FIST LOGIC

CHI KUNG OR KUNG FU?

 

Knowing what we are doing is the first step to being able to use what we know.

 

One thing that is becoming very clear to me as we reopen for training is that so many Wing Chun Students, including some Senior Instructors, have a remarkably poor IDEA of what violence is.

This really is a serious worry because the only aim of Wing Chun is to deal with violence that is being acted out upon us, if we do not understand the nature of violence how can we ever hope to train to survive it?

Yes, due to COVID 19 these are difficult times, changes need to be made and adhered to, but what changes?

Even a complete idiot would tell you that you cannot teach a counter-attacking Close-Quarter Martial Art from a distance of 1.5M.

At this time practical Wing Chun must take a back seat, our focus should be on understanding the environment of violence, understanding the ‘mindset’ that leads to violence, and of the utmost importance the mindset needed to deal with violence, without this there is no Wing Chun.

I will expand on this over the next few posts and hopefully offer suggestions to take us forwards.

Even from 1.5M.

 

Let’s start here with an approach to attitude, and what it takes to develop the right type.

 

As Martial Artists, even if we are just a bit half-arsed, we all trust our training, and expect it to work if and when needed.

But what do we really expect the outcome of our training to be, do we even know?

For instance what ‘BOX’ does it live in?

From a biophysical standpoint, training is training, there is no difference between training to play a sport or training to defend ourselves from violence.

I personally find that my training fits perfectly in the all-round General Sports Box.

But so many of my Martial Arts friends and associates rail against this opinion.

 

Kung Fu is kick ass man, sport is just sport.

 

I believe that to become functionally effective it is, in fact, more beneficial to approach our training from a sports perspective, to embrace and include modern sports science, if for no other reason than to foster a lesser involvement of the Ego.

We are less likely to respond to a situational question with ‘I will just step in and hit him’, which we may well do in reality, but we cannot train for that.

Especially from 1.5Mtrs away.

All training is task-specific, it just is.

So what specific task is what we are doing preparing us for?

Is it enough?

Is it too much?

Is it just right?

Anyone with a schoolboys experience of sport is well aware that before playing we go through a routine using the same movements and actions as we may use in the game at an easier, softer, slower level of participation.

This allows the body to prepare itself for the greater demands to come.

We all know this as the ‘Warm-up’.

Anyone that has undertaken training to improve their sports capability knows that here as well we do similar movements and actions as we may use in the game but this time under increasing load.

Increasing weight, resistance and speed.

This brings about an overall physical improvement, this is the ‘Training Effect’.

The ‘Training Effect’ helps us to develop a higher power output for a lower effort input, hence the maxim ‘Train Hard, Play Easy’.

This also indicates that the environment we expect to use these skills, to be operationally effective in, is considerably more involved than a ‘Warm Up” but not as full-on as “Heavy Training”.

Traditionally in Chinese Martial Arts both the ‘Warm-up’ and the “Heavy Training” fall under the banner of Chi Kung while the operational aspect is, of course, Kung Fu.

On the face of it, Wing Chun does not have a Chi Kung component, everything is useable Kung Fu.

Sadly this is just spin, marketing, selling less for more.

How can we tell the difference between Chi Kung and Kung Fu in our Wing Chun training?

This a great deal more simple than you may imagine, and Simplicity is one of the central pillars of our ‘Fist Logic’.

If whatever it is we do is not aligned with our ‘Fist Logic’ it is not Wing Chun.

Similar is not the same.

Close, but no cigar.

The absolute ‘Central Pillar’ of our Fist logic is ‘Practicality’.

I have said elsewhere that there are only 2 important aspects to using Wing Chun effectively.

  1. We must not get hit.
  2. We must be able to accurately and powerfully hit our opponent.

If we defending against a genuine attack that is genuinely meant to harm us we are using Kung Fu.

If we are hitting our opponent with full focus and total commitment to finish this right here, right now we are using Kung Fu.

Everything else is Chi Kung.

This is not a bad thing, this is in no way a negative, it is in-fact an absolute and dynamic positive.

Knowing what we are doing is the first step to being able to use what we know.

The big test, the real goal in all of our training is to not allow our Ego to coax us into self-delusion, this starts with being honest about our training, what it is, what it can do for us but most importantly…

 

WHAT IT IS FOR.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

STILL POINTING? STILL BLIND?

 

WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, THINGS ARE JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.  .

