Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Skills of Chun Li

Alrighty!  Put out some advertisements with Project Wonderful yesterday, and according to my stats tracker on my blog dashboard, we have a heck of a lot more viewers!  Hi guys and gals!  Welcome!  Today we're going to be looking at the skills of Chun Li, namely her acrobatics and her martial arts!  This is going to take us once more back into the realm of gymnastics and parkour(man, we love that stuff around here), as well as through a brief overview of the arts of Kenpo and Tai Chi.

In fact, let's take a look at the martial arts first!

Martial Arts - Kenpo and Tai Chi
"I come to you with only karate, empty hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles or my honor; should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong; then here are my weapons, karate, my empty hands."
—Ed Parker - March, 1957
Kenpo is actually a relatively new style of martial art, invented by Ed Parker.  Its roots actually go back to Hawaii, initially, and before that, Japan.  It borrows elements from karate, kung fu, jiu-jutsu, judo, and boxing.  Ed evolved the art greatly as he developed it, with it first being mainly Japanese, and known as "kenpo karate," then, after he started to master the chinese arts, he began calling it, "Chinese Kenpo."  Finally, he dropped most Asian language references and traditions, and began calling it American Kenpo.  In the game canon, Chun Li's master is the master assassin "Gen," who taught her a hybridization of many chinese martial arts styles, although she has also learned from Ryu and several others, making her art effectively in the same spirit at the real kenpo.

Kenpo is focused on being a total self defense art.  It features strikes, grappling, throws, locks, take-downs, and submissions.  While not as focused on ground-fighting as, say, jiu-jutsu or judo, it is still a formidable mixed martial art.  It features a traditional turned-fist punch and powerful kicks as its main methods of inflicting striking damage.  Soft control of opponents is mostly focused on arm, finger, and leg locks, as well as some take-downs, with less emphasis on throws or chokes as other grappling styles.

Chun Li is also said to know tai chi, an internal meditation art focused on controlling the body's internal and external balance.  What is less known, however, is that tai chi can also be a practical self defense art.  Some of its methods are a bit antiquated, being very old and traditional in context, however they can still be extremely effective.  A lot of this depends upon the teacher you have.  When I dabbled in tai chi, I was lucky enough to have an instructor that actually went to china repeatedly to study, who also had a key mind for practical application of the forms.

If you can take both arts, I would recommend you do so, provided you can find a good teacher for each.  If you have to choose between the two, I would say go with kenpo, merely for its more reliable application in modern-day self defense.  This isn't to say that tai chi is not as good a martial art, rather, it takes a bit more experience and intuition to apply it in a practical, real-world scenario.

Gymnastics and Parkour

So, last time we looked at gymnastics, with Donkey Kong's skills, we looked at the forward roll(often incorrectly called the somersault).  This week, we're going to look at a basic progression towards Chun Li's acrobatic side aerials and front flips, the cartwheel.

Let me start by saying that practicing any gymnastics where you invert your body over your head is dangerous, ESPECIALLY without gymnastics mats.  At the very least, practice in a grassy field, but if possible, find yourself a gymnastics facility that has a public "drop-in" night.

The cartwheel is relatively simple to do, the hard part is getting your mind into the correct place for it.  For purposes of instruction, I'm going to start with a right-handed cartwheel.  If you're left handed, just reverse the sides on these:
  1. Start with a small lunge, right foot forward, hands locked in the air above you.
  2. In a smooth motion, lower your right hand to the ground, followed by your left hand, with your fingertips pointed to your right side(perpendicular to the direction you're cartwheeling in)
  3. While lowering your hands, kick up over your head with your left foot, and push off and follow with your right foot.
  4. Your left foot should be hitting the ground as your right hand begins to come up in the air.  As your right foot hits the ground after your left, "pull" your left hand off the ground and force your body to stand up straight.
  5. Congratulations!  Cartwheel!
I apologize if those directions were difficult to follow.  He's a nice video for how it should look when you do it.

One of Chun Li's other moves is the wall jump!  This is actually relatively easy in principle, and just takes practice.  To perform a wall jump(also a lead-in to wall runs), you run and jump towards a wall at a decent clip(not full speed or strength to start out).  You want to be facing the wall as you do.  When you jump, lead with your dominant foot forward.  DON'T kick off right away, try to bend your knees and absorb the impact as one, then the other foot hits the wall.  IMMEDIATELY turn and look behind you, and push off with the less dominant foot, and then your dominant foot.  Don't push straight off, try to push "up" and off, giving your body upward momentum as you push off the wall do you don't just ricochet back at the floor.

Tada!  Wall jump.  Just practice it, you'll get more vertical and distance with practice.  Try to find a place where two walls are relatively close together, and practice jumping from one wall and slapping the other one as high as you can, to practice increasing your height.

Well, that's it for today.  Welcome to all the new readers.  Please like the facebook page and follow me on twitter for updates!  Tomorrow we look at the mind of Chun Li, and how to be an analytical, clear thinker and investigator.  Until then, continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Chun Li, Gen, Street Fighter and all  property therein are © Copyright Capcom. 

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