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Full contact San Shou Competition/ Team selection

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  • #31
    First of all, well done to the 11 fighters that entered. It was a pleasure for myself and Robin to organise the competition, we are also pleased that no-one was really hurt, even though some heavy strikes were landed.

    As you discovered there is room for improvement, and this is a good thing to recognise. You are not yet the end product/fighter, you are on the way and discovering what it is like to become a true scholar warrior.

    There were times during the fights when stances and pressing sequences were used and overcame the other fighter, whom at times were shocked into a retreat or basic fighting skills.

    There were also times where strategy and sequences overcame brawn.

    The correct stances and defence modes and methods in practice sessions were not used consistently during the fights. This was often when you got hit or kicked. But again, considering this was your first time for many of you, you did well.

    You proved that you all have a good heart, mental clarity and good internal force. Those that are willing can continue with their practice to further increase their skills, force, experience, strategy and confidence.

    We will be holding further training days in the UK for those that are interested in this type of training.

    In the meantime, well done to you all.
    Tim Franklin
    A story of finding Courage and Wisdom Classes and Courses for Shaolin Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Qigong in Bognor Regis, Chichester, West Sussex

    Fully Alive on Facebook Energy Flow for Health and Happiness

    UK Summer Camp Qigong, Taijiquan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Spiritual Cultivation with Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit



    • #32

      Dear All,
      I would like to add my own congratulations to the 11 fighters who entered. It showed real heart and fortitude. Especially as many, if not all them did not have Full Contact Experience.

      I will let them explain their experiences and let the other family members learn from it.

      All I can say is that all the people who entered, learned and gained a lot from this event. They followed our core principle of direct experience and I KNOW that they are going to approach their training in a whole new way.

      Some of the experiences I saw were :

      Strategies overcoming strength and technique

      Maintaining focus against stronger opponents

      The use of Kung Fu skills in pressured settings

      And many many more.

      Yes this highlighted some deficits ( please note I do not say weaknesses) as many people did not have the experience or had maybe not used the right training methodolgy for this event. But I know they will address these deficits and continue to evolve and change and become a Scholar-Warrior.

      I think that everyone who entered should be very proud of themselves as they all walked the talk and went the route of experience.

      With Respect and Shaolin Salutes to the 11 fighters

      Sifu Mark Appleford



      • #33
        Hi all,

        I just wanted to congratulate you all for your effort and dedication. Unfortunately I really couldn't join you guys (had an exam last weekend) but I hope that more of these events come up, and that we may all learn from this type of experiences!

        All the best!


        • #34
          Congratulations to everyone involved!

          Even more congratulations for those who evolved from 'talking' to 'doing'

          Full contact sparring can be a wonderful thing.

          was it a good example of our compassionate art of kung fu?
          Yes. "Compassion without wisdom is cruelty"


          • #35
            Oh yes I forgot to mention about getting hit hard in the nuts. That hurt a lot and next time I will make sure to invest in better quality protection!

            Just wanted to say thank you to Sifu for the Chi kung healing on me which helped me to recover very fast!

            Actually Sifu did some nice Chi Kung healing on quite a few people, so if you are worried about getting hurt, that is another safety measure we specially have.



            • #36
              Originally posted by JasD View Post
              Actually Sifu did some nice Chi Kung healing on quite a few people, so if you are worried about getting hurt, that is another safety measure we specially have.
              Ah, I can't believe I'd forgotten about that! Indeed, that was a wonderful reminder as to the level of the school. It reminds me of the quote Sigung mentioned some time ago, that one's kung fu is only as good as one's healing arts. I noticed that many of the strikes that landed were the sort of blows that would be difficult to treat using conventional first aid (which tends to be what is available at ordinary tournaments). Seeing some of the participants provide support, advice, and diagnoses/remedies for injuries even just before sparring with them is an astounding display of compassion, sincerity, sportsmanship, and family. The excellent character of the participants and supervisors certainly showed through and make me very proud to be in Shaolin Wahnam.
              I like making silly videos (including kung fu ones!) every so often on YouTube and taking pictures of weird things on Instagram.


              • #37
                This is an interesting discussion. I have a lot to say, so I'll focus this post on my general experience at the tournament.

