Me personally I am a great believer in using training equipment like the focus pads or kicking shields to help enhance the student of Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu to develop and grow their confidence and fighting skill in being able to issue accurate, powerful strikes and kicks at a fast moving target or opponent. Obviously if one is to employ training equipment like the focus pads that they do not turn Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu into another kick boxing type martial were the student has to wear boxing gloves this type of attitude is the wrong way to use the focus pads. In actual fact the use of the focus pads should enhance the students ability to use and express their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu by not wearing any type of protective guards or gloves. But should learn to use the fingers, palms, fists, forearms and elbows to strike with as normal, they should stay true to the style and not change it to boxing or kick boxing.
Learning to use the focus pads or kicking shield allows the student to judge the correct distance to successfully land a typical kick like the foot pattern 4, spinning side kick. Because if you cannot hit the focus pad, chances are you will not be able to hit your opponent or attacker. Another benefit of using training equipment is that it also teaches the student to make the correct contact using the heel of the palm for example, simply performing strikes into the air might help with your co-ordination, but it does not teach you how to issue your power out through the correct part of the hand, plus it does not teach you how to change the angle of palm strike to hit various areas of your attackers body, another example is when a student delivers a palm strike to hit the opponents chin most students will deliver the palm strike with the fingers pointing upwards, once they try and apply this same palm strike on the focus pad they soon realise that their fingers will get in the way and could be bent backwards issuing less force into the opponent,. Whereas, if they slightly change the angle of their palm and fingers to the side they will be able to hit more with the heel of the palm issuing greater power and damage this can only be learnt by striking against a punch bag or focus pads.
There is a stupid attitude within some schools of the Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu who simply think that practicing the Poison Hand Striking Methods (Du Shou Fa) into the air will be enough for them to successfully stop a much bigger opponent. Until they actually strike against a striking surface like a punch bag or the focus pads will they actually know how weak or strong their strikes are. Simply striking into the air does not develop great confidence in a student to stop an aggressive opponent, but teaching them to use the same striking combinations that they learn and practice within the Poison Hand Striking Sets on the focus pads will teach them more about learning how to deliver a much more heavier strike combination that could stop a much bigger opponent, plus teaching them how to judge the distance between themselves and their opponent and to use the correct type of striking or kicking tool to issue their power (Fa Li) into their opponent.
As with any other type of Chinese external or internal martial art sooner or later the students will have to learn how to hit against a static or moving striking surface to help them further develop their fighting ability. Simply practicing forms alone are not enough to make your Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu become an effective fighting art where the student can issue powerful strikes and kicks successfully at a moving target. There are some teachers who teach more “Art” than the “Martial” within Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu and sadly their students suffer with a lack confidence and belief in their own abilities to use their Feng Shou Quan-Gongfu practically and effectively.