BAK MEI PHILOSOPHY
Prepared by Michael Chu with information provided by Grandmaster Yip Chi Sum and Master Wilkie Wu
Have mercy and have restraint
When you need to fight, show no mercy
YIN AND YANG -
DEFENCE AND OFFENCE
Traditional Chinese kung fu styles are normally classified under internal (yin) or external (yang) styles. They range from internal Taiji forms where yin is used to absorb and redirect attacks in a defensive manner to more external forms, where immense yang power is channelled externally to deflect attacks and deliver deadly single blows.
Bak Mei is a style in between: it is classified both internal and external. Defence and offence moves are combined in most forms. A strong but mobile foundation is essential, thus the horse stance is a unique triangular shape that is both stable and agile. Hand movements are quick, light, and short and is meant to act like a whip which snaps with tension at the fullest extent and where all energy is released at a single point before snapping back. Little physical energy is used. These movements are intended to be able to deliver multiple, successive, explosive strikes at increasingly close range in the event the previous strike does not fell the opponent. Attacks are directed at sensitive areas such as ears, eyes, throat, underarms, sides, solar plexus, and groin. Kicks are low and very rarely go above the groin level.
Various parts of the body work harmoniously in each movement. Speed and power are harnessed from geng jat ging (驚紮勁), the explosiveness motion of instinctive reflexes such as when one feels a hand on a hot stove. From the foundation in the feet, energy from the base travels up the legs, hips, waist, and arms through a spiralling vortex action (旋轉力) that channels the whole body's power to the point of impact.
"Spirits pass us secrets of dragon, snake, and crane
Masters teach the forms of the tiger and panther"
Dragon, snake, tiger, panther, and crane are the five animals which essences are combined in the core forms of Bak Mei. The dragon coils with power; the snake attacks weak spots with accuracy; the prowling tiger lashes out with powerful strikes; the stealthy panther pounces with lightning-quick reflexes; and the crane's pointed beak strikes hard at weak, soft spots.
Bak Mei depends on the application of a number of different physics to accomplish its objective that encompasses three forms (三形), four standards (四标), six powers (六劲), eight postures (八式).
They include using mass (質量), acceleration (加速), the forces of pushing (推) and pulling (拉), as well as elevating (升), sinking (沉), grounding (沉, and centrifugal/centripetal forces (旋渦) for purposes of attacking, retreating, stabilizing, deflection and immediate counterattack. The key to the application of explosive power in Bak Mei lies not just in bones or muscles, but in the arrangement of angles, postures, and timing of the movements of tendons, ligaments, bones, muscles, mind, and qi for maximum speed and power. This is known as jing ging (整勁), or complete power.
Over many decades, numerous forms were "borrowed" into Bak Mei, combining those forms with core Bak Mei principles and making it into what may be considered a mixed martial art. While there are many variations, it is the the core essence of the generation and application of explosive power that makes it Bak Mei.