Southern Crane Kungfu assistant instructor, Jon Evans, talks about how he sees the patterns training in our styles of kungfu.
“My kungfu is different from yours. Your kungfu is different from the person you stand next to in class. That’s the beauty of martial arts, particularly one as rich in techniques and principles as Tiger Crane Combination.
“Whilst we are all learning the same style, I feel it has something to offer everyone. You can excel in one aspect, only to find that you need to train hard on something else.
“For me, it’s this never-ending cycle of feeling that I am achieving something, yet still having much to learn that keeps me motivated. It is this that makes everyone’s kungfu different, and more importantly, interesting to learn.
“With this in mind, I thought I would give you a very brief idea of my former personal goals and frustrations in learning Tiger Crane.
“In my first class I got an injured knee, a result of not kicking correctly. My first goal therefore was to understand the absolute basics in order to prevent me from injuring myself. This involved trying to understand how the body is supposed to move when kicking and punching.
“To give you some idea of how long this took, I only finally understood how to punch properly after four years, incidentally when learning my third pattern.
“A lot of my early training mainly involved me wanting to develop stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments; there were lots of static knuckle press up’s and horse stance training.
“Along with this was my ambition to learn to spar. While I was still learning, in the beginning I simply wanted to avoid being hit and learn how to block. From this I found myself becoming more interested in touch sensitivity (listening energy) and including this into my sparring.
“As my training continued I became more interested in the patterns. I think that most juniors do not actually enjoy practicing their patterns very much, yet from experience I can tell you this is a big mistake.
“The patterns are the essence of the art. They define it and give it structure. If you study your forms, you will create a deep understanding of what you are trying to achieve.
“So, I began to learn and practice and fortunately I had the opportunity to continue to learn. The patterns are one of the principle reasons why I have continued to train, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to demonstrate what I have learnt in China, and compete at a national level in the UK in front of some highly experienced practitioners.
“Over the past few years I have become increasingly frustrated with my body. This may sound odd, but my main issues come down imbalances in strength in certain muscle groups. Therefore for several years now I have looked at our style and worked out where I need to improve.
“From this I have made it my personal goal to develop all over body strength, combined with softness. I have found that this has really helped me in being able to have a greater understanding of how the techniques can be used and how my body (and mind) can express Tiger Crane Combination.”