Hua Jing

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Hua ("neutralising") jing means being able to stick, listen, understand, and then deflect or neutralise a variety of attacks without using excessive tension or muscle in either your arms or your body while still staying within the correct fighting distance and being able to keep from being struck, thrown, or controlled while maintaining your own balance, space, and a calm mind.

I suppose, in Western martial arts terms this jing relates to the high-level applications of parrying and deflecting force rather than resisting or running away from it. By the way, pragmatically, resisting force is certainly better than running away—the reason we have such a variety of hard styles that can work effectively against an opponent with lesser or similar skills. On the other hand, running away from an incoming force does not work in close quarters—that is why the effective internal styles do not pull away from it. Instead, they avoid or deflect it at the last moment. Fa-jing

Fa ("explosive" or "attacking") jing is difficult to learn, especially when you try to copy the skills and body mechanics of the few real experts who are still around. It is not just punching suddenly or with a lot of power and speed, although a fa-jing strike, when done by someone like Erle Montaigue, Alan Weiss, or Tim Cartmell, has to be seen or felt to be believed. Not surprisingly, it comes at the end of my list of essential jings, as being able "to fa" is useless without the ability to do the other jings I just listed. It also warrants more explanation than the previous three.

Those of you new to bagua may wonder what this mysterious skill actually looks like. One way to define it is to say that fa-jing is a sudden expression of whole body energy focussed through a part of the body into a precise target area. In bagua this is usually transmitted physically through the palm; however, a real expert can express it with their elbows and shoulders, hips and buttocks, through a head-butt, or with their legs. Again, it is important to remember that striking in this way is an application of energy rather than one specific technique although each style or teacher will usually have their preferences for how fa-jing is done and which martial tools are used.

Unfortunately, few experts, much less their students, can strike without "winding up" and still generate impact over the short distances that hand-to-hand combat occupies. In other words, real fa-jing feels short, sharp, powerful, and disorienting to the recipient. By contrast, the one who delivers it appears relaxed, balanced, and calm before, during, and after the delivery of that strike. Real fa-jing skills also involve the use of the mind, the eyes, and the breath (i.e., reverse breathing) in specific ways. The role of one's Qi is also vital, but that is beyond the scope of this handbook.

Another way to look at fa-jing is to compare it to an external-style strike which in most such styles is delivered with a lot of muscular tension, with the power coming from the shoulders or turning the hips while in a solid stance. The body is more rigid and segmented than in an internal strike. By contrast, fa-jing involves more relaxed power, a sinking of the weight, storing and releasing of energy, shifting of weight, turning and twisting the waist, as well as using the ground connection. The body appears loose and "alive" to the casual observer. See how easy it sounds!

In the end, learning to do this should be thought of as an aspect of your martial training and your solo practice. It shouldn't become an obsession. If you really want the "good oil," invest in one of Erle's videos that are devoted to developing this kind of striking ability to get the details that lay the foundation of personal skill. By the way, it is hard to believe until you start experiencing it yourself, but it is actually much harder to control the expression of your fa-jing than it is to develop the ability to generate it. However, doing so is essential if you are to train safely and effectively with your fellow students.

Even assuming you can develop this elusive power, note that many internal experts say such training is dangerous, and one can overdo it even knowing how to execute such strikes effortlessly. Some internal martial practitioners and teachers (Liang Shou Yu and Tim Cart-mell are two I have heard say the same thing) suggest that too much fa-jing practice is bad for the health, and there is no need to routinely practise such tactics in solo forms as long as you do it in moderation while hitting a heavy bag or mitt that can absorb the impact.

Even Erle Montaigue, who is extremely talented at what is sometimes called short power, has said that your forms eventually should only have a hint of power when playing them. Of course, this supposes that one has learned how to do fa-jing properly in the first place.

I tell my students to focus on precision and timing, to learn the basic skills solo with only a moderate amount of speed, and then practise them full-pace on a striking mitt or heavy bag. Only when there is some skill in both contexts should they advance to practising techniques with each other. This is particularly important when two people of different weights and heights are practising together. Again, as I say to them, when you learn a martial art that might work combatively, there has to be the risk while training, but most injuries are actually caused by one student not paying attention to what they are doing or going too fast.

As in any aspect of efficient training, learning fa-jing is as simple as having a competent instructor for a role model who can actually do the strike, as opposed to telling you how marvelously his or her teacher did it. Having found such a role model, you have to develop the necessary physical skills (i.e., a healthy, supple body, proper body mechanics and conditioning, elasticity of the tendons and muscles). All this takes time, patience, and more than a little effort on your long road to making your skills look effortless to the casual observer.

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