                Yes, I believe the way we fought at the tournament was compassionate and the force level was good/appropriate. I also suspect that the folks who were in Oslo in January (but weren't able to make it to the san shou tournament) are reading these responses with a sense of deja vu, having gone through a similar progression of understanding what it really means to increase the threat level, and why it's sometimes hard and uncomfortable, but necessary if we are to get the full benefits of our training. I know I did.

                I have massive respect for everyone who took part in the tournament. The competitors all showed that they have so much courage and dedication to achieving combat proficiency that they are willing to put themselves in uncomfortable and sometimes unpleasant situations to gain the benefits. As a result, I have no doubt that we will be rewarded with the benefits we seek, and they will be worth many times whatever difficulties we have to overcome to get them. This is the stuff that masters are made of.

                For those who don't want to compete in such tournaments, that is of course your right. But if I were you, I'd seriously examine why. I suspect that for many of us, it's less about the tournament aspect and more about the threat level. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but we have to work up to realistic threat levels whether we're training for tournaments or not. Some of us may take more time to do it than others, but if you're training Shaolin Kung Fu or Taijiquan and are not committed to gradually progressing on that front, you have bigger questions you need to ask yourself (and perhaps your Sifu). This doesn't mean that we have suddenly changed away from a school of kind and compassionate brothers and sisters who do our best to help each other progress. As others have noted, the tournament was a powerful example of how we can do both.
                Chris Didyk
                Shaolin Wahnam USA

                Thank You.


                • #38
                  On force level, injuries, and lack of fun

                  I think that while the main issues that come up from sparring at the level we did at the tournament can be singularly described as "threat level", it may be helpful to split them up into the following pieces: force level, injuries (from the sides of both the giver and the receiver), and seriousness/lack of fun/competitiveness.

                  First, the force level. Those I talked to during the week before the tournament can attest to my initial nervousness about it and my struggle with the idea of using knockout-level force against my fellow Shaolin Wahnam family members. I ultimately decided that if I were to hurt my sparring partner, that I wouldn't seek a knockout, but would try to use that opportunity to fell or push him out of the ring.

                  I don't know if it was evident during my matches or not, but I never had the intention of trying to hurt or knock anyone out. What I did have the intention of was to use enough force to stop my sparring partner from coming in on me to push me out of the ring. I had to use quite a good amount of force to do that, but I got valuable confirmation that I could do it successfully at times, and that I have more force in my strikes than I expected. That's particularly true for Hang a Golden Star, which has never felt particularly powerful in solo training or partner work without gloves. I was honestly surprised the couple of times that I knocked my sparring partners back with solid strikes! I've also found that receiving forceful strikes provides good confirmation of when taking a strike stops you and when it doesn't.

                  Next, injuries. Our standard for what is an injury and what isn't is a bit different from what most people in Western culture assume. This is something Sigung clarified as a result of the Winter Camp in Oslo. By our standard, no one was injured at the san shou tournament, even though some competitors were in some pain and were treated by Sigung. Our standard of injury is more along the lines of something you would need to go to the hospital or receive days or weeks of treatment for, like a broken bone or a torn tendon. Chi flow and internal force are pretty amazing in their restorative and protective qualities, even if they aren't always immediately 100% successful within minutes. I think Sigung would consider it reasonable (and not serious) if you took a strike that required a few days of good chi kung to fix up. If you think about it, it's pretty amazing to have a tool like that at our disposal!

                  I still remember the first time I accidentally struck someone while sparring with kung fu. It was a dragon hand to just above the eye of my classmate, Adam Bailey. He had done the same to me a month or so previously, and I honestly felt far worse about striking him than about being struck by him. That said, I have no guilt about any of my strikes at the tournament nor any anger about any strikes I took. I think the other competitors all feel this way, too, and if they don't, they should! While I would rather not cause anyone pain, I know I didn't seriously hurt anyone, and I realize that feeling guilt-free about striking someone doesn't mean that I'm not compassionate.

                  Seriousness/competitiveness/lack of fun. I can honestly say that the few times I have padded up and sparred with the gloves, I have had to force myself to do it. It hasn't been fun in the moment, but afterwards, I've always benefitted from it tremendously. In fact, the main reason I competed in this tournament was because I knew I'd have more regret if I didn't than if I did. I felt a huge sense of relief when it was all over, but already, I can see that I've benefitted tremendously from taking part. The feedback of what worked for me and what didn't, gained from a realistically threatening situation, is as priceless as it is definitive.

