In most martial arts styles, technique is pitted against technique and one body is pitted against another body. In the Phantom Kung-fu system you divide the opponent’s attack into its smallest components. You analyze the structure and movement of the body and the dynamics of the opponent’s attention, second to second, tenth of a second to tenth of a second.

This requires an extreme familiarity with proper body mechanics and alignment. It requires being able to sense the dynamics of the opponent’s attention and how each of his body parts would be able to respond to any action on your part. It requires that your sense of time is expanded so that one second seems like a long time to you and you can move and adjust easily within one second or even a small fraction of a second. It requires that your own attention is not just pulled by the opponent’s actions but is independent.

Phantom Kung-fu requires three years of preliminary training, including learning Tai-chi forms and Push Hands as well as the Zookinesis exercises, so that your mind and body can be conditioned to function in this way. Since most potential martial arts students want to fight from the very beginning, this eliminates those students from participating. They are welcome to join the classes but usually choose not to or drop out quickly when they learn they will not be fighting for at least three years.

The divide and conquer strategy means that you view the opponent, not as one big person, but as a combination of many body parts and behaviors. You can perceive which part or which behavior is central to any particular movement and strike the root of that movement. In Tai-chi it is called, “Striking the root”. The root of a punch may be the shoulder or it may be a hip. You strike whatever destabilizes the opponent the most, both physically and mentally. In other words, you go right to the root of the problem and don’t focus on the end result (the fist or foot).

As a strike comes in, we often slap the top of the incoming wrist because that tends to break the strike and we don’t need to move much to get out of the way. A tiny slap to the top of the wrist allows us to strike the opponent at the same time as we are defending. Both actions take place at once. In fact we use the least motion possible to cause the desired effect. Striking the root requires less movement than blocking the end result.

If our actions are small enough, people watching won’t notice any movement on our part. This is because the opponent’s movements are usually so extreme that ours seem non-existent in comparison. The opponent seems to be magically defeated with no apparent effort on our part.

Yet there is a lot of effort in terms of concentration. Our attention must be very active to assess every little action and behavior of the opponent and to be aware of every little part of our own body so that each part is ready to respond. The more internal activity in terms of the dynamics of attention, the less physical movement is needed.

This is true in life in general. The more we are aware of what is going on around us, the sooner we can respond to situations. We deal with a situation at its root. We don’t let things drag on and hope they will go away. This creates a very powerful way of life. It is not aggressive in a negative sense. We just deal with each situation as it comes up. The sooner we deal with it, the more choices we have and the nicer we can be about it.

When we observe the details about a situation, we can avoid another problem. There is a tendency to label the situation. When we call it a name then we respond to it in a programmed way – a way we are used to and comfortable with. When we examine it more closely and learn about its component parts, we find each situation is different and we can be and need to be more creative in how to respond it.

In Phantom Kung-fu we create our techniques each moment anew. We do not use a pre-set series of responses. Every moment is different. We cannot let ourselves get caught up into a pre-conceived idea of what is going on or we will miss what is really going on. Let go of your pre-conceived ideas and just observe. Observe the opponent and observe your own behavior. Look for programmed behaviors in both. Take advantage of those in the opponent and drop those inside you like a “hot potato”. If you are observant and creative each moment then you won’t miss anything. Your responses will be more appropriate to what is really going on and therefore will be more effective.

Some people focus in on their problems and others on their self-image. There is often a central focus in our lives that everything else revolves around. It is the central reference point for our lives. Yet we rarely examine it. In Zookinesis, the central focus is attention and creativity. Attention and creativity don’t have any fixed form. We humans tend to want a fixed structure as our central focus and therefore we ourselves become fixed. Those first three years of training are designed to soften that fixed state of the body and mind. This allows you to see life itself as kaleidoscope of interacting forces and to respond to it in that way. It allows you to perceive the fullness of your life and to allow creativity to flow through you. This is a joyful way to be. In this way, Phantom Kung-fu not only teaches you to protect yourself but to experience life more fully.

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