- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
100 cool moves from a range of martial arts disciplines.
Martial Arts Made Easy allows readers to teach themselves skills from such martial arts as karate, kung fu, judo, tae kwon do and ninjutsu. Each featured move is illustrated with step-by-step line drawings accompanied by expert advice that assures learning is fun and safe.
This easy how-to guidebook covers:
A special feature, "In-Focus," highlights particular moves from well-known movies and demonstrates how they were achieved.
With clear instructions and stunning photography, Martial Arts Made Easy makes the best and flashiest elements of martial arts easy to master.
Table of Contents
On the slopes of the Songshan mountains, in the northern Chinese province of Honan, lies the legendary Shaolin temple, where the sect of Buddhism known as Zen in Japan and Ch'an in China began. It is the purported birthplace of kung fu, or Chinese boxing. Yet although it may be true that many types and styles of kung fu began here, it cannot be realistically argued that all the varieties of kung fu that were and are still practiced in China have their roots in Shaolin. Certain schools of thought hold, for instance, that the ancient Greek art of "pankration," brought to China by the invading armies of Alexander the Great, along with the martial art of Greco-Roman wrestling, gave birth to some forms of kung fu. And a famous ancient legend of kung fu relates that a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma crossed the Himalayas on foot to arrive at a half-ruined monastery whose monks were in a terrible state of health.
Bodhidharma, through a series of health-giving exercises based upon some Indian systems of yoga, brought the monks from their emaciated state to a condition of youthful vitality. These exercises, known as the 18 hands of Lo-Han, are popularly believed to be the forerunners of Shaolin temple boxing.
Over a period of time kung fu evolved into five major styles, each taking its name from its creator -- Hung, Choy, Mok or Monk, Lau, and Li. They are known as the five ancestors, and it is hinted that they were the original founders of the present-day Triad secret societies. The five ancestors are generally regarded as the sole survivors of the Shaolin temple after it was sacked and burned down by the Ching emperor's army. They fled across the Yellow River and went into hiding. After they died, many kung fu systems were developed by their students, and over the next few hundred years more branches of these styles, barely recognizable from the original forms, came into being. Because China is a vast country with many dialects, certain kung fu schools practice styles that are the same but have different names. The "praying mantis" style for instance, is known in Cantonese as "tong long" or "won long."
The kung fu styles developed at the Shaolin temple were based on the movements of animals. There were five in all: the tiger, crane, leopard, snake, and dragon. In later years one or two animals were adopted, along with their natural movements, to form the nucleus for a complete system of kung fu. The southern Chinese style of hung gar ("Hung family") was adapted from the "Shaolin tiger" systems, which also incorporates movements from the "white crane" style.
Without doubt one of the most popular styles of kung fu today is that of "wing chun," meaning "beautiful springtime." It differs from other kung fu styles in two ways. First, it is the only style that was invented by a woman; and second, it requires only the minimum exertion of force to do the maximum amount of work. The system was originated by a Shaolin nun named Ng Mui, who was an instructor of a kung fu style called "mui fa chuan," or "plum flower fist." In the village where Ng Mui eventually settled, she met a young girl named Yim Wing Chun, to whom she taught her system. Being of slight build, Yim Wing Chun thought that the plum flower fist was too complex and placed too much reliance on power techniques and strong horse stances more befitting a man than a woman. She needed something less complicated yet totally efficient. Not finding anything among the existing styles to which she was exposed, she created her own, dedicating it to the Buddhist nun who had taught her, but naming it after herself.
The modern-day exponent of the style was the late grandmaster Yip Man, who was born in the Chinese mainland town of Fatshan but who left when the Communist takeover was imminent to settle in Hong Kong. One of the most famous students of wing chun was Bruce Lee. It has been suggested that he used wing chun as the basis of his own system of "jeet kune do" ("way of the intercepting fist").
Two-thirds of wing chun's active principle is based upon hand maneuvers and subtle, shifting footwork. Contrary to what is often seen in films, very few kicks are employed. The few that are employed are aimed below the waist. The art of wing chun is based on economy of motion. A student of the art learns to defend his center line (an imaginary line running through the center of the body, where all the vital organs are housed). The hand techniques make use of the opponent's force to strengthen the practitioner's counter-attack.
Kung fu was primarily developed as a method of self-defense and as an exercise to promote good health. Training in one of the many kung fu styles that exist today consists of the systematic learning and practice of pre-arranged sets known as forms. The simplicity of wing chun is evident from the number of forms, or sets, the student has to master. There are only three -- "sil lum tao," "chum kui," and "bil jee." An interesting sensitivity exercise, developed for students of wing chun, is called "chi sao," commonly known as "sticking hands." This exercise heightens the sensitivity in a student's hands and arms to the point where he can anticipate his opponent's intentions purely by feel.
It has been estimated that many thousands of kung fu styles exist in Asia today. The following list is merely the tip of the iceberg. But it may serve to illustrate how the styles of kung fu that are practiced today began.
TAI CHI CHUAN
This is an internal style of kung fu founded by the Taoist mystic Chang San-Feng
(1279-1368). Legend relates that while he was living in the mountains he brewed a hypnotic drink, and after drinking it fell into a deep sleep and dreamed strange dreams. The dreams contained a series of fighting maneuvers, all of them based on a complete yielding to attack. Upon awakening two days later, he put into practice everything that he had dreamed. The practice consisted of a slow-motion exercise that never stopped. Each movement slipped into the next in an ever-continuing cycle. Within two years Chang began to look youthful and was full of vitality. This he attributed to the solo exercise. Some years later he took a disciple named Chen Chia Kou and taught him everything he knew. Later Chen taught the exercise to his own family. The Chen family kept the secret of the form for more than 400 years. A descendant elaborated the exercise and the style eventually split into two branches. The other branch became the yang style that is popular in the West today.
This is another internal system of kung fu, and means "eight trigrams," which are the fundamental symbols of the I Ching or Book of Changes. The style is based on the premise that if you can defend yourself at the eight compass points covered by the trigrams you will be fully protected from attack. The art has many openpalm strikes and the footwork is based on the circle. There is one central pattern, called the "da mu hsing" or "great mother" form, which is the foundation of pa-kua. Emphasis is placed upon developing chi energy (intrinsic power developed by the individual). At advanced stages of learning the student mounts his attacks in twisting, spiraling movements. The twist is done from the waist and generates tremendous power. Pa-kua was brought to light a little more than 400 years ago by its alleged founder Tung Hai Chuan. But martial arts historians tend to believe that it has its origins almost 5,000 years ago.
This is the last of the three internal styles, invented by a general named Yueh Fei in the 12th century. It is sometimes known as Chinese mind boxing. Although the movements are very graceful, the art stresses the yin-yang principle of complementary opposites, hard and soft. The basic movements are derived from the five Chinese elements of metal, water, wood, fire, and e