                  Increased threat level doesn't have to mean "no fun". I think we all enjoyed the last session of the Baguazhang course, even though we upped the threat level, and that was without the benefit of months of gradual progress. Even when learning the sequences, Sigung stressed that we must always have good force, form, and intent. When we're first working through a sequence, it's ok to go slower, but we should continuously up the force, flow, and threat to the edge of what our partners can handle until we reach realistic levels. Right now, that feels intense because many of us aren't used to it, but I suspect that once we get comfortable with it, it will be just as fun as it currently is to do sequences with low threat. Keep in mind that one of Sigung's old nicknames was "The Smiling Tiger"!
                  Chris Didyk
                  Shaolin Wahnam USA

                  Thank You.


                  • #39
                    Its great to read everybody else's thoughts.

                    After another day of reflection, and reading your words, I'm actually feeling much more positive about my performance than yesterday.

                    I can confirm that, although my left arm has been a little sore, and I had some trouble raising it yesterday, this is already pretty much back to normal. Even though, as I mentioned, I was panting for breath in the ring, by the time I left the venue, I was back to normal energy levels and when I got home it felt the same as if I'd just had another day at the office. This alone is pretty amazing!

                    Also can confirm that I have nothing but love for my fellow competitors, indeed more now than before the tournament. In fact, during the bouts, and watching the others, I really felt that there wasn't a 'me vs you' but really a 'me vs me' and 'we helping we' spirit, even as we dealt each other powerful blows! We really were achieving the ideal of being mirrors for each other. I have done other competitions, in various kinds of external sports, but I've never felt this feeling of mutual support before. I don't think anybody actually cared about winning or losing, I certainly didn't -- It was really the opportunity to help each other test ourselves that was the important thing.

                    Today I am in great spirits, full of energy and feel really positive and full of life. I know, like Chris, I would have been feeling regret instead if I had not participated. It may not have been beautiful and graceful kung-fu, but it was, for me, definitely a break into new, uncharted territory, and this has something liberating and thrilling about it. Perhaps the greatest thing is that I have increased self-awareness of where I need to work to improve, to make the next leap forward. And as Sifu has said, awareness of a problem already contains the remedy.

                    I totally agree with Chris -- if we're not training to have the confidence to use kung-fu in real life situations, then are we really living up to the ideals of the past masters? I think there is a risk that our practice becomes a kind of self indulgence, if we just seek easy joy and fun without balancing this with the more rigorous task of pushing ourselves to constant self-mastery.

                    I don't think tournaments are the only way to push oneself, and perhaps they aren't for everybody, but I think, based on my own experience, that there may be some students out there who actually need to undergo the experience or else they risk getting held back in their progress by their own fears or just lack of self-awareness.

                    I think there is also another learning that is dawning on me as I write this post- when we are in a tournament with members of our school, and when Sifu is present, there really is nothing to fear -- its like we're transported into a special dimension where its totally safe to let go and become familiar with the new experience and let our training take over. Maybe we're back in the original Shaolin Temple itself? I think that it must be a manifestation of the wu wei /yu wei principle -- you need to make the effort to overcome your doubts/fears/whatever is holding you back and get yourself into the tournament ring, but once you are there, the wu wei takes over and there is a real protection and support that comes to your aid. I don't know if others felt this, but now as I reflect on it I know its not just my imagination.
                    Last edited by foxinsocks74; 25th June 2012, 09:48 PM.


                    • #40

                      Thanks guys, so much in these posts I'd like to hit a "Like" button for - very eloquently put chaps! Very pleased this thread has been reinvigorated and very pleased that so many of the sentiments being shared are bang in line with how I feel about the whole thing.

                      With respect
                      ++ smile ++ from ++ the ++ heart ++
                      Rich Denyer-Bewick
                      you can connect with me on: Facebook (personal/social), Linkedin (professional) and Twitter (a bit of both!)


                      • #41
                        Hey Guys!

                        I´m glad you did it! I enjoy reading your reflections, it resonates with my experience in the first Ten Tigers Tournament: we have something special in this school: a good hearted family.

                        I´ve been also afraid of hitting people, but then I just hit some and they hit me and it´s fine to exchange some punches. After all we aren´t doing ballet and we have great tools to overcome pain and injuries! No need to be afraid.

