Jibengong, jiben shou fa, jiben dong zou, and jiben cao

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Jibengong, jiben shou fa, jiben dong zou, and jiben cao

Post  Admin on Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:18 pm

I wanted to share a critical piece of information That Dr. Ken fish shared on another forum that spanned several threads (at least 5) and was a very good discussion in regards to basics core exercises often lost in today's martial arts training. Dr. Ken brought up Jibengong. The Jibengong I had learned and often heard of in Mainland China, is apparently "Jiben Dong Zou" or Basic movements in more Traditional Chinese circles. Dr. ken also mentions Jiben Cao- Basic drills. What was not mentioned was Jiben Shou fa, which is a term I heard in Sifu Luo De Xiu's group as a set of basic hand skills used in Bagua combat. there was a set of 8 to 10 solo movements that also had a partner training to develop combative hand skills.


Dr. Ken Fish on Jibengong: (extracts from various forum threads)

"Martial arts training in the West and (sadly) much of the open to foreigners training in China these days consists of learning some basic stances and hand movements, then on to drills or forms, followed or accompanied by "applications" training or kickboxing flavored sparring. This is not how real martial arts were traditionally taught. The foundation skills, the things that my teachers spent 2 or 3 years on before being taught forms and such, are for the most part no longer publicly taught. In part this is because teachers are either less fully trained than the generations before them and are themselves ignorant, or because they are teaching what students ask for. In either case, the students and the arts are given short shrift.

What do I mean by foundation skills? A vast series of exercises designed to stretch, strengthen, develop balance, agility, and endurance. These included exercises with weights and other equipment, as well as myriad deep stance and mobility exercises, jumping exercises, and what might be considered as basic gymnastic maneuvers. Not until one had this foundation firmly in place could on go on to learning the movements, techniques, and usage of the system - but progress would be relatively fast, as the foundation skills would find expression in the movements and applications of the system. As for Qi and "internal strength"? To some degree the Qi would manifest itself as a result of proper training, and Internal Strength was already being laid down with the foundation work. Trying to work in the other direction is like trying to run water through weak and rusty pipes.
They are far more like a mix of very grueling Chinese Opera, Shuaijiao, and classical Gymnastics exercises - and very much goal oriented and to a degree system specific. (Bear in mind that the training for the martial arts parts of classical Chinese opera was insanely tough - and paralleled martial arts training in general)

Also, the point is that with proper foundation (and blood, sweat, and tears) everything else falls into place - without it, everything just falls. A further distinction should be made as well - martial arts qigong, medical qigong, and health qigong are all very different - but they are viewed in the West and by non-martial practitioners of martial arts as being essentially the same. They are not - martial arts qigong is system specific, and is an outgrowth of the system being trained.

Iron Broom is one of the foundation exercises I am referring to - and there are prerequisite exercises before it can be done properly. Once you have the building blocks in place, it becomes a very valuable tool - and a stepping stone to more advanced foundation exercises.

- jibengong are "building blocks" upon which everything else, including stance work, is built. There is really no difference between systems on these - the exercises are the same whether the system is "internal" or "external". In pre-television pre-revolutionary days, these are what you might do for a year or more before being taught anything else that resembled the "martial art" part of a system. In addition to separating the wheat from the chaff (for the teacher) , this training prepared the student to learn (on more than just the physical level). After a student had mastered the jibengong, to go on to learn the movements and techniques of a system was relatively easy - the student's body was fully prepared and capable of performing the demands of the techniques. My Wing Chun teacher spent 3 years doing jibengong before being taught the basics of his family's art. My Shaolin teacher spent his first year in jibengong, and most teachers of the older (70+) generation (at the time when I was starting to learn) had travelled the same route. Lam Sang, who taught my room mate in Taipei, told us of his first few years doing mostly jibengong - it was so demanding he considered running away.
With that in mind I am have attempted to classify, broadly and generally, the different types of jibengong (not jibendongzuo, although some could probably fall into the categories below as well):

Strength: Jibengong that develop strength in: Small muscles, large muscles, stabilizers, strength within a limited range of motion across a single joint, strength through a large range of motion involving several joints.

