school logo

Adam Hsu Kung Fu

Traditional Chinese Martial Arts

Adam Hsu
"fang song" = relax

Asking the Leopard to Change its Spots

By Adam Hsu

(Translated by Joan-Huey Dow)

The purpose of wushu training is to make you tougher than your enemies and anyone else.

The purpose of wushu training is to make you as strong as possible.

The purpose of wushu training is to make you so powerful that you don’t have rivals anywhere. Even children won’t dare to cry out loud when hearing your name.

However, the most important method of learning traditional Chinese wushu is this: Relax your entire body.

Don’t apply any force. Be flexible. Be slow.

If so, we’d better not practice wushu any more!

The purpose and the method of wushu training are contrary to each other and they seem to go to completely opposite directions. They are incompatible, like putting water and fire together. Why? The reason is that it is impossible to train and improve your wushu skills if you are already a strong and devoted wushu enthusiast.

The only way to learn wushu correctly is to have a fresh start with a new and different you.

Does this sound strange? Of course! It is very strange because it is Chinese wushu…

China has a long history, big territory, frequent wars and endless fighting among civilians. After killing so many people, we’ve become the masters of killing. In other words, these accumulated experiences developed into the unique Chinese wushu.

Therefore, wushu teaches practitioners how to generate maximum power beyond their physical limitations.

A human being is one kind of animal who has many natural movements. The movements include the activities of daily life: eating, pooping, bathing, putting on clothes, walking, making love, nodding or picking one's nose.

There are professional and technical movements too, such as farming, driving, baking, playing computer games, flying airplanes, building houses.

Of course, every race and every country in the world has its own survival skills--its own martial arts--to fight its enemies and wild animals. Therefore, there are a variety of specialized movements from these martial arts, such as kicking, punching, throwing, grabbing, attacking, defending, chasing or dodging...

But, Chinese wushu is unique and different from other respected martial arts throughout the world. The difference is not based on achievement or superiority. The difference is the most fundamental and very first step that leads you to a completely different direction.

The first thing needed to learn Chinese wushu is this: Make a fresh start like a new person (重新做人).

In other words, we absolutely should not use our present self to learn and improve our wushu skills.

If this is true, tens of thousands of wushu practitioners in the world have gotten off to a wrong start and are moving towards a wrong direction!

In order to achieve the ultimate goal, you absolutely need to have a new self, a pure self, a freshly created self who learns Chinese wushu with sincere devotion and diligent practice.

But the most difficult thing is: The new self cannot be created separately. It has to be made based on the existing self and from the inside out.

Therefore, the first step to learning wushu is RELAX!

For a young person who is strong and passionate for wushu, the most difficult thing to do is to yield! (i.e., to relax) He’d rather die than yield to others, right!?

If he cannot relax and yield completely, this young man, as strong as a bull, will become as stupid as a bull! Why? Because all these strong and fast movements are not real wushu regardless of whether they are deemed to be treasures or garbage!

You should start wushu practice as if you have never learned wushu before and don’t know any wushu techniques at all. You should make a totally fresh start to learn traditional wushu’s unique movements and skills.

The person you were before has passed away. From now on, you are reborn to a fresh start as a new person. You have to shed all you have learned before. The more completely you can do this, the better you will become.

Some people may be strongly attached to their unforgettable memories of the past. Some people may be very confident and see no rivals. Some people may be unsure of themselves and have regrets. None of this affects one’s pursuit of wushu, but it would affect what can be achieved.

Let’s take a piece of paper or a blackboard as an example.

The teacher writes something on the blackboard.

In the English class, the teacher fills up the blackboard and does not erase it after class. The next class is Chinese. The teacher fills up the blackboard again without erasing the all words written previously in the English class.

The question to you is: Which student in the class can read any words on the blackboard? The one who sits in the first or the last row? The one who has the highest or the lowest grade?

It is definitely necessary to have the person on duty wipe the blackboard clean between classes.

The activities in our daily lives are like history and geography classes. The strong and powerful fighting skills are like English or music classes. If the blackboard is already filled up in all these classes, you can never write Chinese characters clearly on the blackboard in the Chinese class. The messy blackboard would definitely reduce the effectiveness of teaching and learning. It is impossible to learn Chinese well under such a situation.

Relaxing is like erasing the blackboard! The cleaner you wipe the blackboard, the better you are able to relax.

Of course, relaxing the body should start from your mind and your mind sends out the order to relax your body. Therefore, erasing the blackboard is not like taking a bath or getting a massage, i.e., very superficial work on your body. The utmost important task is to let go.

The key to letting go is to not worry, fear, guess and suspect.

For further clarification, you should have a clear awareness that to relax is not to be weak or empty. Such training will not make you weaker than before. You need to believe it without any doubt. You can fearlessly pursue your goal and aim for a bright future only if you can let go of your doubts, fears and egoic need to show off.

What is the future? The future is the nearly pure mindset and techniques of Chinese wushu.

It is great if you can completely relax. But what’s the result if you can only relax 50-60%? The result will be a mix of good and bad. It’s like a ruler that can be used to measure your first step in wushu training. It is very scientific, convenient and fair.

If you can relax completely but don’t practice diligently, you won’t make any progress either. Complete relaxation only puts you at the starting point and gives you the potential to learn wushu. Therefore, completely relaxing is not equal to success! Relaxing is only the starting point, not the end point. To be able to relax would not itself give you the true skills, but it grants you the potential to learn them in the right way.

It all depends on the effort you are willing to put in after you pass the starting point. To succeed is like climbing a mountain. There is no overnight success without putting in significant effort. Don’t be satisfied with little progress. Pay more respect and work harder. The starting point of the long journey of wushu training is this very small but critical step: Relax!

Relaxing is like having a strong man return to the stage of an infant, not to the mental and physical states of kindergarten or elementary school.

If what written above is too easy to understand and not sacred enough to motivate you, we can use a quote from the Chinese ancient master Lao Tzu: Can you stay focused inside and be flexible outside as pure and noble as a newborn baby (專氣致柔,能如嬰兒乎)!?