The Northern Dragon system of kung fu is not unlike other styles in the area of basics, however, it is in this area that Northern Dragon is unique. Northern Dragon uses our basics in three "Bridges", that being, the Long Bridge, the Short Bridge and the Inch Bridge. Bridges are similar to Zones of which Northern Dragon uses five, they are; Neutral, Long, Short, Na (joint locking) and Shuai (throws).
All five of these zones require perfection in the Five Area's of Basics which are; Stances, Stepping Patterns, Blocks, Strikes and Kicks. If you are defending against an attack it can happen in many ways such as, one on one, multiple opponents, armed attacks, grabbing to name a few. Also, you need to consider your surroundings, what if you are attacked at night, or in an elevator, what about stairs?
Some systems are already limited like Judo, it has throws but mainly deals with single opponents in the Na Zone. They do not deal with effectively with multiple opponents, it requires space to execute the throws, there are no joint locking techniques and so on; it's not a complete martial art, it's more of a martial sport. Any style that has sparring rules, a "ring", a referee, time limits, single opponents, no strike areas and so on, these "style" would be more of a martial sport and not effective on the street.
In Northern Dragon we spend a lot of time perfecting the basics. It's not always easy, depending on what age a student is we are sometimes faced with a young student who might not have the full endurance to practice effectively or maybe they are not flexible. Or, the student could be older and dealing with structure related problems like arthritis or disc related injuries. Even though the ages are different both will "practice" in their own ways, many times this is where the mistakes in training come from.
In the training hall, the student is learning from their instructor. They are taught how the movement is supposed to go, and then they practice. This way enforces their Visual, Auditory, and Tactile skills they need to remember what they saw, what they heard, and what they felt in that technique when they learned it from their instructor. Then, when they practice at home these skills are reinforced and should carry them into their next class. We as teachers we will not always be there correcting the skills the student has learned; and this can be frustrating.
The student must remember the steps of the skill. This is the way it was instructed to them, we do not want the student to just listen to what we say and do it, they must internalize the teaching so they can remember how it is done so their workouts sessions away from the school are done correctly or at least maybe they will feel that the technique is not right, something just does not feel correct and they will remember to ask during their review of skills session in class and ask their instructor.
Your practice must be as close to perfect as it can be. It is when a mistakes happens in ones technique, that the student is not correcting that creates the problems and the frustration with ones motivation. In the Five Area's of Basics the student learns how their base technique is to be done, then when they are working on others skills they will notice how these basic combine to form a related skill. Take a Horse Form as an example, once you learn your basic Stances they combine into a related skill when you are learning a Horse Form. Horse Form's are just different combinations of the Stances, which the student already knows.
Of Course some skills are difficult and some are easy, usually even this area is not that difficult to understand, easy skill's come first, then slightly harder ones and later more difficult ones. Just like in school, we all started in kindergarten and progressed from there. You know yourself so you know that some things are easy to do and over time you might not put the proper effort in doing that skill with the same determination as when you first did it, and that's when the mistakes come in. Kung fu means "time, skill, ability, hard work and effort" every time you practice you must practice this way with the right determination to master the skill.
You might notice that the harder skills are usually done correct and this is because of the concentration you put into that skill, it was a little harder for you to do it so you worked harder at it. Have you noticed that your more advanced forms are usually right and you beginning forms are where all the technical errors are? Just remember that everything you do must be done with the same level of perfection, concentrate on the Five Area's of Basics, everything after those skills are just different combinations, keep this thought with you; There are no advanced skills, just different combinations of the basics. Practice does not always make perfect, only perfect practice makes practice perfect!