Stability: Exercises that build stability for stancework, , stepping, gripping, and balance

Balance: exercises that teach balance on two feet on a narrow base, exercises that teach balance on a single point, exercises that develop whole body balance (for example balancing laying on ones back on a suspended length of rope)

Plyometric strength: Exercises that train explosive movement and/or ballistic, dynamic, movements. Exercises that develop the ability to jump.

Speed: Exercises that develop speed in stepping, turning, kicking and punching (although the exercises may not direct employ kicking or punching)

Range of motion: Exercises that increase functional range of motion (not stretching)

Penetration and force: Exercises that develop the foundation for striking power, penetration, and focus

Multiple Axis exercises: Exercises that teach awareness of and movement around various axis and lines of motion (these are not stepping or similar movement drills - they are mostly standing in place)
The above tend to be single movement, generally of limited range, may or may not employ equipment such as weights, hammers, spears, jars, and specialty devices.

There is one last issue that we have touched on before - some exercises may be publicly taught - but without the "key" idea of what to look for at each level of training and how to train them, one doesn't get the benefit. In other words, the answers to the key questions "what should this feel like? How do I know if I am doing this right? What is the result of the exercise? Usually this last question is answered first - the teacher demonstrates something, then shows the exercise needed to develop the strength etc for the action demonstrated.

They are the physical exercises that target for particular purposes that help, supplement, or train certain physical ability other than normal Basic CMA trainings (Ji Beng Dong Zuo training like punches, kicks, stances). They may not specifically target for martial arts training, but they improvement our martial art ability as the result."

It also occurred to me that when I was learning, these were what one had to learn to get "in the door". If you could not take the training, and by doing so demonstrate your commitment, you did not get any further. Now (and since Chinese martial arts have become a much more public endeavor) the jibengong (or the details and keys to training them) are taught as "finishing school", if they are taught at all.

My teachers mostly taught this way. I know how you feel - I find myself thinking of my teachers often - and frequently I will suddenly understand something that was shown to me 30 or 40 years ago - and my appreciation for my teacher is even deeper.


What do you think are the jibengong of your system are that you have learned? what are the painful and strenuous exercises similiar to what Dr. Ken fish describes in your foundation?

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Re: Jibengong, jiben shou fa, jiben dong zou, and jiben cao

Post  David A Ross on Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:31 am

There is a lack of quality training in the Chinese martial arts these days
There is a lack of proper physical conditioning

However, there are also a LOT of other issues in CMA these days


"Martial arts training in the West and (sadly) much of the open to foreigners training in China these days consists of learning some basic stances and hand movements, then on to drills or forms, followed or accompanied by "applications" training or kickboxing flavored sparring. This is not how real martial arts were traditionally taught.


The idea of "tradition" is a very relative term. What "tradition" are we talking about? Hong Kong in the 1950's? Taiwan in the 1950's? Or mainland between 1911 and 1949? Or mainland prior to the Republican period?


The foundation skills, the things that my teachers spent 2 or 3 years on before being taught forms and such, are for the most part no longer publicly taught.

I am NOT a big fan of the idea that someone spends 6 months, a year, 2 years or three years before one learns the "real stuff" or the "good stuff" or fighting. I could point out that the REAL tradition was that Chinese martial arts were used by armies and village militias to fight wars and defend and the training was relatively short and very direct.

I have grown quite fond of citing and quoting Ming general Qi Jiguang (1507–1587) and his two books, “New Book of Effective Discipline” (1561) and “Actual Record of Training” (1571). General Qi noted that “in training troops, the pretty is not practical and the practical is not pretty."


What do I mean by foundation skills? A vast series of exercises designed to stretch, strengthen, develop balance, agility, and endurance. These included exercises with weights and other equipment, as well as myriad deep stance and mobility exercises, jumping exercises, and what might be considered as basic gymnastic maneuvers. Not until one had this foundation firmly in place could on go on to learning the movements, techniques, and usage of the system

Clearly, when we look at sources like Qi Jiguang, Chinese martial arts didn't always embrace this idea that you dedicated inordinate amount of time to this sort of practice before you got the actual "movement, techniques and usage"

This reminds me a lot of the Yogic and Buddhist traditions where yoga/asana and chi kung/lihn gung were the preparatory requirements to the real goal, ie meditation. Of course, in those two traditions we see people putting the cart in front of the horse and/or losing sight of the entire practice

I.E. you can still argue that you need to prepare the body for long hours of meditation, but yoga has taken asana for example to absurd extremes

In Buddhism, you have the Zen counter argument, you strip away the preparation and get to the issue at hand. You learn to meditate by meditating


In pre-television pre-revolutionary days, these are what you might do for a year or more before being taught anything else that resembled the "martial art" part of a system.

