Category Archives: Martial Arts

The 3 Ways Of Martial Arts Training


* The above image is taken from The Telegraph.

Chinese wuxia novels often contain archaic words that are necessary for the mise-en-scène, and even native speakers who are fluent in the language sometimes have trouble understanding them. So I wasn’t too surprised when an American friend of mine, who’s a fan of the wuxia genre, asked me for my help to translate some of those antiquated Chinese words into simple everyday English.

And one of his questions was: What’s 横练金钟罩?

金钟罩 (Golden Bell) is the name of a body toughening skill, but what does 横练 mean? I went and did some research and found out that 横练 is just one of the 3 ways of martial arts training. Below are my explanations for the 3 ways written in simple English.

#1. The Wen Way (文练法)

Basically, it means training solely in the techniques and developing “nei jing” (内劲) naturally, without using punching bags or other hard objects to strengthen your striking power.

Shadow boxing and mirror training (i.e. practicing in front of a mirror to improve your form) all fall under the umbrella of the Wen Way.

#2. The Wu Way (武练法)

Punching heavy bags and kicking wooden stakes etc. These are all training methods under the Wu umbrella.

The Wu Way allows for swift development of striking power and when used together with the Wen Way, will allow the martial artist to grow in a balanced manner.

However, it is detrimental to a martial artist’s growth when used by itself. Many teachers lament that too many youths are focusing on the fun and quick aspects of the Wu Way and neglecting the refinement of their techniques by using the Wen Way.

#3. The Heng Way (横练法)

Is simply a more extreme version of the Wu Way. Methods include thrusting your bare hands into buckets of sand, striking your body with a wooden bat and hitting your head against a tree etc.

The Iron Shirt (铁布衫) and Golden Bell (金钟罩) both use the Heng Way when it comes to external training. It is inadvisable to practice such skills without knowing the internal training methods as well.

Loh Teck Yong

Author’s Note: 文, 武 and 横 could be translated as scholarly, martial and overbearing respectively. But I thought “Scholarly Way”, “Martial Way” and “Overbearing Way” sound weird so I went with the hanyu pinyin for those Chinese words.



3 “Sure-win” Moves All Martial Artists Should Watch Out For!



In the school courtyard during recess, a preteen hero thrusts out his palms and yells:

“Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms!”


His team of playmates obligingly fall to the ground as if they were just hit by the invisible dragons overflowing from the hero’s palms.

And that’s one of them. The Eighteen Dragon Subduing Palms. The invisible dragons released from your bare hands can destroy entire armies, making it one of the most deadly “sure-win” skills in the pugilist world.

Okay, fuck no. No. That’s a lie, okay? And a test to see how many of you are gullible enough to believe in the existence of “sure-win” moves.

So what are the 3 “sure-win” moves and why do you have to watch out for them? They are biting, the eye jab and the groin kick. Avoid martial art teachers marketing them as “sure-win” moves because there are more interesting ways to waste your money.

Why? Because.

Eye Jab

First of all, eyes are rather small targets and your opponent is not going to stand still and make things easy for you. He will most likely keep swerving his head from side to side to avoid hits. Or cover up with his arms. And if the fight is taking place in the dark, like an unlit back alley, it gets so much more difficult to see, let alone jab at, your opponent’s eyes. Read the rest of this entry

JKD, Jun Fan And Other Names

One day, someone asked me this question: Are you after a name?

The question came up because of my reluctance to do kickboxing (Boxing and Muay Thai) drills that deviate too far from my Jun Fan structure. I kept saying ‘Oh this is or this isn’t JKD’. He told me I was missing the point completely, and how mistaken I was to think JKD as a “name”. Read the rest of this entry

There You Have It!

My Martial Arts Odyssey essay in 3 parts!

Read them in this order:

Good And Bad first, followed by Learning To Get Hit And Other Lessons and finally Biblical Lesson.

Teck Y. Loh

Biblical Lesson – Part 3

I am going to conclude the S Saga with a sermon. Do not, I repeat, do not cast pearls before swines. Especially truly valuable ones which you have gotten through expensive overseas trips.

It came to pass that after I had left Singapore for the USA in 2000, I started practicing JKD. And it naturally followed that I left S’s camp once I found competent teachers, even though they were in a faraway country across the ocean.

However, back in 2008 (I think), I was back in Singapore again and my JKD teachers were away in USA and UK. I was still training, but without the benefit of teachers and group support. And at the same time, a tournament was taking place in Singapore. So, when I ran into S again, my sole training partner at the time advised me strongly to make use of this chance encounter. Read the rest of this entry

Learning To Get Hit And Other Lessons – Part 2

Paul, the Singaporean training partner, made this observation when I told him about sparring in S’s class.

“Too soon,” he said.

He thought I wasn’t ready for full-contact sparring when I hadn’t even learned how to throw a punch properly. S, however, thought differently. After a few lessons with him, he invited me to spar with some of his more aggressive fighters. Mind you, I wasn’t asked to spar with students at my level, but the senior ones who had already been following him a year or so before I did. Read the rest of this entry

Good And Bad – Part 1

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about where I was, where I am and where I will be as a martial artist. And that means thinking about the teachers, both good and bad, who shaped me and got me to where I am today.

I am not as accomplished as I want to be, but life ain’t perfect. I am, however, a stronger, smarter and better-informed martial artist than when I first started my foray into the martial arts as a clueless newbie. And that’s a fact worth celebrating. Even though I am not as accomplished as I want to be. Read the rest of this entry