 

In our post COVID world, we are still more involved in the mental aspects of our training than the usual physical aspects, there is a lot more to be gained from this type of training if we know what to look for.

On Saturday the senior guys and I spent some time working on a video to expand on why what we do is not what we think it is.

How the learning objective of the things we are doing is not the things we are doing themselves and as such how the things we do are of little if any practical value.

How the fact that nothing we do will work if we try to use it and why this is not even the slightest of problems.

However, it was 6 days before my 67th birthday and I appear to have had a ‘seniors moment’ and forgot to press the record button.

This video is a preamble to the next video.

 

 

This line of thinking brings me back to one of my favourite maxims…

 

WHEN YOU UNDERSTAND, THINGS ARE JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.

WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, THINGS ARE JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.  

 

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?

 

 

 

 

 

FIST LOGIC

A CONTINUATION TO THE CONVERSATION.

HERE COMES THE SUN.

 

 

 

If we try to deliberately make this happen it disappears like morning mist.

 

Social distancing means we are still working mostly on head stuff.

Nothing we are training is of any practical use.

If / when we get into a violent situation we will not even think about using Wing Chun we will only think about getting out of that situation in the best shape possible.

In a fight we will simply fight, only in training will we do Wing Chun, only in the training hall, never in the street.

But we know this.

Every man and his dog connected to Wing Chun will tell you that Wing Chun is a concept-driven Martial Art.

If that is the case then whatever we do physically, or energetically if you study ‘Internal’ aspects, are nothing but vehicles for the exploration and deeper understanding of the concepts.

Learning to understand things like not fighting force, not carrying weight, escorting what comes in, facing the shadow – chasing the shadow, embracing the economy of movement and the true reality of what it means to Counter-Attack.

Without a method to explore and experience these ideas, they will remain as just words.

Take adopting softness as an example.

The ultimate goal is not to be soft, come on get real what use is being soft in a shit storm, the goal is to avoid becoming stiff, learning how to not tense up under pressure.

Relaxation is not an ongoing and ever-evolving condition, relaxation is a method to disengage from overt tension in our body when we are placed under load, the tension that will slow us down and steal power.

In Wing Chun training we are rarely placed under load due to our misunderstanding of this concept.

Muscles have two states, tense and relaxed, if they are being used they are tense if they are not being used they are relaxed.

A relaxed muscle is turned off, we cannot use a muscle that is turned off, to believe otherwise is foolish.

Our idea of relaxing is out of context, as are so many things if they are looked at as being practical.

The majority of our training is Chi Sau and Forms.

Even the most one-eyed of Wing Chun students realise that neither Chi Sau nor Forms are intended for fighting, it is simply not their role in the system.

Can they inform and influence how we fight, of course they can, but they cannot teach us how to fight.

Many people pay lip service to the notion that ‘training is not fighting’ without having any genuine experience of fighting and as such no means of comparison.

My first 15 years in the Martial Arts were in the combat sports of Boxing and then Judo.

I have first-hand experience of the difference between training for an upcoming fight or match and turning up and fighting, it is huge and extremely dissimilar.

Living in Liverpool through the 1960s and 1970s meant that not all of my fights were in a ring or on a mat.

The fights that were not in a ring or on a mat turned out to have nothing in common with what happened in the ring or on the mat and were even farther away from what I was training.

I am really not too sure if I did anything in these street encounters that could be considered a result of my training.

The role of our shapes and movements is to expose us to the intelligence of Wing Chun, which is deep and wide.

Seek out the why and ignore the how, just like Master Wong it is bogus.

Once we find it it can never be lost.

Once we understand it we do not need to train techniques.

Once we become one with Wing Chun every single gesture has power.

If we try to deliberately make this happen it disappears like morning mist.

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS’.

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
FIST LOGIC

WE WILL NEVER USE IT, HERE IS WHY.

 

The transition from Lawn Tennis to Table Tennis was a total ‘Mindbender”.

 

Continuing from the last post, let us consider why we will never use what we train.

First, a step to the left.

Back in the 1970s in the U.K., I was an avid Tennis player, Lawn Tennis on grass courts, as the all too-brief English Summer slipped into Autumn we would be forced to move onto hard courts to protect the sacred grass.

This was not an easy transition, tarmac, even ‘En tout cas’ was a very different environment that could take a fair number of games to come close to playing your own game.

Then we would lose the light.

In winter in northern Europe, it does not go light enough for outdoor sport until around 9 am and it becomes too dim to play at around 4.30 pm so everyone heads indoors.

