Articles

W.C.W. UPDATE

IS WING CHUN REALLY A CONCEPT BASED MARTIAL ART?

 

“students tend to mistake the messenger for the message”.

This post is really a bit of a pointer towards the direction that the thinking in the new Blog will take.

Talk to any Wing Chun student and they will proudly tell you that Wing Chun is a Concept Based Martial Art, asked to expound upon these concepts and usually all you get is them talking about relaxation, trotting out the principles or centreline theory or the like, the thing is Centreline Theory is just that, a theory, I am sure it was originally derived from a concept but itself it is not a concept, the same goes for the principles, they are what they are and again they were more than likely collated from various concepts but they are not concepts, and as for relaxation, everyone talks it but no one does it, if they did they would just be a lump on the floor.

What is a concept, especially in the realm of Wing Chun?

A concept is an abstract thought that through contemplation and development can turn into a realistic even concrete idea.

A concept is not an IDEA itself but should be seen as a living ever expanding breeding ground for IDEAS, once we think of a concept as an IDEA it looses its ability to help us grow as we become engrossed and obsessed with its external physical manifestations.

This is not just my two bobs worth,  in Lao Tszu’s Dao De Ching he says  “the way that can be spoken of is not the true way”, in this example the “WAY” is a concept that can allow us to generate alternate actions or ideas to navigate the fluctuations of everyday life, once we articulate the “WAY” we make it real and it stops being a concept and looses all potential for growth or change.  Through thinking in an abstract manner about the “WAY” learning comes by itself as a reactive rather than proactive principle. 

There is a delicious irony here, I am attempting to write or talk about something that ceases to exist as soon as we articulate it.

Real knowledge is not a bolt of lightning that strikes out of nowhere from a clear blue sky, rather it is a hole in the ground that we fall into when we are not paying attention.

In Wing Chun the Siu Nim Tao translates to something along the lines of “the way of the little idea” and many Wing Chun scholars freely use the term IDEA force or force of IDEA, many of them claim that the Sil Lim Tao is the heart and soul of Wing Chun while at the same time pointing out that Wing Chun is a Concept Based Martial Art.

We cannot have it both ways, Wing Chun is either based around Concepts that are abstract by nature or an IDEA that is concrete and never changing.

In my experience the teachers that claim the IDEA is the concept move on to train and teach it as if it was a set of rules that can never be bent let alone broken.

A point in case, ask for a demonstration of the Wing Chun Punch and what you will get from the majority is the “Sun Punch” coming straight out from the sternum, this is just one Wing Chun Punch  not the only one, and by no stretch of the imagination is it the most effective or most powerful, in Chum Kiu we have a vertical hooking punch and in Biu Gee we have a horizontal hooking punch, and to anyone that really understands Wing Chun there is an outside to inside twisting straight punch from the shoulder that gets confused as a defensive Bong Sau.

The first post of the new blog will be an attempt to identify what the real concepts are and how we have misunderstood them, or as I put it on many an occasion in the previous Blog how “students tend to mistake the messenger for the message”.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; UPDATE TO NEW SITE.

 

PEOPLE WITHOUT QUESTIONS NEVER LOOK FOR ANSWERS.

This page is still getting new visitors and some old visitors have been enquiring when the new edition will be live, what it will cover and why I felt the need to change.

The new improved Wing Chun Sydney is planned to go live on February 1st 2019, this is the 9th anniversary of Wing Chun Sydney so an auspicious date, it also gives me plenty of time to get my format sorted.

Something that I stressed all along in this Blog is that we need a bit of honesty, Wing Chun the way most people train it will not work in a violent situation, in fairness no martial art will, how can you train for something that you know nothing about?

We do not know what future dangers await us, but it is doubtful that as we sit here well into the 21st century ideas from the turn of the 19th to 20th century will fulfil all if any of our needs. It is quite foolish to think that we can expect the unexpected, foolish to pretend that we know the answer before we know the question, foolish to be so partisan about our methods.

The teachers that say there is a specific way to train Wing Chun, that certain shapes are correct and others are not, that certain Forms are more important than others are in all reality offering a very limited and ultimately specific answer that can only be successful when faced with a similar specific problem, the thing is violence is complex, random and very non specific.

