10 Reasons why you should train low stances?

Traditional animal kung fu styles are well known for its low, low stances.  To begin with these low postures can be quite difficult to do correctly and very tiring, you will likely feel awkward and slow using this kind of low footwork to begin with.  In addition to this, when it comes to actual combat, it is unlikely that you will spend much time in a low stance.  Most likely you will spend most of your time in a high stance with one foot slightly ahead of the other (we could call this the human stance ☺).  Why go to all the effort of training those low stances then?  Here are ten good reasons why.

  1. Low stances give you strong legs.  Low stances put greater loads though the muscles of your legs.  This will develop your strength and lead to greater endurance and more powerful kicks.
  2. Low stances improve your flexibility and range of motion.  Transitioning through different low stances requires your legs to move through great range of motion relative to your pelvis.  This will make you more flexible.
  3. Low stances improve your posture.  If you focus on keeping your eyes level and head up in a low stance, this will bring your torso upright.  To do this certain muscles in your torso need to lengthen, others need to shorten.  This is much more challenging in a low stance than when standing upright.  Practicing good posture in low stances will make it so much easier to have the same good posture when you are standing up.
  4. Low stances give you a trimmer, stronger waist.  All this work that your postural muscles do maintaining good posture leads to stronger abdominal muscles, particularly the deep abdominal muscles and stronger more flexible lower back muscles.
  5. Low stances improve your balance.  Having more strength p90x3 , greater flexibility and stable range of motion around the pelvis, better posture and stronger core muscles (see points 1-4) all add up to better balance as you body is more able to make tiny adjustments to its position with ease.   Lower stances also make small misalignments in your joints such as your knees, ankles and hips more obvious as you put more load through the muscles.   This feedback can help you to move your joints to a more optimal positioning.  This will make it harder for an opponent to knock you over or pull you off balance.
  6. Low stances make you faster.  The strength and balance (see points 1 and 5) you develop through your low stances make it easier for you to shift your weight from leg to leg, and therefore to move your feet and body faster.
  7. Low stances make it easier to use your bodyweight to greater effect for striking, throwing and dragging.  The ability to move from a high stance to a low stance with ease allows you to put your whole bodyweight into strikes, throws and drags without fear of overbalancing.
  8. Being able to change your stance easily can provide you with additional tactical striking options.  Strong low stances allow you to drop down briefly to evade the arm or leg of a tall or jumping opponent, they also allow you to attack low targets such at the knees , thighs or groin using your arms without having to lean and make yourself vulnerable.  The strength you develop in you legs will also allow you to pop make to a higher stance or even into a jump quickly if tactical options present themselves that make this desirable.
  9. Low stances give you a better cardio vascular workout.  All the extra work your muscles do in low stance mean that you will need to breathe harder and you heart will need to pump faster.  This will help you develop greater cardiovascular fitness.  You will feel more energetic!
  10. Low stances look stylish.  It’s true, low stances do look more stylish, they will also help you to get into the character of the different animal styles of kung fu you practice.  This will lead to a greater understanding of the principles you are learning from each animal.

So next time you’re training an animal kung fu style, remember to go LOW.  It might feel like hard work to begin with, but it will get easier with time and you will reap many benefits. Check also some info on best budget rowing machine in the world.

 By John Munro

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Bayswater Primary School Demo – photos and video clip

Today we held a very successful kung fu demonstration at Bayswater Primary School during their morning assembly.  Participating in the demonstration were James Stinson, Joshua Stinson, Thomas Sedgeman, James Sedgeman and Masa Murata – all current or former Bayswater Primary School students, and also their instructor John Munro.

The boys did very well and there was a lot of interest from both kids and parents, so we look forward to a good turnout for the new class at Bayswater School next term on Monday afternoons.

Below are some photos and a video clip from the demonstration:

The boys doing one of their first forms

James and John using poles:

John with a sword

The group after the demonstration

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Bayswater Primary School Demonstration

We have a Kung Fu demonstration scheduled for Friday June 18th at 9am in the Bayswater primary school assembly.  This is a great way for the kids to show what they have learned and also stimulate some interest for the new class that is starting at Bayswater primary school hall beginning term 3 on Monday afternoons at 3:30pm.

