Foot flow patterns
Foot Flow Patterns
As the previous chapter confirms, the stance is the necessary starting point of Feng Shou movement, and perhaps the obvious progression from the movement of the feet on the ground is the movement of the feet in the air, which will increase the striking and defensive systems of anyone. But remember that the moment you lift one foot off the floor, you drastically reduce your stability and your mobility. So there is always the danger of leaving yourself more vulnerable, especially for the inexperienced, even though you are increasing your striking power, and this is the perfect understanding of the Yin and Yang. Always bear in mind that you should never use a kicking action unless you are absolutely confident that it will be successful.
After all, if you are up against a much stronger opponent, he may only have to land one blow to end the fight, so an unwise kicking action might give him the opportunity he wants, simply because you were in no position to evade or move out of the way quickly. You already know that physical strength is not necessary, but it still does not mean that you can survive an accurately aimed blow. As a matter of fact, our aim is never to be hit, which means that at all times you have got to stay one jump ahead of your opponent. You are not exactly in this ideal situation when you are caught with one leg in the air because of an ill-timed kick. The moral is: keep both feet on the ground unless you are absolutely sure that you can lift one of them, strike, and get back into another stance before your opponent has time to retaliate.
If you are in any doubt, don't take the risk. Instead try if possible to use a hand strike, followed by whatever stance puts you in the best position to either strike again, or to defend yourself against your opponent's next move. There are many instances when you can pave the way for the kick without exposing yourself to any danger. Naturally this will come with your experience in all sections of our art, and that is why constant practise is essential. No other Chinese art in the world has the foot flow patterns that are a part of the daily training of the art of Feng Shou, but why are they so unique? Firstly, the techniques of kicking were part of the sequences handed down through the Lee family and passed to us by our most respected master Chan Kam Lee. Secondly, the foot flow patterns attached to each of the Lee family's kicking techniques were devised by myself, and I have given the copyright of these to the International Wu Shu Association for their safe-keeping. These are the real reasons why no other style has these foot patterns or anything with the remotest resemblance to them.
They form a basic foundation for the very smooth and fast footwork of our art that enables everyone, young and old, male or female, not only to be able to kick properly and very scientifically, but also to use the feet to evade attacks, as well as learning to control the legs and the feet of your opponent, through a soft and effortless movement. It enables the muscles and the sinews of the legs to become very relaxed and supple, and yet they have the tendency to strengthen the ankles and knees so that foot evasions become exceedingly pliable.
These foot patterns are an integral part of the training of Feng Shou, but there is a lot of learning and practice that lies ahead, for there are 131 of these sequences and to be proficient in each one takes a long time and a lot of hard training. They give every student of the arts the opportunity of building up their kicking techniques, and an enormous variety of approach footwork, which includes half turns, full spins, jumping into the air, walking the air. They will aid the speedy manoeuvrability of each person, and they do all this whilst exercising their kicks either as a part of an attack movement or when utilizing the same techniques during an evasive action.
So treat these leg rhythms and foot patterns with great respect, but use them wisely, initially as a form of exercise, and don't forget to practice them only within your own personal capabilities and limitations. When it starts to become really hard work, and your muscles start to flag, then it is time to stop, and practise again another day.
Foot Pattern No. 1
Start in the right Snake posture (No. 1). Now move your left foot forward so that it crosses in front of your right foot, and as the left foot touches the floor turn the toes towards the left (No. 2). Now swing your right foot forward and upward so that it will reach your opponent's chest or even the face (No. 3). As it swings down let it cross in front of your left leg, dropping on the floor beyond the left side of your own left foot (No. 4). Now step back one pace with your left leg and let your right foot slide back quite naturally, so that you are once again back in your right Snake stance (No. 5). Now this time your partner swings his right foot into the air at you, in the same sequence of movements that you have just performed, but, as that leg floats up towards you, move your left leg back, followed by the right foot so that you are automatically moving back out of the range of his foot. He, of course, executes the same evasion movement when you swing your leg up at him. After having tried this pattern a few times in the right style, repeat it on the other leg by moving into left stance - that is, start in left snake stance and kick with your left foot.
Foot Pattern No. 2
Stand in right Snake stance (No. 1). Take a pace forward with your left foot, so that it crosses and is in front of your right foot, and turn your left foot to the left (No. 2). Now take a half pace forward with your right foot, turning the toes outwards to your right (No. 3), then swing your left foot forward and upward into the air, keeping the leg straight (No. 4). Let your left leg swing back downwards, and place it on the floor after it has crossed in front of your right leg (No. 5), and turn the whole body quite naturally with the movement of the leg, so that your shoulders are now facing to the right. Take a pace back with your right foot, then a shorter pace with the left foot, so that you are now back in left Snake stance (No. 6). As you come back, after having completed the kick, your partner comes in to you and executes the same foot flow pattern and kick, so you may have to take an extra couple of paces back in order to keep out of his range. As your partner retreats after his kick, you move in again and execute the same foot pattern, but this time from the left stance which you are now in from your first kick attempt. So from your left Snake stance, you step off and cross with your right foot, take a half pace with the left leg, kick with your right foot, swing down in front of your left leg, then step back with the left foot allowing the right foot to slice back slightly, and you are once more back in right Snake stance. Then your partner does the same, and so on, until you have repeated the sequence a few times each.
