It was the mid seventies when With less than a years karate experience under my belt that I faced the Chinese lad to do some sparing. People called him Lap-toe which I’m sure we mispronounced, his parents ran the local takeaway and he always smiled a lot. My mate Phil Voller who went to the same school as Lap-toe told me that no one ever picked on him. The Bruce Lee films were fresh in everyone’s minds and Lap-toe bathed in the reflected glory, not without reason as I was about to find out!
I had got the use of a spare room at the youth club and was keen to try out my Japanese karate against Chinese kung fu. Lap-toe told me that his style was the Tiger Claw system and I had been training in Wado Ryu as many evenings as I could. During the karate classes that I attended kicks in sparing were aimed at stomach height or above, Laptoe it turned out played by different rules!
Almost every time that I attempted to kick him I received a kick in the shin as soon after my leg had left the ground. To have your attacks neutralised before they have gathered their full force is discouraging to say the least. None of my very limited experience prepared me for what was then a very unorthodox approach. Lap-toe that evening made a big impact.
As far as I knew this was a fighting technique from, what was in England at least, an obscure style called Tiger Claw. It was not till ten years later that I was to here of the principle of Stop Hit while studying Wing Chun. The second form of Wing Chun contains a technique called the intercepting punch.Bruce Lee based much of his personal fighting style on the principle of Stop Hit and indeed named his system The Way Of The Intercepting Fist. The famous film star had studied Wing Chun under Yip Man while still a youth living in Hong Kong.
Stop Hit in Wado Ryu.
Wado Ryu contained Stop Hit in its arsenal of principles,if only I had the eyes to see it all those years ago. Both the second and third sambon gumite jodan uke are examples of Stop Hit. Both use punches that stop hit while simultaneously employing the forearm to cover the line of the incoming attack. Each of these set drills also uses an evasion along a forty five degree angle, one on the inside and the other on the outside. When the Stop Hit concept is combined with a use of good angles it can have a devastating
Kendo, the use of angles and Stop Hit.
Modern Japan is much closer to its feudal past than we are in the West. It’s equivalent to the knights of Europe were of course the Samurai. Their skills with the sword, tried and tested on the battle field, have been preserved in the modern sport of kendo. A few minutes of watching this fascinating art on U tube will confirm their skilful use of angles and the Stop Hit principle.
Tai Chi and catching their step.
Tai Chi is called the supreme ultimate with good reason. Of all the fighting styles it takes the longest to learn and is the hardest style to become exceptionally proficient at, in my experiance. A key component of Tai Chi is balance, keeping yours while destroying theirs. The very moment that an aggressor is launching an attack can be an excellent time to disturb their balance. Sometimes this very disconcerting counter is called in Tai Chi catching their step.
Stop Hit takes speed and very good timing to work. It takes a lot of specifically tailored practice to make this principle work in sparing. It can often suite the person who is of a lighter build. Stop Hit when successfully executed can neutralise a potentially overpowering attack before it develops it’s full velocity. I am grateful to Lap-toe for that first lesson in Kung Fu all those years ago.