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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; PSYCHO-PHYSICAL, NEURO – MUSCULAR CONNECTIONS.

When I wish to look deeper into my own training I usually look towards sports or dance that share the same movements

All movement is a psycho-physical process, an outward expression of inner intent therefore we should engage our thinking and feeling to create a mental image to both inform and match the movement, there is a ton of empirical evidence that show the Human Brain fires up identically to thinking about an action, watching the same action or performing that action this is the Neuro – Muscular connection  I refer to.

Many people refer to this type of training as “Internal”, I am not a fan of this term as it too easily slips away into mumbo jumbo that practitioners cannot explain in general terms and is brought into disrepute by too many Chi Masters, another aspect of “Internal” that I am uncomfortable with is that at its heart “Internal” ideas stem from meditation practices, they are not very dynamic, whereas Psycho – Physical and Neuro – Muscular ideas stem from sports and application of sports science knowledge, very dynamic.

When I wish to look deeper into my own training I usually look towards sports or dance that share the same movements, in general sports and dance have easier accessed and far more accurate information about how best to use the Human Body. When I see any physical action used in sports or dance I try to find them in our Forms, they are of course present but hard to find due to their subtle appearance in the Forms.

With the next few posts I will try to explain my thinking on integrating the psycho – physical through comparing Chum Kiu and Biu Gee applications to the application of these same ideas in Basketball, Wrestling and Dance.

Sinking and rising on a purely physical level is straight forward manipulation of the Centre of Gravity, each action is the opposite of each other, but when we engage our mental image we do well to move along the lines of sinking the pelvis but rising the chest, when we take force into us we take it into our pelvis, this brings with it a feeling of condensing and settling into ourselves but when we issue it we should think of issuing it from our chest, this brings about a feeling of rising and stretching.

Wing Chun employs progressive training, each Form introduces separate components that require combining as we progress, through the First Form we develop and IDEA of  Body Unity, we create the Frame or Wing Chun Body, the Chum Kiu introduces sinking and rising of the Frame and the Biu Gee introduces compression and expansion of the Frame.  Intuitively this gives birth to becoming a heavier or a lighter presence, interpretations of stability and mobility.

Traditionally Chum Kiu shifting is done in a pretty flat lateral manner that does not develop a great deal of momentum, but if we add the Core Winding from Biu Gee to the shift it at once becomes dynamic and far more natural, the more we can integrate Biu Gee dynamics into the Chum Kiu the more fluid, powerful and natural we move.

 

 

 

When performing any exercises, or in fact when doing any Form, we can make these moves over large so that we can identify everything more easily, but in real application they would want to be a relatively small, large movement tends to be slower and less powerful than small movements.

 

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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: WHY WE SHOULDN’T IGNORE THE CONTACT POINT.

What is doing the work, and where is it being done?

 

 

Why does this “ignore the contact point” reference get used at all when it is not in any way correct?

This blog is primarily a portal for my own students to stay up to date with how I am thinking day to day, this is important because our training sessions usually mirror what I am currently talking about on the Blog, so on this past Monday, the second day ofJuly 2018, working on Chum Kiu we were looking at how to use our Kinetic chain to increase momentum so that we could apply WORK to our partner / opponent.

It is my personal conviction that to truly understand Chum Kiu we must understand mechanically exactly what is creating the work, what is doing the work, where the work is being done and what we expect to occur because of the work, these are all very seperate issues.

In physics, a force is said to do work if, when acting, there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force. Wikipedia.

One of my guys told me that he had very recently seen a video where a Wing Chun  Master was instructing his student to “ignore the contact point”.

This is plainly a contradiction of the established science, but it is something that I have heard said before at my Sifu’s school, I have even had an Instructor advise me to avoid the contact point!!!

Which is of course totally impossible, at least in this universe and this dimension.

Why does this “ignore the contact point” reference get used at all when it is not in any way correct? 

Wing Chun is a versatile and effective fighting art that is based on some very clever thinking about how to use the body, but its main strength is of course Fist Logic, and as we would expect Fist Logic does not ignore the contact point, Fist Logic is all about the contact point.

They move, we hit ’em.

At our very first introduction to Wing Chun we are told to make contact with the opponents wrist because it gives a leverage advantage, it is where we do what we do, where we intercept, where we redirect, where we latch, where we Pak, if we ignore the contact point how do we play Chi Sau?

 In so many ways the contact point is the only point worth making.

