Sparring in San Soo

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Sparring in San Soo

Postby Dedicated Villain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:17 am

Honesty I think it's a must. I've trained in San Soo most of my teenage and adult life, when I started cross training and sparring other arts, the lack of sparring in San Soo really hurt my ability. This is just me speaking from personal experiences. Everyone is different and I understand that. Maybe my San Soo skills are just awful. However these past 10 years I've cross trained in Kick Boxing, JKD, Kajukenbo, And Shotokan Karate. I started Shotokan because of my obsession with Lyoto Machida.

I enjoyed them all but decided to entirely focus on Shotokan, it suits my natural sparring style and reach/distance fighting more.

If you look at Shotokan Kata and it's applications, it's very similar to San Soo "free fighting"/self defense drills. However when we spar in Shotokan it's different. It's difficult to explain!

I don't want San Soo sparring to look like poor man karate kumite sparring. Nor do I want it to look like sloppy kick boxing, which traditional Kung Fu often ends up looking like when they spar.

If I taught sparring classes in a San Soo school would I be looked down upon by the San Soo community? My friend studied CaiLiFo (蔡李佛)for four years and he said they lightly sparred. Manly focusing on sticky hands and push hands. What do you all think? Should controlled sparring be allowed in a San Soo school?
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Re: Sparring in San Soo

Postby San Soo Sifu » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:07 pm

Without naming names; some people want to run away from the term "Kung-Fu" in Kung-Fu San Soo. My opinion is to fully embrace it. With that said, I believe that our Art should take full ownership of "San Shou" (San Da).

There is no reason to forbid anyone young enough, and healthy enough, who wants to complete; from entering "San Shou" (San Da) competitions!

I also think we should train for, and enter, Shuai Jiao (Shuai Chiao) competitions for the grappling experience.

Also, "no step" Tui Shou (Push Hands); and then "stepping" Tui Shou (Push Hands) competitions should be entered. My belief is an ascending stair case, or natural progression, for students who want to complete...

1. "No step" Tui Shou
2. "Stepping" Tui Shou
3. Shuai Jiao (Shuai Chiao)
4. San Shou (San Da)
5. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)

Again, as an option for those who wish to gain competition experience.
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Re: Sparring in San Soo

Postby bigpappa » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:13 pm

I'll agree with you to a certain extent. I went and trained Judo for the same reason; my job at the time had me frequently trying to take guys down and restrain them, which I found VERY difficult to do when the other guy was doing everything in his power to get away. When they were trying to punch me, that was easy. When they were just trying to run, not so much.

I took some heat on here when I mentioned that, and was basically told that I had bad training in San Soo or wasn't doing it right if I couldn't use my San Soo takedowns to do what I needed to do. I was already a black belt in San Soo when I signed up for the class, and proceeded to get humiliated by the instructor when I couldn't take him down and he destroyed me at will. Of course, he was a Pan Am Games gold medalist.....but I struggled against both the brown and green belts as well. I could romp on the lower yellow and orange belts, but pretty much anybody with a year and a half training or more were very difficult to go against for me, and I would usually "lose" to them.

On the ground, I was basically defenseless. They pinned, choked, and arm barred me at will.

However, I found that the most important aspect of Judo was the time spent in EVERY class of sparring against a RESISTING opponent doing everything in their power not to let me take them down. Only then did I really understand the crucial aspects of weight distribution, how to move the opponent off balance relative to how you wanted to throw him, etc. Class theory and practice on a compliant opponent is nice and you can learn, but there is no substitute for resistance. Especially when they didn't step towards you in a nice half horse stance and held that stance waiting for your response.....

There are some aspects of the way that San Soo does it's takedowns and throws that I prefer over the way that Judo does them, but that's mainly because San Soo does them in a way to hurt the opponent, and Judo does it in a way that the other person can fall without injury.

If there had been a Shuai Jiao class available, I would have taken that instead. All things considered, I felt it helped my San Soo, and certainly helped me at my job. I wish San Soo would incorporate similar training methods. It wasn't about studying another martial art so much as learning another training method.
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Re: Sparring in San Soo

Postby Dedicated Villain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:28 pm

Thanks for the feedback guys.

I agree with both of you. Basically it boils down to real resistance training. We don't need to train at an extremely high UFC caliber level. But we do need to know how to use our techniques against a non compliant opponent. Various forms of sparring can help with that. What I like about Shotokan is when we spar, we are still very much doing Karate. We don't turn it into a sloppy brawl, we still use our karate techniques. When you watch the Machida brothers in MMA, you can clearly see them doing Shotokan. However I've seen many gongfu schools try to incorporate sparring and it ends up looking like a sloppy brawl. I think a lot of it has to do with most gongfu schools not having a history of any kind of sparring training or sparring competitions. I also think it has to do with not being taught proper footwork. In Shotokan we drill sparring footwork and striking combinations every class. And we spar often. So it's natural for us to use our traditional Shotokan while sparring.

