FIST LOGIC, Uncategorized



What we are seeing is the Disneyfication of Wing Chun, 

Let me state clearly that I am a great believer in the Deeper Philosophy of Wing Chun, when used correctly as a Martial Art I think it is nothing short of remarkable.


To a large section of the Australian Wing Chun community the Sil Lim Tao is the beginning and end of everything.

So much so that they only train the Sil Lim Tao at the expense of the other more applicable Forms.

How did a ‘little idea’ become such a big deal?

It has gotten to the point that if you go to a workshop with a senior master all that is worked on is actions from the First Form, nothing is ever spoken about violence.

I was recently at such a workshop, when I pointed out that the exercise being shown had no practical value I was nearly mobbed by the more zealous attendees.

In fact there is a consensus that Wing Chun is not just for fighting.

But of course it is, fighting is all it is for.

What we are seeing is the Disneyfication of Wing Chun, the complete watering down of a once effective fighting system into a parody of itself, there are even national Chi Sau competitions, something that flies in the face of Wing Chun’s own principles.

The bigger problem though is that this is not a slow decent into obscurity like T.K.D. and Tai Chi this is a swan dive from a great height that just keeps picking up speed, helped along by Facebook and Youtube.

A question must be asked.

How can a Martial Art not be for fighting?

Can we call ourselves Martial Artists if our aim is not to improve Martial Skills for the only outcome of being more effective fighters?

I have a longstanding friendship with the senior instructor for a very large Wing Chun School who holds the idea that Wing Chun is not just for fighting, even if he does not impart this thinking to his students it must be obvious by his example, this is how the rot spreads.

I am in the process of reading a book called Wilful Blindness by Margret Heffernan, it is this book that has driven me to write this post, although the book has nothing to do with the Martial Arts it describes the malaise Wing Chun faces perfectly.

Heffernan argues that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don’t seenot because they’re secret or invisible, but because we’re wilfully blind.

Without meaning to students put as much effort into avoiding the reality of what we do as they do into learning what we do.

They turn a blind eye to the truth and ignore the obvious.

Wing Chun is not the culprit here, it is the victim, in a market economy it is the customer that shapes the inventory, the man who pays the piper calls the tune.

Wing Chun becomes what we think it is and how we think about Wing Chun will not only shape our own training but the very future of the style.

Do we think shallow or do we think deep?

A shallow thinker sees only one problem and they answer in only one way {one Form}.

A deep thinker approaches multiple problems from different angles.

Far too often students refuse to engage their minds.

They swallow up instruction and information, but never question the thinking behind it or make the effort to analyse and quantify what they have just been taught.

Facebook and Youtube are echo chambers that allow them to obsessively seek out truth that confirms their world view and cling to it with little room for awareness and understanding of their own thought processes

The biggest barrier to deeper understanding is confirmation bias.

In Wing Chun this happens with a deep belief in lineage.

The Sil Lim Tao Form is not a shadow boxing form, this is well known, it is not intended to make contact, this also is well known.

How can training this Form help us fight?

Heffernan argues that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don’t seenot because they’re secret or invisible, but because we’re wilfully blind.






Once we can align our present study with established knowledge we learnt in another context we understand that there is nothing new to learn.



What I believe is the most important of the Wing Chun Forms and the one that I would recommend spending more time on is not as many think the First Form but is in fact the Fourth Form, the Mok Jan Jong or Wooden Dummy.

Each of the first three Forms brings us part of the total information that we can then work on uniting through the practice of the Dummy, Knives and Pole, however only the Dummy works as a hands on solo training that allows us to explore possible combinations of the various movements and ideas introduced in the first three Forms, in real time and real space.

As Sci Fi as it may sound the 2 most important things to be comfortable with are time and space, the time to do the work and the space to do the work, without this control everything goes out of the window, only the dummy gives us this aspect of training, everything else is little more than imaginary training, and is only of use in imaginary fighting.

Working on the Dummy is working on all of the previous Forms in a compounded and more practical way, this is in fact the raison d’être of the Dummy.

