Monday, May 3, 2010

Let's try this again! A new month, a new beginning.

Breaking out with my kwan dao for the first time in nearly a year.

I had some high hopes at the beginning of March.

My health was good. My back recovered from a major sprain. I'd been doing the Gung Gee Fuk Fu Kuen and the Dai Pa almost every weekday for a month, sometimes as much as five times each.

But shortly after my last post, I got hit with that flu that was going around, along with a major sinus infection. It kept me from training for more than three weeks.

In early April, I joined a gym. Actually, it is the weight room at the Cordelia B. Hunt Recreation Center, at Al Lopez Park. It's not much better than my home gym, but it gives me a place to train indoors.

April had its own monkey wrenches. I'd been stepping up my job search and getting some new writing assignments. Nothing major, but every bit helps these days. Also, Vitaly had his spring break. Roxanne wanted to do some traveling, so we went to the Phosphate Museum in Mulberry, Ft. DeSoto Park for fishing and swimming, and Solomon's Castle in Hardee County. The latter is a real Florida treasure I can't recommend enough for someone looking for something out of the ordinary.

After spring break, I decided it was time to ease myself back into some regular workouts. I've been dealing with some knee pain for much of the past year, so I used the time off to re-examine my workouts.

As much as I hate to say it, I'm putting a number of forms on hiatus because of the demands they put on that joint. Anything with any duck walking or knee-drops is out of my repertoire for the time being. Sadly, that includes many Yau Kung Mun sets and the Dai Pa.

It does, however, allow me, actually it forces me, to improve on the following forms, techniques and training methods:

1. All the Wing Chun forms, including Siu Lam Tao, Chum Kiu, Biu Jee, Mook Yan Johng Kuen.

2. From Yau Kung Mun, that leaves me with the Yin Ching Kuen, the Gau Bo Toi and the Sup Baht Mor Kiu.

3. The Gung Gee Fuk Fu of Hung Gar.

4. As far as Chinese weapon sets, that leaves me with the Luk Dim Bun Guan (Wing Chun giant pole); the Baht Cham Dao (Wing Chun butterfly swords, both Yip family and mainland versions); and the Kwan Dao from Yau Kung Mun.

The kwan dao. That sucker weighs about 15 to 20 pounds. It'll give you one helluva workout!

Today's workout emphasized the last weapon. Since I overslept this morning, I decided to eat bitter and workout at noon. That's no mean feat in the 90-degree Florida sun.

Following a run of my full-body stretch, I completed my first run of the Gung Gee Fuk Fu Kuen in more than two months. Thankfully, the light workouts of the past few weeks have paid off. Though I was winded, I still managed to do the set with proper attention to stances and body mechanics.

During a short break where I watched a video of the kwan dao, I went outside to do five runs of the first third of that set, which I call the "Attacking and Retreating Section."

In some ways, it's easier than it looks to wield a nearly 20-pound kwan dao. It forces you to let gravity and momentum do most of the work. Once that weapon gets going, it is very hard to stop. Even though the blade is unsharpened, the sheer weight of that thing could do a lot of damage. I found out the hard way last year when I sliced through a shoe and sock while practicing with it. I kept my toes, but I needed a tetanus shot after treating a three-inch gash on my calf.

But it's also hard because you still need good stances and good basics to control the flight and fall of your kwan dao. Otherwise, it could pull you off your feet or fly out of your hands. I'm sure the latter would cost points in a tournament if you happen to kill one of the judges.

Part of a new combination I developed for the wooden dummy.
1. Pak sao da (Palm block, hit)
2. Pak sao, elbow
3. Seven Stars Throw. The last move is from Preying Mantis Kung Fu, but I like it so much I'm incorporating it into my Wing Chun forms and repertoire.

The heat got to me. After the fourth set, I returned to the carport to close with some dummy training. For today's practice, I did the classic Yip family form on that dummy, but I added a few things to it. I don't claim to have a better way to do that form. I simply wanted to work on some combinations for my own use either in competition or self-defense.

It wasn't about correcting any shortcomings in that form, but about correcting some of my own shortcomings, especially my own lack of good combinations at close range.

With the dummy form completed, I knocked off and returned inside, to blog on this workout and plan for tomorrow's.


  1. The kwan dao definitely seems like a battlefield weapon.

  2. Man, I like that Kwan Dao too.

    I have a nice maple log from our woods that I'm going to try and build a training dummy with.
    Good pics man!


  3. Glad you like the pics, DR. I'm going to do more with pix and video over the summer.

    BTW: I hate to sound like a commercial, but I got the kwan dao at In my experience, they are the best site for Chinese martial art supplies, particularly combat steel or lung chuan weapons. That combat steel kwan dao cost $150 plus s&h. They also sell great combat steel butterfly swords. I liked them so much, I immediately bought a second pair.

  4. Sean, I'm glad you're keeping at it, spite of the difficulties, health issues, family commitments. Glad you are being careful with regards to your knee joints - I've a meniscus tear in my left, so I can sympathize.

    That kwan dao looks like its not to be taken "lightly" if you'll pardon the pun.