Basic tools: the cloth

The most unorthodox but effective training tool of our school

The most important technical practice of 6 Dragons Kung Fu (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///) is the one that we perform throwing and hitting a cloth on the fly.

To execute this exercise, we can use any type of fabric as long as it is easily manageable: the only recommendation is that (for now) it must not be:

  • Too big
  • Too heavy
  • Too rigid

For example we can use:

  • A T-Shirt
  • A rag
  • A balaclava

Why this exercise is so important in 6 Dragons Kung Fu

The fabric cloth is used as an incredible training tool to develop a lot of martial skills at the same time (read All the skills of 6 Dragons Kung Fu), let’s see a small list:

  • Reflexes and coordination – Each time, it forces us to connect a precise mind activation with the right coordinated muscular response
  • Spatial memory and intelligence – It helps us to become more and more precise in terms of timing and spacing (sharpening our senses and the interpretation of the information they catch, read The most important skill in combat)
  • Power calibration – At an advanced level, we learn to measure each time the right amount of strength to release in relation to the type of result we want to reach
  • Quick reasoning – We learn to adapt our action of defense / attack in relation to an high-speed dynamic and unpredictable context
  • Tactical instinct – We learn to focus only on what is a real threat, gradually becoming each time less subject to the opponent’s deceptive actions
  • Stamina – The exercise adjusts itself based on our skill level and (if done correctly), it leads us to improve our performance at each session
  • Unpredictability – Over time, the ability to adapt to something so fluid and “random”, like the flow of a flying cloth, educates our muscle memory to become equally unpredictable
  • Explosive power and speed – This exercise forces us to move in the space and to attack / defend at the highest possible speed we can express, without loadings and contextually to a moving target (this naturally forces us to build explosive power)
  • Soft touch and the state changes – We become able to instantaneously adapt each single part of our body to the best level of tension / relaxation (sdolid, liqwuid, etc., read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light touch and How to acquire the Soft Touch skill)
  • Dynamic balance – It teaches us the most important type of equilibrium that in any fight situation we must be able to master, the dynamic one (read The concept of Dynamic Equilibrium)
  • Reach – If done correctly, it constantly increase our reach, it extends the distance limit we can cover in attack and defense (an incredible advantage in combat terms)
  • Distances management – This practice teaches us to never give respite (space) to the adversary but at the same time to try to keep us always at an advantageous distance (to move, attack and defend)
  • Trapping and striking – Even if it is absolutely not a complete trapping (read Trapping) or striking training, it teaches us the right types of interactions in terms of times, speed, tension, elasticity, etc. (favoring the deflection capability, the parries, the search for openings, etc.)

A note by Master Kongling – The list could be longer but this should be enough to understand why we stress so much the practice of this type of combat training.

How to perform the fabric cloth training

The practice is very simple and the the rules are few (but fundamental).

How to execute the exercise:

  • Let’s find a safe area to practice (read How to train without risks)
  • Let’s take a fabric cloth, an old T-Shirt for example (with the time, we can vary the type, shape, weight and extent of the fabric, read Same exercises, different execution)
  • Let’s throw the cloth in the air (at the beginning not too far but not too close either)
  • The primary goal is to hit the cloth while it is in the air
  • We can hit as we want (kicks, elbows, punches, shoulders, knees, etc., read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///) but we must never grab the fabric
  • The more we can keep the cloth in the air the better it is but let’s do not forget that the real goal is to hit effectively
  • Each time the cloth falls to the ground we have to rapidly and completely bend our knees to pick it up
  • We are not jugglers, we want to build combat skills, we must always imagine we are facing real opponents
  • As soon as we can, we should try to rotate the fabric in the air but absolutely do not holding it or making it wrapping around our limbs (let’s imagine that this means to be captured by our adversary)
  • The only thing we have to focus on is a good quality of movements and interactions (nothing more, nothing less)

What we must not do:

  • We must not favor us in any way, we should rather (reasonably) try to put us in the most difficult situation
  • We must not stand still, let’s move in all directions, let’s run and jump, trying to occupy all the space available to us
  • We should strive to do not repeat the way and at the point that we hit
  • We should not trivialize the exercise making it easy, static and / or slow, we must be constantly at the reserch of the limit of our capabilities
  • Let’s do not focus on maintaining the fabric in the air; this is the typical attitude that beginners have (and it is normal)
  • We are not making a show in a circus, the fact that the cloth falls must be accepted and even it is not so beautiful to see, it is an integral part of the exercise (in fact, each time we collect it from the ground, we gain muscular agility)
  • Let’s also avoid to step on the cloth when it is on the ground (it slows down the pace of the practice and especially at the beginning it is easy to fall)

How to maximize the benefits of this exercise

Fundamental execution details:

  • When the cloth falls to the floor let’s bend our knees al 100%, let’s pick it up quickly and then let’s start again
  • We have to try to hit with circular, precise and harmonious motions
  • We have to strike a balanced number of hits for each part of the body we want to get involved (knees, hands, feet, etc.)
  • We must strike quickly, free the power and instantaneously step back to a favorable position (without being “captured” by the cloth)

At an intermediate level:

  • We must ensure that the exercise is extremely intense and varied, we have to hit the cloth with the idea of sending it far away from us
  • We have to hit the cloth at all the heights with all the possible parts of our body
  • Let’s try to send the cloth behind us to force our spatial intelligence to growth
  • The exercise can (and must) be performed, as well as with  bare hands, also with any type of weapon (see for example 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s Fabric Cloth training with a Ninjato, with the rigid ones is easier, with the flexible ones is for experts only)

Final notes

A few thoughts and tips:

  • The first few times it will be appear to be too hard or even too easy, it is simply because we need time to calibrate it and understand it (let’s be patient)
  • The use of the fabric cloth is absolutely critical in 6 Dragons Kung Fu and it is good to devote a lot of time to this type of workout
  • After the first few weeks, we will realize how much speed/precision/etc. we can acquire and we will never abandon this practice
  • This exercise, as for all the other teachings of our style, is for everyone but if you decide to implement it in your training sessions (lessons, course, school, etc.), please, be honest and say to your students / friends that this stuff comes from 6 Dragons Kung Fu, thanks

In the next article of this series, we will deepen the training method (read The cloth training: deepening).

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Are you able to manage the flow of the fabric cloth?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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