Ward-offs

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The hands can be lethal weapons if you know how to use them properly, and the body can be very vulnerable, if you know where to strike and what type of hand weapon to use at that specific point. In fact you only need to get one blow through your opponent's defence, landing it on your chosen target, and it could well be the end of the contest. However, if your opponent should happen to get his blow in first, it could well put the end to the bout and to you as well.

So, the first rule is to ensure that you don't get hit at any time, no matter what the angle of the strike might be, even by a sudden or unexpected attack. This is extremely important, and we can never stress this enough — more important in fact than anything else that you might learn in Feng Shou, and it should take priority over any other series of techniques.

Remember also that Feng Shou is primarily an art of self-defence, and as such you should never be the one that strikes the first blow. In fact, you should never strike a blow at all unless it is absolutely unavoidable, or it is the very last resort after all other means for a peaceful settlement have failed.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that you have to lose face. On the contrary, in a street fight it is much more impressive as well as very effective to glide past all of your antagonist's attacks. Of course, while you are doing this you can make it very apparent that you could have easily hit him if you had so wished. By the time you have fully mastered the techniques in this book you will have the confidence and the ability to out-manoeuvre anyone, unless you happen to meet one of our more experienced Feng Shou students and masters.

You cannot hide this kind of self-confidence, and you will find that it is a very effective deterrent to any would-be attacker; invariably trouble will pass you by without having to resort to the use of the arts.

You already know the stances, and by practising them you will have seen how moving from one stance to another takes various parts of your body out of reach, and therefore out of range of your opponent's blows. If you utilize the stances alone, they would certainly enable you to avoid almost all attacks, and that is without using your own hands and arms in self-protection.

But if you bring your hands and arms into play — formidable as you would be through your stances alone — your abilities will increase beyond all recognition. Ward-ff (Dǎng kāi 挡开) In the gentle and soft art of Feng Shou, we have three basic ways of defending ourselves against an opponent's blows. The first is called a 'block' (Dǎng 挡) and it merely involves stopping an opponent's blow or kick, with either an arm or hand, in mid-air. Boxers use this mode of stopping a blow quite a lot, so no doubt you are familiar with it, and appreciate what we mean. However, we use this very seldom in our art because the process of blocking means relying on brute physical strength, which also means that you have to oppose force. That is something we always try to avoid since it is against the principles of the soft arts of China. It is far better to use the second way, known as 'parry' (Pien-i), which is a light brushing action of the hand, wrist or arm to divert the blow. In some cases all that is needed is a gentle turn of the wrist to parry even the strongest punch. Many people, particularly in the West, use far more force than is necessary to defend themselves, and thereby burn up their energies needlessly. The art of Feng Shou is such a sensitive art that everything should be executed in the same relaxed, soft, rhythmic style, using only the minimum amount of force at all times.

Our third defensive technique is the 'ward-off' (Dǎng kāi 挡开), which is very similar to the parry except that it involves a much longer action towards the end of the technique, to take an opponent's strike well clear of its target. The parry is often just a twist of the wrist, but when used effectively it is enough to throw a punch well off its intended course.

Both of the latter techniques can be used in such a way that once you have deflected the blow you can easily counter by moving your opponent's arm and body in a straight line, round the angle of your own body, downward to the floor, or even upwards to the heavens — whichever angle is suitable for you to upset his balance, and to put him under your complete control.

These are simple basic principles, and you should carefully study the series of ward-off movements. It will be easier if you can get a friend to work with you so you can both take it in turns to act as the attacker or the defender.

Of course, there may be times that you wish to practice quietly on your own, and the best way to do this is to try all the movements in front of a mirror. Throw the punch at your reflection in the mirror, make a mental note of the angle and the path that the blow took, then practise the appropriate ward-off or parry that may suit it at the time.

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Now, you and your partner face one another in right Snake Stance to begin with, with both hands in front of the chest, as if you were on guard. Your partner should now move into Dragon Stance (Lung Shih), and aim a straight arm blow directly at your chin. You will then parry or effect a ward-off against his blow with one of the following techniques. Remember that you should both move very slowly at first to acquire the 'feel' of the parry or the ward-off, to correct any mistakes that may arise. The hardest thing to learn is to keep very soft all the time, whilst you acquire the experience. Keeping soft and gentle will certainly be a new experience to most of you, so it may take time to begin to understand it, and to have confidence in it. So don't rush yourself, give yourself time for the natural benefits of this wonderful art to show themselves to you. Once you have acquired them you will never look back, for you will realize that the future of your experience is only one step ahead.


Contents

Sun Palm Techniques (Chih Chang)

1. Sun Palm (Chih Chang)

As the first punch comes towards you, move your weight backwards onto your rear leg, so that you are either in Cat Stance or Monkey Stance. Place your open left hand on the outside of your opponent's arm (little finger side of his arm), and rotate your wrist so that eventually your own palm faces you, and at the same time as you gently spin your hand also softly push his arm away from your chin.

