"Conditioning" by Sifu Ed Young
In the last chapter we focused on the internal "Air" aspects of Chuka Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu. This time we will explore the polar opposite with the hard external conditioning Mantis practitioners must endure. Both the internal and external are needed to make a Kung Fu system whole. (The Yin and The Yang) Interestingly, here again,we will need to utilize our "Air". Internal and external work together to condition our limbs and body, to deliver and withstand harsh punishments during the rigors of training, sparring, and fighting.
We can cite an example of this when a Kung Fu Practitioner works to attain the Iron Palm. The hand is conditioned daily for Iron Palm training. Typically, a canvas bag is filled with hard gravel sized filler such as dried beans, gravel, or metal bearings. The Kung Fu Practitioner hits the filled bag repeatedly with his/her hand. Different areas or surfaces of the hand are repeatedly struck while hitting the bag. To properly train and condition the Iron Palm however, the practitioner must also properly breath during this training. Coordinating both the internal breathing and external striking of the bag results in attaining the true Iron Palm. One needs the other. Internal "Air" and the blunt force trauma of conditioning.
Pics Coming Soon!
As pictured. The hand strikes the canvas bag, conditioning the hand to deliver powerful blows against an opponent. The conditioning also gets the Kung Fu Practitioner use to pain when delivering these powerful and shocking strikes. In time, the practitioner will not feel pain at all. "Air" is also being used as we are breathing from the Dan Tien, inhaling, turning, and exhaling at the proper times, giving the strikes proper force. Our physical movements are augmented when driving the "Air" into the bag and our conditioning helps protect the hand as a result. The same concept goes for the conditioning exercises we will share with you in this chapter
Of course, training the hand for Iron Palm is only one example of conditioning. As in most Kung Fu's the Chuka Southern Praying Mantis Practitioner will condition many parts of the body. For this chapter we will specifically focus on forearm and shin conditioning.
Arm scraping requires two people for this conditioning routine. Chuka Practitioners stand facing one another in the Chuka Tong Long Stance and alternate taking turns being on the giving and receiving end. The first practitioner (the receiver) will stand in Tong Long Stance with forearms held out with the Phoenix Eye Fists ready in a forward upright position as seen in the photos. The second practitioner (the giver) will raise both arms up while taking in "Air" in a more relaxed manner winding up the hit. You will see the hands are hanging and relaxed. The second practitioner will then turn the "Air" and drop both hands quickly turning them into Phoenix Eye Fists, moving these fists with exhaled "Air" driving the fists through, and scraping practitioner one's waiting forearms as pictured. Practitioner one, when receiving the blow, must take in "Air" for protection and gird themselves against the blow. The roles will then be reversed as the receiver will now switch to being the giver. (striker) The process will alternate back and forth as the practitioners switch rolls, or take turns. Length of time for this conditioning exercise depends on the pain tolerance of the individuals performing the conditioning routine, but we recommend students try for 10 times each.
3 Strikes Arm Conditioning
This is another two person drill where the Chuka Southern Praying Mantis Practitioners will stand facing one another in our Tong Long stance. Both practitioners will start off swinging their right arms low in front of themselves at the same time till they hit each others forearms, exhaling "Air" for the hit. They must then inhale, and turn the "Air" as they relax with a loose back hand and turn their arms upward for the second hit, exhaling and driving as the arms connect at the same time. For the third and last arm hit in this routine, the practitioners relax and take in "Air", turning and driving the arms downward for the forearm strike. Once again, the arms hit as the practitioners exhale for the blow when they connect at the same time. Arms are then switched. After the right arm is struck three times the practitioners switch to the left arm and the process of three hits is repeated. Continue to alternate arms. You can also alternate breathing if you like. Exhaling to hit and send energy to the opponents bone, or inhaling at the moment of impact for protection and defense. As before, length of time for this conditioning exercise depends on the pain tolerance of the individuals performing this conditioning routine. Although, we recommend each student endure 10 reps each arm.
2 Man Shin Conditioning
This is a simple but painful conditioning routine that once again requires a partner. Practitioners stand facing each other in the Tong Long Stance
placing their hands on top of their partners shoulders. Both practitioners will start off kicking right shin to right shin. You won't have to do this devastatingly hard in the beginning, it will hurt enough. Alternate right and left, shin to shin as with the other conditioning exercise. You can alternate your "Air" as well. In some cases you can take in "Air" as your shin is struck for a defensive and protective measure. You can then have the mentality of attacking your partners shin, and exhale as you kick your partner and try to sink that energy into them. Once again I remind you to do as many as your pain tolerance will allow. Do try for 10 strikes for each shin.
Solo Shin Conditioning
No partner is required for the shin conditioning here, just a strong will. Self inflicting strikes to the shin will not be fun, but it will help make your Kung Fu strong, and the Mantis Practitioner more tolerant of discomfort than most people. We find the best way to solo condition the shins is seated in a chair. You can be a bit creative here, but we suggest being seated while having your legs configured as if they were in your Tong Long Stance. You can then strike your shins with a stick, I tend to think of a rattan stick or dowel rod. You yourself control the intensity of self striking/hitting the front and sides of your shins in a tapping manner. If you have your legs in your Tong Long fighting stance think of the areas that will be struck in a fight and condition them to withstand the blows that the shins will receive in combat. The stick can also be used to roll down your shin. A rolling pin is perfect for this, and very often Chuka Practitioners switch back and forth between the rolling pin and stick for this rolling/grinding conditioning. Again, we recommend you do this seated, taking the rolling pin or stick, starting just below the knee and slowly rolling the rolling pin/stick down the shin, stopping just before the top arch of the foot and then slowly rolling back up, pushing fairly hard for good conditioning and maximum effect. You can roll up and down directly on top of the shin, and then angle the rolling pin/stick to condition the sides of the shin as best as possible.
Treating the bumps and bruises
Most traditional Kung Fu's use a Chinese medicine known as Dit Da Jow to treat their conditioning, training, and fighting injuries, and Chuka Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu is no different. There are many types of Dit Da Jow's out in the market place to use. To clarify, we strictly use a bruise liniment Dit Da Jow. This means that this liniment is only to be applied to the surface of the skin as to help break up and heal bruises. It is NEVER to be ingested...NEVER!!! And NEVER placed on an open cut. For bruised skin only! When we use this Dit Da Jow liniment after conditioning, we find that it helps heal our bruising faster, so that we can get back to training and conditioning all the sooner.
Air and Conditioning help the Chuka Southern Praying Mantis Practitioner go forward in
his/her training, the combination will prepare the student to work with devices like The
Iron Bar, The Iron Rings, Striking Bags, elastic Bands, training dummies, and of course,
your Kung Fu partners. All aspects of your Kung Fu will be enriched as a result