Students who currently attend Bayswater school or who previously attended Bayswater school are encouraged to come and participate in the demonstration.  I will be talking to the students about what we will do at the demonstration over the next couple of weeks.

If any parents have questions about this, please contact John at john@developyourqi.com or 09 550 3896

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Which foot forward and why?

One of the first things a new martial arts student learns is how to stand, where to hold their hands to best protect themselves and how to position their feet to allow them to move easily and generate power for their strikes.

In southern Chinese kung fu right handed students will normally be taught to stand with their right foot forward, their hands extended in front of their body.  This seems unusual to people who have trained in other fighting styles where a right hander is usually taught to stand left foot forward, hands close in to the body or head.  The reason for the difference is that each of these stances are maximizing the use of two distinctly different ways of generating force.  One is maximizing the potential momentum based power of strikes, the other is maximizing the thrust or structure based power.

The typical momentum based strike is typified by the modern boxer.  They stand with their weak foot and hand forward (left hand for most) which they use to throw quick short punches to distract their opponent and set them up for a more powerful punch using their rear hand (right hand for most).  When the boxer throws their powerful right hand punch they first pull their right shoulder back then swing it forwards as they twist their hips and extend their hand.  As the arm reaches full extension they pop their rear (right) foot up onto its ball.  (It should be noted that this is the way a modern boxer generates force, an old fashioned bare knuckle boxer actually used stances and strikes more similar to a southern Chinese kung fu stylist, because a bare knuckle boxing match was more similar to the type of combat a southern Chinese kung fu stylist is training for; i.e. no gloves).

Modern boxing with big heavy gloves in the video clip below:

A classic example of old style bare knuckle boxing in the video clip below:

The momentum of an object is the product of its mass and velocity or in layman’s terms how heavy it is and how fast it’s going.  Pulling the shoulder back and then swinging it forwards with a twist of the hips allows the boxer to generate the maximum centripetal force from the hips and also give the longest distance for the fist to accelerate (increase speed) over.  Popping the rear foot up onto the ball allows the hips to twist through fully and not reduce the momentum of the fist and glove.  This type of strike makes perfect sense for a modern boxer because they wear soft gloves which absorb a lot of the shock of an impact.  The gloves are heavy though, so if they can get moving fast enough the momentum will rock and daze the opponent (concussions in boxing are caused by the brain being shaken inside the skull rather than the sharp impact on the surface of the head).

Many other traditional martial arts styles use similar mechanics and force generation principles but from lower stances.  Some people suggest that this is because the strikes were designed to penetrate through armour to damage the body of the opponent.  A light of medium powered punch would not have much effect on an armoured opponent, so the martial artist learns to put everything they can into the one strike, using maximum acceleration over maximum distance.

Contrast this with southern Chinese kung fu.  The martial artist is not wearing any gloves and opponents are generally unarmoured.  How quickly the strike can reach the opponent becomes more important than the momentum it will strike with, as any strike with at least a moderate amount of force with the bare fist on an unarmoured body will cause pain and damage.  Using the forearms to deflect incoming blows becomes more of a priority as well, as the southern stylist is also unarmoured and does not have thick gloves to absorb the impact of strikes to the head.  For these reasons the hands are held extended in front of the body and another method of force generation becomes more advantageous. 

Below is a video clip from the movie Ip Man displaying an excellent example of the extended guard, short striking and structural power generation:

This structural force is generated by short, sharp contractions of the connective tissue which links the body momentarily into a rigid object.  In this way the martial artist can generate force by pushing of the ground.  This is best achieved by striking with the powerful hand and leg forward, the opposite leg back and with both feet flat on the ground to maximize the instantaneous pushing force on impact. 

