Martial arts literally are the art
of war. Although both are physical activities, Chinese martial arts are
different from western sports. Martial arts are physical activities that
include numerous aspects. Within martial arts there are self defense skills,
ways to purify one's temperament, performance art aspects, mystical/philosophy
aspects, and health maintenance/exercise characteristics.
Today, there are many styles of Chinese martial arts. They are commonly
divided into internal and external systems. From a martial arts perspective,
there are some things in common which all styles have and demand of their
practitioners. Some of those things are:
1. The hands and arms
Hands and arms are very important in
martial arts. The use of the hand and arm as a weapon includes the use of the
palm, fist, fingers, arms, elbows and shoulders. Some of the techniques are:
chop, push, punch, point, hook, pounce, catch, grasp and cut, etc. These
techniques are very profound. When one is able to apply all of these techniques,
one will be powerful and one's skill level will be high.
The eyes are important in confrontation. They can
see the target and determine the direction of power from the opponent.
Therefore, it is often said among practitioners that the eyes should see all
directions. If the eyes only see what is in front, one will be in a
disadvantageous position and all movement will be controlled by the opponent.
The eyes are also able to project the power to cause the opponent to be afraid
and step down. Also, observing the opponent's eye movements, one can tell what
the opponent will do next.
In confrontation, the body is the most common
target. Therefore, one must train the body to be flexible to neutralize strikes
by turning and twisting. If one correctly fine tunes the body, every part of the
body is able to counter strike. This ability is what all martial art
practitioners search for their whole lives.
The waist is the bridge connecting the upper and
lower body. It is the source of movement and power. All martial strikes rely on
the waist. Therefore, if one loosens the waist, the body is able to be nimble
If one correctly applies stepping techniques,
one will maintain a proper distance from the opponent. A correct step can be
forward to strike or backward to defend. It does not matter how one maneuvers,
one executes the counter strike based on the footwork. It is often said among
practitioners that if one strikes forward without advancing the rear foot, the
strike will not cause any damage. With this, one can see how important footwork
It is often said among practitioners that if one
has skill, one has courage. If one has courage, the skill is even higher. It is
also said that when two parties with similar skill levels confront each other,
the one who has more courage will be the winner. These two examples demonstrate
that courage is a very important part of one's skill. In confrontation, a person
who has courage will seize the opportunity.
One's experience should include practical
martial arts experiences as well as information about other styles. There are
many styles of Chinese martial arts, each has its own techniques and
characteristics. If one understands the opponent's style and that style's
characteristics from experience, one will correctly apply techniques to
neutralize the opponent's strike and win.
It is energy and power. When one cultivates the qi to
strengthen the body, with the improvement of the physiologic organic functions,
all movements will be fast and powerful. It is often said among practitioners
that internally, one should strengthen the qi and externally, one should
strengthen the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments.
Jing refers to the internal power generated from the
integration of the body. It is different from physical power or what the Chinese
call li. Jing power is controllable and is capable of doing more harm than Li.
Li power has no control. If a practitioner misses the target during the strike
when using li, he will lose balance as well as be controlled by the opponent.
Therefore, Chinese martial arts practitioners prefer the controllable Jing power
over the uncontrollable Li power.
Spirit refers to the practitioner's mental
condition. This is sometime dictated by the skill and situation. In
confrontation, one should believe in his own skill and have confidence. To
establish a mental edge and to put pressure on the opponent, some styles
highly emphasize mental training.