It is not a weather thing, it is a light thing!!!

In an indoor sports centre space equals money, the 200 + square metres needed for a Tennis Court with a maximum of 4 people is a total ‘No-Go’ as far as the centre operators are concerned, so it becomes either Badminton or Table Tennis.

The transition from Lawn Tennis to Table Tennis was a total ‘Mindbender”.

But essentially they are the same game, we just need to ‘ADAPT’ our selves, our training and our game to the new environment.

Which of course we all did flawlessly. {cough}

If you have played any sport, at least semi-seriously, you do of course have your own version of this story.

As a boy, I played Rugby Union at school but on the weekend with my friends, it was Rugby League, essentially the same game, just a few rule changes, I simply adapted what I knew.

And got flattened.

I have a cousin that was a promising rugby league player here in N.S.W.

Life decided other choices for him but he became a committed and well respected ‘touch footy’ player.

In what can only be seen as a lapse of all reason he took part in a full-contact, for charity rugby league event.

It nearly killed him.

To bring it home, now think of our Wing Chun training and then think of genuine violence.

Anyone for a quick game of Ice Hockey?

 

… to be continued

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS’

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
FIST LOGIC

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Say what?

 

Once we change Wing Chun it is no longer Wing Chun.

 

At the heart of my own training is the practice of ‘Deconstruct – Reconstruct’.

During ‘Lockdown’ this has been elevated to a much higher level.

Instead of being a weekly practice, it is now more often daily.

Whenever I deconstruct what I know and then reconstruct the components there are always a few bits that I realise are not needed, so they get discarded, and my training becomes streamlined, more compact, more concise.

Occam’s Razor.

I am at a very different place than where I was before COVID 19.

Something that I have always known is that training is training and nothing more.

Nothing we do in training will be usable in an environment that is different than the one we train in.

A violent encounter is a ‘VERY’ different environment than our training environment.

The usual response to this statement by most people is that when needed we will just adapt our training to the new environment.

Really?

Are we to become some kind of Kung Fu Flying Fish.

To adapt means to change from one state of being to another.

Once we change Wing Chun it is no longer Wing Chun.

If what we depend on to get us out of a dangerous situation is not Wing Chun why are we training Wing Chun?

The most obvious example of this is Chi Sau.

Chi Sau has no connection to reality, in fact, Chi Sau only works when playing Chi Sau.

Chi Sau is a game.

Surviving violence is not a game.

 

to be continued…

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS’

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

POST COVID WING CHUN

A SHADOW OF OUR FORMER SELVES

 

It is all Wing Chun and all inter-related.

 

Going forwards in the short to medium term will be very challenging for the collective Martial Arts community, not just Wing Chun, with such a major disruption to training some students will simply not return.

Especially when we consider that a situation could easily arise were by Schools will be forced to deny training to their students due to the number of restrictions.

Visitors will be out of the question.

Many M.A. Schools run more as a labour of love than a business, overheads are high and returns are low so the requirements of greatly restricted numbers will be a severe test for many schools.

Rent will become a real threat to existence and the shortage of available extra evenings will be crippling.

Here at Wing Chun Sydney, we train in the Studio at the rear of my home, I am my Landlord, that gives me much greater flexibility than many of my colleagues, I can easily open up on additional days if needs be.

For our community to get through this upcoming test as best we can the keyword needs to be FLEXIBILITY.

I have always run an open door here, people are welcome as a casual that visits once or twice a year or a semi-regular that turns up every couple of weeks so to a large extent I am capable of being lineage agnostic.

The type of training we are used to will be on hold for some weeks perhaps even months, direct physical contact will be very limited.

Things like Chi Sau and Hand Drills will be sidelined, most training will be focused on Pad work and the Forms, especially the Knives {Baat Cham Dao} and the Pole {Lok Dim Boon Kwan} which I am happy to teach to any person of any level of training.

It is all Wing Chun and all inter-related.

 

If you find yourself in a difficult position, perhaps just want some guidance or small help so that you have things to work on at home until things return to normal consider having a one on one lesson with me.

Better still if you have a friend or three in the same position let me put together a program just for you and your friends at a day and time of your choosing covering exactly what you want to work on.

During the immediate post COVID period, until normality resumes, I am reducing the cost of private training to $40.00 per session so that everyone can at least stay in touch with what we do.

Stay healthy.

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS.

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

STAY FROSTY.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?

 

Uncategorized

OPENING UP AFTER COVID 19 LOCKDOWN.