                        I really look forward to watch the videos!

                        Who of you feels like going for official San Shou fights this (or next) year? Or was it just an unique experience?

                        Best regards, Anton.
                        Engage and maintain joyful practice!

                        May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

                        Anton Schmick
                        Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord



                        • #42
                          Sounds like all competitors learned a lot - about competition, about fuller force sparring, and about themselves! Good work!

                          I wanted to address the compassion side of heavy contact sparring, but I think Chris really hit the nail on the head with his posts/experiences. Much of what I was going to mention has already been said.

                          Compassion lies in the intent of the action much more so than in just the action itself. For instance, a smile is normally a compassionate action, but if your intent, as you smile at a girl, is to make her boyfriend jealous, then it is not at all compassionate. And with heavy contact sparring, strikes/kicks/fells/etc can be compassionate, even though some might consider them "violent." And it all lies in the intent.

                          Each competitor will have to answer it for themself, but if you question the compassion, ask yourself:

                          1) Was my intent to cause pain and/or injury

                          2) If I could win by causing pain/injury, but might lose if I do not, what did I choose?

                          3) When I noticed my opponent was dazed/stunned/injured, did I go in for the kill? try to end the fight without causing more injury? back off and let them recover?

                          4) Were my forceful strikes fueled by anger? by ego? by fear? by training?

                          5) The first time I got hit by a "holy crap!" punch to the face, how did that change my experience? How did I feel about my opponent? How did I feel about myself? How did it change my approach to the match?

                          6) How did I feel when I hit someone else with a "holy crap" punch to the face?

                          Asking yourself questions like this (after the match, please! Not during! ) will be good confirmation that you are training a compassionate art. Or good confirmation that you are getting away from the compassionate side of the art, depending on your answers.



                          • #43
                            I think it would do us all well, especially those who are afraid of heavier contact sparring, to remember that sparring should be used as confirmation of your training.

                            Tests/confirmations can often be stressful. Especially if you have doubts about your ability to answer/perform. Luckily, we have some amazing instructors in Shaolin Wahnam. A major part of being an instructor is to raise the student's ability, and then put the student in a situation that allows him/her to have confirmation of the increased ability. Basically, we "encourage" you to push past what you see as your limits, but we know are not your limits.

                            Your Sifu will not throw you in over your head, just to see how you do. We already know you can do it, the confirmation is for you! So, when it doubt, ask your Sifu. If he/she suggests heavier contact sparring, he/she knows you have the skill already. Go get some confirmation!



                            • #44
                              Great questions

                              Thanks Matt, these are really great questions to ask. I am going to answer them openly, honestly and from the heart - even if that might put me in an uncomfortable position:

                              1) Was my intent to cause pain and/or injury
                              Absolutely not. not for a moment. My intent in hitting my opponent was to overcome them and bring an end to the fight as quickly as possible.

                              2) If I could win by causing pain/injury, but might lose if I do not, what did I choose?
                              Much harder question - it wasn't for me about a choice between losing and winning, I mean winning in the 'ego' sense of "Oh god I so want to win this fight". Winning or losing was the last thing on my mind. As I say, it was more about a) defending myself and b) overcoming my opponent in order to end the fight. I wish Like Chris, I had been able to apply different techniques like throws and push outs to end the fight, but in the heat of the moment of my first ever full contact experience, I have to admit I was right back to basics of kicks and punches. That didn't feel particularly great, but its where I was at. So, inflicting pain didn't cross my mind. although in the back of my mind I knew I was, because I was also feeling it from my opponents' strikes.

                              3) When I noticed my opponent was dazed/stunned/injured, did I go in for the kill? try to end the fight without causing more injury? back off and let them recover?
                              Really tough question this; when I was fighting brother Jas (and he won both times) I didn't notice him getting tired or dazed at all. Maybe once when I seemed to be getting the upper hand in our second bout; I think I hesitated for a second, spotting this, and he clocked me a good kick to the solar plexus and it was game over. In my fight with brother Tim, I noticed him tiring and thought i was winning. I became more hesitant to see if he was going to stop, but he courageously kept on coming, and so I kept on going. This was the oddest bit for me, to know I was winning and to carry on hitting. I don't know if I should have behaved differently.

