It can be said, that martial arts can be performed under several classifications; Self-defense, Sport/tournament/physical fitness, or Theatrical. Northern Dragon is classified as a self-defense art, it is a complete martial art that utilizes the 6 Tenants; the Four Methods, the Five Areas of Basics, the Five Zones, Weapons, Martial Strategies, and the 11 Aspects of Physical Fitness.
These 6 Tenants describes what a style needs, to be classified as a "martial art". Today the use of the term "martial" is overused. Just because a style has punches and kicks, or even weapons, does not mean that it is "martial" or even effective as self-defense.
A system, time tested and proven, created hundreds of years ago, passed down directly from multiple generations from Teacher to student would be what Traditional, means.
Northern Dragon is based on the mythological dragon. The Chinese dragon was benevolent, the bringer of the rains as was classified under two of the five elements; Earth and Water. A dragon was seen in the air (Upper level), on the Earth (Middle level) and in the Water (Lower level). So, metaphorically speaking, the dragon system has techniques that utilizes skills for the Upper (Shang Shen), Middle (Zhong Shen) and Lower body (Xia Shen). Some styles use techniques in one or two areas, therefore, being less effective in self-defense.
Take a look at the above picture, this picture was taken in the early 1970"s and shows Sifu McCoy demonstrating the Rising Punch as seen in the 1st Hand Set 8th Rotation. However, we usually teach this skill from the Middle level, this picture is demonstrating the same skill but from the Lower level. Also, some of the skills can use a type of lean to the body (Yi Shen).
Two skills that can "lean" are the Wave Punch (Bo Chong) and Rising Punch (Shang Chong), usually these two strikes are performed with the upper body in the standard upright position, but can also be applied by leaning the body forward from the waist; as seen here.
However, the dragon has a flexible body and it's power uses both Soft (Sung) and Hard (Gong) forces and a relaxed type of power or strength in which the technique starts off relaxed and then muscular strength is used by tensing the muscles at the moment of impact these applications flow together as the dragon floats and sinks.
Changing the height of the skill between the Upper, Middle and Lower levels makes the skill look like a dragon floating and sinking, rising and falling as it flies to the clouds and drops down under the waves.
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