For most self defense situations this kind structural/connective tissue power has distinct advantages as it is unlikely that either combatant will be wearing armour or heavy padded boxing gloves.  The extended guard allows the martial artist to take the brunt of incoming attacks on the forearms rather than the body and head.  The short distance the hands have to travel to the opponent, and the instantaneous nature of the force generation (a short sharp twitch of the connective tissue rather than momentum accumulated by accelerating the hand across some distance) allows the martial artist to throw a multitude of strikes in rapid succession at their opponent, maximizing the chance of at least some of them getting through.  Once one strike is through, the following strikes will generally be easier to land as the opponent is momentarily distracted by the pain of the first strike.

This structural/connective tissue force can be compared to the thrusting of a spear, whereas momentum based force is more like the swinging of a hammer.  Both are effective and each has tactical advantages depending on the situation.  A good martial art will generally actually use a mixture of both these types of force.  Southern Chinese kung fu is no exception, while it places great emphasis on structural force generation, it does also use momentum based force for striking as well, but this tends to be the exception rather than the rule.  So for this reason the southern Chinese kung fu fighting stance normally places the strong arm and leg forwards.

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Savoury Bean Pie

Savoury and tasty.  High in protein and fibre.

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked cannelini beans

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in oil and chopped

3 eggs

1 medium onion diced and sauteed

1/2 cup of parsley chopped

1 tablespoon of wholemeal flour

Salt and Pepper

and of course a wholemeal pie crust

Instructions:

Process beans, sundried tomatoes, eggs and flour to a paste using a food processor or stick blender.  Stir in onion, parsley, salt and pepper.  Fill the pie crust with this mixture and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

For more directions read any of the venus factor reviews you find online or watch the video below:

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Do you want to know how to buy Natural Health Products at wholesale prices?

Hi everyone

As many of you will know, I have been using Natures Sunshine Products in my clinic for many years now.  My mother also used them for many years before me.  We have always found Natures Sunshine Products to be excellent in both terms of quality and effectiveness. If you are looking to buy your health products online then check out iHerb they have high quality items for great prices.

I have some news that some of you may be interested in and i have opened two chats for this topic.  Natures Sunshine Products New Zealand has revised its marketing plan making it easier than ever for someone to get started with Natures Sunshine.  You can sign up to become an NSP direct member and buy products for yourself and your friends at wholesale prices.  If you want to, you can even develop this into a part-time business like i did with Natural Vitiligo Treatment System Review.

The products that you buy as a NSP on http://yourellipticals.com
direct member are the same products you will find in retail health shops, pharmacies and clinics around the country – you just pay about 30% less than the regular retail price and have them shipped direct to your door. But if you are looking for supplements to help you lose weight and gain muscle check out Flexx Labs, they have high quality supplements that are great for you.

Natures Sunshine has a comprehensive range of products to help you to maintain optimum health and also Alternative Alzheimer treatment to help with many common conditions.  Below are just a few of the more than 300 products you will have access to.

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If you would like to know more about the Natures Sunshine product range and how to join up as an NSP direct member to buy at wholesale prices, please contact John at John@developyourqi.com

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Fruit Custard Tart Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of milk

2 eggs

1/4 cup unrefined sugar

Fruit (you can used canned or home stewed fruit, in the video I use pears but all sorts of fruit are good)

1 Wholemeal pie crust

Directions:

Lay the fruit out in the wholemeal pie crust. Beat the eggs, milk and sugar together and pour over the fruit in the pie crust.  Bake at 180 degrees celcius for 40-45 minutes.  Check to see if it is done by inserting a knife into the tart, if it comes out clean it is done.

For more instructions watch the video below:

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Grading Results May 2010

A kung fu grading was held on Saturday May 1st 2010.

Those students who attended the grading all did very well and can be pleased with their results.  Visiting instructor Croydon Putu commented on the junior students great improvement in technique since the last grading.

Results are as follows:

Junior Grades

Alyssa Donovan-Smith                   Yellow Belt
Michael Gouldstone                       Yellow Belt
Emil Roding                                         Orange Tip
Daniel O’Loughlin                             Orange Tip
Josh Holt                                              Orange Tip
James Sedgeman                             Orange Belt
Thomas Sedgeman                         Orange Belt
Reagan Bruce                                    Orange Belt
Masa Murata                                     Orange Belt
Michael Stinson                                Orange Belt
Joshua Stinson                                  Orange Belt

Adult Grades

Jan Abraham Nel                            Yellow Belt
Francis Mountjoy                            Orange Belt
Asa Wendelborn                              Orange Belt
Craig Blackwood                             Orange Belt
Ashley Clarke                                    Green Belt
Oliver Wise                                         Green Belt

Tuesday Afternoon Class with their certificates

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What is Gong (Kung)?