That's something I'd like to see in San Soo. I want our sparring to be effective yet tradtional San Soo. I don't want to do what the San Soo 2.0 guys are doing by mixing in other arts or drastically changing it. CaiLiFo and Shuai Jiao is understandable though. CaiLiFo is what San Soo came from and is very similar. Also here in China, Shuai Jiao is common among many Chinese arts. I've seen TaiJiQuan sparring competitions employ Shuaijiao rules (clinching and throwing/trips. No striking).

Push hands
Sticky hands
Shuai Jiao
Point Sparring and continuous sparring
San Da

And MMA type sparring for total RBSD or for those who want to compete. However for full on MMA sparring it's best to do it in an MMA school with guys that really know how to grapple. I did MMA type sparring at a Kajukenbo school in the past and it got really sloppy once it hit the floor.
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Re: Sparring in San Soo

Postby San Soo Sifu » Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:47 pm

It looks like Master Jason D. Kalar arrived at the same conclusion as I did (independently of each other, though).


Jason D. Kalar wrote:What You Learn At KFSS Cypress

At Kalar's Kung-Fu San Soo, students are encouraged and nurtured to grow. To be the best version of themselves possible. Jason Kalar not only teaches physical self protection, but emotional and psychological protection as well. The building of his students confidence and character is his priority. Of course, helping them get and stay healthy, and fit is high on his list as well. Jason wants the students to know that they are genuinely cared for and are in a safe, family friendly, atmosphere.

Students should also realize that they are privileged to train in the complete system of Jimmy H. Woo San Soo. That, in itself, is very rare. Most San Soo schools today only teach what's considered the New style, very few know the old and even less understand both. Jason is one of those extremely rare and fortunate individuals to know both.

The Old style as taught by Jimmy H. Woo began for us Americans in 1959. When he opened his school in El Monte California. He continued to teach that method until the late 1960's. Characterized by its aggressive long arm strikes, large, powerful windmills, and rotations with deep strong stances; form a very firm foundation for the students to grow from.

The so-called New Style of Jimmy H. Woo Kung-Fu San Soo began in the early 1970's and continued until Jimmy H. Woo's passing in 1991. This portion of San Soo is more advanced and refined both technically and psychologically. It is characterized by more variety of movements, i.e., strikes, kicks, flips, throws, joint manipulation, and ground techniques. It's based far more on leverage moves and the element of surprise. This New style utilizes more redirection, evasion, and misdirection. It also uses more shallow stances for quicker movement. Also noted is it is not as power orientated as the Old style, so it does not use the larger windmills or long arm striking patterns. It utilizes smaller, tighter windmills and strikes. The variety of attack and defense is far more broad and pin point accuracy is stressed. Think along the lines of a surgical strike rather than just lobbing a bunch of bombs in a general direction.

Both forms have their strengths and weaknesses. The combining of both styles and the combining of resistive training and full contact sparring is the best way. It balances each other out. Making a more well rounded exponent of the Art

How we train. This is important so as to learn the Art properly. We work out in a cooperative and controlled environment with our training partners.That's the way Jimmy H. Woo taught in and most San Soo school's perpetuate it, but we at Kung-Fu San Soo Cypress have found the benefits to also incorporate Full Contact San Shou and resistive Shuai Jiao into our training as well. (Just how Grandmaster Woo trained in China.) However, it's not for everyone and no one is forced to do it. It's good to learn how to throw a punch, kick, leverage or throw with a cooperative partner so as to learn the mechanics, but if you can't do it against a resisting opponent or an actively aggressive opponent who is looking to take you down as well. Then you may not be able to do it in a real fight out in the streets. It's a good supplement to the traditional San Soo workout, and gives good experience. We are not trying to actually hurt each other. If someone were to poke you in the eye, you'd be seriously hurt and probably stop your training and therefore growth. We workout in what's called a semi contact manner when learning the techniques.When we go LIVE (resisting) rules and or protective gear is worn. We do really grab, throw, sweep and strike, but it's all controlled so there's no major injuries. We are training our minds to use our bodies properly. Building coordination and automatic responses. Learning body reactions so as to know how, where, and why to do what's needed. Building real confidence in oneself is a great byproduct of proper training.

Ground fighting is also covered but not to the extent of some other arts. Kung-Fu San Soo was designed for battlefield combat or street fighting where there maybe more than one assailant. Going to the ground would be deadly in those circumstances. Knowing enough of it just in case you go down is important, but a fighter should strive to remain on their feet.

Weapons training and multiple opponent training is also worked on for obvious reasons.

It must be noted that Jason does bring his real life experiences and training from and learning of other Arts and systems to better train his students. Jason doesn't train bullies. He doesn't teach people to go out and harm others. We learn this Art for our health, fitness, ability to protect ourselves, and our loved ones. The building of proper human character is the main goal.

Train well, train smart. Respect others, and respect yourself. Salute!
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