My Jhong Law Horn Grand Master Yip Yu Ting was the first to introduce the style to outsiders. The following helps in the understanding of this traditional style.
The execution of techniques and the appearance of movements of different styles, whether in fighting or forms, have special flavors peculiar to each style. However, it is not the physical difference of technique that makes the distinction in styles, but rather the mind of the student. His thinking and strategy dictate the technique to be used, which in turn requires a special way to initiate the discharging of power suited to his tactics. It is this means of accomplishing a strategy of combat that creates a difference in style.
My Jhong Law Horn’s fighting prowess is based on deception and mobility. These principles are reflected in the versatile use of the hands and feet, which are characterized by markedly fleeting movements coupled with nimble jumps and shrewd attacks. A technique may change from a side blow to a flying kick in mid-air or to a sweeping stroke beneath the legs, thus demonstrating its mobility and the viability of multiple angle attacks. In the face of such unpredictable motions as ‘now you see, now you don’t’, the opponent is often left in confusion and vulnerable to My Jhong’s deceptive strategy and mobile tactics. Carrying out such minutely devised maneuvers requires that the hands, eyes, body and feet move in one coordinated motion of swiftness and agility. A technique designed for mobility has a flexible and extensive stretch which gives the appearance of relaxed and fluid motion while containing the potential for tremendous force. The production of this strength gives My Jhong Law Horn its fa ching (discharging of force), which is a cross between the internal corkscrew power of Chen style tai chi and the second joint (elbow/second joint, wrist/first joint, shoulder/last joint) snapping power of Shaolin long fist. One example is the skip-step wheeling-arm slap in which the practitioner strikes with the maximum summation of forces without the conventional lowered-gravity, wide-based, rooted footing. In fact, the strike actually occurs while his feet are skip-stepping around the opponent to cover distance. The momentum of the reaction force of the skip-step combines with the corkscrewing force of the waist rotation and the snapping force of the wheeling arm to deal a crushing palm strike to the opponent.
The keys to generating My Jhong’s fa ching are:
* iron hard fist – cotton soft wrist
* supple whip arm – spinning wheel elbow
* unified scapulas – loose hanging shoulders
* wide open chest – snake slithering waist
* open and close hips – rounded crotch
* bent knee – spring loaded feet and swift flowing steps.
My Jhong Law Horn and Northern Shaolin Long Fist are similar in the bold action of jumps and long-range attacks, but different when one looks at their combat strategies.
Long fist uses its jumps and long-range techniques to form a precipitous attack so that the opponent has no chance to even get close. My Jhong, however, is more deceptive. Bold leaps become nimble jumps designed to set up a better distance from which to counter and the long range strike is replaced by the shrewd precision of a multi-angle combination.
The fa ching of My Jhong has the element of spiral energy, which is usually considered to be part of the internal styles. The fighting principles of the internal stylist call for him to get in close to his opponent and for his hand to be soft to stick to his target. Therefore, without punching space, he must discharge force by starting the power from the rear thigh by driving against the ground, reflecting the force through the heel and transferring it from rotation of the hips and waist to the shoulder. From there it is conveyed through the arm and imparted by the hand. The fighting tactics of My Jhong cause damage through its iron hand rather than by uprooting its opponent. Therefore, if the fa ching were to start from the rear thigh, it would be too slow and have to cover too long a distance. Instead, it starts with an elbow snap, followed by driving the opposite shoulder away from the target, which transfers a reaction momentum through the unified scapulas to the striking arm. This is combined with the corkscrew force produced by the rotation of the hips and waist thrust toward the target and the final twist of the wrist on impact. This imparts a tremendous impact momentum while the practitioner’s body remains in a mobile state.
Southern Shaolin’s tactics call for quick blocking and multiple trapping hands to open the opponent’s centerline for attack. These techniques require strong shoulders, forceful arms, closed hips and total upper body strength to discharge straight forward with stiff direct power. My Jhong is marked for its mobility in countering and its shrewd combination of ‘now you see, now you don’t’ tactics to create confusion while attacking. Therefore, it has less need for concentrated blocking techniques, using its blocking hand as a safety check while countering, and to create illusions while attacking. My Jhong training uses forms practice as one of its main tools. There are more than 60 forms encompassing empty-hand, weapons forms and two-man sparring sets. Sparring is important for the development of efficient, economical footwork, precise alignment, and fast, fluid action. It also trains the acceleration of body parts to deliver maximum power and a highly refined sense of timing and rhythm in execution for the development of proficient combat skill.
Training has the effect of externally conditioning the tendons, bones and muscles and internally strengthening the breath of chi. Agility and flexibility in action and strength and hardness on impact are acquired through vigorous external training in basic techniques and combinations. The hands are conditioned through iron-palm training while the grips and jabs are from eagle claw.
Internal training is solely through practice of the empty hand and weapons forms and moves through three stages. In the beginning, diligent and thorough practice of the forms with the correct postures and details of the techniques is required. The second stage progresses beyond technique and the forms are performed with swift coordination, precise timing, fluid rhythm, flowing momentum and maximum focus. Combining these qualities with an understanding of the techniques allows one to practice the forms as if one were encountering an opponent. The final stage reaches the state of chuan, no chuan (technique, no technique), yi, no yi (mind, no mind), and from no yi shoots out true yi (from thoughtlessness comes true meaning). The internal practice follows the tradition of Zen rather than the Taoist methods of consciously concentrating internally or willfully guiding the chi through special routes. All one needs is a total commitment to the form without any mistakes or artificial feelings for the true unification of mind, body and action to occur.