Zui Quan Ba Fa : Drunken Fist Eight Methods 醉拳八法
Zui Quan (Drunken Fist) is a training method meant to remove what a student perceives as limits or rules in their martial arts. Every martial art has certain rules of the body and movement along with principles that are meant to increase fighting ability. However, as students begin to integrate themselves with their art the limitations of how an art thinks, strategizes, or sees the body will become ingrained into the mind. Once this happens a martial artist without thinking will apply and conform to the rules and principles as laid out in their training. The process from beginner to this integration takes a long time and is seen as real skills. Depending on the level of integration ranks are often handed out in recognition of the time and effort it takes to acquire it. Many master level practitioners can be said to have achieved this unthinking natural form of movement in accordance with their training.
Zui Quan training is meant to test the limitations and change the student’s perspective on what they once perceived as hard rules. Posture for example in Zui Quan is seen differently than in a more orthodox style but still provides power and stability when done properly by training to push the limits of what the body can do. A backward bend position for example known as “Drunkard Lifts the Barrel” should be stable and powerful enough to hold at least half one’s body weight directly sitting on the chest. This is a combative necessity for the Zui Quan player as well as the posture is most often used for chest to chest sacrifice throws. Bad posture or understanding will seriously hurt the Zui Quan players back without good training.
The essence of Zui Quan can be summed up by a group of exercises known as Fu Zhu Gong Fa (Supplemental training methods). The eight drunken fuzhugongfa cover all the core movements, postures, and elements of the style and its training in a very condensed way. Most often taught at the end of training these movements become a source for daily training that covers all the major aspects of Zui Quan. The eight are Lotus Flower Steps, Three Cannons, Spitting Wine, Roll the Barrel, Cloud Hands, Snake Body, Shake Power Left & Right, and Wash the Barrel. Learning each of these exercises and practicing them, however, is not enough. Each one needs to be torn down into its parts in order to understand what is being trained and as such what mistakes to avoid. For example, Lotus Flower Stepping contains the entire stepping system of Zui Quan but looks simply. But it contains single leg stances, Ma Bu (Horse Stance), and Gong Bu (Bow Stance) and moves between them circularly with various footwork. Weight shifting, Seeing every foot movement as a step and training the various steps as kicks (Crescent kick to cross stance, back kick to bow stance, etc.). Add to this the movement of lower Dantian to create a whipping, sloshing, momentum to move the feet from the hips and you can start to see how much material there is to work on without going any further.
Learning the fuzhugongfa can be broadly done as choreographed movements at first. However, the secret to them is in the ability to understand your mistakes in practice by knowing the requirements of each exercise. Training mindfully and looking to correct the errors you have learned to look for. As well as having a good teacher to slowly correct more and more layers of each of the exercises. This is what I am focusing on when I teach Zui Quan. The combative forms and weapons are not the heart of the style, these eight methods are, and they empower all of the combative training and weapons work to become more and more internal over time. Leading external training to internal practices is the method to the madness of Zui Quan. It is just hidden carefully from view by the art itself.
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