To understand and benefit from the Dummy it is critical that we abandon all fantasy,  50% of the moves in the Dummy Form are wrong and the other half are useless, it is a training aid that helps us understand ourselves and how we move, accept force and issue force, it is not a sparring partner.

Before we can have any hope of gaining benefit from the Dummy we must understand the core aspects of the first three Forms, and have at least a basic understanding of how to combine them.

This is a very brief overview that is intended to prepare the mind to change its Frame of Reference that I hope to fill out over the coming months.

Before commencing any of the Forms there is a period of non activity, we simply stand, settle in and settle down, this is not just a precursor to doing the Forms, in so many ways this is the most important aspect of our solo training, and the most important frame of reference to measure all of the Forms against, I call this our Personal Neutral.

The Personal Neutral is the state of being that we inhabit before we do anything, the person we are when we are not thinking about or talking to ourselves, the person we are when there is no time to chose or make plans, the person that we hope will get us out of trouble.

It can and usually does take many years before we wake up and realise the importance of establishing and understanding our own Personal Neutral.

Core aspects of the First Form.

Developing and understanding our Personal Neutral, being still, in balance with the correct alignment for self support, in many ways it is learning how to connect to ourselves as a being, understanding what and where we are.

The  Personal Neutral is both a physical condition and a Mental Mindset.

Once established the active aspect of the First Form is to be able to move the arms without disturbing our Personal Neutral.

Core aspects of Chum Kiu.

Moving the waist with minimal disturbance of our Personal Neutral whilst maintaining balance and correct alignment for self support.

Develop the ability to support the arms with the body, which leads to being able to coordinate the movement of the arms and waist with minimum disturbance of the Personal Neutral which allows for an acceptance or transfer of force without resistance.

Core aspects of Biu Gee.

Moving the Shoulder girdle with minimal disturbance to our Personal Neutral whilst maintaining balance and correct alignment for self support.

Connect the upper and lower halves of the body primarily with the Muscles of the Core which leads to developing and understanding the kinetic chain including muscle hierarchies to issue force.

If we can allow ourselves to explore Biu Gee as a purely mechanical process we will find many movements shared by all throwing sports, golf, tennis and even swimming.  Once we can align our present study with established knowledge we learnt in another context we understand that there is nothing new to learn.

This will accelerate our progress.

Play to your strength, work on your weakness.








The most difficult thing to accept and the steepest learning curve is to ‘NOT’ try to prevent someone from hitting us.

We develop the use and understanding of the Shield Arm, like so many other aspects of Wing Chun through Chi Sau.

Or to be more precise and  correct through the thoughtful engagement with an opponent in Chi Sau while operating with the knowledge that Chi Sau itself is a practice from Chum Kiu.

As seductive as the idea of osmosis is we should not place any faith in it, a reality in every walk of life is that ‘People without questions rarely find answers’, just playing Chi Sau will not deliver an understanding of the Shield Arm unless we are actively looking to understand the Shield Arm and using Chi Sau as the means to that end, unless we can manifest the IDEA of the Shield no amount of Chum Kiu will teach us how to move it.

The most difficult thing to accept and the steepest learning curve is to ‘NOT’ try to prevent someone from hitting us.

That is Defending.

Wing Chun Counter Attacks.

The Shield is there to stop the Bad Guy hitting us, it is not used to try to hit the Bad Guy, the only time a shield was used to hit the opponent was once knights started to wear plate armour that could resist sword cuts, then the damage came from being knocked down crashing about inside a metal suit, a bit like a car crash, not from the shield bash.

I mentioned that in all probability we will need to bring about the transition from the initial chaos of contact to a position where we can implement our Counter Attack philosophy, this does require physical use of the shield, but not by attacking.

Using the Shield to make the space to transition from the initial chaos of the first encounter to phase #2 is about using our own force or energy to move us to a safer place by using the opponent as an anchor, it is not about trying to move them to better position to attack them, that is not to say that we could not or should not do that, it would just not be considered ‘Counter Attacking’, it would be diametrically opposed to this philosophy.

