What is Quanshu?
Chinese martial arts are more commonly known in the west as Kung Fu (Gong Fu); the literal translation however means “learned skill”, which could apply to a lot more than just martial arts.
Quanshu roughly translates from Chinese into English as boxing arts, although Chinese boxing is a world apart from British boxing. A more accurate description would be fighting skills.
Fighting skills have developed all over the world since prehistoric times. In China they have evolved into the countless variations of style and form that are still practiced in modern China. Ancient techniques and disciplines have been preserved and practiced along with the new and play a special role within Chinese culture.
What are internal martial arts?
Internal martial arts are one of the major branches within Chinese martial arts. There are three major styles within the internal martial arts branch; they are called Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguaquan. From these three main styles of internal arts comes a multitude of variety that adheres to the principles of the three. Internal martial arts are defined by their use of body alignments, the use of ligaments and tendons to develop strength, the relaxation of muscles, a strong emphasis on rooting or ground connection, along with the development and usage of Qi energy.
What are the benefits of Quanshu training
Throughout its history martial arts have drawn people to the practice for very different reasons, from one end of the scale priests, monks and holy men have trained in martial arts to develop spiritual awareness and cultivate inner peace and harmony, and at the other end of the scale warlords, bandits and assassins have used similar techniques to bring about death, chaos and destruction.
In a modern world, martial arts are evolving to find their role within a modern society; in turn the vast majority of martial arts schools have left behind most of the traditional training methods and have transformed into mere fitness orientated, competitive sports.
True to its Daoist origins, within the Chanquanshu School we practice traditional Chinese internal combat techniques not only for the more realistic self defence aspects, but also as a means to cultivate body, mind and spirit in order to promote physical and mental health and well being.
Internal martial arts can take longer to learn than other styles, but the benefits are that anyone can become strong regardless of physique since muscular strength is not utilised. Internal quanshu is renowned for its practitioners becoming more powerful well into old age. Unlike external systems where years of training eventually come to an end through physical deterioration, internal practitioners can continue to develop.
Do you have beginner’s classes?
We are aware that walking into a martial arts class as a complete novice can be very intimidating. Although we don’t have specific beginner’s classes there is no competitive element within the school and everything we do within the quanshu classes is very controlled and structured. Senior students are encouraged to assist novices as much as possible. We like to ease beginners gently into the world of internal quanshu with no pressure or intimidation.
Do I have to wear a uniform?
There is no specific dress code in quanshu classes; although we do sell uniforms and encourage people to wear them it is not enforced. Most students wear soft training shoes rather than bare feet. We don’t permit the wearing of certain jewellery or clothing that might cause injury, merely from a safety point of view.
Do I have to bow and call the teacher sir?
We like to keep our classes relaxed and informal to a certain extent. We have a formal traditional bow at the beginning and end of class but no bowing or enforced respect to senior students and teachers. Our policy is that respect is a two way street. No-one should be enforced to respect another human, yet no-one has the right to be disrespectful either. Simple manners are all that is required.
Do I have to attend gradings?
Unlike Japanese or Korean martial art systems the Chinese traditionally don’t have belt ranking or grading systems. Instead each person is continually assessed in an ongoing individual way. There are no outward displays of rank, egotism or ceremony in our classes. We do have a core syllabus within quanshu but a student can progress in certain areas of any level before accomplishing everything at a previous level.
Do I have to practice with a partner?
There is a large percentage of partner work in Quanshu classes but we do practice a fair amount of solo drills, techniques and forms as well. Solo training enables a student to tune finer points within techniques and movements, whilst partner work teaches application and sensitivity.
Why don’t you practice freestyle competitive sparring?
As a student develops within quanshu we encourage more and more intent and power within the movements while still maintaining and developing precise control. Students of a similar level develop together, as one strikes with more ferocity the other learns to defend against such attacks and vice versa. In quanshu we teach techniques that could cause severe injury if they connected with a person with full power and intent, therefore training needs to be very structured to prevent accidents.
The word spar or sparring in the context of fighting means to spare or hold back, this is very different to control, where full intent has been deliberately landed short of the target. Since one of the main aims within traditional martial arts is to develop body and mind co-ordination i.e. controlled focused mind body power, holding back serves no purpose or even worse it prevents development. Another main aspect of martial practice is self defence. Sparring can lead an individual into a false sense of security, defending against an attack directed at vulnerable areas of your body with power and intent is a whole other reality to defending against a sparring partner who abides by Queensbury rules and has no real intent other than tapping you to score a point.
Can you use Quanshu to defend yourself?
British law as far as self defence is concerned states that a person is permitted to use the minimum amount of force required to stop a person harming you. This means that if you deflect an aggressors attack and then proceed to strike that person you would be committing assault.
In quanshu classes we practice a lot of techniques and strikes that if utilised against an individual could land you in a world of legal trouble. However from a self defence point of view we learn to defend against such brutal attacks in case we have the misfortune to ever need to defend against individuals who may disregard the law. We also practice techniques that seize, restrain and deter would be attackers through joint manipulation, locks and pressure points. These joint locking and restraining techniques (chin na) are well suited to self protection, they can be practiced effectively by anyone while staying on the right side of the law.