W.C.W. MORE THAN TEA

The reference to “More than Tea” comes from a story I was told about the Japanese Tea Master Furuta Oribe, student of the Great Tea Master Sen Rikyu, when asked to describe his thinking on the Tea Ceremony he said,

Japanische-Teezeremonie-München-DSC_7046

“Before I studied the The Way of Tea { The  Tea Ceremony}, Tea was just Tea.

As I became involved in the The Way of Tea, Tea became much more than Tea.

But once I understood the The Way of Tea,  Tea was once again just Tea.”

I have reached a point where Wing Chun is a simple and straight forward Martial Art, easy to understand and easy to do, it is now “Just Tea”, but it was not that long ago when like everyone else I did not quite get it, it was “More than Tea”, I can look back and see that what I know now I knew 15 years ago, I just thought that there must be more to come so kept looking instead of simply trying to understand what my Sifu had already given me, these days I truly believe that all of us can learn all there is to know in around 7 years, depending of course on how much time we can invest and how deeply we dig, but even an everyman should get there in no more than 12.

In saying this I cannot overlook that it took me 20 years to turn the light on.

This Blog is part of my journey to understand why that happened, why it took so long.     And secondly it provides a Library of sorts for my Students who work with me on my slightly idiosyncratic way of teaching Wing Chun, hopefully helping them to be able to put a wider understanding to what I say during our training.

At the beginning of Wing Chun we get overwhelmed by the amount of movements in the Forms, 118 in each of the first 4 Forms. however once we get over the initial rush of information we see that the moves are repeated on the left and right side so there are really only 59 moves done on each side. As we become more comfortable in our training, when Tea moves towards becoming just Tea once again, we notice that some moves are the same thing going upwards and downwards splitting the number in half again, soon we start connecting the dots until we understand that there is in reality only 1 movement in Wing Chun, and that everything we do is this movement performed at different angles and in different directions with different intentions.

In keeping with the Genesis story of Wing Chun the movement is the flapping of a Cranes wing.

It is the inherent difficulty in explaining very simple things that leads us to extrapolate and end up with something that is much more than Tea.

Time and time again we are confronted by Frame of Reference issues that require us to suspend our normal way of describing the world around us, for instance if you ask someone what direction does a clock move in they would answer Clockwise or Anti Clockwise, but Clockwise is not a direction, North, East, West , South and their intermediates are directions, Clockwise is just a description, like Wobbly.

If we used the Sun as our Frame of Reference the whole idea of up and down would change as the Earth rotated.

As Humans we instinctively use our position in the world around us as our Frame of Reference, but this does not always work in Wing Chun were we are more concerned with Vectors than Body parts, we get confused between using our external position as a Frame of Reference and our internal position as a Frame of Reference, most students when asked to drop their elbow take it backwards {in this Universe everything drops downwards, it is called Gravity}, in the First Form it takes a student many years before the side slash is actually done sideways, it is usually a move that has its energy going backwards.

Force, or energy if you prefer must always travel down the Arm from the Shoulder, if the Arm is pointing upwards the energy still travels DOWN the Arm, if the Arms are horizontal the energy still travels DOWN the Arm, this goes against our spatial understanding that uses the planet as our main Frame of Reference.  Even more confusing is when you ask a Student to hold their Arms parallel to the floor for a period of time they struggle because they tend to hold their Arms UP instead of holding their Arms OUT, which is what you would be doing if you allowed the energy to travel DOWN the Arm in any position.

When we act out any of the Forms we should be more involved in creating one single explanation for what it is we are doing instead off worrying about accuracy or correctness, the only way possible to  move our Arm is to rotate our Shoulder, the multitudes of possible Arm movements are the product of a single action, a Shoulder rotation, rotations do not have directions because like any circular movement it is rotating in all directions at the same time, when one aspect of this rotation is travelling up wards the opposite side is travelling downwards, and so it is with every direction, I am sure you get the idea. We make a choice of where to place our awareness of this rotation,  but then it becomes the direction of a single point and not the unit as a whole.  In Chi Sau we envisage a spinning Ball, there are points on that Ball travelling in every direction conceivable so by extension they could simultaneously go to every corner of the Galaxy let alone out towards your partners centre, the Arc your Elbow point travels on is never going towards your partner, only one of millions of possible tangential extensions can do that.

Do we really think that just one of millions of possible tangents happening at the same time from the same source by the same mechanics supersedes the rest?

Well yes we do but are we paying attention to the right tangent?

As we know all force is a straight line, a tangent coming off a circular movement that is it self a result of inertia.

