Excerpt from Book 4: Eight Immortals
EXCERPT: From my latest Project :
“Secrets of Drunken Boxing Volume Four: The Eight Drunken Immortals”
I started writing about the eight immortals training methods in the drunken fist as an addition to a special edition hardcover of all my drunken boxing books bound together and well, it got out of control. Now it is a stand alone book on its own and will be bound into the special edition and be offered on its own when its finished. Here is a part about the Fu Zhu Gong Fa exercises that comes just prior to the section on the sixty four Immortals methods. Enjoy!
If you’re interested in the other books : Published Books
The Eight Secret Exercises of Ma Drunken Boxing
Drunken Fist: Fu Zhu Gong Fa (Secret Exercises for Drunken Boxing)
Fu Zhu Gong Fa translates to Supplemental Training Methods, and although their name seems like a secondary method for training they are rarely discussed or even taught in public. These kinds of exercises are generally the secret exercises taught only behind closed doors to disciples of a Master who is keeping their art close. It is usually years of dedication to learn the exercises that directly build specific skills needed to be skilled in the chosen art. In my case I trained some arts for many years before my teacher would show me exercises that were directly at the heart of the matter. Even knowing them and training them it can take years of dedication to see the results the exercises give.
In my opinion keeping secrets only for the “inner circle” of students is not a way to protect the art as many people say but a way to keep few people from gaining all the benefits they could from training it. It is a way to kill the arts, water them down and lose them more so than protect them in the minds and hearts of many people by training and teaching them more openly. Rant over.
Drunken style is built on a series of skills that can manifest in a well trained body like any other art. Each of the forms in the style has a major theme to them and skills that are being taught through their practice. Road One of Drunken is Basic techniques and conservation of momentum, Road Two concentrates more on intermediate techniques and changing trajectories in movement. Road Three is a Ditang form (Earth Boxing) and concentrates on reversal of momentum, how to disperse force on the body through falling and training the practitioners iron body / cotton belly. The Fourth Road is a test from the Master to student about change, understanding the style and adaptability.
But, more deeply into the style we find a set of skills that are always present throughout all the forms, applications and techniques. These skills like softness, sloshing the inner wine through the hollow body, power in different directions, spinal wave power and hands moving while feet are moving. These are thematic throughout the entire style. These are the skills that are directly built through training the Fu Zhu Gong Fa.
The Eight Fu Zhu Gong Fa of Drunken Fist:
Fu Zhu Gong Fa translates to Supplemental Training Methods and are specific exercises usually taught only “behind closed doors”. When I was training under my teacher these types of exercises were generally reserved for training at his home or in private lessons at the kung fu club. They are meant to be direct training towards the most important skills needed for a style. The following eight exercises are directly related to the skills that drunken boxing requires for proficiency. They are more than movements that can be used as techniques for fighting; they have some specific requirements for each in order to gain their internal benefits for power and connection. These are the most important movements of the style and need to be examined carefully.
Three Cannons 三大砲
Three Cannons is the simplest of the secret exercises and is usually the one where a student should start. The three movements are simple in appearance: a low splitting cup strike, a standing uppercut and then a dropping low cup punch. Each of the three stages has a few things to put into play when training.
First Cannon 第一炮
The two hands are moving in different ways in this first movement. The hand moving forward should be driven directly forward from the movement of the torso at the level of the players own heart. The rear hand is swinging in a horizontal arc backwards like a back fist. This creates a splitting force between the two strikes by allowing the torso to turn naturally and yet express the force in two different directions with two different jins or “energies”. It is important that each of the hands is travelling in its preset arc to create not only splitting force, but also a forward and sideways force driven from the shoulders.
While the legs are twisting into the “running step” shape, dantian is not only turning as the driving force of the body, but is also dropping lower towards the earth. Ideally this done with a great deal of relaxation will result in “dropping force”, adding the weight of the body into the strikes.
Second Cannon 第二炮
Turning dantian in the reverse direction from the first cannon will affect all the parts of the body. This should be trained to pull the leg inwards towards the body from the previous “running step” stance. Movements must remain coordinated and the leg should not be moved without the feeling of the torso rotation (dantian) pulling the leg in. This is to train inwards power in between the legs used for sweeping and resisting sweeps. The front hand that struck forward in the first cannon is pulled backwards and upwards into the “drinking from the cup” posture. It should be positioned above the temple of the player at a forty five degree angle. The most important thing to remember for this hand, however, is that the power moves backwards through the elbow. Although it appears as a high block similar to something from an orthodox style of martial arts, its power is moving backwards primarily and not upwards. The uplifting of the arm is a result from the standing up into the one legged crane stance more so than anything the arm itself is doing. A good way to accomplish the correct power or “line of drive” is to imagine elbowing someone behind you downwards.
The formerly rear hand from the first cannon turns into an uppercut strike with the cup fist. As always this must be a result of the turning of the dantian (torso/hips/kua). This uppercut must also be spiraling as it rises with an outward turning. This is known as a “positive” spiral when the thumb moves outward and upward into a “thumbs up” position. This spiraling force needs to be present for this part of the movement to be correct, creating upwards drilling force.
Third Cannon 第三砲
The most difficult of the movements is the third cannon. The previously uplifted arm in the second cannon that was “elbow striking behind” now drops down in front of the body with a spiraling, downwards strike. The most common mistake when performing this is to “drop” the arm as though setting it on a table top rather than drilling it downward like driving it through the lower torso of an opponent. This is usually an issue with the beginning of the movement, dropping the wrist directly downward before initiating the turning of the body (dantian) and then driving its force downward and forward into the opponent. The hand travelling backwards to the waist should be thought of as an elbow strike behind you driving the power generated by the waist through the elbow.
Lastly all three of the strikes in the exercise should pass through the same space, an area about the size of a persons chest as though you were striking at the heart of an opponent with all three cannons. It is also extremely important to note how little the arms are actually moving throughout the exercise, they move as a result of the torso turning and the arms themselves simply allow that movement to express force through them as they take shape.
The waist moves and creates the force while the arms simply take shapes to express that force through them.