Foot Pattern No. 3
This is a simple combination of foot patterns Nos. 1 and 2. Again start off in the right Snake stance (not shown). Take a pace forward with your left foot and the toes turning out (No. 1), then as soon as that foot touches the floor, swing the right foot up into the air (No. 2), just as you did in Pattern No. 1. Now, as your right foot comes down, place it on the floor about a half pace ahead of the left foot, with your right toes pointing out, then immediately swing your left foot straight up into the air (No. 3). You will notice that this gives you a double kicking action, with both legs swinging up into the air. As your left foot drops down let it cross in front of and beyond your right leg (No. 4), and turn your body towards the right as well, just as you did in Pattern No. 2. Now take a pace with your right foot, and allow the left foot to slide back half a pace, and you now finish in left Snake stance (No. 5). Again, as in Pattern No. 2, as you retreat your partner moves in to execute the same kick pattern as yourself, and you retreat from his advancing attack. As soon as he has finished his kicks, you move forward again to execute the same kick pattern, and he in turn retreats away from your attack. Remember that you are now in a left Snake stance, and so both of you are alternating your stances, as you practise the flowing movements in and out of this particular foot flow pattern. Repeat them a few times each until you get the feel of it.
Foot Pattern No. 4
Stand in right Snake stance. Take a half pace forward with your right foot, with the toes pointing out towards the right. Bring your left foot forward, then spin your foot and your body round in almost a full clockwise circle, pivoting on the whole of your right foot - don't pivot on just the ball of the foot or you will have a tendency to weaken your 'roots'. Put your left foot down onto the floor in front of your right foot, and, at this point you should be facing towards what was your left side and your body should be facing the same direction as your left foot. Now draw your right knee up into the air, so that your right foot is near to your bottom, then shoot your leg out sideways in a side kicking action, making sure that you lock your right knee when the leg is fully straight. Let your right leg now swing down towards the floor, first crossing in front of your left leg, then taking it just beyond your left foot. As soon as your right foot touches the floor, place your weight upon it, so that you can take a pace back with the left foot. Then allow the right foot to slide back about a half a pace, and you should now be back in right Snake stance. Towards the end of your kicking technique, as you begin to retreat, your partner moves towards you to execute the same foot pattern. Do this a few times from the right stance, then swap over and try it from the left stance. That is, start in left Snake stance, take a half pace forward with your left foot, a full spin with the right foot, then kick sideways with the left foot and leg. Replace your left foot on the floor beyond your right foot, then take a pace back with the right foot, slide the left foot back slightly and you should now be in left Snake stance once again. When you first execute Foot Pattern No. 4, try to keep your leg parallel with the floor during the kicking action, and later on you will be able to slowly raise the height of the foot, as your muscles become more flexible. Another important point is that you must learn to kick with the heel of the foot, and not with the toes, and this will give you a much better muscle change in the leg, so ensure that you pull your toes back and let the heel lead the foot. From now on, every fourth foot pattern is a new technique, i.e. Nos. 4, 8,12,16 and so on, whereas the intermediate numbers are combinations of each of the fourth pattern coupled with either foot pattern Nos. 1, 2 or 3. For instance:
Foot Pattern No. 5
This is a combination of Pattern No. 1 and Pattern No. 4 executed in that order. (1 and 4 adds up to 5.) In other words, you first perform Foot Pattern No. 1, then once you have replaced your right foot down onto the floor, which you do as if you were going to take a pace forward, then you spin-step on the left foot and execute Pattern No. 4. When your partner executes the same pattern, you will have to move back at least two paces because of the distance that you have covered when you advance to execute this combination of foot patterns.
Foot Pattern No. 6
This harmonizes Pattern No. 2 with Pattern No. 4. (2 and 4 adds up to 6.) Go through the motions of executing Foot Pattern No. 2, but, as the foot swings down, place it on the floor about one pace ahead of your other foot, now spin-step, and then move into Pattern No. 4. Remember that Foot Pattern No. 2 alters your finishing stance: for instance, if you start in right stance you should finish in left stance, and vice versa, so you will find that this pattern will alter the finishing stance of any combination technique that is harmonized with it.