2. Sun Palm (Chih Chang)

At the second blow comes towards you, move back so that your body weight is once again on the rear leg. This time, place your right open hand on his arm, rotate your wrist so that your own palm is towards you, and simultaneously gently push his arm to your left, and away from your chin.

3. Sun Palm Up (Chih Chang Tai)

This ward-off can be executed with either the left or the right palm, which is placed directly underneath your opponent's arm. With a gentle lift and push upward you can take this arm directly upwards and over your own head. To check to see if you are doing it correctly, the palm of your hand should be flat against his arm to start with, and as you take his arm over the top of your head, his arm should be in contact with the little finger edge of your palm.

4. Sun Palm Down (Chih Chang Hsia)

Again either hand can be utilized to effect this ward-off, so as his blow is delivered at your chin, place your open hand on top of his arm, and press down very firmly. In this particular case, it has to be pushed down very fast.

5. Double Sun Palm {Shuang Chih Chang)

You may find that this is a little difficult to execute at first, because not only do you have to transfer your weight on to your rear leg, but you must also keep your body to your left. Once your wrists become supple through constant practise it will become quite easy. Just ensure that both palms push your opponent's arm away from its intended target, your chin, and past your right shoulder.

6. Double Sun Palm (Shuang Chih Chang)

This is exactly the same technique as the movement explained in No. 5 but, as you can see from the photograph, the ward-off is effected from the inside of your opponent's arm, and you gently push his arm and hand past your left shoulder.

7. Double Sun Palm Up (Shuang Chih Chang Tai)

As the next blow comes towards your chin, put the bottom of both of your palms together so that they are touching near to your wrists. Then raise both palms upward, making contact with your opponent's arm and then push his blow up and above your head.

8. Double Sun Palm Down (Shuang Chih Chang Hsia)

This can be executed in two different ways: you can have one hand on top of the other, or you can have both hands positioned side-by-side. Press your opponent's arm towards the floor, but make sure you press fast and very firmly.

9. Sun Palm — Outside Left (Chih Chang — Waimien Tsuo)

If your opponent's blow comes towards your stomach, ward off with the palm of your left hand on the elbow side of his arm, with your fingers pointing down. Ensure that your fingers are kept together, and your hand is firm, and press strongly so that his arm is taken past your right hip.

10. Sun Palm — Outside Right — (Chih Chang — Waimien Yu)

Your opponent strikes again towards your mid-ribs, and this time you ward off his arm on his elbow side, with your right hand, again diverting his blow past your right side. Again make sure that your fingers are pointing down towards the floor, and keep them together.

11. Sun Palm — Inside Left (Chih Chang — Limien Tsuo)

As the next blow comes towards your stomach, use your open left palm on the thumb side of your opponent's arm, and ward off his strike so that his hand or fist flows past the left side of your body. Keep your fingers and thumb close together and pointing downwards.

12. Sun Palm — Inside Right (Chih Chang — Limien Yu)

As your opponent strikes again at your belt-line, make contact with his arm in exactly the same way as you did in No. 11, but this time you will use your right hand to deflect the blow past the left side of your body. Keep the fingers together and pointing downwards.

13. Double Sun Palm — Outside {Shuang Chih Chang — Waimien)

This ward-off can be effected in two ways: you can have one hand resting on top of the other, or both hands can be in position side-by-side on his arm. The photo shows both palms warding off in the second position, and the blow is being deflected past your right side.

14. Double Sun Palm — Inside (Shuang Chih Chang — Limien)

This is the same as No. 13, but this time you reverse your two palm ward-offs by making contact on the thumb side of your opponent's arm. Sweep his strike past the left side of your waist or past your left hip, depending on the height of his blow.

15. Sun Palm Down (Chih Chang Hsia)

This ward-off, from another low blow can be effected in two ways: use only one hand or use both hands together. The photo shows both hands being used on top of your opponent's arm. Make sure that you press down firmly and very speedily.


Cloudy Palm Techniques (Yin Chang)

16. Cloudy Palm (Yin Chang)

If your opponent aims a blow at your face just move your weight back on to your rear leg, and make contact with his arm with the back of your right hand, on the elbow side. Gently turn your head so that eventually your palm faces towards him, and, still moving gently, push away his arm so that the blow is deflected past the right side of your head.

17. Cloudy Palm (Yin Chang)

This ward-off is the same as No. 16, but this time use your left back hand, on the thumb side of your attacker's arm. Gently push and deflect his blow past the left side of your head. Keep the fingers firmly together, turning your hand until it faces your opponent.

18. Cloudy Palm — Left (Yin Chang — Tsuo)

As your opponent aims his blow at your stomach, again automatically move your weight onto your rear leg. Quickly circle your left arm over his arm and place your left back hand on the thumb side of his arm, diverting his blow past your left hip, and making sure that you gently but continuously push his arm away from yourself.

19. Cloudy Palm — Right (Yin Chang — Yu)

The technique is the same as No. 18, but this time swing your right arm over the top of your attacker's arm so that you make contact with the back of your right hand on the elbow side of his arm. Gently press and sweep his blow past the line of your right hip.


