Chung Kuo Chuan - (chŭng kwoo chwan)
Let’s start out by saying that Chung Kuo Chuan (CKC) is not a common form of Martial Arts taught in the United States but mostly found in China and some of the outer laying territories. The techniques taught in Chung Kuo Chuan can trace their roots back to the original style which came from the Shaolin Kung Fu temples of Honan and Fujian in mainland China.
Chung Kuo Chuan translates into “Chinese Boxing Form.” This is a general term used in China referring to the “National Art of Martial Technique (Kuoshu). The most common term people refer when speaking of Chinese Martial Arts is “Kung Fu,” but this is not actually a proper term since Kung Fu really means the accomplishment of any task or hard work. For example, a master carpenter might be said to have "kung fu" in his chosen profession. The modern Pinyin Romanization system of the People's Republic of China uses the spelling Gongfu while other transliteration systems employ variations such as Gung Fu.
One other note on translation: The names of Chinese Gung Fu styles are often suffixed with the term "Ch'uan." This word/character literally means "fist" but actually denotes a "fist method," or style of Martial Arts. Most commonly, this is translated into English using the Western concept of "boxing" or "pugilism." Although it is admittedly something of a misnomer, we will use the translation "boxing" to be consistent with most popular Western publications on the Chinese martial arts.
The Chinese martial arts have been identified by many generic terms throughout history such as Wu Shu (martial arts), Chung Kuo Chuan Kuoshu (National art of Martial Technique), etc. In the 20th Century, however, the term Kung Fu became popularly accepted as synonymous with all Chinese martial arts.
It is therefore not out of ignorance of the Chinese language that non-practitioners of the Chung Kuo Chuan System refer to the art CKC as Kung Fu. It is instead an acknowledgement that (a) the general public will immediately recognize that they are practitioners of the Chinese Martial Arts, and (b) the term best describes what they are striving to gain through self practice to develop "Mastery of a Skill."
Wu Shu, known as the military training of soldiers during the time of the emperor, inadvertently helped develop Chung Kuo Chuan as a way for the "common" man to defend themselves against the emperor's guards at the time. Thus, developed on the basis of "self defense" against ruling dictators. In addition, due to the soldiers skilled levels of expertise with swords, the common man was forced to start using farm tools as weapons for defense (i.e., nunchaku, bo staff, kama, sai, etc.)
Characterized by the combination of most practiced forms today, Chung Kuo Chuan has grandfathered many forms used today throughout the world...
The typical forms found in the United States today are; Karate, Taekwondo Do, Tai Chi Chuan, Muy Tai, Aikido, Judo and Kung Fu. So, what’s different between these and Chung Kuo Chuan?
Answer: Nothing and Everything!
However, studying Chung Kuo Chuan is a combination or a “grandfather” to all the forms mentioned above. By studying Chung Kuo Chuan, a student has the opportunity to learn the complete package that Martial Arts originally started from by learning how to adapt to all forms of martial combat using internal energy (chi).
CKC is the study of Energy! Controlling ones own energy and being able to harness and direct an opponent’s energy is a strong weapon. By learning how to react and use an opponent’s energy, regardless of fighting style, is what Chung Kuo Chuan is really about. Dragons’ Way teaches students how to prepare themselves for any obstacle that may arise inside or outside the school.
CKC is a life style and not a “sport.”
As a result of this emphasis, the central skills of Chinese boxing do not deteriorate with age. While muscular strength and speed inevitably deteriorate, internal energy may be cultivated indefinitely. Thus, the energy boxer may continue to grow in combative efficacy as he grows older. Many of the masters of Chinese boxing, in fact, are in their 60’s or 70’s. Despite their age, they are feared fighters. This is in stark contrast to most athletic activities, in which yesterday’s champions are today’s has-beens.
The basic 10 principles that Chung Kuo Chuan teach students on their journey to black belt are;
1. Rooting: Sinking and relaxing the body mass to increase stability.
2. Yielding: Never opposing force.
3. Sticking: Using forward pressure to close the gap between you and your opponent and to control your opponent once contact is made. Sticking expedites the climax of the encounter.