Every now and then we come across some explanations or ideas in Wing Chun that are really silly, in my experience these are usually translation issues and not genuine silliness, that is why if we ever have doubt we should check the science behind it, Wing Chun is very clever and the science proves it.

 


This passing on of silly ideas is not helped by the fact that in some Wing Chun circles there seems to be a complete misunderstanding between the function of MIND and the function of BRAIN with regards to what does what within the human body, but this is for another post.

 

 

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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: STABILITY, DO WE UNDERSTAND IT?

 

Of all of our stances the Goat Stance, Y.C.K.Y.Mah, is the least stable and the least suited for accepting force

What do we mean by stability.

To most students stability is the ability to stay still or remain in place, such as maintaining our Y.C.K.Y. Mah stance {Goat Grabbing Stance or Goat Stance} against pressure while playing Chi Sau, this is very much the IDEA that comes through when training in the First Form.

But is this the only way to look at stability, is it even the correct way when we are talking about dynamic, antagonistic situations?

Stability is also defined as “the property of a body that causes it when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion to develop forces or moments that restore the original condition”.

From a dynamic antagonistic perspective “to come back to the original position from a condition of steady motion” begins to make stability look a great deal more like a product of Chum Kiu than a product of the First Form.

Sometimes looking at what we do from a purely mechanical perspective can give us a clear indication of what we should be doing instead of just doing what we have been told or what we think we are meant to do.

What are the requirements for stability?

The things that have a great impact on stability are the height of the Centre of Gravity {CoG}, the size of the base of support {in our case the width of the feet}, the orientation to the line of force and the weight of the object.

We cannot do much about our weight { we can of course borrow weight from our opponent / partner but that is a different topic} but we can easily and readily adjust the height of our CoG, the size of our base of support and our orientation to the line of force.

The lower the CoG, the larger the base of support {width of the feet} the greater the stability, the higher the CoG, the smaller the base of support stability is diminished.

If we compare the Goat Stance of the First Form with the Front Stance from the Chum Kiu we find that the Goat Stance has a higher CoG and a much smaller base of support than the Front Stance of Chum Kiu, the obvious result is that the Goat Stance is  less stable, even without the implications of orientation to the line of force.

If we follow the progression of our training on to the Horse Riding Stance from the knives and pole we are bringing in even more stability, but this is not how much of mainstream Wing Chun explains itself.

This is science not opinion and it is independently verifiable so there is no need to take my word as truth, Google it.

Of all of our stances the goat Stance, Y.C.K.Y.Mah, is the least stable and least suitable for accepting force, but this is the opposite of what is most often taught. 

As I pointed out in an earlier post the Y.C.K.Y.Mah comprises of 2 rear leg positions and is how we are introduced to the mechanics of Chum Kiu movement through activation of the adductor muscles, it prepares for movement, not how to stand still.

Allowing the physics to just be physics what we should be thinking is whether we wish to be still or be mobile, how to move from a position of stillness or how to achieve stability from movement and what is the best way to accomplish this. 

This is of course one of the two the central learning objectives of Chum Kiu, the second being how to support our arms with our body which is another aspect of bringing in stability.

This leads us on to weight shifting {which is expanded and refined through studying the Biu Gee Form} and understanding what is actually doing the work, where we want that work done and what we hope to achieve through the work, in this instance I am talking about work in a purely mechanical sense, as in work and load.

 

 

Every Middle School kid in the world understands that stability is the cornerstone of power production, stability is the cornerstone of force absorption, why is it then that most of our training is done from the least stable of our stances?

There is a reason, a good reason, Wing Chun is a very clever martial art, but here as in so many instances in Wing Chun the messenger is getting mistaken for the message.

Would you try to push a stalled car from the position of the Goat Stance, and if not why not if it is such a good stance?

 

 

 

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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: IF YOU’RE NOT TRAINING REGULARLY IS DOING THE FORM ENOUGH ?

 

The real reason there are so few Masters in the world is less to with the difficulty in becoming a Master and far more to do with the difficulty of keeping up the training.

The drop off rate in the Martial Arts is something all Instructors are aware of, from my perspective there are three significant reasons, there are many more than these for sure but these I think are paramount.

Early on people do not consider the length of the journey, expect too much too quickly or are not willing to put in the work to get measurable results, this group leave within the first 3 to 12 months.

At the other end of the scale are the people that really did give it a go, trained diligently for years and then for some reasons, especially with Wing Chun, they decide that it doesn’t work, it doesn’t do what it says on the box and they change styles.

