In Times past were there Hakka training methods that would be considered too extreme, by today’s standards?
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Yes, the saying was, ‘to achieve extraordinary Mantis, you need extraordinary efforts’. One of the oldest methods, was called, “busting a rock and kicking oneself, in the arse”. You lay a large rock, on a waist high table and pulverize it with the Hammer Fist – followed by double circle hands sweeping it off the table and then you raise the knee and kick yourself in the buttocks! Ha! Sounds odd but it really was a thing.
Lam Sang has many ‘myths’ such as being made to practice stepping on green moss mid-stream, to steady his footwork. Another is he was made to sleep in a tree six years. And that his teacher, Lee Siem, inserted iron nails under and into his toenails and fingernails. This is myth, but it illustrates that great lengths were expected to achieve extraordinary skills.
Lao Sui, Chu Gar, was said to work on the shipyard docks, in Hong Kong, and could use double bridge ‘ging’ spring power and flip up to the ship 100 pound bags of rice, all day long.
Iron Uncle Chung, who passed some years ago at 96, stated that he and Lam Sang (USA Kwongsai) and their teacher, Chung Yel Chung, in the 1930s smoked opium, in China and Hong Kong. I imagine to enhance their training. Withhold your judgement, and keep in mind the 1st and 2nd China opium wars when imagining such.
In truth, there is only one real secret to extraordinary skill. That is constant and regular training. Daily training. Many claimed to have trained several hours, twice daily, for years. Is that necessary now? No, not for most people today. It depends on your goal. 20 minutes training a day will be sufficient for anyone wanting to learn Mantis boxing today. Regular training and repetition is the key.