GUNG FU: THE BUTTERFLY WAY
By understanding how the Shaolin Choy & Li Gung Fu Concept works in conjunction with Slight Angulation you may come to some interesting conclusion regarding your own Art, and you might apply Slight Angulation to it.
The Shaolin Gung Fu of Mr. Choy and Mr. Li
“I’ll fix you!” The bully punched down on his shorter opponent. With a slight shuffle and an upward circle of the hands, the ‘almost’ victim dispatched his opponent.
“That was courtesy of Mr. Choy,” he said, nonchalantly.
The bully’s friend, a not very smart fellow of shorter stature (shorter than the fellow who had just one punched his friend, which goes to prove his lower intelligent scores) charged forward. “You can’t do that!”
Our hero reversed the roll of his hands and promptly dispatched the second, and shorter, bully.“And that was courtesy of Mr. Li.”
Huh? Mr. Choy and Mr. Li? Who are they?
They are two of the cornerstones of the Shaolin Art.
The Shaolin Art originated in a temple in China. The word Shaolin means ‘young forest.’ Shaolin became famous for it’s effective fighting arts. The government of the time, not being fond of anybody that could fight back, certainly not imbued
with respect for the second amendment, decided to burn the Shaolin Temple.
A great battle occurred, and when the dust cleared only five monks had survived. These five shaolin monks were responsible for the emergence of what became known as the original Shaolin Gung Fu.
There are several versions of this Shaolin. One of the Arts is called shaolin Fut Ga. Fut Ga means (loosely) Family of Monks, and it is this style of Shaolin Gung Fu which I studied.
Shaolin Fut Ga Gung Fu is taught in Hawaii by Mr. Arthur Lee. One of Mr. Lee’s students was Richard Armington, who taught me.
Throughout the various forms I came across many concepts. I cataloged these concepts and tried to isolate them for further study and potential teaching tools.
Intrigued by this wealth of material, and having a solid background in Karate, I was constantly searching for workable techniques.
In one of the gung fu forms (I believe it was Moi Fah) I found the some rather intriguing footwork (the pattern is described below). This footwork went forward and back, side to side, and diagonal. It accomplished this with only six basic steps.
Having studied Pa Kua, Ton Toi, and various other types of gung fu, I was of the firm belief that a person should study a few short movements intensively, rather than an abundance of movements lightly. Thus I began applying the various concepts I
had discovered in Fut Ga Gung fu to a variety of footwork patterns based on the six steps.
The Butterfly (a basic blocking pattern in all directions).The specific concepts were:
The Flower (a buzzsaw motion down the centerline of the Attacker).
The Mantis (hooking).
The Crane (kicks).
Choy & Li (as in this article).
The patterns are all simple, having only three to five movements, and repeating those movements on the opposite side for the full form. The forms can be looped endlessly,
really allowing the practitioner to ‘get into’ the pattern.
Also, as simple as these gung fu forms are, they are liberally sprinkled with other concepts. The simultaneous blocking and striking of Wing Chun is present, Tai Chi motions are inherent (or can easily be applied), and so on. All of the forms are designed so that the practitioner can either evade or confront, depending upon his desires. All of the forms present extremely workable concepts.
The form I am presenting in these pages, which represents the Butterfly system rather well, is the Choy & Li form.
The basic foot pattern of the Butterfly is a shoulder width line with triangles (each line shoulder width) at the ends.THE CHOY & LI FORM
To start the Choy & Li Form one stands on the center line.
1) Step back and to the left (to the left rear point of the left triangle) with the left foot. Assume a front posture as you execute a right inverted low block and a left high block.
2) Draw the right foot up to the right end of the center line and pivot to the right. Assume a Back Stance as you execute a right high block and a left uppercut.
3a) Step to the forward point of the left triangle with the left foot. Assume an hourglass (transitory) as you roll first the right then the left hands downward.
3b) Step back to the rear point of the left triangle with the right foot. Grabbing with the right hand, assume a horse as you execute a left punch to the front.
