Training methods

While there are many historical methods used to help train martial artists ranging from running with weights to leaping in and out of pits or training on top of small round wooden pillars, all of these methods share some common factors. The training method seeks to develop the martial artist physically through exercise, and emotionally and intellectually through sparring and set forms.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the most important training methods. Martial arts require a high degree of flexibility and strength from their practitioners. Much of the exercise and training methods used in martial arts styles focus on making the student more limber and flexible. Examples in history ranged from tying weights to one's body while exercising to practicing atop of small structures to promote balance, to hardening the body by striking objects repeatedly.

Sparring

Most martial arts styles teach their more advanced students through sparring, or controlled fighting with another student. Sparring allows the student to prepare himself for actual combat in a safe environment. The student becomes comfortable with striking an opponent and being struck to prevent fear from freezing his reactions in an actual combat situation. In addition sparring helps the student understand the reasons and methods behind his martial arts techniques through experience.

Set Forms

Included in many martial arts styles are several set forms (katas). A set form is a predefined series of movements, strikes, and counter-strikes using the martial arts style that a student can practice on his own. The set forms allow the student to gain confidence in his ability and instill trained reactions to certain types of attacks. Through extensive use of set forms, the student can react to attacks without thinking because he has practiced counters so often that they have become instinctive.

Ancient Training Methods

The following methods are ancient training methods once used in China for practitioners of the martial arts. It is hoped that these examples will stimulate Gamemasters and players to create their own unique training methods for their martial arts.

Climbing Wall Kung—With this training, a skilled adept can with his back against a wall, move freely on the wall through the strength of his heels and elbows. Like a lizard the adept will be able to use the small cracks and protrusions on the wall to scale it. The student first practices lying on his back and moving with only the strength and coordination of his heels and elbows. Then a training wall with protruding bricks and ledges is built and the student practices climbing it with only his elbows and heels. After the student has mastered this, the protrusions are reduced and weight is added to the student's body. After many years of practice, the student will be able to scale a wall with the easy and dexterity of a lizard.

Dragon Claw Kung—Dragon Claw Kung strengthens the hands of the adept so that a foe feels as if a talon has struck his body as the powerful fingers of the adept press into him. During basic training, the student attempts to lift a small-mouthed jar by grasping the top with his fingers. ( At first the jar will slip through his grip, but after several months of training and directing the strength of the forearms into the fingers the adept will be able to easily raise and lower the jar. The next step in the training is to gradually fill the jar with liquid and repeat the raising and lowering process. When the adept has mastered lifting the jar filled with liquid, empty the jar and fill it with sand. Repeating the procedure until this too is mastered, then the adept will gradually fill the jar with lead until he can raise and lower the jar filled completely with lead.

In advanced training, the adept puts the jar aside and practices the same hooking finger grip empty-handed with dynamic tension. Each morning the adept will practice this motion as if he was trying to grasp the sun. At its ultimate pinnacle, "birds flying across the sky will fall as if shot with arrows at a stretch of gripping fingers. Wild horses can be managed as if bridled on the reins in one's hands."

Hing Kung—With this training, a student learns to step as lightly as a butterfly. The training begins by filling a one-hundred pound earthen vessel with water. The student practices walking around on the edge of the vessel without upsetting it. After this exercise is mastered, the student then ties some weights to his body and repeats the exercise. When the student can step around the vessel without spilling a drop, he begins to lessen the amount of water in the vessel while at the same time increasing the weight on his body. He continues to practice until he can successfully walk around the edge of the nearly empty vessel while carrying weights equal to his body weight. The next phase of the training involves replacing the earthen vessel with a reed basket filled with rocks. Once again the student continues to practice, all the while, removing rocks from the basket until the student can walk around the edge of the empty basket without upsetting it.

In advanced training, the student begins to practice to walk on sand. Using small-grained sand, the student lays down a path one foot deep, three feet wide, and ten feet long. The sand path is then covered with rice paper and the student practices walking along it. When the student can walk the length of the path without causing the fragile paper to rip, the paper is removed and the student practices walking on the sand until not even a footprint can be seen.

Iron Forearm Kung—The Iron Forearm Kung is one of the simplest training methods to master. The arm training begins by striking the inner and outer forearms against a wooden post or pole. As the arms become stronger, the student can begin hitting harder and for a longer duration of time. After six months of training, the student will begin practicing against a sturdy tree with coarse bark. This portion of the training will continue for two years, after which the student will have gained immense strength in his forearms. The next phase of the training involves I hitting smooth rocks with the forearms. After the student becomes used to this training, substitute uneven rocks. When the student can shatter rocks with his iron-hard forearms, his training is complete.

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