This is not fighting advice, this is behavioural advice.
This post has been inspired by some of the comments over the last few weeks while working with knives and then finding ways to transfer the work to a practical/violent situation.
We have been putting in the hard yards on the physical-dynamic side of training, so I thought a change of pace may be called for, and give our little grey cells a turn.
Wing Chun does not have a universally recognised theoretical approach, this is part and parcel of it being a ‘Concept’ driven style, and because of this the closest we come to an operating manual is the Kuen Kuit, which is a collection of training hints passed down from days gone by.
To my knowledge, the ‘Kuen Kuit’ was never set down at any one time or at any one place by any one Master or practitioner, so it is very much just a collection of suggestions from a collection of senior students describing things as they saw it at that time.
And it was a very different time than today with very different problems.
My own view of Wing Chun today, after 30 years of training, is completely different than it was 10 years ago after 20 years of training, and I am sure this is true of all senior practitioners.
The blokes that put down the ‘Kuen Kuit’ were no different from any of us mob, today’s senior practitioners and the IDEAS in the Kuen Kuit are best seen as just opinions.
This post is my opinion.
Good or Bad, it is up to each one of us to decide the value of any opinions.
My main concern about considering the Kuen Kuit as a FIST LOGIC BLUEPRINT is the style in which it is written, the IDEAS and advice presented are cryptic and open to many different translations and interpretations.
This post’s title stemmed from a quote you can find in the ‘Kuen Kuit’ that runs a somewhat controversial flag up the flagpole with the IDEA that WING CHUN never takes a backward step.
What do we think this means?
In my Sifu’s school, this IDEA implied that Wing Chun relentlessly pressed forward, and to this extent that was exactly how it was trained.
I was looked upon as a spoiler when I voiced disagreement and pointed out that having the awareness to adequately respond to what is happening in the chaos of a random attack, which is Wing Chun’s area of operation, is difficult enough and that trying to force a pre-planned agenda is pretty much impossible.
This only led to a circular argument about reaction or response that solved nothing.
At the end of the day we stand or fall by the decisions we make ‘in the moment’ much more than by any strategy or agenda we believe in. Good decisions grow from good information much more than intense training.
And of course, self-knowledge, the goal of all training in all styles.
While there are without doubt some individuals that willingly walk towards danger, the majority of us will always choose to walk away from it.
Incidentally, once our nervous system senses danger this choice will be made for us on a subconscious level and not by any kind of wishful thinking on our part developed during training.
I have always considered Wing Chun to be a clever and insightful Martial Style, deliberately training to work against our base instincts is neither of these things, but this is just my opinion.
When we are talking about information and data collection, the bigger the picture is the more information we can gather.
The genesis of Wing Chun was during the Taiping Rebellion in the late 1800’s, a particularly violent period of S.E. China’s history that lasted for 15 years and is estimated to have cost 30,000,000 lives.
During the Taiping Rebellion social order had broken down and it became every man for themselves.
Decisions that people faced were often life or death.
Try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment, do we walk in and take our chances, or do we use caution and aim for safety?
We may never find ourselves in such a predicament as the Cantonese of the late 1800s but this was the thinking that forged Wing Chun.
I have another issue with this IDEA of relentlessly, physically, pushing forward.
As a young teenage boxer, I soon found out that walking into punches hurts just as much as being hit by an advancing opponent.
Relentlessly, physically, pushing forward automatically adopts an attacking win-at-all-costs mindset, it leaves no space for readjustment if things go pear-shaped.
And when things do go pear-shaped they do it in an instant.
A deeply recognised part of our FIST LOGIC is Counter-Attacking, our philosophy is that we have a better chance to defeat an opponent that is committed to an attack than we do by attacking ourselves.
Following this last thread puts us in danger of drifting away from the question here, so let’s claw our way back.
To what does ‘Wing Chun never takes a backward step‘ refer?
Like the guys that wrote the ‘Kuen Kuit’ this is just my opinion, but it is an opinion that I have reached through lived experiences, and not me renting someone else’s opinion.
This is not fighting advice, this is behavioural advice.
The most valuable commodity in a physical altercation is time, time to think, time to make good decisions, and time to act.
The best way to earn more time is to create more space between ourselves and the attacker.
The best way to create more space is to move out of reach.
The most effective way to move out of reach is to take a backward step.
If we understand that the only reason we would be using our training is to get out of what is a serious and dangerous situation, not taking a backward step refers to never giving up.
It is about heart, it is about courage, it is about determination.
In the moment we may need to step away to evade, to step back in to attack, only to find the attacker is clued up and we need to step away again.
We will most certainly get hit, we may take damage and we may need to step away to regain our composure.
If we are teaching ourselves to step in, to press forward, how do we survive the curve ball?
I will end this by repeating myself…
… At the end of the day we stand or fall by the decisions we make ‘in the moment’ much more than by any strategy or agenda we believe in. Good decisions grow from good information much more than intense training.
What kind of day is it for you?
Even though I am one of the first to say that ‘training is not fighting’.
I also believe that ‘how we train is how we will fight’.THE ‘D’ MAN.