Our focus today will be on controlling distance with the cross stance. One of the 5 basic stances in wushu, the cross stance is used in a variety of kung fu styles. This stance has two main variations. There is a standing version. The distance can be controlled using this version. The other version is executed while sitting. The sitting variation is used to change heights. Today we will focus on the standing version.
The cross stance can be used to control distance in a few ways. First, let’s look at closing the distance. When we want to close the distance, we will generally use the rear leg to step behind the front leg moving towards the opponent. This movement is usually a set up for a follow up technique. Good examples would be the elbow, the back fist, and the hammer fist.
The cross stance can also be used to increase distance. This can be accomplished in two different ways. The first way would be to use a long range follow up technique, such as using the walking side thrust or walking rear kick. While the stance temporarily puts you in a closer position, it can make the distance perfect for a long-range attack, allowing you to knock your opponent further away. The other way this can be done is by stepping away from your opponent. This can be used for hidden strikes such as a hammer fist to the kidney, or it can be used as a simple cover to get away. It’s also a great way to recover from an off-balance kick.
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Simply click on the tab at the top right to schedule a class now.
In December of last year, Kyle Russell from Arkansas Wushu and Roger Grimes from the YouTube channel Shodan1197 both conducted 30-day kick improvement series. This series focused specifically on 7 different kicks. The kicks included were as follows: front kick, side kick, rear kick, hook kick, axe kick, round kick, and the reverse crescent kick. Here are some lessons learned from that series that may be helpful to you.
Lesson 1: Chamber
The process of kicking correctly generally involves only a few steps. The first step is to position your leg in the proper chamber position for the kick. By being properly chambered, you will be able to kick much faster and with more power. Additionally, chambering correctly will help you maintain your balance by keeping your center of gravity in place. Working just the chamber over and over again makes a great warm up before executing the kick.
Lesson 2: Start low
Try to avoid the temptation to throw your kicks high in the beginning. Starting out this way may hinder your form. You will want to warm up with low kicks in the beginning. This will allow you to focus on proper form for a more perfect technique. You can gradually execute the kick higher throughout your practice. Make sure to pay attention to whether or not you have to lean back. When you reach a height that you do have to lean back excessively, your form may suffer, lower your kick to maintain proper form.
Lesson 3: Build stabilizing muscles
For more power in your kicks, you will want to build strength in your legs. You need to be stable on both your stand leg and have the strength to lift your striking leg. A person who lacks the strength to lift one leg to a certain height must rely on momentum to kick. By slowly raising the striking leg as high as you can, holding kicks in the extended position, or using different weights, you can build strength in the leg you are kicking with. Your standing leg can be strengthened with these drills as well, but you can use supplemental exercises such as squats, lunges, and jumping to further improve the strength of your supporting leg.
Lesson 4: Increase flexibility
To throw high kicks effectively, flexibility is a must. Some martial artists claim that high kicks are impractical, but that does not mean that you should not practice them. Increased flexibility will improve your posture, making your kicks better overall. Being flexible will also increase the speed of your kicks because of the improved range of motion. From a practical perspective, having the ability to kick both low and high will simply give you more options when you choose to strike. You can increase your flexibility by starting with a warm-up. After the warm-up, you will want to move on to dynamic stretching, then practice your desired kick. Finish off with static stretching for the best results.
Lesson 5: Develop control
Once you have developed a good chamber, you can practice executing the second half of the kick. To avoid injury, throw this part of the kick slowly at first to perfect the technique and keep control. You will need to be able to lift the leg to the height you want to strike the desired target. Control the kick when you throw it rather than depending on momentum. This may also allow to switch the type of kick that you are throwing if your opponent’s position changes. Throwing the second half of the kick wildly may lead to loss of power and balance. It will be easier to make a speedy recovery if you have control over the kick. To help with control, you can use exercises such as keeping the chamber up and throwing the kick repetively, throwing low kicks then lifting the leg slow and repeating the kick high, or trying to balance something on your foot as you try to throw the kick slowly.
Hopefully these tips will help you improve your own kicks. Feel free to follow the exercises included earlier in the article to assist you. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
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In November, Kyle Russell and Roger Grimes participated in a challenge. For every day in November, both teachers created a form. These forms had just a few rules. They needed to consist of five self defense techniques, each technique had to be performed on both sides. It was a really fun and educational experience, so it seems appropriate to discuss some key points to consider when creating forms that were learned along the way.
Creating a visually pleasing form can be difficult, performing them well in a short amount of time creates an even bigger challenge. Roger Grimes was so successful at this, that he was able to use a form he created to get 2nd place in a tournament.
If you want to enter a creative forms competition and need to make a form, the tips below may help for you.
Tip 1: Start and Finish on your dominate side.
When performing any technique, if the beginning and the end look good, the technique will most likely look good. It helps to apply this same principle to your forms. Your techniques will most likely look better on your dominant side. Starting and finishing strong will make the form look better overall.
Tip 2: Separate self-defense techniques with basics
In Chuan Fa/Kenpo, most of the forms are created from self-defense techniques. Occasionally, it can be hard to find a good flow from one technique to another. This can often be solved by simply adding a basic. For example if you end one technique and find you need the other foot forward, rather than just taking a step, you could throw a thrust kick and step down into the next technique. Your basics should be pretty solid and this adds techniques you know you will perform well, which in turn may make the form look more aesthetic.
Tip 3: Hide your weak spots
There will always be parts of your form that you just do not perform as well as other parts of your form. This is well worth considering when choreographing your movements, especially if it is for a tournament or a public performance. One example of doing this would be to design the form so that when you perform a techniques on your non-dominate, you are facing away from your audience. This way your weaker techniques are partial blocked from view, making it harder for your mistakes to be noticed.
