Kung Fu Jumps and Rolls – the class I never wanted to skip
A LOT OF FUN
A LOT OF PAIN AT THE BEGINNING,
A LOT OF MUSCLE SORE AFTERWARDS
AND PEOPLE DROPPING OUT DURING THE CLASS
LIST OF JUMPS AND ROLLS
THAT I HAVE LEARNED IN SHAOLIN KUNG FU SCHOOL
KUNG FU ROLLS
JUMPS & ROLLS
WHICH MUSCLES ARE USED TO DO > HANDSTAND PUSH UP<
Firstly, we roll forward like in the physical education class at school, where the teacher covers program focused on gymnastic skills. To go with the flow, the next roll is the kind you do in martial arts – roll forward diagonally.
So … you don’t roll strictly forward anymore, because you don’t want the head to touch the ground. The pressure of the fall is amortized by the shoulder and spreads subsequently to the other side of the body. If the roll is done properly, there is no way you hurt yourself. This explains why it is so common not only in fighting but also in parkour, after performing crazy jumps.
BACK ROLL TO PUSH UP POSITION
Let’s come back to primary school. Normally, forward roll would be followed by back roll. Here, yes, as well, but with a small hindrance at the end called push-up.
Most girls have a lot of trouble to make it and they spend months to learn it, or they are never successful. The guys – some of them get it in the first class, some needs more time but rarely as much as girls.
So … the conclusion was simple. To make it, I needed strong arms.
The person, who learns back roll to push-up position, cannot be a weakling. But … what became clear to me over time, and this refers not only to back roll but any possible skill you want to learn, is that the key to perform a movement is technique, which also means ability to use muscle power in a right moment.
I tried to figure out the technique of back roll to push-up position. There were many students giving me good advices, not to mention my Master’s teachings. Still, I wasn’t able even to lift a head from the mats.
In May, after travelling with my mum, I met a new student from France, Daniels friend – Mat. With his encouragement I spend few classes practicing back roll to push-up position. We tried to break down piece by piece, where I should use the power to make it. That was a stone mile in learning a back roll to push-up position.
What I get to know was that it was not only about push-up from my arms but more importantly push-up using my legs. The key was the momentum of kicking up.
At the end of the movement Mat catched my feet and pulled up.
– Good. Like this – he said – PUSH UP !!! To handstand. Your body straight. Your legs want to kick somebody above you.
It took me more than half a year to actually visibly improve back roll to push-up position. Still I am on my way to do it properly.
After back roll to push-up position we do head flip. It is typical Shaolin jump. At School we perform head flip with the support of hands. However, in shaolin temple, some of the students perform it DIRECTLY ON THE HEAD !!! Tough guys!
When I saw the other student doing a head flip during my first Jumps and Rolls class, I stopped and stared at them with my eyes wide open.
- So … now … I am suppose to do it?!! – I thought.
Video. Shaolin monk doing head flip without using hands:
空前翻 [kōng qián fān] HEAD FLIP
I could do headstand – no problem. But every time I was doing it in yoga class, the teacher warned me against falling backwards. Now, I was not suppose to fall backwards but worst – throw my legs there !!!
SUPER SCARY !!!
- What about my neck, my spine and my whole body? Will it follow?
Not exactly. At least not at the beginning. What was awaiting me instead was landing on my butt and spine, and pulling of my neck strangely.
It took me less time to learn head flip than kick up (the next jump). However, it was training kick up, which helped me improve the head flip.
The following jump is kick up. Firstly, we land from the straight position into elbow plank. We change the position of the legs so they are in front of us and we do kick up followed by head flip.
It took me two months of intense kick up training to eventually get it. It started in January. Each Form class (a kick up was a part of my new Form – Kung Fu Broadsword) and some of afternoon classes I dedicated to a greater or lesser extend to train kick up (meaning around 6 hours a week).
The time I spend on training it seemed to last ages. I started to doubt that I ever make it. Then, one cold day, on 13th of March, I manage to do kick up from the ground.
Since that moment, though my kick up still needs improvement, I can proudly say I have learned it.