Once we are in a safer place the Bad Guy is once again invited to attack us.



Philosophies should be guides, not dogma, this is the deep philosophy behind Wing Chun, the deep philosophy behind our training.

Theory and reality are not in anyway similar, in reality if we find ourselves in a violent situation anything goes, if it works it was the correct choice.

Over the years quite a few people of accused me of trying to re invent the wheel with the way I approach Wing Chun, my usual reply is that people accused John Dunlop and Charles Goodyear of the same thing when they introduced the pneumatic tyre, it is incorrect to imply that I am involved in reinventing the wheel, It would be a lot more accurate to say that I am trying to upgrade the suspension.






Counter Attacking does not require defence, only that we are under attack.


Counter Attacking as a philosophy means that we not only expect but must in fact invite the Bad Guy to attack us

When writing about anything we always run into the power and the awkwardness of words, subtleties are missed simply because some people do not use words as well as others, defence mechanisms kick in, comments such as ‘that is just another way of saying blah, blah, blah’ or ‘thats just semantics’ prevent people from seeing the reality of what is in front of them, the simplicity.

In the last post I mentioned defending and attacking require different mindsets, that we cannot defend and attack at the same time, due to this fact Simultaneous Attack and Defence needs to be seen as a concept and not a method,.

Perhaps as a method for applying the philosophy of Counter Attack it has some value, if you are in an Attacking / Predatory mindset {using the Shield Arm, I will cover this later}, but by equal measure it has zero value if you are in a Defensive / Survivalist mindset.

Counter Attacking is a philosophy that once understood and abided by is outside of the win – loose matrix.

Getting back to the subtlety and awkwardness of words for a second, different things are ‘called’ different things because they ‘are’ different things.

If we are defending we are only defending, if we are attacking we are only attacking, if we are under attack and turn the tables on our attacker we are not defending we are {counter} attacking

Is the last statement subtle or awkward?

Or simple and clear?

Counter Attacking is turning the tables and attacking in return, Counter Attacking does not require defence, only that we are under attack.

Simultaneous Attack and Defence is a method we use only if we are being attacked to try to turn the tables and snatch some measure of control, it is always reactive, we are a victim of external circumstances and all the negative  implications that come along with that randomness, we are involved in someone else’s agenda, someone else plan, someone else event, and our own actions will be controlled by a Mindset that will be a product of that event and not necessarily of our own choosing.

Counter Attacking as a philosophy means that we not only expect but must in fact invite the Bad Guy to attack us so that we can then turn the tables and return the attack, we choose to allow the attacker the opening shot, if need be tempting them with clear openings and easy targets that they would find hard to pass up.

This is very much the difference between learning Wing Chun and learning how to use Wing Chun.

Having invited the attacker in, there is very little surprise in their actions and this allows us to respond, not react.  It is now our agenda, our plan, our event.

Something that should not be overlooked is that now that it is our event, it is our actions that drive our opponents Mindset and not their own.

Looking back to the three phases of a fight I mentioned in the previous post, the majority of the Wing Chun training I have been involved in and witnessed at various other schools is all about phase #1, and of course it is faultless if we find ourselves in this position.

To be in phase #1 requires that we are in control of the situation from the very beginning, something the Bad Guy will not want if this is an attack and not a fight, often we ourselves will sacrifice this position by being over involved in the pre violence theatre and missing the attack indicators.

The vast majority of violence we will face will be phase #2. 

More often than not we will of missed phase #1 completely,  we will need to force a separation and create the space for phase #2 to come into being, often we will not even be defending ourselves, just creating space any way we can.

Earlier in this piece I mentioned the Shield Arm, this will make more sense to people with a European background of my generation than others, as children we played with swords and shields as they were an important aspect of European History, from the Greek and Trojan wars through to Medieval times they were the weapons of choice for most armies, we covered it in High School, there were countless movies and popular legends and to top it off social conventions of the 1960s and 1970s thought it healthier for children to be Spartans or Knights than Gunslingers.