We should bite the bullet and ask ourselves could this be why the internet is choka block with videos of Wing Chun masters loosing fights?

If we find ourselves in a violent situation we will not try to use Wing Chun, what we will attempt is to get out of that situation by any means possible, and hopefully some of the ideas we discovered through our training will come to our assistance, it is the best we can hope for, the best anyone can hope for in fact, no matter what style they study.

What will get us out of trouble will not be Sil Lim Tao, Chum Kiu, Biu Gee, Chi Sau or any of the applications that you see people trying to use and getting well and truly seen off when facing aggressive non compliant attackers, it will be the method hidden within these approaches, the work behind the work, the body method that makes it all possible, the same body method that in one form or another has been used by sportsmen and dancers for generations.

No Chi, no Nim Lik, no Magic, no Bull.

Very little of the work will be truly original, very little in real life is, but rather adaptations of sound body mechanics from things like Ice Hokey, Discus Throwing, Shot Putting, Ballet and Tango Dancing that can be applied to our Forms and applications to make them come alive.

With regards to the FORMS I intend to give IDEAS of what to look for when training them so that they transcend being only dance and become the functional exercises they were first imagined as.

I hope to clarify what it means to be a counter attacking martial art and how to reflect this through our practice, including some more realistic suggestions than we have at present for dealing with generic violent situations.

I personally know many people that have trained for 10, 15 even 20 years that would struggle against an average angry street kid, not through any fault of their own but through the outdated and ineffective approaches and teaching methods that have been handed down from long dead Guru’s that in all probability never used their training in anger.

The only person that can teach us Wing Chun is ourselves, my main goal is to create a portal that gives students a new perspective, a fresh way of looking at our training that can take on a life of its own and grow and advance organically, no one else out there can ever help us, living or dead.

I am not trying to identify myself as the guy that has the answers, on the contrary I intend to provoke questions that encourage people to seek their own answers, find their own way.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?

 

Articles

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; UP STUMPS AND OFF TO THE PAVILION.

 

more a passing comment than a conversation

 

I have been writing this blog for more than 10 years in one format or another, and it has been a great journey, I have been able to organise my own thoughts in such a way that I have become a far better instructor than I was previously.

Blogs by their very nature are brief snapshots, in terms of interpersonal communication they are more a passing comment than a conversation, and at this point in my life I feel I have more to offer than just a passing comment.

The fact that the blog is Wing Chun centric created its own problems, there is a lot of great idea’s in Wing Chun, but there is also a great deal of nonsense, sadly it is the nonsense that gets most of the oxygen and the great ideas that get misunderstood.

No matter where one sits in the Wing Chun tent it is first and foremost about violence, from our perspective stopping someone from using violence against us, which of course we accomplish by employing more effective violence of our own, but no one really wants to talk about this.

So much happens before we would use our Wing Chun that never gets so much as a cursory mention in traditional Wing Chun training, but this is the stuff that saves lives, not Tarn Sau – Bong Sau, not Nim Lik, not Dai Gung.

My senior students and I have evolved our training to a state that is both more complex and yet simpler than anything we have done before and it is exploring this that my next foray into Cyberspace will entail, it will still be examined through the lens of Wing Chun, after all it is what I do. 

If you like the way I approach the work and are interested in knowing when the new format comes about simply follow this blog or notify me of your interest I will let you know when we get there, the plan is to post only once a month but with better and deeper content, if you are a follower of this blog you should get automatic notification from WordPress.

 

wingchunsydney@internode.on.net

 

As of this writing I am not planning on sharing the new site to Facebook, no one takes Facebook seriously anymore, it has just become an advertising platform, associating with it makes us all just look like salesmen.

 

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Food for Thought

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN; COMPRESSION.

All intrinsic force is compressive by nature, especially on a planet governed by gravity, our body structure is always being compressed and in a direct result of this compression our body is in a constant state of expansion.

Compression is the default state necessary to perform effective Wing Chun, to achieve compression we have to activate expansion, they are two sides of the same coin, two different ways of explaining the same event and cannot exist without each other.

It is Newtons third law of motion.

Because the words compression and expansion have different meanings it is very difficult to see or treat them as the same event and to experience them simultaneously, it is very difficult to write of talk about them both without slipping into apparent contradiction.

