (an eight) with the rope movement in front of us
- Let's be careful not to hit our bodies or other objects
- Let's gradually try to increase the speed of rotation
- After gaining a certain familiarity, let's try to limit the use of the forearm in favor of the wrist to manage the rotation power
- As we improve we can begin to move in space (walking and then running in random directions)
- Let's do not forget to get involved our entire body in the motion
- The duration of each session is typically 10 minutes
- The safety instructions apply to those mentioned in the previous article
Given the complexity of spatial management of flexible weapons (inertia, trajectories, impacts, etc.), in order to achieve concrete results, we need to prepare our workout so that we devote it every day a small development space (eg one day the rope, one day the nunchaku, etc.).
In the next step of this discussion, we will see further advancement in rope training in the 6DKF.