Se Mien Dao Lian is among the beginner forms, but again, much like the previous post on Fei Hu – It can be trained for years alone on many different levels. Unfortunately, it is usually memorized and discarded, then dead piled into the analogs of kung fu form collecting like so many others. Do not overlook this little gem! These beginner forms are often the most effective and contain all that you may need to become an effective martial artist. Here is the depth, that again, we cannot usually get to within a commercial class setting – and is really only meant for those students who train seriously and want to make use of the form. Otherwise, it is just choreography and LARP’ing, in which you can be like water and simply… Move along. For everyone else reading this that can take something away to deepen the form, enjoy!
After memorizing the basic form, you can do this for years on end and feel like you have only circled once (form pun!) :
Move your feet: This form heavily trains the transition steps from bow to cat stance. Make every bow & cat stance transition seamless with 7-star stepping. Not the simple Muay Thai “split”; I am talking about the full-true 7 Star Step as I present it. “Stances” were never meant to be static as an end-all posture that just plants you to the ground like an anvil. They were actual live steps designed for the battlefield! Footwork is the most important part of fighting and warfare marching! Bring those static stances to life by training the form with 7 star steps. The form will double in cardio, and the archaic idea of stances will become actual real, usable, footwork – totally unique to kung fu.
Cat Stance: The bow stance we have discussed before, the bow stance is designed for entering outside of range, or getting off the line at first. We have yet to discuss cat stance… When added with the seven star step, all of the sudden this otherwise boring, cliche kung fu posture becomes something useful. You will notice the moment of the step places the active foot perfectly for a low-kick, knee-trap, or shin/instep stomp. This particular step is best for hand-to-hand and close range fighting. The step is meant to set up low kicks so the hands can do their work with the blades — Again, battlefield in mind, the assumption is you are always armed with multiple weapons, and the real work is meant to kill with blades – not high power kicks or roundhouses as in sport fighting. You would simply not have the bandwidth to do this with the equipment load and shoulder-to-shoulder rank.
Move your feet training: I know the above sounds simple enough, but if are truly doing the weight shift methods that I present, you will know how specific and hard this truly is to accomplish. Here are two very basic ways to train:
- Bow Stance + 7* (entering from long-range): From natural stance, have a partner drop a pad from shoulder height and see if you can reach them from 3-4 paces away before the pad hits the floor. Once you can do that, add another pace or two. If you are clumsy, flat footed, heavy footed, zero focus, not shifting appropriate weights, and not doing the 7* step accurately, this will be extremely hard.
- Do #1, but see if you can touch them on the shoulder while they also try to avoid it.
- Cat Stance + 7 *: Stand kick length away from partner and have them punch. See if you can close the distance and split on the correct side without warning.
- All of this should maintain clean 22.5 degree angles of entry.
Go in a circle and train the angles: This form is designed for the common phrase “4 faces/8 directions”. Meaning, you should do the form one direction, and upon completion of the last move – immediately begin again and go back around the opposite direction. This way, you train both sides of the body.
4 Faces means you attack on the cardinal points. The other 4 will mean you transition and enter on those angles (22.5) — Which is the more important part. Knowing how to enter and leave an attack is extremely important. More important then the attack itself. This form will train bow/cat which can be seen as entering from outside of range and then within kick’s range.
Finally, because of the seven star steps, this form will get busy quick. Don’t gas out… You need to make this smooth with no stops – like sliding on ice almost. Do. Not. Stomp. Jerk around, head bob, or stop movement.
Add live weapons: This form is paired with daggers. The form starts with regular (yang) grip, and ends in reverse (yin) grip. Through out the form the daggers are constantly changing between grips… See if you can figure it out. It is to complex to detail out here in a blog…or see me, or email, if you need some help here. Like all forms, whatever you are doing with empty hands should be precisely mirrored by a weapon in hand.
Learn to throw daggers: This form introduces flying daggers within the 3rd west set of the form. The daggers would be carried around the waist, withdrawn (this is an art by itself), and thrown. These particular throws are overhand-no-spin throws, due to the type of dagger being used and the method of withdrawal. Practice throwing into some wood, or your apartments wall.
Qin Na: This form is full of qin na applications – see if you can uncover them. Here is the first to get you started: After the bow, from natural stance, kick +7 start step into a front-choke release. This is designed best for situations where your back is up against a wall – give it a try. For fun, add rubber knives, and practice with drawl from natural stance to escape and slice.
All together now! Once you have all the above down, do it all at once (with live blades!). You will see how hard this little form can actually be.
There you have it. Empty hand strikes, open hand strikes, qin na, blades, footwork, angles and entry, and knife throwing. Enough to keep anyone busy for a long time.