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.

 

 

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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?

 

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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.

 

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Articles

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: MOVING OUR MASS.

 

Some things move and somethings get moved, understanding what this term means can make effective even dynamic movement really easy

We cannot move bones, it is not how our body works, muscles move bones, however it is an easy interface, a decent frame of reference but we should recognise it as nothing more than a useable form of shorthand.

Moving the Hips, moving the Spine, moving the Centre or similar terms are shorthand, not actual, in all instances when we move we advance our kinetic chain and as such each link so to speak only affects the link that is next in the chain, our feet move our legs, our legs move our pelvis,  because our centre is located somewhere inside our pelvis the expression “move the centre” appears to make sense.

But it is false.

Some things move and somethings get moved, understanding what this term means can make effective even dynamic movement really easy, when students struggle to move correctly using either the Chum Kiu or Biu Gee methodologies it is usually a recruitment of moving parts issue and nothing to do with the Forms at all.

A good “non Wing Chun “ place to begin understanding the Chum Kiu method is by observing what is happening when you push a shopping trolley around the supermarket, with the Biu Gee method a good “non Wing Chun” way is to observe what goes on as you reach behind yourself and down to pick up the T.V. remote that you knock off the arm of your chair.

We must be sure to not confuse moving with changing location. The fact that my Elbow moves from point “A” to point “B” while performing Bong Sau  does not mean that I am in reality moving my Elbow.

Movement as a power producer is always and only about momentum not relocation, revisiting the “conservation of momentum theory” can clear things up in a couple of minutes.

As I mention at the end of the video, the usual resistance training that we do in Wing Chun approaches situations in reverse, this is not a problem if we understand this, but taking our training at face value can create very real problems.

 

 

I reintroduced sparring about a month ago and it now constitutes most of our training time, sparring is not fighting, but it is a great deal closer than Chi Sau or 4 corners drills, the compression of time and space brought on by an advancing sparring partner really shines a light on the problems caused by not understanding that we train in reverse.

It is easily fixed, but until it is fixed it really messes people up.

 

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Weekend Headspin

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN. TAKING THE WING CHUN OUT OF WING CHUN.

I have a few relatively long term private students that train with me who are deeply committed to other styles, deeply involved, as much in awe of their own style as I am in Wing Chun, yet still they train one on one with me. 

What we work on is the body method at the heart of Wing Chun, we do not go near any of the Forms, not a single one, we do not do Chi Sau, we do not work on the Wing Chun way of dealing with aggresors, of issuing force, we rarely if ever use standard  Wing Chun as a frame of reference.

In many ways I have removed  all of the things that most students refer to as Wing Chun.

But what I am teaching is beyond any doubt 100% Wing Chun.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

It is nt just me,not everyone teaches the same Wing Chun.

In 1999 my own Sifu’s Sifu, completely changed his approach to Wing Chun,  after my Sifu’s passing in 2008 most of his students changed to this way of Wing Chun, I tried to follow, I really did try to understand what everyone else was getting excited about, but in the end I failed.

It made no sense to me, I am by nature not a person that follows some piper, some mystic, no matter how famous and well regarded so I probably did not invest enough into the dream.

My bad.

To me, and of course to my own teacher Jim Fung,  Wing Chun is all about devastating power, right here, right now, this is what I teach, this is what my non Wing Chun students come to me for so they can add it to their own work and this is what I deliver.

I also have a number of casual students that drop by to get a slice of my version of the Wing Chun Pie, when they are with me they all say that what I do feels a great del more like a Martial Art, that what they do with their regular, twice a week Instructor feels somehow different,  without doubt funkier, deeper, softer, more internal, but definitely less effective, less real.

I apologise in advance if this next statement pisses any of you off.

You simply cannot hit hard with softness!

If, like so many people here in Australia, you do nothing but the First Form are you really learning Wing Chun, or are you just learning Siu Nim Tao?

It is a question worth thinking about.

If someone like me teaches people how to make Wing Chun work without the Siu Nim Tao, without Chi Sau, but adheres totally to the Fist Logic of Wing Chun, a teacher that teaches the song inside the song, who lives and breathes “the principles”, a man who feels that the Forms are of little value to the big picture, but talks the talk and walks the walk of pure Wing Chun, what is Wing Chun?

Stepping sideways for a moment, many years ago I trained with a quite renowned sculptor in Western Australia, I was of course studying sculpture, not Wing Chun, one time as we where out at a local quarry looking for some good stone I asked him for pointers to what he was looking for?

He told me that he was looking for a piece of stone that had an interesting sculpture inside of it.

It took me a while to understand what he meant, but when I did everything changed.

All of our forms and standard ideas are nothing but lumps of stone.

I can lend you a chisel.

 

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