Wing Chun is about observing and understanding tangents and not about creating circles, all straight lines are the same, people use various value systems such as length and direction to separate them but they are still all the same, circles are how we create the tangent, focusing on how to make circles is…

“MORE THAN TEA”.

WHAT TYPE OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
WHAT TYPE OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?

W.C.W. MULTI VECTORS

MULTI VECTORS.  MULTI DERECTIONAL FORCE.

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A Force may be thought of as a push or pull in a specific direction. A force is a vector quantity so a force has both a magnitude and a direction

Multi – Vectors are Forces coming from different directions, in fact different forces coming from different directions, this is basic knowledge for most Wing Chun Students but it is very easily misconstrued, especially in the beginning of training and if it is not rectified this misunderstanding permeates all of the training and leads it astray, that why some students Chi Sau is like being in a Washing Machine bashing you left then right, when you roll with someone who has real skill you can never feel what they are doing.

It is is a basic misconception that force is a LINE, force is just force, it can be a Line, a Point or a Plane, allowing ourselves to perceive it as simply a line paints us into a corner, for instance when performing a Boing Sau if your Wrist, your Elbow and your Body are all converging on the same point, say your partners Centre, then you are using three actions but creating only one Vector acting on a Plane.

When a wind is blowing down your street it is not travelling in a Line, that is why when a Westerly is approaching we refer to Storm Fronts.

If we consider Dai Sau in the S.L.T. if done correctly the Elbow and Wrist are never travelling in the same direction, the Wrist is travelling upwards while the Elbow is travelling forward.

Chum Kiu brings in the extra Vectors of Body rotation, so when we do this same move with the pivot the Hip is actually moving in the opposite direction to the Elbow and perpendicular to the Wrist.

When Students first begin Chum Kiu they tend to try to move their Hips toward their partner { usually because they are thinking about the wrong Hip},  this simply puts that movement on the same vector as the arm and defeats the purpose.

To be completely effective all Vectors want to be going in noticeably different directions.

The most effective results come from Vectors working at 90 degrees to each other, such as implementing the side step from Chum Kiu while presenting Tarn Sau forwards, 90 degrees perpendicular on the Horizontal or Dai Sau upwards which is 90 degrees perpendicular on the vertical.

I have instructed hundreds of Students in Chum Kiu, even some that have been at this level for years and while many talk the talk very few follow through with competency.

The thing to look for in your training, and even more so in your thinking is if your Hip is travelling on a similar Vector to your Elbow,  if you believe that the Hip Vector is utilised for power then you are moving in the wrong direction.  Hip rotation will increase power, but that is not its function or intention.

To sum up all Vectors must be independent, unconnected, moving in different directions or there will be a tendency for them to merge into a plane of Force travelling in one direction.

Confusion sets in once we start talking about circular force, all force is a straight line so it is absolutely impossible for your Elbow and Wrist to travel to the same target, if we use the sketch below, if A is the Elbow, B is the Wrist and C is the target, to achieve the end A is moved to B, and the result is B moves to C, the direction of the movement of A to B, is perpendicular to B to C, all straight line force is a tangent from a moving circle.

sketchy-hands-making-a-circle

This is a tricky subject to write about, or to read about for that matter but if we wish to maximise our force transfer we cannot start thinking that we are in any way different from planets moving through space, it is an anchor { in the case of the Planets the anchor is the systems Suns Gravity} that relentlessly breaks the inertia of the object to describe an arc or orbit, the force is always a straight line of force, at least directionally, as I mentioned at the beginning force can also be a point or a plane.  The beauty is that there is an absolute wealth of information available regarding inertia, even rocket science, and we can learn from it.

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU....
WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU….

W.C.W. IF IT LOOKS LIKE A DUCK.

If it looks like a Duck, and quacks like a Duck chances are it is a Duck.

Two-mandarin-ducks-fighting-on-the-water-01

I have a new recruit, a young Uni. Student that has zero experience with violence {lucky Man} he recently asked me to check out a web site for a different style which turned out to be a hybrid of Wing Chun and Muay Thai, this is not a dig at someone else’s choice of style or even their perceived ability, the guys in the demo where obviously well skilled and had obviously trained long and well but it looked a lot more like a mix between Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jason Bourne than a serious Martial Art that could work on the street.

People take up Martial Arts for many reasons, Horses for Courses.

A lot of people teach Martial Arts a business, and Bullshit sells better than truth.

Followers of this Blog will know that I believe most Wing Chun players do not move anywhere near enough or even well enough, but there does become a point where excessive movement just become Dancing.