But for me the most unfortunate of all are the students that cared, worked hard at the training, loved it, made good progress then life got in the way, it can seem like mission impossible to prioritise training over working to pay the mortgage and raising a family, especially if there is travel involved to get to training.

The real reason there are so few Masters in the world is less to with the difficulty in becoming a Master and far more to do with the difficulty of keeping up the training.

It is this middle group that I try to reach out to by asking their friends that still train to get them to this Blog, by sending Emails and even by offering some catch up private lessons at a greatly reduced price, because I know that deep down they still want to be training.

Often when I am in contact with a member of this group of people they will say something along the lines of  “I have not completely abandoned Wing Chun I still do the Form most days” the implication being that somehow this is all it takes.

On the few occasions that I do tempt them to come back it very quickly becomes obvious that what they thought they were maintaining by doing the Form has long since packed its bags and headed for the coast, frequently this is the final nail in the lid of a well forgotten coffin.

So long it’s been good to know you.

Can there even be such a thing as “Maintenance Training?

All Martial Arts are complex systems that require involvement in a variety of different areas to stay current, if we focus too strongly on any single aspect then some other aspect is being ignored and decomposing, this is my main concern about Schools that base their training on doing Forms or “Internal” aspects.

All training even non Martial Art training is task specific, we can only learn what we are doing, we will only ever be able to do what we have learned. 

In fairness to the “Internal Camp” if we spend all of our time just hitting stuff we would experience a similar drop off in all around skill.

There must be balance, but most importantly there must be forward movement, just like a shark if we stop swimming we start sinking, if our training is always doing the same thing every time we train we are not moving forward.

One of the great weakness in Wing Chun training is that far too often there is no connection to context.

What is this thing I am doing really teaching me?

If we are only ever training one or even all of the Forms are we learning Wing Chun or are we simply learning Forms? And of course this applies if we are only training to hit things.

Each of us individually and as a School collectively need to establish the context that our training relates to, if we do not know where we are coming from how can we know where we are, if we do not know where we are how can we tell if we are headed in the right direction.

If you where to ask your Instructor “what is the context that you teach from” how do you think they would answer?

Would their answer be that they are trying to provide the conservative same old, same old or a progressive step forward, would they be passing on someone else’s ideas or their own updated understanding, would they be facilitating maintenance or progress?

Whichever way we look at it can only doing the Form provide either?

If this sounds like you get back to supervised training before it is too late.

If this sounds like someone you know send them a link to this post.

 

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WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: THROUGH OTHER EYES.

A simple truth all Martial Artists understand is that we can never truly know what the Bad Guy is going to do, that is why all styles talk of being calm, focused and relaxed in the face of danger so that we can respond to whatever happens next, this is how we train, this is the theory.

In theory,     theory and reality are the same.

In reality,      they are not.

If we are in a situation where we know beyond doubt that the brown stuff is about to get airborne we cannot afford to try to live the dream and to stand there circulating our Chi, uninvolved, relaxed waiting to respond to what happens next, we must have a plan, to have a plan we need to train one up and if we have put in the time and effort to train a plan up we must stick to it.

The simplest plan is usually the best, “if they move punch them”, forget Chi Sau, forget Siu Nim Tao, forget everything and throw your lot in with Fist Logic, this is what Wing Chun does, it hits people, and it is only ever about us, and what we do, never about the bad guy or responding to what they do.

The great 1970’s tennis player Jimmy Connors was asked what made him the best returner of service in the game, he said, “as soon as the ball leaves his racquet it is all about me, all about what I do”

To succeed we must live in this space, to live in this space we must train in this space.

There is a well known saying that came from some long ago military, “how you train is how you will fight”, is how we train the way we wish to fight?

Much of Wing Chun training revolves around Chi Sau, there are some very good reasons for this, some very important things to learn inside of Chi Sau, but if we look at the Chi Sau around us, on YouTube, in our Facebook feeds at our own club not many people are trying to find some deeper knowledge most are just trying to play Chi Sau, if they do work at anything it tends to be working at playing better Chi Sau.

They mistake the messenger for the message.

If we did not know what Chi Sau was and we came across two people in a park doing it what would we think?

Are they playing?

Are they dancing?

Are they fighting?

As Wing Chun people it is almost impossible to see anything Wing Chun from a non Wing Chun perspective, even in our minds eye, so let us say we think they are fighting.

Are they using a striking art or are they using a grappling art? 

 

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