I have written this paper as a communication device to help share with others my understanding of the teachings, concepts and principles of the martial arts as taught to me by Great GrandMaster Denis R. Decker and others in the Chi Ling Pai martial arts Family. This document is not intended to be a treatise on Chi Ling Pai but will instead focus upon some of the concepts and principles. When understood, these ‘keys’ may be applied within any martial arts system or style, or in a creative and improvised fashion expressed as your own.
The Gung Fu concepts and principles are universal to human combat and motion. They may be seen at work within any martial arts system or style, regardless of whether or not the practitioner is aware they are using them, as there is truly only One true Art.
1. Accept the opponent’s technique through a panel.The ‘panels’ are conceptual target locations on the body. They help the student to get a handle on distance and space (height, width and depth). Below is an example picture of the panels (figure 1). Master Decker called this ‘dividing the body by thirds’.
In this example, we ‘accept’ a technique through an ‘outside high’ panel (figure 2).
2. Defend using the Octagon.
The Octagon (figure 3) is a figure that represents five angular planes. They are vertical, horizontal, diagonal left, diagonal right, and the front. The movement on these planes is circular. These planes can be aligned to the angles of Kali (Filipino martial arts). Below we demonstrate. In figure 4 we demonstrate a Black Feather strike. That is a strike performed on a horizontal plane, in this case, traveling from left to right and forward.
Next, we demonstrate a rising fist punch (figure 5). The punch is performed along a vertical plane and can be quite deceptive as it rises out of the opponent’s blind spot.
Next, we demonstrate a rising crane movement (figure 6) performed along the vertical plane.
Next, we demonstrate Shooting Star (figure 7). This strike is similar to Black Feather but usually follows a diagonal circular path and moves through and backwards.
Finally, we demonstrate Golden Peacock (figure 8). That is a strike that is done on a diagonal plane, in this case, from upper right to lower left.
The fifth plane is simply a circle in front of you. That may be expressed, for example, as a circular block. One technique as an example (not pictured) is Circling Dragon Punch.
All of these movements may be employed as either attacks or defenses. Further, these circular planes may also be used with weapons.
3. Manipulate Centers and Control.
The next concept to be discussed is the centers. The ‘center’ represents the mass of the individual and where that is primarily is focused within the body. For example, in Tai Chi Ch’uan push hands practice one practitioner attempts to offroot or unbalance the other by locating their center and using that to place them into an awkward position. Similarly, the ‘centers’, when discussed within Chi Ling Pai, are ‘contact points’ that may be used to get a hold of the person and place them into unfavorable positions, giving the martial artist an upper hand in the combat.
The five most important centers.
In figure 9 we have placed red dots on what I believe to be the five most important centers, the leading centers and shoulders, third eye, and lead foot. In addition, I have also marked the solar plexus region as that is a primary center of control when working the upper body. A small blow to that region can quickly give you the upper hand in a confrontation. Notice that the top centers form a ‘diamond’ pattern (the shoulders, third eye, and the solar plexus).
The foot center is an important center because it is a ‘leading center’ as you close the gap on an opponent. The next leading center is the front hand or arm and shoulder. The next in importance is the third eye. And finally the rear shoulder to control any follow up strikes that may be thrown at you.
Using the centers to control.
The centers are ways of manipulating the position of the opponent’s body to keep them in a state of imbalance (weakness) while you are in a state of strength (balance and unified structure). For example, you can stop hit a center to immobilize (shoulder stop), you can pull a center to turn their body, you can move their body by striking or pushing a center, etc. Below we demonstrate some techniques of utilizing the centers. In this example, the opponent is wearing a black uniform and the defender is wearing a white uniform.
1. The opponent has thrown a left straight punch at our face. We ‘accept’ the technique through an outside high panel and block the straight punch using a rising crane (vertical plane). We ‘connect’ with the opponent (figure 10) and feel into their center, starting to control their body through slight alterations of their posture, and sense their intention. We are essentially performing a kind of ‘open’ Tai Chi ‘push hands’ at this point.
2. We sense a fast right reverse punch coming. We ‘check’ their punch by placing our left palm on their right shoulder. That prevents their right punch from launching (figure 11).
3. Now, with our right hand on their right arm and our left palm on their right shoulder, the opponent has been temporarily immobilized. Lastly, we follow up with a finishing technique of our choice: we step in and execute a third eye and hip center takedown (figures 12 and 13).
Chi Ling Pai concepts may be used to get an edge on your opponent. These concepts and principles may be found within any martial arts style or system because they are universal to human combat and motion. Once you become aware of these concepts and principles, they may be used to improve upon your martial arts. Use the panels to help you understand height, width and depth. Use the octagon to help you understand the circular planes of motion. Use the centers to manipulate and control the opponent to your advantage. Please speak with your Chi Ling Pai instructor for further explanation of these concepts.