Expression is an essential component to getting your martial arts practice to “come to life.” I recognized this early on in my training and chose to study dance and gymnastics so that my martial arts would have an “expressive” and “energetic” quality. I wanted this to come across, not only to those watching my performances, but more importantly, to myself. I knew these forms of self-expression would take my forms to a whole new level. I also ventured into other martial art styles in search of this “energy” and was fortunate to have found it in Chang Chuan.
Chang Chuan is a style of kung fu that is characterized by smooth, extended and fluid movements. It is called a long range fighting system as opposed to styles like Wing Chun for example, that focus on close quarter or short range fighting. The system is rich in forms, weapons, and self-defense, as well as throwing and locking techniques known as Chin Na. Chang Chuan includes acrobatic, spinning, jumping kicks as well as fluid, circular arm movements. It is the expressive nature of Chang Chuan that drew me to this style. I devoted many hours to studying Chang Chuan and it eventually became a great influence on my own martial arts style known as The Calasanz System™.
Chang chuan was a perfect supplemental art to my traditional karate training. I liked its extension and its fluidity. This is the exact quality I wanted to bring to my kata practice. Martial arts students that have had no dance or performance experience tend to be stiff and dull in their kata practice until they learn how to make their katas come to “life.” So I encouraged my students to also adopt the essence of Chang Chuan in their forms. I’ve trained many dancers and they knew exactly what I was talking about.
I also found Chang Chuan to be a great form of physical exercise. Its forms practice improves coordination and cardiovascular health. When done under the watchful eye of a competent instructor, Chang Chaun also helps strengthen the joints and tendons. This type of training develops flexibility and overall support around the bones and muscles, which is especially important in avoiding injuries.
Traditionalists once frowned upon exploring and experimenting with the essence of other styles or forms of physical expression. This is now the exception and not the rule as more martial artists seek to expand their skills. Incorporating something new into your martial arts routine can transform a routine kata into an inspirational, uplifting form of movement.