The Theory of 1000

Knowing is Not EnoughLearning basics. This is one of the most important aspects of Kung Fu training. Without proper guidance and repetition of the basic techniques, we could not perform our self defense, forms, sparring, and weapons routines. Usually after the first couple of months, most individuals find basic training drills tedious and feel confident in their ability. But just see what happens when they do combination techniques such as: Block, Kick, and Punch. I don’t know how many times a day I correct students in the basic drilling fist punch while they are doing self defense or a form. Why?

The answer is simple: not enough practice. How many times have I said,” Do this 1000 times and you’ll become good.” Many students look at me as if I’m joking. I’m not. In fact, the number 1000, in Chinese thought, stands for an infinite number beyond human comprehension. Now, that’s a lot of practice! This advice is for all levels, white through black. Even after 44 years of practice, when trouble develops in a series of techniques, I break them down to the basics and practice each one individually before returning to the whole set.

The reason continued repetition is necessary is because of all the component parts that make up an individual technique. For example, let’s list some of the component parts of the corkscrew punch: proper fist, held at waist correctly, touch the side of the body while punching, full twist after the elbow clears front of body, hit with the front two knuckles only, in line with the center of the body, full extension, shoulder relaxed, hips forward, snap power at the end, chest level, wrist straight, and coordinate all of this with the other hand. As you can see, a lot of different things could go wrong.

Progress is made in different levels of achievement as well as in basic techniques. Many advanced students can testify to the fact that basic training seems to get harder as we improve the speed, power, timing, and the coordination of our techniques. Also, we must start to understand relaxation and tension involved in the basic technique. The body must remain relaxed as we execute the technique, become tense only at the very last instant before the end of the technique, and then relax immediately after completion. Sounds easy. Well, let’s compound that a little by adding that tensing the muscles does not mean in the entire body. Only the muscles necessary for developing the proper power in the technique are used. A drilling fist punch does not use the same muscles as a knifehand strike.

Power penetration is the ability to penetrate power into an object, not just on the surface. We start our training in this area by first hitting the bags. Whether we are using our hands or legs, we must learn proper distancing to the target. Too close and we push, too far and we overextend. Next, use a partner holding a bag against their body, and see if they can feel the power on the other side. If they did, you are starting to develop power penetration. Don’t forget, we must now learn control. All of these items must be realized, whether we are doing one basic technique or a series, hitting an object or not, doing self defense, performing a form, or practicing with weapons. How can you accomplish all this? Practice 1000 times and you will develop unbelievable skills.