If an outside force pushes us, for instance a partner pushes {compresses} our Tarn Sau with a force of 10 Newtons, theoretically if we do nothing our Tarn Sau automatically responds with a force of 10 Newtons in the opposite direction.

This only happens in an environment or on an object where there is no real movement, in reality as a person here on planet Earth if someone pushes us we get moved, to bring Newtons third law into being we need to introduce stillness, equilibrium, by way of equal and opposite force, this is where the apparent contradictions of everyday Wing Chun come into play.

Do not push.

As a work around to this contradiction some students choose to try to explain what is going on as Chi, Nim Lik or Thought Force but this is a dead end street that once you get to the end there is nothing there to validate what is really happening.

It becomes belief not fact, religion not science.

To understand the simplicity of Wing Chun we must understand compression, understand that compression is a passive force that manifests out of expansion and as such it cannot be developed, activated or improved, in short it cannot be trained, it is intrinsic, it exists in and of itself.

The only thing that we can perhaps control is expansion.

This is mind bending stuff, it is no wonder generations of people with less scientific knowledge explained it using mystical forces.

Nothing in our universe ever puts itself under compression, and if we follow this thinking to its logical ending, keeping in mind that expansion is simply the effect of compression, nothing expands either, this creates immense confusion about forward force, intrinsic energy, chi, nim lik or whatever tag we prefer. 

If we are not responsible for its manifestation how can we train it, improve it, even recognise it?

As always lets use sports as our frame of reference, we explain golf balls travelling 300 meters or more as being the result of rapid expansion from the compression that they where put under by a #1 Wood and yet depending on our personal bias, our frame of reference, think that it is either the ball that is responsible or the Golf Club, and if we put in work to improve it is only on the swing.

Is the Golf Club creating the force, possibly transferring Chi?

Does the Golf Ball posses Nim Lik?

If the answer to either is yes where do we fit in?

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles

WING CHUN WEDNESDY: TRAINING BACKWARDS.

 

It is a confusing, challenging dilemma but it is not insurmountable, understanding that IDEAs do not need specific orientation is the key,

 

WE ARE DOING IT BACKWARDS.

A few of my guys are doing a lot of technical and free sparring at the moment and certain things are becoming pretty obvious, namely that nothing works the way we train it, this is no big surprise to me I have known this for years, it is the old chestnut of Form v Function, students that expect their training to just work the way they train it  get the surprise of their life and find things just a little confusing.

Part of the difficulty they encounter stems from the fact that to a very large extent we approach training for fighting backwards.

What do I mean by this?

The bulk of traditional Wing Chun training is set around understanding the Forms and using Chi Sau, these IDEAS are then tested against some type of resistance, a partner applies pressure and we execute whatever movement of the Form we are working on.

Chi Sau is constant forward pressure against equally returned resistance.

Everything we do in this type of training begins with contact, for instance the partner holding a wrist to prevent Tarn Sau, static resistance, people touching arms.

Here’s the rub, in any physical encounter, contact, touching arms, is the end point not the beginning, to be effective and useable the sequence needs to be ran in the opposite direction, most of our training begins at the end point, hands on, very little of our training deals with how to get there. 

A typical Form training progression goes –

  1. Initiate {make} contact.
  2. correct alignment and body structure,
  3. focus on task,
  4. introduce intent and move.

If we are fighting the progressions needs to be –

  1. move while creating intent.
  2. focus on what is needed.
  3. bring about correct structure and alignment.
  4. make contact.

 

 

The disparity between how we train and what we need to do if we intend to effectively use our training create a very real problem that we must get sorted out before we ever need to use it be that sparring or fighting.

It is a confusing, challenging dilemma but it is not insurmountable, understanding that IDEAs do not need specific orientation is the key.

When faced with a tricky question I look to sports, in this instance tennis, the application for a tennis forehand and a tennis backhand are the same in every detail except how we physically position ourselves to perform these shots, the racquet head and the ball do exactly the same thing and are affected by exactly the same forces.

A key requirement for using Wing Chun is patience, as a counter attacking Martial Art we really do need the Bad guy to attack us first, teaching students to step in as they counter attack is only possible against a feed, it is not possible against a genuine committed attack, this of course begins the confusion.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?