Note: key to this class is the material learned in Class 7: Drop Stance - click here to review it if you need a refresher.
Sweeps are another basic leg skill in Shaolin Kung Fu, used for tripping and toppling the opponent as well as being used in some cases as a setup for strikes. Today’s class covers two common sweeps; the front sweep and the back sweep.
Training these sweeps lays the foundation for further study in Shaolin Kung Fu in areas such as forms and Sanda, where they are trained in conjunction with other movements to form combinations. This will frequently come in the form of an attack to the upper body, off balancing the opponent and occupying their attention, followed by a sweep to the legs which causes the opponent to lose their footing and fall to the floor. The sweep is also a useful counter against high kicks, particularly when fighting a taller opponent.
In addition to their value in combat application, sweeps training also promotes the following:
Directional awareness - the spinning motion of the sweeps requires the practitioner to remain spatially aware and be able to judge distance and direction accurately whilst rotating.
Balance - with the body weight on one leg during the sweep as the practitioner turns 360 degrees, the sweep trains the body’s ability to readjust and maintain balance whilst in motion.
Stretching and opening the meridians - as with Drop Stance training, sweeps training helps to open the meridians on the inner thigh, namely the liver meridian (helping to regulate emotions, low mood and anxiety), the spleen meridian (enhancing human Qi and blood and improving circulation) and the kidney meridian (maintaining the health of the body by filtering impurities and disposing of metabolites).
For this class, make sure you have enough space around you to execute the sweeps before beginning. Start by running slowly through the steps movement by movement, building them into your muscle memory before attempting them at full speed. When it comes time to execute the sweep, feel free to adjust the movement according to your abilities; for example, if you are older or struggle with the flexibility needed for the low sweep position, try performing the movement from a higher angle whilst maintaining the proper posture and technique as described in the video.
Once you can perform the sweep, try following the below plan:
10 Front Sweeps
10 Back Sweeps
Then rest and repeat if desired. Good luck!