When is it acceptable to use violence against another human being, lets be honest here this is what we are training to do, the answer of course depends upon the context of the engagement. If they are threatening us with violence then more than likely it is acceptable, but if they are just being a pain then the answer is probably no, so it all depends on the context of the engagement, but without a doubt the context that Wing Chun was meant to engage in was violence.
Does our training in any way reflect this?
On the whole we need to admit that it does not.
Most of the Wing Chun people that I have met are against violence, against the use of it by other people or themselves.
How does that work? We train a martial art that many talk up to be brutal and street effective yet no one approves of violence or trains very dynamicly.
Never doubt that how we train is how we will fight, this I not just about the physical approach, much more important is the mental approach, what do we think we are training, why are we training it, what are the circumstances that form the setting where we will use what we are learning? It is only through this, Context, that our training can be understood. If we think we are doing it for fighting there is a very good chance our brain will choose it to fight with, if we think it is for health or for fun it may not be our brains first choice if we get in trouble.
Context is not a one stop shop, we all decide independently where we stand, but context will drive our training even if we think other wise.
Martial Arts where created because someone somewhere needed a local solution to a local problem that was happening in their local environment.
The context that became Tai Kwan Do was the need to knock Japanese soldiers off their horses, the context that became Muay Thai took advantage of wide open rice fields with plenty of room to move, the context that became Wing Chun developed the need to fight on ever shifting surfaces of Sampans common in Hong Kong harbour.
Do any of the traditional Martial Arts have anything in common with our own environment, if not what do we expect to learn? How do we expect to benefit?
We must strive to keep our training relative to our expectations and always have one eye on realistic needs, it is very easy to get lost in the Traditional Martial Arts and without meaning to we just become curators of a long dead and no longer relevent folk art.
Whatever style we do it must be capable of answering todays questions, in todays environment, we no longer need to kick soldiers from the saddle so why train a flying high kick?
Context is a conversation we have with ourselves, it is the what, where, why of any given situation.
Intention is a dialogue that our Brain has with our Body, very often about the situation we find ourselves in and the context of that situation.
Misunderstanding the context of a situation can have very bad results.
If I misread a situation, misunderstand the context and I smack someone in the face I can be in serious trouble with the police and society in general, on the other hand if I misread the same situation and do not smack someone in the face I can be in serious trouble because the bad guy beats me up.
We all set our own definition for context, no one else can ever come close. Choosing to follow the teachings of a long dead guru from far away land is of dubious practical value.
Years ago I came into my Sifu’s school and one of my training buddies that had recently been on his yearly pilgrimage to Hong Kong was standing there staring wistfully into the mirror.
Me: What are you doing?
Friend: I am doing Internal training.
Friend: It is a higher level of Wing Chun training.
Me: Yeah whatever, but why, are you doing it?
Friend: It’s what they do in Hong Kong.
Me: Yeah, but why are you doing it, you live in Sydney.