There was period in my teenage years that a group of fellow Martial Art friends and I were involved in some semi – serious play with swords and shields, we did research as well as we could and on occasions took instruction from one of the organisations that involved historical reenactments, great fun and very informative, when you play with sword and shield, or dirk and buckler it becomes crystal clear that weapon arts came before empty hand arts, but that is a post for another time.

In the Wing Chun Genesis Myth a stork is observed warding off the attacks of a snake by using its wing, not to counter attack but to absorb and redirect the attack, just as a soldier would use a shield, this action is called Bong Sau, the Wing Arm it could just as easily be called the Shield Arm.

Chi Sau teaches how to dampen force through the Wing Arm / Shield Arm, Chum Kiu teaches how to manoeuvre the shield to intercept the incoming strike before it manifests its potential force, decrease impact forces. 

When we shift in Chum Kiu we shift along the line of the incoming attack, not towards the attacker, we do this so as to shorten the length and as such decrease power of the swing as we counter attack with the free Striking Hand / Sword Arm.

Although there are a number of methods to apply a shield, what they all have in common is that the action is a relatively  passive one, the shield accepts the attack, it does not try to add any of its own force or actively redirect it, any redirection is a product of the shape of the Shield and the direction of the bodies movement upon contact.

The shield acts as a damper, or as I describe it to my guys a passive or inactive defence, by placing the shield in the path of the strike there is no longer any need to monitor the incoming strike and all of our concentration, focus and intention can be diverted to attacking open targets that cannot be defended because the attacker is involved in their own attack.

To be continued… pt. 3. HOW DO WE TRAIN THE SHIELD ARM?

FIST LOGIC, Uncategorized



This is a quickie to help everyone correlate throwing punches with the dynamics of athletic throwing, in particular the discus.

In the video the mention to separation and stretch reflex should not be something to cause concern, they are present every time we defend and attack even if we are not aware of it.

Pay special attention to the weight shifts and the torque creation, in physics talk this is the summation of forces at play, and it translates to power.

Observe how the upper body balance is conserved even as the lower body is dynamically mobile, and then observe the weight transfer as the athletes lower body stops causing immense acceleration of the upper body in the same way that a Trebuchet works.

In the discus the sinking and rising is really quite pronounced, but sinking and rising is an inherent part of both Chum Kiu and Biu Gee, just much subtler.

Relate this to your Knife and Pole forms to get the most benefit, then go hit something.







FIST LOGIC, Uncategorized




it is so much more important to understand the philosophy of what we do as opposed to the methodology.

For many years now I have been attempting to explain to my students the philosophy of Counter Attack.

Whenever we try to get deep in to it we are confronted by the fact that we need additional information to put it into the correct context.

It is just not possible to talk about Counter Attack without a concrete reference of what an Attack is, and this of course opens up the need to have a concrete reference to what Fighting is, the different phases of Fighting, the difference between Attacking and Defending, Fighting and Attacking, Fighting and Defending in short we need to have at least a personal opinion of the dynamics of violence.

Without any intention of criticism to anyone and how they teach or approach Wing Chun it is important to be aware that I teach and approach Wing Chun as an answer to Violence.

This affects everything we do and everything we train, and it unavoidably creates a bias towards Function and Application.

I have been involved in enough violence to be acutely aware that no man can ever truly understand or in fact prepare for violence, it is just too expansive, its appearance is random and unpredictable but as individuals we owe it to ourselves to try to understand what we think violence is.

To be expected it will be different for every single one of us, this is why it is so much more important to understand the philosophy of what we do as opposed to the methodology.

At my school a decent amount of our training time is spent in attempting to relate what we are training to where and why we think we would use it, we often learn more about the practicality of our training from exploring our conversations than exploring the physical aspect of the training.

As a teacher I find these conversations so engaging because I find myself in a position where I am trying to answer many different questions with the one simple answer, this leads to my own further development.

Before we talk about the Philosophy of Counter Attack, let’s talk about the dynamics of  rightly or wrongly expected violence.


