A consistent, major problem in discussions (and flame wars) here is that very few apparently appreciate nuance. They want it to be all black and white

So if you have anything critical to say about CMA you must be a hater and also never learned the real stuff, right?

“According to our research during the past few years, many techniques in the traditional systems are not practical. It is important not to be preoccupied with arguments of traditional versus modern techniques. It is also not a good idea to ‘protect’ traditional systems by tailoring the rules to exclude, for example, foreign styles“.
This quote is from Professor Xia Bai-hua, who when I met him about 20 years ago was then president of the Chinese Wushu (Martial Arts) Association. Professor Xia had done a lot to introduce and grow Sanshou (fighting) programs in China, beginning with the Beijing Physical Culture Institute.

Liu Jinsheng, the author of the 1935 “Chin Na Fa” manual (as translated by Tim Cartmell).

In recent years, the central government has begun to promote traditional martial arts, and every province has established martial arts training halls. Besides Chinese wrestling, the most popular arts are the Shaolin and Wudang styles of kung fu, both of which have methods of solo practice. Yet the practical applications of these arts is a subject that is never breached. Those who have practiced these arts twenty or thirty years have never defeated anyone who has practiced Western boxing or judo. Why is this? It is because the practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles only pay attention to the beauty of their forms — they lack practical methods and spirit and have lost the true transmissions of their ancestors.
Liu continues;

In the Ming dynasty, men such as Qi Jiguang and Yu Dayou advocated this type of realistic practice and opposed any empty practice done for the sake of appearance. This is why these men have proud reputations in history.
Mike Patterson's si-gung, in the footage I posted previously, stressed that forms were NEVER to be thought of as just movement, but ALWAYS by their fighting application....

I have written at great length about my late teacher, Chan Tai-San. I have always presented him exactly as he was, the good, the bad and the ugly. The typical response to my writings has been either (1) talking about the bad things about him is somehow abandoning or disrespecting him or (2) I have no right to talk about the good things he did because I am no longer identified with nor teach traditional Kung Fu.

It’s sort of sad that people can’t wrap their minds around a pretty simple idea. Chan Tai San was a fantastic example of what traditional kung fu was about and why it is where it is today. He was a good fighter with functional skills. This isn’t just “story” or “myth”. I personally saw the certificates showing he was All Military Sparring (Sanshou) Champion. In addition;

- You can look up the 1954 Guangdong province sports almanac and see he took third in the provincial sparring championships that year

- You can look up the Daily News and Newsday from 1982 and see a story about how he was attacked by guys with knives on 42nd street and put them in the hospital.

Does this mean he was unbeatable? HELL NO. What I always found interesting about Chan Tai San was he NEVER told us a story about him winning a fight. Every story about his victories and achievements I heard from third parties (also making the claims much more credible!).

When Chan Tai San told you a story, it was always about how he lost, often beaten pretty badly. I always believed that was one of Chan Tai San’s greatest contributions to us, teaching us that people lose, that we have limitations, but that we never give up because of those.

When Chan Tai San did talk about fighting, the techniques he showed and the approaches he advocated would not surprise any fighter. He was light on his feet, he liked working from behind a jab, and he liked throwing uppercuts as you entered a clinch. He taught knees in the clinch. Many of his kicks were low kicks to the legs, sweeps and trips.

Unfortunately, Chan Tai San taught forms a lot, and in those forms were often techniques that would NEVER work. What most people find even stranger, Chan Tai San KNEW they would NEVER work and was straight forward about it!

I always found this strange, a waste of time. Why teach and practice things you know will never work? For Chan Tai San, the answer was “tradition”. Also, and people never wrap their minds around this one, to impress people who don’t know any better!!! Yes, that was something Chan Tai San told us.

Back to General Qi Jiguang (1528-1587). He was the author of two books, “New Book of Effective Discipline” (1561) and “Actual Record of Training” (1571). While the modern martial arts student probably has never heard of General Qi or either of these books, they are pretty important because they reveal that even well before Qi’s time, the martial arts practiced in the villages as part of militia training had gradually evolved into a form of recreation as well, and had become characterized by the “flowery” movements.

Yes, the term “flowery” appears to date back almost 500 years! Qi condemned these “flowery” martial arts as undisciplined and inappropriate for military use in combat and emphasized that “…in training troops, the pretty is not practical and the practical is not pretty…”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Also note that General Qi’s training regimen included:
1) Maintaining an overall strong fighting constitution.
2) Strong hands and arms through training with heaver normal weapons.
3) Strong feet and legs through running over 600 yards using ankle weights (bags of sand).
4) Overall bodily strength and endurance by training while weighted down with
heavier than normal armor.
and finally
5) Sparring!

It’s a shame most students today have no idea about this stuff