Or, you could argue that pre Chen Tinghua, in the late 1800's the so called "internal arts" (Taiji, Hsing Yi and Bagua) were popular among those who used these methods for fighting and the fact was there was little discussion of Daoist philosophy or health maintenance.


In addition to separating the wheat from the chaff (for the teacher)

I think THIS is much closer to the real truth

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Re: Jibengong, jiben shou fa, jiben dong zou, and jiben cao

Post  Eric_Koeppen on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:23 pm

David A Ross wrote:I am NOT a big fan of the idea that someone spends 6 months, a year, 2 years or three years before one learns the "real stuff" or the "good stuff" or fighting. I could point out that the REAL tradition was that Chinese martial arts were used by armies and village militias to fight wars and defend and the training was relatively short and very direct.

I was reading a similar statement on your blog and I couldn't help but remember my old mantis school in Austin, Texas.
The sifu there wanted me to wait 10 years before competing in sanshou.

I started training at that school in 98, while on a co-op with IBM.
After my co-op tour, I went back to University and met Li Yi Yuan, the current coach of the US Sanshou team.
Trained with him privately for a good 4 months.
When I went back to Austin and expressed to this sifu my interest in fighting san shou, I was told to wait 10 years.
This sifu wouldn't let us spar with people from other schools, unless it was at a tournament.
At the time, I was drinking the Koolaid.
When I was at that school, I thought I was training in this super-secret inner door stuff; but looking back, it was probably the lowest point of my training life.

At that time Taiji Legacy (now the Legends of Kung Fu tournament) had a sanshou division with a similar stipulation of a required number of years training before competing (I believe it was 5).

Meanwhile in boxing and muay thai, I've helped people train from their first time stepping into the gym to their first amateur competition in 6 months or less.

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Re: Jibengong, jiben shou fa, jiben dong zou, and jiben cao

Post  Mike Patterson on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:28 pm

I'm going to have to agree with David and Eric on this issue. I personally have trained people (who have won titles) for kuoshu competition in less than a year. It can be done with an eye to the right things emphasized.

Moreover, I certainly did not experience an attitude of "learn this for years before you learn that" while in Taiwan. In fact, most of the genuine Sifu I came into contact with were more of a mindset of "look, there's a whole lot to learn, get busy". Hsu Hong Chi was fond of saying; "The art will take care of itself. Teach anyone that wants to learn. If they don't have a good heart, they won't stay anyway."

But, experiences vary I realize.

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Re: Jibengong, jiben shou fa, jiben dong zou, and jiben cao

Post  David A Ross on Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:14 pm

Always great to have Shihfu Patterson on this board

Mike Patterson wrote:
I'm going to have to agree with David and Eric on this issue. I personally have trained people (who have won titles) for kuoshu competition in less than a year. It can be done with an eye to the right things emphasized.

I have had similar experiences producing capable fighters in short periods of time. I will add, that I've seen guys with 6 months of training demolish guys who trained "traditional" for YEARS...

Proper structure IS an INTEGRAL part teaching technique, it can not be separated. Conditioning is also essential to fighting. You don't need to, nor likely is it productive, to try and separate them

Mike Patterson wrote:
Moreover, I certainly did not experience an attitude of "learn this for years before you learn that" while in Taiwan. In fact, most of the genuine Sifu I came into contact with were more of a mindset of "look, there's a whole lot to learn, get busy". Hsu Hong Chi was fond of saying; "The art will take care of itself. Teach anyone that wants to learn. If they don't have a good heart, they won't stay anyway."

THANK YOU

My experience, mostly with Guangdong teachers, was similar. It was all there for you, often too much "all there" because if you didn't have a guide it could be overwhelming.
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