4. Centeredness: The mastering of your own complete balance and the conquering of your opponent’s balance.
5. Six-Nine Theory: The theory of change, inspired by the “I Ching.” A boxer guided by six-nine theory retains the ability to change energy and tactics at any moment in combat. He never overextends and never commits himself to an “all or nothing” gambit. Six-nine theory also entails a philosophy favoring techniques with a high percentage of payoff.
6. Unitary Theory: The development of maximum power and speed, not by reliance on the muscles, but by training every part of the body to work in unison, and by learning to draw fully on the body’s internal resources.
7. Projection: Turning energy within the body (“chi”) into force directed at a point outside the body.
8. Line and Angle: The study of the angles of the body and the lines of attack to promote efficiency in defense and economy in the projection of energy. With an appreciation of line and angle, you can fend off attacks with subtle movements, sometimes of less than an inch. You eliminate wasted motions that delay seizing the offensive and create openings for further attacks. You avoid clashing with your opponent head on, but instead maneuver to his weak angle, where you need less power to vanquish him.
9. Body State: A special development of the muscles that allows energy to circulate freely and project powerfully. This entails a pervasiveness of energy throughout the entire body, rather than the segmenting of energy into isolated parts of the body.
10. Mind-Hit: The mastery of the mental dimensions of combat. This is a broad category that includes methods of disrupting an opponent’s mental focus.
By learning how to apply these 10 key lessons, a CKC student will have a more complete and well-rounded level of Martial Arts than most any typical form taught in the United States today. With a focus on physical ability and awareness, Chung Kuo Chuan guides students to a harmonization between mind and body using their own internal energy of power!
The lessons and requirements are far more difficult than other forms. And because of these demands, it takes longer and is more difficult to achieve what all Martial Artists seek; the level of “Black Belt.”
In order to get a complete package of Martial Arts teachings, one would consider learning…
Internal vs. External Chung Kuo Chuan Styles
The definition of what constitutes an "internal" or "external" style of martial arts training varies widely. Some teachers will tell you that an internal style is characterized by "soft" techniques, while external styles feature "hard" methods. Others maintain that the internal styles are "defensive" while the external arts are "offensive" in nature.
Although there may be some merit in those concepts, we of the Chung Kuo Chuan System have a much more concise definition of what constitutes internal and external styles - one we believe to be historically and functionally correct. All genuine martial arts, regardless of country of origin, feature both "external" physical training (kick, punch, block, evade, seize, throw, etc.) and "internal" cultivation of the body's natural energy, called Ch'i in Chinese (Pinyin: Qi). The Ch'i is developed through practicing specific postures and sounds, mental imaging and breathing techniques. This "internal" training is generally referred to in Chinese as Ch'i Kung (Pinyin: Qigong) or Nei Kung (Pinyin: Neigong), meaning "Ch'i work" and "internal work," respectively. The vast majority of martial arts today, such as Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Shaolin Kung Fu and so on, practice their martial arts applications and their Ch'i Kung separately, sitting down before or after a training session or performing various exercises specifically designed to cultivate the Ch'i. The idea is that eventually the two aspects will manifest themselves as one, with every strike or defense harnessing the power of the Ch'i. Others, however, incorporate the Ch'i Kung breathing and mental focus techniques directly into the martial applications from day one. In general, the latter approach is far more difficult to master, and requires a much longer period of training before the practitioner can effectively use the techniques for self-defense or combat.
The Ching Yi Kung Fu Association distinction between "internal" and "external" martial arts styles is therefore simple: external styles do their martial arts applications and their Ch'i training separately; internal styles do both at the same time. By that definition, the most commonly known internal Chinese styles are T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Pinyin: Taijiquan), Hsing Yi Ch'uan (Pinyin: Xingyiquan) and Pa Kua Tsang (Pinyin: Baguazhang), and the external styles are generally lumped together under the term Shaolin Ch'uan (Pinyin: Xiaolinquan), or just Shaolin Kung Fu. We readily acknowledge that this is a flagrant over-generalization, and that there are any number of "gray area" exceptions, but such labeling does provide a convenient point of reference and appears to be widely accepted as valid among traditional Chinese martial artists.