This is a topic I feel very strongly about, I want to give it more than the usual sideways glance but I realise that for most people these days time is short so it is in four pieces, this is the entre´, the main course comes next week followed by dessert then cheese and possibly port.
CHI SAU, where to from here, the context to why I think this way.
I have seen more than my fair share of violence, in all truth most of it was of my own making, I either started it or my actions inspired others to start it, very little was random. I grew up in an era when just looking at someone was reason enough to kick on. “WHO’ YOU LOOKIN’ AT” was a license for trouble to many people back then.
I have been involved in enough violence to know how little I truly know, I have seen enough violence to know how little there is to know, that in many ways there is nothing to know, that it can’t truly be known. Violence is like a virus that comes back every season mutated just enough so that last years vaccine has no effect. This is the case even in the semi controlled arena of sports fighting, we have seen fighters lose a match, demand a rematch, go away for a year and study what went wrong, how they lost, how their opponent got the upper hand only to come back and lose to the very same move as if they never saw it coming.
I have been involved in the Martial Arts for more than 55 years, some styles I became really quite proficient, good enough to understand that what we train and how we train it could never work against violence.
Thinking that any martial art can be enough to overcome violence is like arguing with someone that does not speak our language and pinning all our hopes on speaking louder than them and waving our arms frantically.
We should not try to compare any martial art to violence, they are different languages, we should see a martial art as a Rosetta Stone that can give us hope of a translation and through this some understanding, the shapes are different but the meaning is the same. Even if we see violence as Egyptian and martial arts as Greek it is only the translation that brings understanding, no matter how good a translation is it is never truly accurate. We cannot claim that this is right or this is wrong, it is all just an approximation.
But we cannot deny that the message on the Rosetta Stone was always Egyptian in nature, even as we read the Greek version.
Wing Chun is not the answer to violence, but like the Rosetta Stone it can lead us to an understanding of what is going on, lead us close to parity, it matters little how we translate violence or what we translate it into at its core it is still and always was just violence and can only be connected to by other violence.
This is a major hurdle for many people, the only way to beat the thing we hate is to become it, a better version of it, a meaner more violent version of itself. For many this pill is too hard to swallow no matter how long they train, they talk about not really doing it for the fighting, yet they all know deep down that this is the only reason for Wing Chun to exist and they know this well, this path leads to denial of the truth of violence and denial of the truth of Wing Chun, makes the training we do in Wing Chun look foolish, false, like a fake martial art. The antidote to denial is honesty, we need to be honest about what we think, what we do and what we train.
Lt. Col.Dave Grossman writes in his book “On Combat” ..
“Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn’t bring your gun; you didn’t train. Your only defence was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and shame at your moment of truth”.
The only thing we have in Wing Chun that comes anywhere near what it is like to be in a violent situation is Chi Sau, the similarity is remote at best but it is what it is, and what it is reminds me of the tale of “The Emperors New Clothes” if we wish it to be more than a folk tale we need to ramp it up, I do not mean turn it into a slap fest, that is as useless as it is unnecessary, it is the emotional involvement and the thinking and the tempo that needs to change, to be useful as a tool to develop fighting skill it needs to be more physical and less social. We must stop denying the truth about Chi Sau, stop looking at it as being special, practical, a genuine option and appreciate it for what it is, or at least what it could be.