Questions on Kuntao

a forum for discussion Liu Seong's Kun Tao system(s)
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Jerry Martin
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Questions on Kuntao

Post by Jerry Martin » April 16th, 2007, 10:07 am

Hi all,

I just thought I'd try to start a discussion on the very difficult topic of Kuntao.

First of all; how many of you were taught something labelled as Kuntao?

Second; who taught it to you and who were their teachers?

Thirdly; without getting too specific, how would you describe what Kuntao is?

In peace, Jerry
"Before enlightenment ,I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water."

An old Zen proverb

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Re: Questions on Kuntao

Post by kungfujoe » April 16th, 2007, 6:00 pm

SifuJerry wrote:I just thought I'd try to start a discussion on the very difficult topic of Kuntao.

First of all; how many of you were taught something labelled as Kuntao?

Second; who taught it to you and who were their teachers?

Thirdly; without getting too specific, how would you describe what Kuntao is?

That's a darn good question, but it's also a loaded question. In the broadest martial arts sense, separate from our clan's history and politics, Kuntao is simply a Hokkien (Amoy dialect, specifically, I believe) term to generically describe martial arts - "fist way." People who used that dialect called their local gungfu systems "kuntao." A lot of the Chinese emigration to Southeast Asia consisted of people from Hokkien province, so the term went with them, and as it mixed with indigenous martial arts, and eventually spread from Southeast Asia, "kuntao" became more synonymous with systems that are a hybrid of Hokkien gungfu and SEAsian arts (especially silat, but there are also Kuntao/Kuntaw systems in the Philippines, which I suppose means they probably combine gungfu with kali. Chuan Fa ("fist method") is a similarly-generic term for martial arts, in Mandarin, that doesn't specifically refer to one martial art. So, without considering the Reeders clan politics, asking "what is Kuntao?" is, at the most generic, like asking "what is gungfu?", or at the most specific, "what is gungfu when it originates in what is now the Hokkien province of China?" :) Technically, Hokkien White Crane is kuntao. And perhaps not coincidentally, Liu Seong the elder was primarily known as a White Crane practitioner.

Within the Reeders family of arts, though, it means something considerably more specific. Even the Liu Seong Royal Chuan Fa system has clear Indonesian influence, but no one considers it Kuntao (We have a "Kwitang Form" ostensibly based on Mustika Kwitang Silat, a silat system that traces itself back to Chinese roots, making it a kuntao system in its own right, even though it's not called that). Aside from being more specific than the linguistic meaning, though, there's not a lot of agreement on what exactly it is. GGM Reeders taught a handful of people what he referred to as Kuntao, but it seems clear to me that they learned different things, and sometimes the differences in the different "Kuntao" variations are as significant as the differences between them and the Chuan Fa or Poekoelan systems. I've also heard speculation that the family kuntao system may not have been taught to anyone but his children (or maybe just one of them), and they're all noticeably absent from the debates on Liu Seong Kuntao. I don't pretend to have nearly enough historical perspective to say whose perspectives have more or less merit - I'm only observing that the perspectives of "those who were there" appears to vary. I doubt that we'll ever know what is what "for sure" now that GGM Reeders has passed on. All we have to go on are the interpretations of the different people who learned from him, and those interpretations all seem to vary quite a bit.

I'm happy to be learning what I'm learning, and I'm happy to stick with the fairly generic name of "Liu Seong Gung Fu" for the art. To me, the rest is politics, and if I can stay out of the political bickering by not prominently using the "K-word," that's fine by me. ;)
Erik Harris
Chinese-Indonesian Martial Arts Club

"A man's not a man when he takes the lower road,
Dragging his tail to cover his tracks" -dTb

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Post by Jerry Martin » April 16th, 2007, 11:22 pm

Thanks Erik.

I was wondering why I was seeing so many people in my internet travels talking about kuntao this and kuntao that. I had never heard the term before I started training in the LSGF.

I suspect that Kuntao is two things; first, it's a mindset. Kind of mafia-like. A kind of, if you want to step to me with bad intentions, i'm going to not only kill you, but I'm going to do it in a vicious and humiliating way kind of thing. When I'm done, I'm going to find your family and take them out too.

secondly, I agree with Erik that there are physical vehicles to acheive point number one that some people were taught by GGM Reeders differently than others.

From what I've seen and intellectuallized (and it's limited to be sure), Kuntao is a more linear, almost running downhill towards your opponent and crashing through them, attacking high and low simultaneously.

So, compared to Silat, where the lines of movement are on mostly 45 degree angles, Kuntao is only forward as if your back was to a wall or you were in a corner with no other options.

I'd love to hear what others' opinions are on this very intriquing subject. Chime on in!

Peace, Jerry
"Before enlightenment ,I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment, I chopped wood and carried water."

An old Zen proverb

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Post by Fan Girl » April 19th, 2007, 4:05 pm

Okay. I am kinda scared to answer these questions, but I guess I need to get myself out there.
I started in the arts in 2000 in Wushu. I was grateful on learning something new and was terrified to take that step of doing something I wasnt used to. I came from the Navajo Reservation where you wouldnt find any martial arts unless you drive 30 minutes over the state line. I met my current teacher through my Wushu teacher and from there I have been under him since 2001. The things we learned I have never seen before, but then I only had a limited knowledge on the arts. He started teaching us the physics, the alphabetical formulation, time and space to what we were doing. Going to the board and writing out mathamatical formulas and putting it in to use in techinques. Giving us things to research to open our minds to what we were learning. My teacher, Master Lu Robinson is currently training under Grand Master Sikes. Kuntao to me is the physics and anatomy, knowing the time of day basically knowing your own body and how to apply all the above mention. The art is beautiful to me. I know I will never use it, but knowing and learning it will help me in the future. At this time, I feel like a teenager who is getting the courage to take that step in learning about themselves and creating their own personality.

Well, I dont know if this is relevant in the questions asked. But thanks for reading.. Dont be too hard on me.. haha.

Peace..

Andrea

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Post by kungfujoe » April 19th, 2007, 5:18 pm

Fan Girl wrote:The things we learned I have never seen before, but then I only had a limited knowledge on the arts. He started teaching us the physics, the alphabetical formulation, time and space to what we were doing.

Andrea,

Can you elaborate on what you mean by teaching "the alphabetical formulation" of what you're doing?
Erik Harris
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"A man's not a man when he takes the lower road,
Dragging his tail to cover his tracks" -dTb

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Post by Fan Girl » April 19th, 2007, 5:41 pm

The foot work and what style the letter is from. Basic letters C X Z H O or I. For instance, using the letter I, which comes from the Korean family. Straight and powerful, to the point or from China in Xing Yi movements.

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Post by fatgrasshopper » December 16th, 2007, 3:50 am

I've heard enough about GM Art Sikes to revere the man. I studied under sifu Lenny Howie for the bulk of my years in kuntao, as well as sifu Darwin Harwood (Hochow Kuntao), and to a lesser extent guru John Bain (Tulisan Kuntaw). Hochow Kuntao felt most natural to me, but I will forever be grateful to sifu Howie (Rest in peace) for the wealth of knowledge he passed on to me and for introducing me to the art. It's been many years since I've trained and finding a kwoon that teaches any of these systems is almost impossible in Central Florida...maybe some day. I was always told that you don't find Kuntao, it finds you. Kuntao simply put is "old school" gung fu.

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