                              4) Were my forceful strikes fueled by anger? by ego? by fear? by training?
                              Definitely not anger (not a glimpse of anger in the room that day) or ego. I think an equal mix of fear and training if I'm honest - there were definitely points where I was hitting out for fear of being hit. It didn't feel very controlled, and I was hitting as hard as I could. that didn't feel great at all.

                              5) The first time I got hit by a "holy crap!" punch to the face, how did that change my experience? How did I feel about my opponent? How did I feel about myself? How did it change my approach to the match?
                              Yep... this was pretty indescribable. I'd never experienced this before. I felt scared, dazed and very focused all of a sudden on defending myself 9which I wished I had been able to do with better control). really important to note here that I felt no anger or resentment to my brothers. at all. not in the fights or afterward. I was a willing participant and there to learn. We all knew what we were doing.

                              6) How did I feel when I hit someone else with a "holy crap" punch to the face?
                              Well, another important thing to note - I tried to make sure I did not aim for neck, nose, mouth, eyes etc and tried to aim at the hard frontal forehead area and cheek (the well protected by headgear bits). If I wasn't accurate at any point this wasn't intentional. I think I managed it. When I struck hard and connected I felt several different things at once... firstly something like "oh, that worked, that's good - that was what I intended to do" and then a bit of a disquiet in the background like "hmmm you just really clocked your brother, I hope he's OK, this feels a bit weird" and overall "I hope this ends soon"...

                              Make of my answers what you will!

                              All the best
                              Last edited by namaste; 25th June 2012, 11:41 PM.
                              ++ smile ++ from ++ the ++ heart ++
                              Rich Denyer-Bewick
                              you can connect with me on: Facebook (personal/social), Linkedin (professional) and Twitter (a bit of both!)


                              • #45
                                Great stuff

                                Hello All,

                                I just wanted to say a big thankyou to everyone who organized and took part in this tournament. For me it was a really helpful, inspiring, instructive and joyful occasion.

                                I really like the points raised so far. And I agree that, if you are serious about real Kung Fu, then you must test your skills from time to time in an environment like this, lest it degenerates into 'flowery fists and embroidery kicks'.

                                I think it also highlights the many different facets of force development in our arts. When we remember that the original Chinese term for force (gong) can translate as both skills and force, it becomes clear that maintaining practice of both aspects is essential. Your Black Tiger may feel like you could take down a brick wall with it in your solo practice, but if your spacing and timing skill (which you never really stop developing) is poor, it counts for naught in a real combat situation.

                                Also, when discussing the tournament with brothers, many people - including myself - expressed the difficulties they had when sparring with the gloves, under the San Da rules, how they inhibited movement, reduced the range of techniques, were easily ringed out ect.

                                But thinking about it now, this is ideal for skill development!

                                If you look at the fundamentals of combat application we learn in our first few sequences, you can see that the range of techniques and the amount of movement is very limited, the purpose being to focus on skill development.

                                Now we can see, from direct experience, why professional kickboxers/boxers ect. get so good at what they do - they have a very limited range of techniques, they train them consistently, and they test them regularly under pressure.

                                I lost both my matches on the day, and learnt a great deal in that short space of time. I was really hoping to have more matches, but unfortunately the schedule was very tight. Hopefully we can organize some more informal matches like these soon.

                                I'm very grateful to Sigung and to all my seniors who have kindly shared with us the methodology to develop these amazing skills. I definitely plan on doing more of this type of training - it really rocket powers your development, in my experience.

                                Often in life the moments in which your character is really judged are those difficult, stressful, unfamiliar situations. This type of training is certainly one way of clearly seeing your character and true nature, strengths and weaknesses. For those of us who are interested in developing spiritually, I would highly recommend occasionally swapping the meditation cushion for the lei tai!

                                Whilst I can in no way claim to have done so myself (at least at the tournament itself) it was wonderful to see people using stances and sequences to gain the upper hand in their bouts. Even when a sharp blow made them lose their composure, it was clear to see the seed of true Shaolin Kung Fu germinating before our eyes.

                                All in all I can surely say that the tournament was a highly enjoyable and beneficial experience for me, and the decision to enter it was very stimulatory for my practice. And if you didn't make it this time round, then I hope the video of Martin Siheng punching me in the face raises a chuckle for you

                                Warm Wishes and Kind Regards,