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Kris Irwin PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 08 June 2007
Kris Irwin
    As a person of western descent, I have had to do a lot of personal researches in order to feed my interest in Kung-fu. Luckily I live in a city in which there is a great deal of information available to me through the vibrant Chinese culture, and the Chinese community has allowed me as an outsider to experience this culture up close.
    Through studying martial arts in journals and books, one is introduced to many theoretical aspects of the arts that are rarely seen in practice. One of the most common of these is the concepts of "interior and external" power in Kung-fu. For the past decade I have studied Chinese martial arts under several teachers, all of them were familiar with the concept of interior power and claimed to be able to use it. However, none of these teachers was able to explain to me how this power can be learned or how it can be used in a practical sense. I was taught that the "Qi" would be developed naturally after many years of practice with Qi Gong breathing exercises and that power would also be naturally developed into the fighting forms as one's level of expertise advanced.
    The idea that interior power is not a separate field of study from external, but rather a higher level of attainment is one that is common in the martial arts field. This concept is one that I generally agree with, but after studying the Pak Mei (white eyebrows) style of Kung-fu in depth, I have come to learn that the interior Kung-fu can be practiced as a combat application at the novice level, and does not have to be restricted as a secret technique reserved only for the most advanced martial artists.
    After years of studying Kung-fu I had come to the conclusion that the interior Kung-fu was meant to improve and maintain health while the external was used for combat application. It was not until I met Master Choi Wing Sum, and began my studies in Pak Mei that I was taught to use interior power in combat as a method to overpower a stronger opponent.
    At the beginning of my training in Pak Mei I was not expecting to learn these esoteric concepts, but I was impressed by Master Choi's traditional emphasis on Chinese culture and the high standard he demanded from his students. It was this high standard that motivated me to study seriously under Master Choi.
    After some practice in this style I discovered that certain core elements like the horse-stance which exists in all Kung-fu styles is used differently in Pak Mei. It is a higher stance used in a very flexible and dynamic way that focuses on balance rather than strength in the legs. As well I have learned that training in too many forms is not an advantage necessary. Each form contains many details, and in order to grasp all of them it is essential to focus much time on a single form to learn it thoroughly. Master Choi continually emphasizes "quality over quantity", meaning that a few techniques learned well are superior to many techniques that have not been mastered. After years of practice on the first form of Pak Mei I am able to observe and feel "Luk Ging" (six forces), a form of interior power that enables the body to unleash a devastating striking power.
    Pak Mei is a true "interior" style of Kung-fu and yet it is practiced at a fast pace with hard fighting techniques, making it rare among styles that are usually grouped into hard-external and soft-interior styles. It was my good fortune to have the honour of studying under Master Choi, and being introduced to authentic Chinese traditional Kung-fu.


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