Today was the first time I had sparred at the new Kung Fu Academy. I’m used to sparring Taekwondo-style, which is to say, geared up to the max (padded helmet, mouthguard, chest guard, forearm protectors, gloves, groin guard, shin and instep guards.) Not that I minded fighting in just a flimsy cup that barely covers … well, let’s not go there, I’m sure you get the point :)

To be honest, it felt a little odd to begin with. The style with which Kung Fu students spar is much different to that of Taekwondo. I’m used to point sparring—the head is two points, chest or either flank is one. Once you hit and get a point, you stop. Rinse and repeat. There’s no grappling, there’s no hitting below the waist. Rounds last a couple of minutes. With Kung Fu, there’s pretty much all of the above. For 30 minute rounds.

I was also hesitant because of the amount of time it had been since I last fought (and fought without gear, either!) Once I tested the waters and realised I could trump them, I loosened up and had fun with it. It became some kind of display, I had spectators, other students would stop and watch us in this dance of violence.

Gathering my intel, I realised my biggest trump card was my legs. Kung Fu kick at a comfortable height of waist and below; Taekwondo kick waist to head. That, and multiple kicks—the amount of simultaneous kicks without putting your foot down in Taekwondo is much higher. So I milked it for all it was worth (I don’t have enough brute strength to combat grappling with grappling, and I pretty much refused to kick someone’s knee or shins.) I did waist-high turning kicks and added a head-height one to throw them off; I pulled off five-in-a-row side kicks when they expected me to drop my leg; I even threw in hook kicks and axe kicks.

Who wins? Taekwondo or Kung Fu? In my experience there is no one true art; no art that is better than another. From all the different arts I’ve toyed with and mixed into my “style,” I find it’s not a particular art that’s better—it’s the artist.

In the end we both got in some good hits. In the end it wasn’t about the winning—just the thrill of the fight.

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