Violence is multi faceted, layered, it comes in many shapes and sizes, one on one, many against one, gang on gang, country against country every event is a new event that has so little in common with what came before prior experience is practically non existent.

From a M.A. perspective we will just focus in on personal violence, the stuff we could end up facing.

In general terms violence comes in two flavours, let’s call them Social and Anti – Social.


This is a FIGHT.

Fights are events between two people that have agreed to fight, a Match Fight, a sporting competition or when outsides of sports someone says to the other something along the lines of ….

’I will meet you at such a place at such a time and we will sort this out’.

In this type of engagement both parties know why they are there and what is about to go down, it is consensual, they have given each other permission to use violence, there is no surprise here, there is usually some kind of support and a designated end point such as a knock out, one person being unable to continue or a submission and then the thing is over.

If one of the fighters is injured help is never far away.  Schoolyard fights fall into this category unless it was a bully situation.


This is an unprovoked ATTACK, and in general what Martial Artists train for, only one of the people involved knows the reason for this, only one person knows what the end point is, and it is usually incapacitation, there is very rarely support for the person being attacked and if at the end that person is left injured there is no guarantee of help.

This is a bad headspace that has a dramatic often debilitating effect on performance.

In the middle of this event the intended victim may get the upper hand and turn the tables on the attacker, but only the roles change, the outcome remains the same, the victim simply becomes the attacker, and the attacker becomes the victim. This is not defending.


Fighting, Attacking and Defending are three very different situations that cannot and should not be looked at as components of the same thing.

Fighting is when two people are both engaged in the same event, trying to reach the same goal,  for the same reason, it is consensual, usually preplanned and allows for strategies to be thought out and implemented. This is primarily a competition mindset.

Attacking is when one person without any thought or concern for the other uses violence to further their own agenda. This is predatory behaviour, a predatory mindset.

Defending is when a person that is under attack tries to prevent an attacker from hurting them.  This is a survivalist mindset.

It is important to acknowledge that defending does not mean fighting back, to fight back requires a change of mindset, this is the problem with thinking that Wing Chun’s Simultaneous Attack and Defence is a methodology instead of a concept, to be able to implement S.A & D we would need to be in two different mindsets at the same time, being in two minds is an expression used to illustrate indecisiveness or confusion.


Mindsets govern how our body works, how it reacts to stimulus, what hormones the body creates and how much control we have over our movements.

There are major physical, emotional, mental and physiological differences between the mindsets that automatically develop when Fighting, Attacking or Defending, they are not even close to being the same thing, and they are not capable of being combined.

Do some research, check it out.


From the Wing Chun training perspective of what we think we would face in a violent event would have three distinct phases that require different thinking and application.  This does not include totally random surprise attacks, they are undefendable, most violence has some kind of precursor so we will at least be aware of the possibility of violence.

Phase #1.

Attacker is aggressive and animated, Wing Chun man is passive and ready, attacker mistakes passivity for weakness and launches the attack without fear of retaliation, W.C man intercepts and presses forward with relentless attacks, possibly ending the threat there and then.  If successful move to Phase #3.  This is a typical training scenario.

Phase #2.

W.C.Mans first response did not end the threat, both men separate and regroup, the element of surprise is gone, the attacker knows the game is afoot and will now be cautious, possibly use kicks, possibly try to rush in and overwhelm us, possibly set in for a long thoughtful brawl, Mano e Mano.  This  phase is completely unpredictable, and as such is rarely if ever approached in training.

Phase #3.

W.C. Man ends the threat, enacts preplanned exit strategy. 

This is another aspect that does not get enough time in most training, it brings its own bundle of questions, the most pertinent being……..

What constitutes a win?

Do I stay or do I go?

To be continued in part 2.



FIST LOGIC, Uncategorized



We must decide if we are learning to fight or learning Wing Chun, there is a difference, and the devil is in the details.


A lot of the things we are shown, especially in the beginners phase, the  first 5 years or so,  are ways to explore the IDEA of  Wing Chun, an introduction or prologue and not in fact directions to take forwards and most certainly not techniques, I have for a long time now been of the opinion that there are no techniques in Wing Chun at all. 

