The Little Idea???


This is a repost of a repost, even though it was only back in September when I reposted it I find that the lesson has not quite sunk in. This is the Money Shot if we wish to understand the nuances of nerve activation, which is what brings our Crazy Horse to life. Believe me, this is one of those “I wish I had been told this earlier” kind of situations.

Where or what is the ‘LITTLE IDEA’.

Could it be that we are the ‘LITTLE IDEA’?

Any training is really about self-realisation.

The development of a new self, or at least a new vision that goes above and beyond us, sets new paradigms, attains new heights.

A self that is physically, mentally and emotionally on a different level.

A competent and capable self.

Trained and ready to face any challenge. 

Not just violence.

Wing Chun is a vehicle.

But like any vehicle on any long journey, we would do well to know how it works, how to fix it when it breaks down, to treat it with respect, so that it lasts us a life time.

On any journeys of significance, as we progress, we accumulate new knowledge and develop opinions.

Opinions that change as we gain further knowledge.

It is how we grow, move forward, transcend.

At this juncture, my opinion is this… 

The most important aspect of our training is to stabilise our spine.

 I believe that this is ‘THE NUCLEUS OF THE LITTLE IDEA’!

All of our training, all of our FORMS, our drills, our Chi Sau and whatever else we are involved in and around are nothing more than ‘stress tests’ to see if we can play them and maintain “a stable spine’.


It grows from using this Nucleus, thinking about this Nucleus, becoming this Nucleus.


Task number one.


There are numerous methods although ultimately they all boil down to Intra-abdominal Pressure {I.A.P.}

I am in no way a physical therapist, I am not going to advise you how to do this, but to be expected there is a ‘living shit tonne’ of videos on Youtube, by real doctors.

This is a decent one for getting the general gist of where and how to start.

Watch this and then surf the recommended video links on the right of the presentation and find one that makes sense to you.

Work on this alongside your ‘Crazy Horse’ exercises.

‘Crazy Horse’ is an awareness and conditioning exercise, in time we need to infuse I.A.P. into it.

This is not particularly difficult, but neither is it quick.

In the numerous styles that I have studied there has always been talk of breathing techniques, Buddhist breathing, Daoist breathing, belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, breathing into our feet the list is endless.

They are all on the right track but they are also wrong in so many ways.

It was not until about 5 years ago when I was seeing a rehab specialist for several weeks, at the ‘Pain Clinic in Liverpool Hospital’, that I was finally able to put all the pieces together

We always boast that what we do in Wing Chun is based on ‘normal, human body movement’ but few schools teach ‘normal, human body movement’.

They teach ‘Wing Chun’ movement, which is so very rarely normal and only partly human.

I know that I am repeating myself here…

First, let’s be better humans.

As always…




This post is more a stream of a thought exercise than an attempt to say anything meaningful.

It popped up simply because I was thinking, and not because I was thinking of anything specific.

If it rings any bells or turns any lights on they are your bells and your lights.

You have heard me say on many occasions that the most important thing for a Martial Artist to develop is honesty.

Here we are in the run-up to the holiday season, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa pick your flavour, the time when the training numbers drop off due to demands from friends and family, perhaps even work, I was a Chef and late December is a horror show.

This is when for our own benefit and growth above all else, we need to be honest.

Q. Why are we missing training tonight?

Is it really because we are in a situation where we are not at all in control of our own lives, that no decisions are our own, that other people call all of the shots?

Why do we invent these external pressures, or if the pressures are real and not invented, why do we comply with them?

Whose life is this?

Do we make our own decisions or do others make them for us?

This would be a form of slavery and a condition that would not bring us any benefit that we would ever sign up for.

But we did sign up.

Kung Fu training is not compulsory.

So where does honesty come into it?

It is in our honesty when answering any question that is asked of us.

Especially by ourselves.

For starters.

Why are we out with our friends instead of training?

Why are we shopping with our family instead of training?

Why are we doing overtime at work instead of training?

There will be some people reading these lines and thinking is Derek having some kind of a dig here?

Absolutely not.

The answer is that we deliberately choose to do these other things instead of training.

That we deliberately choose to do these other things.

Of course, we could equally ask, why am I training instead of being at the office party, or Christmas shopping, or spending time with friends and family?

This is essentially the same question.

