Iím relatively new to martial arts but consider my self sensible when it comes to what Iím involved with, in that vein I also consider myself pragmatic and not interested in traditional CMA topics like internal energy or style lineage or forms for the sake of forms without knowledge of practical application and Iím happy to say none of these have really been an issue with my studies in the school.
Iíve now been attending the school for a little over a year and itís been a giant learning experience. Foundations such as balance, movement, physical conditioning, and mental preparedness have all been in my studies and itís been a noticeable change on my part adapting all these things into my striking, cardio, and overall physical health.
The first month or two was dedicated to basics striking skills, kicks, breathing, blocks, and strength workouts. Upon moving up, emphasis was given on movement, leg work, hip work with strikes and kicks, with heavy emphasis on bag work. These were applied then in sparring with three step movement and free style sparring. Itís defiantly a different experience to practice into a bag or air then to apply while moving blocking and countering and the only way to get that is with real hands on sparring. You learn a whole lot real quick when you keep getting your ass whipped by higher levels. But the general mood of everyone in the school is we are there to help each other. So itís always appreciated when someone can show you a weakness in your guard or a in a strike by either punching you through it or laughing maniacally as they block your strike and deliver there own.
Formality in the school is somewhat existent but itís pretty laid back there is the cupped fist bow when entering the floor and a ceremonial bow before and after class. Uniform consist of standard black button top kung-fu uniform and pants, they can be purchased in or outside of the school and are inexpensive.
From the CMA perspective the style taught is Pai Lum, supposedly a mixture of northern and southern styles of Kung-fu more similarities with Hung-gar exist then anything else. Although after talking to other class mates and the instructor there are other martial styles implemented due to cross training in the past and other instructors bringing information into the system, this includes elements of Goju Ryu, Kenpo, and Judo.
Sparring consist of a probably strikes 60-70% effort (depends on who you spar with and how far they take it with you, itís a joint effort) with full strength in blocks but pulling the strikes to the head or private regions. There is no sparring gear so thatís about as far as itís taken. We do use pads for full out practice with striking partnering up we do circle walking and depending on the curriculum of the day either kicking or striking or mixing it up.
Free style sparring can involve take downs, throws, etc. Although the style is stand-up there are elements of single and double leg takedowns, sprawling, and chin-na for grappling. But the general mood is ďif you go down hereís how to get bring the fight back-up.Ē
Training in forms consist of what youíd think punching in the air, but on the good end there is always a practical application where the form is practiced with a partner to actually practice the various strikes, blocks, and movements.
Equipment available for training are your typical heavy bags, a two BOB dummies to practice specific body strikes, weight bench and sets, stretch machines, medicine balls, etc.
Between the day class (12 Ė 1pm) and evening classes (6-8:30) there is open floor time where the instructor and equipment / floor space is available for practice. I have come in a few times during open floor time and either the instructor or senior students have always made them selves available for sparring, specific instruction, or just to leave me alone to get bag work, etc.
There are weapons used in the school the traditional CMA weapons taught include staff, broad sword, nun chucks, and three sectional staff. Also there is an Modern Arnis class taught by the instructor once a month on Saturdays with intermediate classís throughout the month which includes standard Philippines rattan sticks and short knives (in class we train with wood knives) itís very interesting but also can be frustrating as knife fighting is very quick and needs full commitment and precision. Something I just donít have right now. Maybe after I get stabbed a few more hundred times I may be enlightened, but the grace of the senior students still eludes me.
On the Modern Arnis the class also deals with open hand knife disarms and joint locks or small joint submissions/manipulations otherwise known as ďoh god what have you done to my fingers.Ē
There is also a Tai Chi class once a week but I currently do not attend, from what I have seen of the students that do study Tai Chi it has a lot of interesting applications in passive fighting with pulling or diverting strikes and then coming back in with that force for your own. So if one is so inclined to study the internal side of it this class is your option.
Iím not sure what else I can say other then if you want a nice some what traditional CMA school but open to cross training come and check it out. The students are all helpful and the ability to train in other arts like Modern Arnis or Tai Chi is like icing on the cake.