Deep Work

I had the pleasure of working out with some Tibetan Hop Gar students recently which I thoroughly enjoyed aches and pains aside.

I mentioned to my training partner who found out about the event through his BJJ class that I really liked their format and hoped to incorporate more of the Deep Work  Sifu Chris Heintzman did that day.

I didn’t know much about the system or Chris’s teacher who was actually there that day as well a master David Chin  but between rounds of much needed rest I learned a little about him and his combat focus which I’ll sum up as whatever you train in you should be able to use it. In other words you shouldn’t just look like a Kick boxer.

I told him that my internal training was in Bagua and Iliqchuan and he said a lot of internal and Kung Fu guys just look like kick boxers with nothing distinguishable, which I absolutely agree with.

I’m not talking about dropping into some stance or pose that says I do such and such style.

Don’t get me wrong it’s easy to apply many of the coiling and wrapping skills against a lower skill level opponent or student that is either complying or doesn’t know much . But attempting that against someone that really knows how to wrestle or has significant judo / grappling skill is no easy task.

This takes Deep Work which was the theme of Sifu Chris training that day …

This is why I’m glad I found a training partner that has a wrestling and Chen style Tai Chi background among other systems with a similar interest as me to be able to apply internal principles in grappling against a real submission wrestler.

So my training partner told me about this meetup where the format would be Push hands also known as (Toy Sau), Take Downs , Sanda ( free fighting take downs and throws ), and Submissions. Apparently Sifu Chris has a fight team which regularly do Sanda and MMA one of which I had the pleasure of going a couple of rounds with in the Sanda portion of the day.

Not sure if I would’ve been so quick to do the Sanda portion had I known my opponent had few MMA fights under his belt and just made his pro debut in his last fight winning against a Team ROC fighter ( Reality of Combat). I hadn’t sparred in such a long time I wasn’t sure where I was at sparring wise these days.

It dawned on me that I haven’t even sparred with my training partner yet as far as stand up goes. We’ve just been doing some hand fighting with take downs and submissions. But I have to say; I did okay for and old man.

In addition to the Hop Gar Kung Fu, master Chin apparently teaches Tai chi and Qigong as well and Chris is his chief instructor with his own school and fight team.

We ended up getting there a half hour late, so we missed a few rounds of the 1st level of push hands rotations, they were working  in 2 minute rounds with a ring bell. 2 minute rounds of moving push hands to off balance your opponent I think I rotated three times in this segment.

Next up was push hands to get off a Throw or Take-down, I did about 3-4 rotations of different partners here as well. After a much needed rest.

I jokingly mentioned that it felt like I was in a Hot Yoga class or in this case hot Tai Chi class because it really hot in there, everyone was seriously drenched in sweat. We then moved on to Sanda or kick boxing portion that includes throws and take-downs as well as kicks and punches.

The grand finale was submissions starting from the ground which I decided to pass on that day. I told my training partner Ross that I really liked this format. I plan on doing a lot more of it myself.

I believe that there is value in applying push hands more martially by attempting to apply the principles in a non formatted way against a totally resisting opponent someone who is not just trying to make you take a step or move you out of a square or circle  on the floor.

Great Stuff for Sure. Here’s a clip of me and my training partner fooling around with free style push hands/ spinning hands at the end of our regular class.

You should notice that it’s not so easy to keep an experienced fighter from slipping past the point of contact to penetrate the sphere getting to a head and collar type of position, but my listening will get better the more Deep Work I put into it.



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