Foot Pattern No. 7
The amalgamation of Pattern No. 3 with Pattern No. 4 makes Pattern No. 7, and this is executed in a similar fashion to Pattern No. 6, by spin-stepping on the right foot before following on with Pattern No. 4. You will, no doubt, have realized that the foot flow patterns are now really becoming interesting, but the work load is also increasing and that means you will have to get more regular practice if your skill is to make steady improvement in the future.
Foot Pattern No. 8
This is very similar to Pattern No. 4, but in this case there are no spin-steps. Start off in right Snake posture, now take a pace forward with your right foot, then bring the left foot forward until it is alongside your right foot, and then place the weight of your body fully onto your left leg. Now draw your right knee up, and shoot the right leg out sideways in a side kick (Horse stance), locking the right knee, and keeping the leg parallel to the floor. Replace your right foot onto the floor but first cross it in front of the left leg. Take a pace to the rear with the left foot, followed by a shorter pace with the right foot, and you are once again back in your right stance. As you retreat, after having put your right foot down onto the floor, so your partner advances and executes the same kicking action from his right stance too. Try this a few times to get the 'feel' of the rhythm, then both you and your partner change over to the left stance, and try it by taking the pace forward with the left foot, bringing the right foot up to the side of the left foot, then transferring your body weight onto your right leg, then draw the left knee up and continue its flow of movement by kicking directly out sideways. Don't forget to lock the left knee as you straighten your leg. Let the left leg swing down after the kick, cross it in front of the right leg, and place it on the floor. Step back in retreat with the right foot which is immediately followed by the left, and you should now be in left Snake stance.
Foot Pattern No. 9
This starts off with Foot Pattern No. 1 and then it is combined with Foot Pattern No. 8 which immediately follows on in a continuous flow of movement. In other words, it is similar to Foot Pattern No. 5, but in this instance there is no spin-step.
Foot Pattern No. 10
This is a combination of Foot Pattern No. 2 which is immediately followed by Foot Pattern No. 8. You know how Pattern No. 2 changes the style that you finish in, so remember you will be completing these two combined techniques in left stance if you have started from a right style posture. Foot Pattern No. 11 Foot Pattern No. 3 commences this particular foot flow pattern and it is immediately followed by Foot Pattern No. 8. At this stage you should find that all these kick techniques are becoming much easier to perform, and now it is beginning to be fun to practise, especially as your muscles should now be more relaxed and flexible. You should be moving more fluently and faster, but don't let speed make you get careless in the execution of a perfect technique. Speed is the very last hurdle that you ought to think about, if you intend to be not only good, but outstanding in these arts. Slowness breeds perfection, for in China we understand that all things are born of Yin within nature, and slowness is Yin.
Foot Pattern No. 12
Start off in right Snake stance. Take a half pace forward with the right foot, toes pointing to the right as it comes to rest on the floor. Bring your left foot forward, and spin your leg and body round in an almost full clockwise circle, with the body weight moving onto the left leg as soon as it touches the floor. Now swing your right foot from left to right also in a clockwise direction, but using the back heel of your right foot in a back scooping action. Your foot should be parallel to the floor to start with, and you can increase or decrease the height of it, as you gain more dexterity and experience. Replace your right foot back onto the floor, by allowing it to swing behind your left leg, and just beyond the heel of your left foot. Take your left foot backwards one pace, by transferring your weight onto your right leg, for you are now about to retire, and then you allow the right foot to slide back also, by placing your weight onto your left leg as soon as it rests on the floor. You should now be back in your right Snake stance. On your retreating movement, your partner should be coming towards you, to execute the same kick pattern. Try the flow continuously, backwards and forwards, between your partner and yourself for a number of times. Then switch over into left Snake stance, and try it with your left foot as well. That is, take a half pace forward with the left foot, spin-step on your right leg, back heel with your left foot, and cross your left foot behind your right foot before putting it on the ground. As soon as the left foot rests on the floor put your body weight on to it, so that you can now step back one pace with your right foot. Now put your weight on to your right leg, and allow the left foot to slide back a short distance. You are now back into left Snake stance.
With all these kicking patterns, once you have attained a general idea of them, then you can vary the height of the kicks as it pleases you, and by so doing you can enlarge the scope of your skill. Remember to always practise slowly until you have attained the smooth flow of a particular technique, and are able to do it without having to think where the feet must go, which leg should be supporting your body weight, which directions your toes should be pointing, and which way your shoulders should be turning or leaning. Once you can do all these things without having to stop to think, then, and only then, should you consider building up your speeds. Once you have attained absolute perfection in the execution of the techniques, and have built up your speeds, then the final stage is to learn to jump into the air, or what we call 'flighting' the kick, by taking off on the leg that is supporting your weight. Foot Flow Pattern No. 3 is probably the easiest one to flight at first, and Pattern No. 1 you may find quite a tough one to do. You have the rest of your life to gain this sort of experience, so don't be in too great a hurry. Time may seem short at times, but it is actually infinite, so don't try and rush yourself.