Sun and Cloudy Palm Techniques (Chihe Yin Chang)

20. Sun and Cloudy Palm — Outside
(Chihe Yin Chang — Waimien)

As your opponent's blow comes towards your chin, use the left hand in a Sun Palm action and the right back hand in a Cloudy Palm technique, and you have an immediate and very strong ward-off. The whole movement is a very natural one to execute.

21. Sun and Cloudy Palm — Inside
{Chihe Yin Chang — Limien)

Another blow comes directly at your face, and you ward off the attack by making contact with the inside of your assailant's arm, but this time use your right hand in the Sun Palm technique, whilst the left back hand becomes the Cloudy Palm.

22. Sun and Cloudy Palm — Outside

(Chihe Yin Chang — Waimien) Your opponent strikes at your stomach, and this time use No. 20 in a reverse position, making contact on the elbow side of his arm, with the fingers of both hands pointing down towards the floor, moving his blow away from its target and past your right side.

23. Sun and Cloudy Palm — Inside

(Chihe Yin Chang — Limien) Another blow towards the waistline is easily deflected past your left hip, by simply using this double hand technique. The left back hand becomes the Cloudy Palm and the front right hand is the Sun Palm ward-off, with both hands gently easing the blow away from its intended target. Arm Techniques (Pei)

24. Arm Ward-Off (Pei Tang Kai)

The whole arm can be used to ward off your opponent's blow, from the elbow to the wrist. In this case you will notice that the first contact with your opponent is with the thumb edge of your right arm. Now slowly turn your arm so that your own palm rotates inwards, and you will see his arm slowly moves away and is therefore diverted from its original target.

25. Arm Ward-Off (Pei Tang Kai)

Whereas No. 24 shows the arm of your opponent being warded off on the elbow side of his arm, this one shows the ward-off being effected on the inside of his arm. The little finger edge of your arm makes initial contact then rotate the wrist to complete the deflection.

26. Arm Ward-Off — Inside (Pei Tang Kai — Limien)

In Nos. 24 and 25 both of those ward-offs have been executed through the use of the right arm, this one shows you how it can be done using the left arm. Make contact with the thumb edge of your arm, then rotate your wrist inward to get a good diversion.

27. Arm Ward-Off — Outside (Pei Tang Kai — Waimien)

Another blow towards your face, and this time ward off with your left arm on the elbow side of your opponent's arm. After contact is made with the little finger edge of your arm, then turn the wrist so that you can see your own palm throughout the whole movement, and watch his blow go sailing harmlessly past your body.

28. Arm Ward-Off — Right (Pei Tang Kai — Yu)

Against a low blow aimed at your stomach simply circle your right arm over your attacker's arm and then easily sweep your arm to your right, making contact on the elbow side of his arm. You will see his blow go past your right hip, as you divert it.

29. Arm Ward-Off — Left (Pei Tang Kai — Tsuo)

This is similar to the arm ward-off executed in No. 28, against a strike at the abdomen, but this time utilize the effectiveness of your left arm, by circling over the top of your assailant's arm, and making contact on the inside of his arm. As soon as you touch, sweep the arm past your left hip.


Willow Tree Techniques (Liu Shu)

30. Willow Tree — Left {Liu Shu — Tsuo)

With a blow coming at your mid-rib, just let your arm hang down with your elbow pointing forward. You will see that you will ward off your opponent's blow with the little finger edge of your arm. Now turn your body to the right with the motion of your arm, and his blow will float past your body.

31. Willow Tree — Right (Liu Shu — Yu)

This is the same action as No. 30, and performed against another blow at your stomach. This time use your right arm, ensuring that your right elbow points towards your opponent, turn your body to the left, and his arm will be swept past the left side of your body.

These are but a few of the many ward-offs, parries, and blocks in the art of Feng Shou. You should not only practise with a partner, using your right and left arms and hands continuously, but also practise your movements in front of a mirror so that you can correct your technique. Admittedly, you won't be able to get the exact feel of actual contact but at least it helps to correct the movement of the ward-off. Don't forget to practise on both sides of the body, and learn to execute all the techniques whether you stand in a left stance or a right stance, until every ward-off becomes second nature to you. This is important for if at any time you have to defend yourself, you may only have a split second to do so, and so your own reaction and defence must come automatically. This can only happen through regular and continuous practice, day in and day out. Eventually you will obtain an instinctive reflex, where you will apply the correct technique with split-second timing, at the appropriate moment, and it will then become a completely natural movement and extremely effective. Through constant practice over a long period of time, you will learn to 'feel' your opponent's intentions even before he strikes, but the first step to acquire this sensitivity is through the medium of hand or arm contact. This is another important aspect of the soft arts, which gives us quite a big advantage over our opponents, and to develop this 'feel' you must practise the art of 'I Fu Shou' (Adhering Hand), which is another step to be conquered.

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The Taoist Art of Feng Shou Hand of the Wind kung fu

by Chee Soo

Copyright ©Seahorse Books 2006 reproduced with permission