Tip 4: Use solid techniques in the design
We all have our favorite techniques, and there is nothing wrong with that! Use them to your advantage. Your favorite techniques are the ones that you are more likely to perform well and have a more in-depth understanding of. When you use techniques that are new to you, you will inevitably spend more time considering the technique during the performance. This leads to a less confident performance as many advance practitioners will notice you having to pause and consider your next move. Using techniques you like will make it more enjoyable, and you will naturally give a better performance.
Tip 5: Show off
If you are creating a form, make sure to show off your more impressive skills! Exaggerate movements when practical. You can do this by using deeper stances, higher kicks, higher jumps, and your KIAI! Yelling to emphasize certain techniques gives an appearance of power, and this can really help you score points in a tournament. Never forget this is a performance, you don’t want to be boring! Pretend your in a fight and move your body with that type of enthusiasm.
Hopefully this article helps you, thank you for reading!
Kenpo was made popular by Ed Parker. Ed Parker once said “Every black belt is a style unto themselves.” Ed took a system that was taught to him, and mixed it with other instruction he received to make his own unique style, and American Kenpo was born. Although Ed Parker added a lot of Chinese influence, he chose to keep the Japanese pronunciation of Kenpo for his style rather than just using the English translation of the term, “Law of the Fist”.
The Chinese term for Kenpo is Chuan Fa. Many practitioners prefer to use this term when referring to the style as it does have a heavy Chinese influence, incorporating techniques from both Northern Shaolin and Southern Hung Gar.
Within these systems, you will find wide variations in techniques. This happens because the style evolves with each new instructor. One of the things that makes Chuan Fa such a great style is that willingness to change it. With many other arts, even if a technique is proven to be ineffective, it will continue to be taught for the sake of tradition. This ideology can keep a style from evolving.
To celebrate and demonstrate this, Kyle Russell of Arkansas Wushu and Roger Grimes of Tracy Kenpo have decided to have a friendly creative forms competition using their own unique experience. These two will be posting 30 forms within the first 30 days of November.
The competition will consist of the following rules:
All forms have to be original and a unique creation from the performer.
All techniques must be performed on both the left Side and the right Side
Each form must contain a minimum of 5 different self-defense techniques.
We will post these forms up daily and allow public voting. We hope you enjoy this display and test of skill.
Arkansas Wushu has been hosting online classes for over a month now! There are some consistent viewers and are happy to offer online instruction twice a week! We will have a slight pause in classes however, on 10/18/2022, live classes will not be held.
This will be temporary as we are simply upgrading our training room. Classes will resume as normal on Thursday. Thank you for your patience during this transition.
For training in the meantime, feel free to repeat any of the classes on the YouTube channel for Arkansas Wushu. You can see one of our classes here: https://youtu.be/LUeqANIY77k
Please feel free to comment on our videos letting us know any other training you like to see, Thank you for reading.
Over one month has passed since Arkansas Wushu started hosting live Chuan Fa courses on YouTube. To celebrate, a second class is being added! To celebrate, a second class is being added! This should help practitioners advance in their ranks at a faster rate.
Chuan Fa, also known as Kenpo, focuses on self-defense. Warmups, stretching, basic techniques, forms, and self-defense techniques are usually included in the classes.
Our last class included two additional kicks: the double and triple kick. Both of these kicks are just combinations of various snap kicks. In the beginning, maintaining balance during these kicks can be challenging. You might find these tips helpful as you practice those techniques.
Make sure your head stays still! Practice involves a great deal of eye movement. When you watch new practitioners learning a form, you may notice them rolling their eyes back as they try to recall techniques. Looking up, down, or off to the side can all throw your balance off. Try to keep the head still when the kicks are extended.
Check your posture. Do not try to counterbalance a kick. You should not be leaning back to keep your balance when throwing a kick forwards. Instead, try to ensure your hips are always directly under your head and preferably over the center of your stance.
Another trick that can help you with your balance is to simply stare at something. Find a picture or a spot on the wall about eye level and stare directly at it and nothing else. Perform your kick slowly and see how much it helps with your balance.
A weak foundation can make it hard to stand on one leg. Standing on one leg becomes a lot easier if you have a strong supporting leg. If you find that you begin to wobble rather quickly, you may need to develop more leg strength. Try exercises such as lunges, squats, and box jumps. Work your way up to pistol squats and you should see a massive improvement.
Having a center point to return to can also be very helpful. A good reference point to use is the knee of your standing leg. The knee also makes a great resting area. You can bring your foot back to your knee and take a brief moment before throwing each kick. This will kill any momentum that may throw you off balance while returning your weight back to your center of gravity.
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Last week, Arkansas Wushu began online classes for the style Chuan Fa. Chuan Fa opens up with a salutation rather than a bow. Many beginners struggle with learning the opening salutation, it seemed best to create an article going over the steps.
Step out right and swing both arms out to the side until your hands meet over your head touching the thumb and index fingers together
Bend the knees dropping down into a horse stance as you bring your palms down in front of you forming a prayer position.
Make your right hand into a fist
Bring your legs back together as you bring your hands straight up, and then let them fall down to the side.
Bring your right fist and left palm to the right side of your right ear. Step forward with your leg turning your foot sideways.
Step forward with your left foot and drop into a cat stance. At the same time, push your fist and your palm forwards.
Grab with both hands and in a tiger claw position.
Close fist and begin pulling the arm back as you step back left
Bring your right foot back so that your feet are together
Let the arms down and relax
That concludes the salutation. In Chuan Fa, this is what is used as the opening and closing to every class. It is also used at the opening and closing of most forms, excluding the beginner forms.
The next online class will be Tuesday at 7pm central time on the YouTube channel for Arkansas wushu. You can find our channel here: