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Kicks Of Peng Lai

While living in Taiwan I usually finished work just before kung fu class started. I actually lived in the changing room of the kung fu school so rushing home after work meant rushing to the kung fu school. I often got home just in time to join the evening kung fu class. I would pay my respects to Shifu and my elders and quickly skip into the changing room, which was actually my bedroom, to tie on my old black pants. With my kung fu quick change complete I was outside and in the line of kicking students.

When training in Taiwan with Shi Zhengzhong we spent almost an hour on walking the kicks. Walking up and down the training area performing a kick with each step we took. This method builds up a strong cardiovascular component in a similar way that jogging or jumping rope does. With no rest between each kick it is an essential aspect of training endurance and stamina.

Go to the video page to see a kicking form of Peng Lai

Shifu performs a side kick on me. We took this picture behind his house. In the distance you can see the bushes arranged in the characters for our city Tainan. Look how his foot on the ground lets the hips open up to deliver maximum kicking power. His left foot points away from the target.


Vulnerable spots

Our body is covered in vulnerable spots. If you get hit here you may lose the fight, feel debilitating pain or fall down. There are the obvious spots, such as the temple, neck, throat, groin or kidney. But there is more to striking than just aiming for the vulnerable spots.

As our bodies move our vulnerable spots are constantly transitioning from protected and defended to undefended and available for attack. Each time that you make an attack or defend yourself a new vulnerable spot opens up.

What is so special about the drills of mantis is that each strike you perform is aimed at the opponent's vulnerable spot. Once you make your attack in the drill, you yourself will have a vulnerable spot or two open up on your own body. In other words when you throw an attack it exposes a part of your body to your opponent. That exposed part of your body that you just created is where the training drill dictates your opponent strikes you next.

The Target

The vulnerable spot of your opponent is the target that you are aiming for. Kicks have a target and the goal of performing the kick is to hit that target. The skill is attained though the practice of two man kicking drills.

But what skill are we trying to develop? We wish to develop the skill of firing off the attack at the opponent's vulnerable spot when he is least able to protect it. There are three things to know:

  1. The target

  2. The strike to hit that target

  3. Most important is the development of the skill to attack when the opponent is least able to defend themselves.

Anyone can try and hit you in the solar plexus, but attempting that strike when the opponent is not able to defend it is the subtle skill that we wish to develop.

This skill is developed in a step by step process:

  1. Training of the solo kicks

  2. Single kick two person drills

  3. Multiple kick two person drills

  4. Mixing up drills at random

During this training the kicks should be delivered on target at speed and full power. This is one of the core requirements. It is not good enough to have your partner hold a pad for you to wail on. His distance is not right, his body position is not right. The skill of hitting at the right moment is not being trained.

Instead, the opponent has to block the kick with his body. Wearing padding is ok if it hurts too much, but ideally the goal is to train the body, through the practice of kao da, to absorb the strikes.

The Art of Kicks

Within the skill of kicking your opponent the distance or range is of the highest importance. How close or far you are to your opponent. The drills I show here are a great way for teaching the student how to train with the proper distance. These are not the initial or introductory drills, but they give an insight into where the training takes you.

One of the drills that Shifu taught us was a progression with the uprooting kick. This drill was taught after we had learned the kao da drills for the uprooting kick and sidekick.

We start off by making solid contact with the right arms. If the contact is not solid then this technique won't work very well.
Black Pants uses his left hand to grab the right hand of White Pants. As this happens Black delivers the left uprooting kick.

White defends by lifting his right leg.

Black keeps moving around from the momentum of his uprooting kick.

White does a side kick to the ribs of black which black blocks with a low block.

Black continues the spin for a smashing back fist which which white blocks.
White takes advantage the situation by throwing a front kick.

Black moves back and drops his body while slamming his forearms into the kick.

White and black block their punches with punches and begin on the other side of the body.

These quaint drawings were made by me after learning the drills for the sake of remembering what I had learned and keeping a record of the precious knowledge that had been imparted to me.

At the time I had no idea that one day there would be something called the internet where these ideas could be shared[

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