Can a spear teach us how to punch?
In the Choy Li Fut kung fu system, spear training is an essential exercise in the transference of energy through the body and weapon to the intended target. In one of the most basic movements, cheong (spear/ pierce), the spear is thrust forward. Power, like the rest of Choy Li Fut, is generated from the stance and waist rotation. It is then transferred through the arms as the spear is thrust forward. The front hand (Southern styles usually use right hand forward, Northern styles usually use left hand forward) is used to guided the spear and the rear hand is what drives it forward.
There is a simple maxim when it comes to using the spear “Front hand loop, back hand lock.” This means the front hand does not grip tightly in aid of the spear thrust, but works as a guide and support for thrusts and as a fulcrum that allows leverage and rotation of the spear in swinging movements. This method should not to be seen as loose or relaxed as such would be easily broken and the spear disarmed, simply the front hand allows more movement and extension.
So what does it all have to do with punching? Simple, if the body is connected when the hips initiate movement, the arms will continue the energy through the spear until fully extended. At this point the spear itself will let the wielder know how much power transferred as it will vibrate. Just as sound waves travel through a medium, the wielder’s power will travel through the spear and more important, produce visible and tangible results. More power means more vibration. It is important to note that most kung fu spears are made of
waxwood or bamboo and maintain a flexibility not found in hardwoods that allow it
to absorb oncoming attacks without breaking as well as creates a
whipping effect when properly used, not to say woods like beech or ash don’t vibrate as any baseball player would tell you, it is just more visible with flexible woods.
The spear is simply and indicator of connection and alignment, and although the basic movement requires two hands this thrust can be done with a single hand a the bottom end of the spear which makes it more difficult to properly execute. The mechanics are the same whether you have a spear in hand or are just throwing a straight punch, however with a spear we can feel it when it all works right, not to mention an added weight which helps in building power.