Pai Lum Tao’s Ghost Techniques
Hard. Fast. Penetrating. These are the traits of Pai Lum's amazing ghost techniques.
by Glenn C. Wilson
To move like the wind; cannot be seen, soundless noise, speed of lightning, thunderous explosion. This is the deadly story of Pai lum tao's ghost techniques.
This advanced fighting method comes to those who can prove their mettle in training. Considered some of the most-advanced techniques in martial arts, ghost techniques show you how to move like the wind - smooth, fluid and powerful.
To "move in the nei" and "strike in the wei". All Pai lum tao practitioners learn this formula early in their training. One's body must move effortlessly in the nei or "soft and smooth" with a whipping in the torso area. Then at impact the utensil being used to strike transforms into the wei or a "hard, powerful, explosive and penetrating technique."
A Formula For Success
This formula is at the nucleus of Pai lum's ghost techniques. The term "ghost" gets its name from the nature of the movements and the appearance of the technician's evasive, turning, rotating and slipping-type actions that float past the attack and explode into a barrage of counter-attacks which seemingly come from nowhere. This is the nature of the ghost or "invisible strikes."
The student should master seven aspects of training: timing, angle, depth, speed, rhythm, power and action. These seven features are emphasized early in the training process. A student will train in all seven at one time, receiving small doses of each systematically. The time spent in each section may vary because of the individual needs of a student.
Timing - The timing of one's action or reaction is vital to the successful encounter. As taught in Chen training, the eyes are the windows to the mind. The mind must be developed to a total awareness, taking in everything around you. You cannot cultivate your training until you can read the forces around you.
Pai lum tao teaches a practitioner to be "one with his surroundings", thus becoming invisible. Then if a surprise attack takes place, one's natural flow will take place and the counter will be a natural process. "Chen" training teaches us to always be aware, alter, perceptive and natural. This is where timing training beings.
Angle - Angles create the proper positioning to assure maximum accuracy at the time your motion begins. Angles are equally important to the offensive attacker as it is to the defensive action.
A Pai lum tao practitioner will spend many hours of floorwork, two-man and multiple-person exercises to truly begin to master angles. The first angle is the 45-degree angle. This 45-degree angle starts at a single center point and shoots out in all directions. This is known as the "shark's path" and creates an eight-point directional flow for the practitioner. Mastering the 45-degree drills is essential to the practice of ghost techniques.
With proper angle, traveling down the natural path one's energy is multiplied. When using power angles you can immobilize the attacker by altering his attack at will.
The explosion of movement down the shark's path is multiplied by five - body, left arm, right arm, left leg and right leg. A flurry of thrusts can be delivered from a multitude of angles creating "invisible strikes."
Depth - Depth in the practice of Pai lum tao is pure penetration utilizing cuts through the designated target area. Once a practitioner has executed thousands of punches, he is ready for the cutting series. Depth penetration will dislodge the attacker's balance and disrupt his attack. With thunderous power the practitioner will penetrate through the depth of the target.
The depth is also challenged by "white dragon" waist whipping. Whether in a stationary or transitional stance, the horizontal whipping action can triple striking power while adding depth to the technique. Once again, it is a matter of moving in the nei and striking with the wei.
Speed - The stories told of Pai lum tao all include lightning hand techniques or blinding power thrusts. A student is taught to develop a union between the body and mind. When the mind is relaxed, one can begin a form of mobile meditation while preparing for an encounter. This type of mindset prepares the practitioner to practice thousands upon thousands of thrusts. As the interaction of mind and body grows, the physical thrust of technique moves in harmony with the mind's signals, creating a lightning-fast technique.
Through the manipulation of the body's vital points, a practitioner will regulate his bone, muscle, nerves and circulation. Once tension is gone, you will be able to throw faster, more systematic strikes for a longer time without suffering fatigue.
Rhythm - Rhythm in Pai lum tao is the natural result of heart-felt practice. Much of the motions are derived from the actions of nature's elements and animals.
Different rhythms at different times are required. The virtues of the nine animals are taught in Pai lum tao: They include: dragon, tiger, crane, leopard, snake, monkey, praying mantis, white ape and shark. Each animal maintains its own rhythm of motion. This is coupled with the five elements - earth, fire, wood, metal and water.
The "ghost technician" knows when to use which animal/element and how to transcend from one animal to the next.
Power - Power is developed and magnified through the teachings of "combined force." In Pai lum tao it is believed that force drives the technique. Combined force is a true marriage of motion. A continuous force traveling in a single direction hits head-on with its counterpart. Its compared reaction is to magnify the effect of the previous thrust. These thrusts will come in a flurry of penetrating strikes combining both linear and circular theories.
Penetration is a key to one's power development. The mind will think through the target, then the thrust will be powered in with the blending of physical action and chi flow.
In Pai lum tao it is believed that the power is generated at the root and travels up, is regenerated in the waist whipping and is expelled out the technique. Power must be cultivated through the unity of physical movement and breath control.
After the practitioner has mysteriously slipped by the attack, a barrage of explosive techniques will be targeted at the unsuspecting attacker. The ghost techniques teach the coalition between lightning and thunder.
Action - Action is one of the most important features found in the ghost techniques of Pai lum tao. These actions are practiced relentlessly between training partners. The offensive actions become intertwined with the defensive motions. One of the many benefits to two-man training is the development of accurate judgment. the various techniques practiced become a synchronized ballet. Action sharpens one's strategy. And the balance of yin and yang theories augment the action. A harmonious attitude develops within the student, resulting in a sense of respect, reverence, and control.
Ghost techniques must be practiced in true harmony. For this reason many students do not develop their senses to the level required by this secretive training. Some may master the first level; however, very few experience the end of the third stage and mastery of the seven features.
It is not the physical demands at this level that take their toll as much as the mental and spiritual requirements. Dr. Daniel Kane Pai often said spirituality often separated the good from the potentially great martial artist.
Ghost techniques follow the same developmental chart as its mother style - Pai lum tao. A student begins with physical training and then moves to mental development and finally spiritual enhancement. Through the proper tutelage of Pai lum's ghost techniques, one learns the formula for intertwining the physical, mental and spiritual.