AT LAST, AT LEAST A LITTLE.

 

TRAINING RESUMES AS NORMAL FROM JUNE 13, 2020.

 

As we emerge from the lockdown as much as we may want training to ramp up and get back to normal we will need to act with responsibility regarding “Social distancing”, and keeping at 1.5Metres from each other.

These ‘Social Distancing Rules’ have been mandated by the N.S.W. Government, non-compliance can lead to a hefty fine.

A goodly amount of what we did previously will remain on hold until we see which way the community responds to opening-up and if the Government allow close physical contact, i.e. hand to hand contact, handshakes.

Chi Sau will not be doable for the first few weeks, even if restrictions get eased and we used extended Arms we would be within the 1.5M. zone, the same holds true for most of our application training but we can still hit pads as long as both the pad man and the striker adopt bladed stances.

Applications can be adapted so that the passive partner could be holding an extended pad and striking with a foam ‘Pool Noodle’ to simulate an arm or leg.

This may sound like a negative but it can so easily be turned into a positive.

The ‘Theory of Training’ {Forms} is different in just about every way from the ‘Theory of Fighting’ {Applications} and we need an equal understanding of both if we wish to be proficient Wing Chun fighters.

Focusing only on the ‘Theory of Training’ will not help anyone become a proficient fighter, it is primarily a method of developing a Wing Chun Body.

Focusing only on ‘Theory of Fighting’ may help us become a decent Street Fighter, but not a decent Wing Chun fighter, which is our ultimate goal surely?

From our ‘FIST LOGIC’ perspective the Theory of Fighting ‘ is primarily a method to effectively use the Wing Chun Body.

If we do not develop afully functioning’ Wing Chun Body we have nothing to use.

Our skill level in fighting will always be intimately linked to our understanding of the Theory of Training, they are codependent on each other.

Remember to notify me if you plan to attend any of the training sessions as we are legally limited to 10 people per session, this should not present any difficulties as there are very rarely more than eight in attendance, but I would not wish for any of you to turn up and be turned away.

 

TRAINING RESUMES AS NORMAL FROM JUNE 13, 2020.

STAY FROSTY.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

THE WOODEN MAN.

 

when we lay ‘Hands-On’ we should be looking to begin a conversation.

 

I have pretty much finished the refit of the Studio so that when we can resume training we have plenty of space to work with, we now have over 30 square meters of ‘training area’, more than enough for 8 people at any one time still abiding by social distancing guidelines.

There is still no firm date on when we can resume but the rumblings from Macquarie Street have me anticipating it being before July so I wanted to get something out there for you guys.

Trying to do a solo video about the Dummy is really challenging and confusing, it is not possible to simply talk about any sort of ‘Hands-On’ training,  but in this instance, it gets convoluted because the Dummy is not really about putting ‘Hands-On’.

If we approach it from a ‘Hands-On’ perspective we are going astray, despite it being a ‘Hands-On’ training device it is still solo Training,  it is all about ‘Input’ and not ‘Output’ try not to see it like physical training but connect along the lines of mental training.

More than any other aspect of our training, even Chi Sau, the work we do on the Dummy has no direct practical application to fighting.

A situation arose in my training on the Dummy where I realised that half of what we do is incorrect by our own ‘Fist Logic’, our own philosophy and the other half was so impractical it was of very little value.

As a Martial Artist first and a Wing Chun student second this was a great cause of concern for me.

I would go to my Sifu and ask if I was doing the ‘Form’ correctly because it did not appear to make much sense and he would say “yes that is correct”.

On one occasion after voicing a negative opinion of the value of the Dummy he said to me “perhaps you are asking it the wrong questions”.

This comment stuck with me and I thought about it many times in many different ways, once when using a mind map I found myself wondering about the act of questioning itself.

When we ask our Sifu or a senior student a question we expect an answer that will illuminate the situation and help us progress, but if we ask a training partner we are usually looking to start a conversation that can help us see things from a different perspective, the Dummy is a training partner and not a teacher, when we lay ‘Hands-On’ we should be looking to begin a conversation.

 

 

If you are wondering why my Dummy is so high, my students that are presently working on the dummy are all about 30mm taller than me, it is easier for me to work with a bigger Wooden Man that it is for them to work with a smaller Wooden Man, the joys of being an Instructor.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS’

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

FIST LOGIC

ADVICE FROM K.STAR.