I grew up in a violent area of the U.K. and I have been involved in surprisingly large amount of fights, a typical away game with Liverpool F.C. could see you in 3 fights at least, one on the way to the match, one at the match and one on the way home, all on the same day, especially if it was away to one of the London Clubs, I have been involved in dozens upon dozens of altercations and none of them were neat, they were all messy, fighting is messy, so if your Martial Art of choice looks like a Martial Ballet then it more than likely is just dancing.

When you see demonstrations of these sort it is so obvious that the performer is calling all the shots, it is choreographed to the max, my concern is that if it was a genuine fight then it would be the performer that was the attacker, I am not trying to say that there is anything wrong with just attacking people but how do these things work when you have been surprised or just flat out attacked, they do not.

Only in the Movies can a person turn around a bad situation to their advantage and still look like graceful Crane.

Any time I see a style that is using multiple Elbow or Knee strikes my Bullshit Radar goes off big time, if you are close enough to use an Elbow the other guy is close enough to put his fist straight through your face, the same goes with knee strikes to a large extent.

These ideas work in competition Muay Thai because both guys put themselves in that position willingly. It is part of what completion fighting is, a Toe to Toe match up.

If you have a half decent skill set why on earth are you not taking him out at the first opportunity, which would be kicking or punching, why step into enemy territory to use an Elbow or a Knee?  If you are the person being attacked where do you get the chance to use such close in techniques?

Styles like Wing Tai, Capoera and Keysi are modern day equivalents of the Wushu that was used in the Beijing opera Schools, they look as if they would be awesome, quick, mobile, short sharp and poetic, but if any strike is slow enough  or wide enough to be seen and appreciated by the watching public it will be stopped, or more than likely you will be hit as it comes in.

As impressive as it is to watch a guy pirouetting and landing dozens of non stop Elbows, Knees and Hand Strikes in a real fight it is difficult to land more than 2 or 3 blows before the other guy, or yourself moves out of the way or is knocked over.

Forget the dancing, watch this for inspiration.

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Will beats skill, aggression beats style.

 

WHAT TYPE OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
WHAT TYPE OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?

W.C.W. Using Chi Sau to find position.

THE ONLY WRONG MOVE IS …..

Its just a step to the left.
Its just a step to the left.

Chi Sau is such an integral part of our work that it makes sense to use it to find how to manipulate our position or the position our opponent, and of course then take those ideas forward into more typical free play scenarios.

Below are a couple of exercises to get started with but as always find a way to incorporate your familiar methods, ultimately there comes a time in our training where we understand that there is really only one move in all of  Wing Chun so all options are equal.

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Working on positioning through Chi Sau from WC INCa’s on Vimeo.

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Chi Sau IS Chum Kiu, Bridges have been sought out and built, keeping this in mind can help illuminate both the Chum Kiu Form and the practice of Chi Sau, all of our movement is an expansion of the “IDEA” through the Form progression, if the Mok Jang Jong could move practising it would look and feel like Chum Kiu / Biu Gee Chi Sau, the majority of the moves in the Baart Cham Do are Biu Gee Arms with Half Moon Stepping.

THE ONLY WRONG MOVE  IS …………….  TO NOT MOVE.

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU….

 

 

FEATHER RUFFLING TIME:

PUNCHES END THINGS

 

Lets Ruffle some Feathers.
Lets Ruffle some Feathers.

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If we get into trouble we want to get out of it as quickly as possible, if we get into a fight we want to win it, this is patently obvious.

We achieve these results by moving well and hitting hard.

You don’t, won’t and never will achieve this through defence.

Chi Sau is Defence, most Structure work is defence.

This is is the paradox within Traditional Martial Arts, T.M.A, training that focusses the majority of its time on using structure to resolve incoming force, it teaches defence.

If we look at most Wing Chun Videos, including my own, we see a collection of Cut downs, Pak Saus, Garn Saus even Holy Cows performed against resistance from a Big Burly Bloke, what are these Vids teaching?

My explanation to my own Students is that we are trying to teach them to trust themselves, trust their FRAME based on the fact that if nothing else, they can stop the Bad Guy hitting them no matter how big he is, and hopefully they will be upright long enough to fight back, even while I explain to them that no one defends in a Street Fight.

What most T.M.A are not teaching is how to end what is going on.

In your own training how much time do you spend on developing your Striking, especially your Punching?

What is the Ratio?

Punching 5 : 1 or is it more like Other Things 5 : 1.

Punching ends fights, hopefully for you, defending stops the other guy ending the fight, basically it keeps the fight going.

