What is an Application Art?
An application art is exactly what it sounds like–an art which stresses that its techniques be applicable to real-world combat situations. Northern Shou Shu is not a sport. It is an art developed to enable one to effectively defend oneself in life and death situations, which can occur at any time or in any place.
A person cannot always dictate when a fight for their life, or the lives of their loved ones, may take place. It would be nice if everyone always had advanced notice of when they would have to fight, so that they can take the time to train and prepare for that single fight against that single opponent. But life doesn’t operate in that manner.
Since a fight for one’s life can take place in any place, at any time, one’s training should reflect that reality. That’s where Northern Shou Shu comes into play. All the techniques which one learns on their journey to black belt and beyond have been “street tested” to ensure their effectiveness. If a technique proved useless in a true combat situation, it is discarded.
Everything a student learns must be practiced on bodies; this is important because if a student cannot make a technique work in a controlled environment, how can they hope to apply the technique in a high-stress situation? Many arts do not bother to teach with any realism, and instead utilize rote memorization of “traditional” techniques as their foundation. As many can attest, most of these systems, while long in lineage and pedigree, are extremely short on true application.
As a student advances in rank, knowledge, and control, the training they will receive will continue to increase in realism and intensity. True application in a reactive manner is the ultimate goal, and one which any true application art strives for.
What about Reaction Fighting?
An attacker doesn’t advertise what they will be attacking you with (even though that would be nice), so one cannot rely upon a set technique to defend themselves all the time. Instead, one must learn to react to any given attack, in a variety of situations and positions. Learning to observe how the human body operates, and how most people telegraph an attack is integral to the training a student will learn at a Red Dragon School.
Great emphasis will be placed on developing true reactive skills. Entire classes are devoted to reaction training, and a student will spend a great amount time working on reacting to various attacks, single and multiple attackers, and attackers armed with various weapons ranging from simple sticks to firearms.