 

To paraphrase him and give you a hint ‘training slowly may not translate to fighting quickly’.

 

This is a link to a superb instalment of T.R.S. with Kelly Starret.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXL_PiOk_zc

What he is saying in this video relates so strongly with Wing Chun Fist Logic, especially at the beginning when he talks about ‘cross pattern interference’.

Do you think that there is a difference in the role of the feet between paddling and using the Pole?

I highly recommend using your noggin to see the connection.

To paraphrase him and give you a hint ‘training slowly may not translate to fighting quickly’.

If for whatever reason you cannot equate what he is talking about in this video you do not understand Wing Chun.

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS.

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

STAY FROSTY.

 

FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

W.C. POLE, WHAT DO WE THINK?

A NEW TAKE ON SOLO TRAINING.

 

My own thinking is that he included the Pole Form as a counter-point to his empty hand system, to establish context.

 

Why is there a long-range tool in a close quarter combat system?

Is it truly part of the Wing Chun System?

If so. Where does the Long Pole fit into the Wing Chun system?

Is it still relevant?

Was it ever relevant?

If we look at the historical record as to why “Empty Hand” fighting styles appeared, it is not as is often indicated that an autocratic regime banned the carrying and use of weapons, although this has happened on several occasions through history.

Early empty hand systems were developed to assist a warrior that had for some reason become unarmed to firstly protect themselves, then secondly stay in the fight by defeating and then taking an enemies weapon.

The armed and unarmed systems would be complementary but not necessarily integrated, or even remotely connected.

Jujutsu was the empty hand fighting style developed for Samurai Warriors that had been knocked off or fell off their Horse or found themselves unarmed in a nasty situation.

These days nobody seriously considers the Katana and the Wakizashi to be Jujutsu weapons but there was a time when Kenjutsu and Jujutsu walked hand in hand.

If we consider the situation in Southern China in the early to mid-1800s, when Wing Chun as we now know it was formalised by Dr Leung Jan, it was in the grip of the most vicious civil war our planet has witnessed.

The Taiping or Red Turban Rebellion.

As late in history as this was many of the rebel soldiers still fought with Spears or some kind of Pole Weapon, it is easy to imagine that these fighters would welcome a simple and effective hand fighting style.

But why would Dr Leung Jan add the Long Pole to his new system?

The Knives I can almost understand, they connect to the empty hands work on certain levels, but the Pole needs to be forced to even look like it belongs.

It is estimated that as many as 30, Million people died in the Taiping Rebellion, many would have been local rebel militia armed with Poles and Knives going up against trained soldiers with muskets.

Dr Leung Jan must have been aware of the impracticality of the Pole as a weapon.

We will never know.

My own thinking is that he included the Pole Form as a counter-point to his empty hand system, to establish context.

If the Wing Chun weapons were ever genuine fighting weapons or not is a mute question, in our time and our society using a weapon, even for self-defence is illegal and likely to make matters much worse.

The most important attribute for a Martial Artist to develop is not speed, it is not power, it is not balance or co-ordination it is HONESTY.

So let’s be honest, if we seriously need a weapon are we going to choose a Pole?

If we did choose a Pole would we choose a Pole that was tapered?

And if we chose a tapered Pole would we choose to hit the Bad Guy with the thin end?

A Pole can be looked at as a very long Baseball Bat, which end of a Baseball Bat would you use and why?

 

 

 

We can however still benefit from the Knives and Pole by paying close attention to the footwork and the challenges the Forms bring to staying in balance and remaining in a neutral state while working with loaded arms.

 

 

ON WEAPONS AND DANCING.

Bake in the U.K. during the 1970s I had friends that were involved in historical re-enactment activities, during most of this time I moved from ‘city to city’ because of my work and these groups gave me a touchstone to quickly make new friends.

Especially the Sealed Knot group the I became acquainted with from spending 3 years in Windsor.

Many were active soldiers and many did martial arts as well so it also helped me find training partners.

Although the training I did with these re-enactment groups was 100% theatrical, a bit like the Red Boat Opera, their desire to be as correct as possible meant that there was a premium placed on doing things that were accurate to how things were done at that period.

A time capsule.

As non-combative as this was, it was clear how deadly some of these techniques would have been, how weapons that may appear clumsy, like a Pike, in the right hands became unstoppable.

The Pike is a formidable weapon and a very real weapon.

The Lok Dim Boon Quan is a “Dancing Stick”.

But it teaches a great dance.

Turn the music up.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS’.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.