The methods we learn should be looked on as ways to handle force, once we do this we see that they all do the same thing, and to a certain extent that there is only one movement in all of Wing Chun.

When we watch videos of Wing Chun people in fights against other styles the ones that do poorly are the ones that try to use their Wing Chun training, the ones that never managed to move on from the preliminary introduction.

The Wing Chun people that win in these fights, and there are many, usually just fight and allow their choices to be influenced by their Wing Chun training, in a fist fight adhering to the principles of Wing Chun is far more effective than using specific moves from specific Forms.

Fighting is always about the choices we make, not the moves.

Wing Chun is a concept based Martial Art, or at least that is how the story goes, but who out there actually knows the concepts?  I have trained with some of the worlds top Masters and when I asked them they just shrugged and said S.L.T.

But what does that mean?

If any one does know the concepts please leave a note in the comments.

If we genuinely do believe that Wing Chun is a concept based martial art we need to accept the position that there is no ground zero, there is no single Big Bang Theory to back us up, to have any hope of understanding Wing Chun we must firstly understand what OUR OWN CONCEPT is.

A concept is an abstract notion from which we can formulate Ideas, the more abstract the notion is, the more creative and numerous are the ideas formed.

By their very nature concepts can create movement in opposite directions to each other, IDEAS that when viewed side by side are contradictory or self defeating.

Internal – External arguments exposes this perfectly, in isolation they are both strong, exciting and fundamentally sound approaches but looked at together they clash, they both highlight the foolishness of the others approach and as a result tend to invalidate each other.

After more than 25 years continues training in Wing Chun I have come to the conclusion that it is what we do not do that defines us a great deal more than the Forms or Chi Sau, Internal or External.

What I see as a fundamental stumbling block with Wing Chun is the lack of meaningful contact in training, but ironically bringing meaningful contact into training would create major complications from the perspective of being a counter attacking martial art.

Sparring always becomes a mess that just looks like really bad boxing, Chi Sau sparring turns into grappling or some type of tug of war and Forms offer little if any interaction with opposing force.

How can Forms or Chi Sau bring genuine contextual understanding?

We must establish our own concepts to guide our own training.

We must decide if we are learning to fight or learning Wing Chun, there is a difference, and the devil is in the details.

FIST LOGIC requires that if we are touching an opponent then we must be punching them, this is the basis of simultaneous attack and defence, it could be any strike of course not just a punch, this is not always possible in the chaos of a violent encounter so simultaneous attack and defence becomes a concept to work from, to try to manifest.

This is all theory, reality is rarely similar, fights care little for style or lineage, to give ourselves the best possible chance of surviving a violent encounter we need two things above all others.

1, the ability to move efficiently so as to be in the right place at the right time to deliver the perfect shot.

2, the ability to be able to hit with power from the wrong place when we find ourselves there.

Both are skills that need developing, exploring and understanding, neither can be learned by moving slowly or standing still.

Most students think they understand motion but when you watch them practising there are some obvious grey areas, things like rhythm and timing, three dimensionality, how do we affect it and where does it fit in? 

Wing Chun footwork is portioned out in drips through the Chum Kiu, Biu Gee, Knives and Pole Forms, it is a conglomeration that is not plug and play, some assembly is required.

How do we deal with variability, accept it as a threshold and not allow it to become dogma and bully us? Is it more important to control our own movement or our opponents?

Treating  movement as a concept instead of a methodology will revitalise and enlighten the Forms.

By far the most important and misunderstood aspect of  Wing Chun is the concept of counter attacking, how we perceive this will change everything we do in an instant, counter attacking is not simultaneous attack and defence, we can counter attack without defending.

Exploring what counter attacking is will be a long post, one that I am working on at the moment, apart from anything else it is complicated by the very fact that it requires someone to attack us and that could take any shape or form that the other person can think of, it is multi layered, it is not attacking, it is not defending it is not even fighting.