Chinese Martial Arts Training Camp

Theory of Troika (Da Fa, Gong Fa, and Yan Fa)

A Troika is a sled drawn by three horses which combined with the connecting point on the sled forms a diamond like shape. The center horse faces straight ahead and the two side horses form an equilateral triangle with the sled’s connection point. Used in Russia, this was an extremely efficient way to maintain speed and stability particularly in winter. Chinese martial arts can be compared with this troika. If we divide martial arts into the three categories of Da Fa (fighting techniques) Gong Fa (strength training) and Yan Fa (forms), then the question arises which horse should be placed in the middle.


While many people today would stress forms, Master Tsou will explain why combat or fighting techniques must be the centerpiece of martial arts practice and the middle horse of the troika. Chinese Martial Arts training is holistic in the sense that no individual component can be understood at a high level without the synergy derived from understanding all three components. Thus the man who only trains to fight will limit his skills. The man who relies solely on strength training will not develop fighting skills. Many people who spend all their time learning forms find that they can’t use the knowledge they have gained from the forms when they want to fight. But, a holistic approach can aid us in developing our skills to a higher level.

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