The other sequence of jumps performed during Jumps & Rolls class is front flip with landing on the shoulders and arms spread to the sides followed by kick up and head flip.
It was one of the exercises, which I didn’t appreciate, feeling that i am just throwing my body in a dangerous way. Fortunately, it was not comprised in a regular class schedule.
Also, with time it become easier and it didn’t hurt as much anymore. It doesn’t mean though that I started to like it.
SIDE FALL & TWIST UP
After plank and kick up comes side fall with twist up (twist up is a name given by me. I couldn’t find an english name for this technique of getting up after a fall. If you know its proper name please contact me).
I remember before coming to China, one of the first videos I watched about Kung Fu training was “Dragon girls”.
Write in YouTube Dragon Girls Documentary and you will find the video I am talking about or click HERE (maybe this link will work. It is really worth watching.
This documentary movie presents a few stories about young girls learning martial arts. The youngest from them performed a Kung Fu straight sword form with the side fall (7:41 min of the movie). Immediately, I liked it. I wanted to learn it.
Side fall didn’t give me a headache like kick up. However, I never felt any improvement while training it. Similarly, twist up.
Many from Shaolin Jumps & Rolls movements are similar to those performed in gymnastics. Both competitive Wushu martial arts and athletic gymnastics integrate difficult techniques and beautiful movements.
However, the real Shaolin Kung fu emphasises more practical application of the movement than an artistic aesthetics.
The jump has to be done with purpose, like kick or push. It has to be powerful to defeat the opponent. For this reason, the most common sentences used by Masters during the classes are: “More Power!!! Faster!!!”. The detailed approach, where the precise position of the hand or feet is corrected, happens after the student achieved more practical level of the exercise.
So, when I am talking about Forward Handspring or the movements described above, like head flip or kick up, or the movement described in the next subchapter, like aerial, tornado kick or butterfly kick, the way the new students learn them, looks approximately like this:
Second: we follow (meaning we just try to copy what we saw, praying that we won’t break anything) or – for less courageous – we make a scared face, the Master comes to us, shows the movement as slow as possible and we follow, praying that we survive without any injury.
Third: we never do the movement again, because it hurts or – for more courageous – we keep training and eventually somehow we learn it.
I was among the second one. Not so much because I am courageous. More because I am stubborn. I always wanted to learn gymnastics, but I never had an opportunity. In modern dance my favourite exercises were those on the floor and in yoga, the upside down asanas. I am addicted to the feeling of being in the air. Even, when I still cannot do any of these jumps properly. But, I enjoy them a lot.
I want to know how many of these difficult movements I can learn, starting to learn at my age (28 years old). This is what this journey is about.
I have trained Forward Handspring for a year now and I still land on my butt or if not, I land on deeply bend legs.
I know there is a lot of training in front of me. But I stay positive and I can see a slight improvements. Importantly, not only in the performance of the movement but also in my attitude towards it (it’s not so scary anymore and it even seems not so difficult as at the beginning).
After performing forward handspring, the following exercises are cartwheel and round off. The second one is also a cartwheel, but with two legs meeting each other in the air and bouncing off the ground together preparing for the following tumbling sequences, like back handspring or flips.
AND NOW I WANNA FLY !!!
My favourite jump kicks:
腾空侧踹 [téng kōng cè chuài]
FLYING SIDE KICKS7
Before performing flying slap kick, we put the mats a bit higher. We run, bounce off the mats from the right leg, kick the right hand and land on the same leg as we kicked.
侧空翻 [cè kōng fān] AERIALS3
I started to learn aerial in February. During the next three months I was stubborn to learn it at any cost. I tried and tried. I received hundred of advices from my Master, my colleagues and Daniel. I watched videos observing how people have done it and compared my almost aerial to their full aerial. I dreamed about it. I begged. Whatever it took, I really wanted to do it. But … I couldn’t.
So, after that time, I just let it go. I still tried my best. But, my hope wasn’t there anymore and nor my dedication.
“If one man gets there with one try, try ten times.
If another succeeds with a hundred tries, make a thousand.
Proceeding in this matter,
even one who is a bit slow will find the light,
even a weak man will find the energy.”