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Seven Star Praying Mantis
Students at Authentic Kung-Fu take Chi Xing Tong Long or Seven Star Praying Mantis style of Kung-Fu following the pragmatic Wong Hun Fun tradition. Sifu Steve Cottrell continues that training path in order to maximize the effectiveness of training time so that it produces the clearest, most efficient kinesthetic programming and hence the fastest most effective reactions. As any soldier will tell you, correct repetition is the key to combat effectiveness. That is hard to do when you practice contradictory methods.
It is a popular fad today for people to become "collectors of forms" from many different systems or to have composite styles made up of widely differing systems. At Authentic Kung-Fu this is seen as a distinct disservice to the student and at the least unwise on the part of the teacher. Cross training a beginning or even intermediate level Kung-Fu student in a different style of Kung-Fu simply degrades the efficient combat reactions and specific "Kung" or special skill developed by each style studied.
Every style of Kung-Fu has a specific method or "Kung" that characterizes that style. Most of the time these methods are decidedly not transferable from one system to another. This is the reason why most great masters of Kung-Fu major in only one or two styles of Kung-Fu in a lifetime.
For example, at the Authentic Kung-Fu school students may study either Chi Xing Tong Long or Wing Chun but not both. The reason for this is that the methods of Ma Kung or stance, Bu Fa or stepping, Ging Kung or power generation and even Chi Kung or breathing/energy method differ so radically that to do one would degrade the training of another.
The ability to change all these elements from one to another notwithstanding, the very act of changing itself would take time, something which is precious in combat and means the difference between life and death.
The Sifu who teaches beginning or intermediate level students forms from differing styles of Kung-Fu at the same time forces the student to divide his efforts and risks transference of the skills of one method into the other form being studied. Regardless, the combat effectiveness of either form being studied is lost for the most part. As renowned Sifu Bucksam Kong of the Sil Lum Pai has said, "It is better to know one form well than a hundred half learned." Teachers who fall prey to such methods are simply filling the students natural tendency to want to know the "next thing" instead of teaching them to master "this thing". It is the phenomena of the "Partial Artist" as it is known at Authentic Kung-Fu. It is interesting to note that most of these teachers learn from and revere the artists who spend a lifetime in a couple of art forms.