Some Shaolin Principles from Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
- Attack continuously.
- Signal to the east, strike to the west.
- Avoid an opponent’s strong points, strike the weak ones.
- Trick an opponent into advancing without success; strike decisively with just one blow.
- If an opponent is strong, enter from the side; if he or she is weak, enter from the front.
- Use four tahils against a thousand katis (use minimum force to neutralize maximum strength)
Upon a strike, it should hit with force, and an advantage should be pursued when there is a gap, until that opens up another hole in the defenses. Often one can chain these offensive movements to encourage an opening. Advancing into a new range with a punch or kick can also be an effective way to be more unreadable. If there is only one range that one stays within, then the opponent can start to plan out a strategy around overcoming the range.
I think that it is best to always seize all the advantages one can prior to an attack. When I'm teaching, I talk a lot about center lines, and how it is best to rotate around our opponent to get off their center line while keeping ours on them to allow for full use of our weapons. A similar concept in jiu jitsu makes it much easier to get one's frames in and stay safe. I think this is a way to only need four tahils against a thousand katis.
In the same way, I find that sweeps are effective if the opponent prefers kicking range to minimize effort and maximize results. There is a clear moment where the kicker has a compromised base of support, and if kicking high, easy to off balance. This typically involves hooking the kicking leg after blocking, which requires very precise timing. It is important to avoid exposing one’s head to a punch while addressing the kick, as it is an effective tactic to “signal to the east, and attack to the west.”
It is always important to keep the elbows in close to the body to protect from body shots in punching range or to avoid someone harvesting your arm for a kimura in grappling or trapping range. I find that it seems best to have my back hand with some horizontal space between the front hand, as well as the depth to blade a stance and keep a secondary line of defense. The horizontal space seems to protect against the more circular punches like hooks or corkscrew punches and overhand rights.
One of the difficult tightropes to walk with footwork is staying light on the feet while still avoiding telegraphing. If the focus is so much on lifting and getting the heels off the ground, then one can start to bounce while performing a slide-up kick, or simply advancing. This lets the opponent know where you are moving, giving away the attack. To properly hide intentions, the knees need to remain bent so as to keep the head at the same level. This also helps one push through the back leg to add backup mass to the kick itself by kicking with both legs.
5 Principles of Judo - Jigoro Kano
- Carefully observe oneself and one’s situation, carefully observe others, and carefully observe one’s environment.
- Seize the initiative in whatever you undertake.
- Consider fully, act decisively.
- Know when to stop.
- Keep to the middle.
The phrase is “position before submission” when it comes to grappling. The same concept applies at every range. This is why footwork is so important to practice, because often people get locked into an advance and retreat step when it comes to sparring combos. This habit of constant retreating when defending gets one’s back to a wall and prevents the use of rotation to take a better position when striking.
When one gets to a point where one can find and recognize the superior position, it may seem so brief that it can't be taken advantage of. When these moments arrive, if they are not acted upon decisively, they often pass. If one moves too aggressively then one can become off balance. I say become off balance because in this instance, no one made the tori extend dan tien beyond the base of support aside from a foolish overreach.
It is important to consider fluidity as well as power and intensity when practicing self defense. The ability to recognize value from a wide variety of lessons, and to combine those lessons in new ways allows for far more growth than rigid loyalty to a single style. Fluidity in practice allows one to flow around defenses and take the opening that presents itself, before overwhelming it with a tsunami.
“Be like water, my friends.” - Bruce Lee