4) Step to the left side of the center line (right side of the left triangle) with the left foot. Assume a back stance as you execute a right inverted low block and a right high block.
5) Step to the right side of the center line (left side of the right triangle) with the right foot. Assume a back stance as you execute a right inverted low block and a left high block.
6) Number one on the opposite side, continue the form endlessly.
A couple of points concerning this form.
The other movements you are rolling the hands upward.
If an opponent punches towards your center, or is smaller than you, you can roll the hands down. Doing this allows you to use body weight while developing very fast hands.
If an opponent is larger, or punches towards the face, you would roll up. In rolling up you should sink your stance, thus generating more power in the stance, and aligning your structure so that it can take more force without giving way.
The idea is that you have to move, you don’t have a lot of time to think about specialized techniques, so you just roll up or down. Many a fight has been won through simplicity.
There are several things that come about as a result of intensive practice of this form.
One is the evasive footwork of the Butterfly. When an opponent strikes one should slip to the side. This is accomplished by the quick footwork on the triangle. This concept is called angulation.
When one angulates they become a shifting, slippery target. They move off the line of attack while lining themselves up to deliver their own powerful attack. We, of the Butterfly, believe that a sitting duck is a dead duck.
Another thing that occurs is strong shoulders and strong stances. Moving the shoulders continuously, they become extremely strong and capable of meaningful blocks and authoritative strikes. As the forms are practiced in an endless loop the legs become incredibly quick and strong.
When one moves in the Choy and Li form there is only one real point of focus. This is the punch out of the horse stance. Even this point is not unduly focused, but rather lightly focused. Light is a relative term, however, because the arms, throughout the form, should be filled with power. This power must not be rigid power, but rather a curious blend of flowing rigidity. When one assumes a position there is a slight hesitation while the power momentarily, and imperceptibly, locks.
One of the important points of the Shaolin Butterfly system is that the forms must be done until concepts are mastered, and then the concepts can be mixed together. This is similar to concepts inherent in such systems as Pa Kua or Hsing I. Simply, a person must become intuitive in concepts, and not waterlogged by techniques too numerous to practice to effective mastery. A student who has madstered the Butterfly can move freeform around the six steps, mixing the concepts as he sees fit. This is highly creative and very sensitive to potential combat needs.
Following is the classic technique of the Choy & Li theory.
1) The Attacker steps forward with the left foot and punches to the face with the left hand.
The Defender assumes a back stance (right foot forward) as he executes a right high block and a left uppercut. The uppercut, while it can be to the plexus, the floating rib, or any other specific target, should be presented to the barrel of the Attacker’s body).
2) The Attacker strike to the body with his right hand.
The Defender shifts into an hourglass stance as he executes a right smother block.
3) Continuing the roll of his hands the Defender grabs the Attacker’s right hand with his left hand and sinks back into a horse stance as he executes a right punch to the body.
This technique has both the upward roll and the downward roll. It can actually be applied through a variety of right/left kick/punch combinations.
Let me make a couple of notes concerning the working of this specific technique.
The Defender, in the first move, has constructed his body from the Tan Tien. He is sinking to create more stance power. He is turning his hips slightly.
In the second move the Defender is able to bring the entire weight of his body down on the punch of the Attacker. He is able to do this with incredible speed. A slight turn of the Defender’s hand and the slap can be a chop, and the Attacker’s wrist would be broken.
In the third move the Attacker is not just pulling with his arm, but with the weight of his whole body. The punch is delivered with an amazing amount of stance power.
In conclusion, the Shaolin Art, especially such as Choy Lee Fut, is rich, heavy with concept, wealthy with technique. The aim of the Butterfly is to isolate the most workable techniques and train them to complete workability. I would not hesitate to say that the Butterfly Art is in keeping with the intent of original Shaolin Artists.
Persons interested in learning this very intense system of gung fu click on Shaolin Gung Fu.