‘Gong’ or ‘Kung’ as it is sometimes spelt is a Chinese word often interpreted as ‘skill’; it is also often interpreted as ‘work’ or ‘hard work’.  The relationship between these two interpretations is interesting and insightful. 

Skill in the context of qigong and kung fu is inseparable from work.  We may learn movements, forms and principles in a relatively short space of time, but to truly gain ‘gong’ or skill takes dedicated and consistent work and practice. 

Sometimes we may fall into the trap of thinking that once we have learned a movement, that is all that is required to have gong – we have ‘learned’ qigong or kung fu, but really this is far from the truth.   We can compare this to someone learning to swim. 

They begin by getting into the water, and it is all a bit strange and maybe even a bit scary as they learn to put their head under the water, how to stay afloat and when to breathe.  They then begin to work on propelling themselves through the water.  With the help of a teacher they will probably learn one of several common and simple ways of doing this.  Maybe breaststroke or freestyle or even just ‘dog paddling’.  To begin with the movements are uncoordinated and ineffectual, but with a bit of practice they will start to be able to move themselves about.  They have successfully learned to swim, but have they become a good swimmer? 

Probably not, most likely they have only just begun their journey.  Whatever their aim in swimming, whether it be for health, for safety on the water or even simply enjoyment, they will most likely have years of regular practice ahead of them before they are truly skilled.  Those who want to take it up as a sport will continue to be coached in the finer points on a regular basis, others whose goals are not so competitive will likely practice by themselves or with friends for bay area company.

The process is similar for qigong and kung fu; to begin with some of it can seem strange and daunting, much like learning to put your face under the water and float for the first time.  It is easy to be put off at this stage, but before long it will start to make sense, you may start to notice some health benefits and start to become a little aware of your energy.   Fantastic progress, but have you really achieved gong or skill?  More than likely this will take years of further practice with many interesting discoveries along the way.

Some will want to learn different styles, much as you would learn different swimming strokes.  Others will be happy to find just one that they like and stick with it.  Some will practice to such an extent that they develop extraordinary abilities, some may want to pursue teaching or clinical application.  Others will just want to practice for health and enjoyment, and that’s fine, not all of us need to become the equivalent of Olympic athletes, swimming teachers or surf life savers.  The important thing is that we get what we want out of our practice.  But one thing is for sure to develop skill or gong will take work and practice over many years.

One of the beautiful things about qigong and kung fu is that you can continue to improve and develop throughout your entire life.  This is why the most respected teachers are also generally the oldest.  They may not be as physically strong or agile as they once were but over years of practice they have developed great sydneyseoservices and internal strength and character and are beautiful to watch.  Much like listening to a singer like Johnny Cash; in his later work his voice is not as smooth as it once was, but the power and character it conveys is remarkable.  That kind of power is not obtained overnight, but by years and years of practice and experience.  That is true ‘gong’.

The same thing will occur with your qigong and kung fu.  As you practice over the course of years you will develop internally.  Gradually you will gain an understanding of the essence of the movements and in doing so your practice will become powerful and beautiful.  You will obtain ‘gong’.

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Volunteer Police

The volunteer police on the Northshore have contacted me to see if anyone from the centre would be interested in joining them.

The volunteer police have been in operation for about 30 years.  They assist general duities sworn officers in the local communities.  This can involve anything from speeding cars to stakeouts and everything in between.

Requirements:

Over 18 years old

Good physical health

New Zealand resident

Clean full driver’s licence

Able to pass a police background check.

If you are interested in joining the volunteer police and helping out in our community, get in touch with me and I can tell you what you need to do to take the next step.

John@developyourqi.com

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