Q:   If you are drowning does your chance of survival increase the longer you stay in the water?

Something that I am quite critical about with Modern Day Wing Chun is that so often the rhetoric is not justified by the training.

Wing Chun talks up devastating power, the “One Inch Punch” but its approach to striking, especially punching is extremely naive, basic concepts are fine for beginners but why maintain them once the lesson has been absorbed, where is the expansion and refinement? The shape and action of the Sun Punch from the First Form is an introduction to the CONCEPT of Punching, and not as it has become to the majority of Wing Chun Students the METHOD of Punching.   The act of trying to punch down a line from your Sternum contracts your upper Arm into your Shoulder and creates tension in the Pectoral muscles negating maximum power and weight transfer.

Punching down that Sternum Centre Line is DEAD WRONG, there are 3 sides to a right angled triangle, the adjacent side, the opposite side and the hypotenuse, the Sternum Central Line is the ‘opposite side’, to effectively transfer power you need to expand down the ‘hypotenuse’.

Very few Students hang around long enough to study Bill Gee, as a result many get the fanciful idea that you can Punch without using maximum effort, attack with softness, { in YODA’s voice} “much amusement from this one is received”.   Instructors may amaze or inspire you with soft little pokes that jolt you on your feet, but will that really work?    It is quite astonishing how much punishment the Human Body can endure and the Human Mind ignore, think State of Origin.

Attacking with softness will not cut it.

I was trained for many years by one of the very best Wing Chun Masters on the Planet, after about 12 years diligent training I was introduced to Punching Mechanics that I had been shown as a 9 year old Junior in my Boxing Club.

There is no doubt that my Sifu could punch with great power, but very few of his students could replicate him, the correct approach to the work of punching was not there, if we were lucky Sifu would give us a snippet of advice that would lead us forward, a reward for being a diligent student, but it was more luck than planning, if we did not get it at that time we had missed our chance to expand our knowledge, meanwhile at my Boxing Gym all of the well trained guys had a punch like a falling fridge.

Punches END things.

After almost 25 years in the Wing Chun Community I find it really distressing that the vast majority of Wing Chun Students,pretty much everyone that has trained for less than 10 years, cannot Punch effectively, not on the move and under pressure at any rate, even sadder is the fact that they think they can.

Most people try to Punch too fast, too hard and too often, I have hit people, they move in unpredictable ways once hit hard, landing effective multiple punches on the same target is a fantasy unless the guy keeps walking into you, just like your partner in training, just like Oliver Twist he stands there asking for more.

But it is not just Wing Chun, it is all T.M.A. Too much defence, 1 or 2 good punching mechanics and practically no instruction of how to bring about the environment to land your Punch when the other guy does not want to be hit.

And absolutely no instruction on how to Punch from the wrong position, everything is about being in the right position.

Real fights do not have “right positions”.

In theory Wing Chun and many other Southern Fists use just 1 defence and then step in and deliver a multitude of attacks finishing it off there and then, I have had a good few fights, and since my early teenage years I have had the ability to hit really hard but very few situations turned out to be one defence and then goodnight Irene, landing a solid Punch is as much to do with the other Guy being in the wrong place as it has to do with you being in the right place, I have knocked guys out cold in the Street, but never with the first Punch.

Unless it was a Sucker Punch.

T.M.A training, Wing Chun included, tends to be about building confidence, and there is nothing wrong with that, but this is just FEAR MANAGEMENT, and by pretending that what your doing is a viable Martial Art that will work against a nasty human the way that it is taught in the Training Hall is doing nothing to get past that FEAR because deep down everyone knows it is improbable, in many ways it is embedding FEAR into the Psyche and eroding any confidence that has been built up.

Knowing that you can hit people and really hurt them builds a great deal more confidence than knowing you can perform a Cut down on  Big Dave the Power Lifter.

To be really effective 60% of our training should be Punching, or at least Striking but Punching is the ‘go to’ tool in a street fight, after all if someone is a true believer of the Art then they are going to use simultaneous Attack and Defence and launch into Continuos Punching, 1 defence then multiple attacks { if you need to hit someone 6 times then the first 5 sucked}, I realise that very few part time Martial Artists have the patience or focus to do this, I realise that to most people that do Wing Chun it is just a hobby, but if somewhere in the corner of your mind you hope to use your training if you get in trouble then your training needs to be around 40% Punching and 60% other stuff.

And your training motto should be “Lights out MOFO, I am not playing”.

Well thats my opinion at any rate.

WHAT KIND OF DAY WAS IT FOR HIM….