Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Forkin' around and playing catch-up

Okay, I'm a few days behind in chronicling my workouts. I'm still being pretty faithful to mine and Don's joint resolution to focus on the Gung Gee Fuk Fu Kuen form of Hung Gar Kung Fu.

Because of work and housekeeping responsibilities, I didn't get to do Friday's workout until well into the afternoon, after the Tsarevich* (my son, Vitaly) came home from school. I turned that workout into a chance for a little father-son bonding.

The little Tsarevich, Vitaly, practicing Yoshukai Karate-Do.

He put on his gi pants and we went outside to practice some of his karate. We started with the 27 Movements kata of Yoshukai Karate-do, which he is learning from his sensei, Robert Hughes.

Even though I trained in Yoshukai for a couple of semesters in college, I still had to go to Youtube and find that form to remember it. Once I was secure that I could recall the sequence, Vitaly and I went outside for some practice.

From a Yoshukai Karate-Do workshop Vitaly attended in late January. In the wheelchair is Mike Foster Sensei, one of the few true karate grandmasters in America. Immediately behind Vitaly is his sensei, Foster's top student, Robert Hughes.

The man with the mustache right behind Foster Sensei was my old Yoshukai sensei from college, Dave Hunt. At the time I studied with him, I was a 2nd-degree black belt in Tang Soo Do. I was used to seeing men crumple when I landed my sidekick to the body, but kicking Hunt Sensei was like kicking a brick wall.

To keep things fun, I brought out a foam-covered stick that I used to use when Tony Chan and I would practice Escrima-style sparring. Using the stick, I would strike at the Tsarevich's his head and body and he would block those strikes using the techniques of the 27 Movements. After completing the blocking sequence, I held up a focus mitt for the reverse punches.

A version of the 27 Movements.

Afterward, I started to work with him on his sidekicks, but that only served to confuse him. As a result of my years in Korean Tang Soo Do, I prefer a side-thrusting kick, while Japanese arts, like Yoshukai, will use a side-snapping kick.

So as not to confuse him, I decided that I would not teach him any techniques or training methods from other art until he was competent with Yoshukai.

I closed that workout with one run each of the Gung Gee Fuk Fu Kuen, the Dai Pa (aka tiger fork or trident) and the Mook Yan Johng Kuen.

On Monday, Vitaly was back in his karate class. I left him there while I went outside to run through the Gung Gee and the Dai Pa sets, three times each. When I returned inside, I found that Hughes Sensei had started his class on sparring.

Vitaly immediately took to it. Since Hughes Sensei was recovering from surgery last week, he had one of his black belts and a high-ranking brown belt act as sparring partners. For the most part, they only used defensive techniques, like dodging and blocking, forcing the kids to have to get inside and hit.

At one point, Hughes Sensei announced he would pay $10 to any kid who could knock down one of the black belts. That was just the thing Vitaly needed to spur him on. He loves any chance to make money.

Though he didn't knock over his black belt sparring partners, he fought like a demon from Hell!

Which brings me to today's daily workout/lunch break. I'm trying to stick to a schedule to set aside time for seeking work, doing writing jobs and working out. I started training at about 12:30 today, with a single run of the Gung Gee, followed by eight runs of the Dai Pa.

The more I do the Dai Pa, the more I realize that it is less about physical conditioning (though it will get you in shape) and more about developing flow in your movements and testing your stances.

Doing that form with as much power as I can muster requires me to pay attention to my stances. They have to be deep, wide and steady or the Dai Pa will send you flying. As a result, my stances are deeper and steadier than they have been in years.

I closed with a run of the Mook Yan Johng Kuen, (wooden dummy form) both the Yip Family and the Mainland versions, as well as some huen sao (circling hands) drills.

Chi Sao (sticky hands) training, as taught by Guro Dan Inosanto, the foremost instructor of Bruce Lee's art of Jeet Kune Do.

Which brings me to some exciting news. I've been checking the International Chinese Martial Arts Championship website for the latest info on the Orlando tournament in May. While they haven't listed all the divisions, they did say that they will include a chi sao (sticky hands) event. I took 2nd place in that event five years ago. I'm hoping this time to take the gold!

And maybe, just maybe, I'm hoping that they finally include a Wing Chun Grand Championship for that tournament.

Hey! One can dream!

*Russian for "prince," or more specifically, "little Tsar.


  1. Nice forum

    I've done stick fighting with my son with those padded kicking bat things. They work well for that. He was about eight years old

  2. Sorry that was supposed to read nice form. I've been thinking adding a new feature to my martial arts forum lol