A more challenging question would be, ‘why are we making excuses instead of taking responsibility for our own choices?

And here in late December, more than any other time of the year we are in the season choices.

Every day in this season we can begin the practice of honesty.

Or more importantly, begin to understand the pursuit of honesty.

Perhaps to establish a better grip on this we need to rephrase the word Honesty and the act of being Honest.

There is a word that has been used by countless wisdom traditions from all across the globe that fits here…


What is it to be Impeccable?

To live in accordance with the highest standards; to be faultless, free from fault or blame, flawless.

As a boy I found this IDEA mirrored in the histories I was reading, tales of the Japanese Samurai and the struggles of the Lakota Peoples of North American Planes, and of the Toltecs of Mexico. 


There are many ancient wisdom traditions that equate people actively and deliberately trying to understand life as Warriors.

So what is it to be a Warrior?

To be a warrior is to be ready at all times to meet death.

Back in the late 1960s, just as I was becoming obsessed with Judo I encountered and became absorbed in the writings of Carlos Castaneda, in particular the book Journey to Ixlan, which described a journey of healing and transformation through Toltec mysticism.

The main protagonist, Don Juan Matus says…

… “A warrior should be prepared only to battle. His spirit is not geared to indulging and complaining, nor is it geared to winning or losing. The spirit of a warrior is geared only to struggle, and every struggle is a warrior’s last battle on earth. Thus the outcome matters very little to him. In his last battle on earth, a warrior lets his spirit flow free and clear.

Don Juan Matus

There is only the moment we are in, to make excuses or blame other people is self-delusion and misses the point.

To be a warrior, to be IMPECCABLE does not need us to change the physical things we are doing, only the way we represent ourselves in the face of these events.

I am beginning to ramble so let’s pull it back together.

Q. Why do we do, the things we do?

  1. Because we choose to.

Own it.

This post is not in any way about putting people in an awkward place to make them come to training.

But if you have come to training, come because you wish to learn whatever it is we offer, it is not playing, it is not fantasy fulfilment, it is a chance to learn something.

Own it.

I am not trying to create a Paul Coelho or Eckhart Tolle vibe here, but there is a very real correlation between their writings and in the deeper reasons for practising Martial Art.

Come training or go shopping they are the same, and every day is a school day.

Own it.





Many people go to Hong Kong and come back as though they now posses secret knowledge.

I came to Wing Chun by accident.

My partner of the time wished to learn Kung Fu and she had been told of a style that was developed by a woman, Wing Chun.

 Back in 1991 I had never heard of Wing Chun.

 I was 38 years of age with over 30 years of experience in assorted, mostly Japanese, Martial Arts and fortunately for me I did not need to learn how to fight.

So I did not begin as others do, wide-eyed and hopeful.

For all of my life I have been influenced by creative and non-linear thinking, I was not the type of student that took anything at face value.

I have always required some kind of tangible, measurable proof.

So it was with a certain amount of difficulty that I listened to the seniors of the school telling me the Wing Chun story, “Invented by a woman, blah, blah, blah”.

It was all so obviously false, and I had a creeping suspicion that Wing Chun was a bogus Martial Art.

As the training progressed I was told things by my Instructors that quite simply did not make any sense, when I questioned them I was told that the problem was my level of understanding and not Wing Chun theory.

This was not the best way to win over a doubter, it reinforced my idea that Wing Chun was bogus and that my Instructors knew very little of value.

In time I became an Instructor and began training under the supervision of the Schools Master, Sifu {Jim} Fung Chuen Keung.

A genuine Hong Kong Master.

Over the years I developed a good, honest and open relationship with Sifu Jim, his English language skill was excellent so there was never any difficulty in his explaining exactly what he meant. 

After many conversations Sifu Jim said to me that it was almost impossible for non-Chinese people to understand Wing Chun correctly, firstly there was the problem of translating anything from Chinese into English, the two languages did not share any common ground, so any translation was at best a guess that depended more on the individuals understanding of the subject matter. 

 However, Sifu Jim regarded the biggest problem as the difference between the basic building blocks of Chinese Civilisation as opposed to the building blocks of  Western Civilisation.  

Chinese thinking is a result of  the influence of such thinkers as Lao Tzu, Confucius and Buddha, whereas Western thinking was based on the ideas of Greek and Arab philosophers and Judeo – Christian thinking.

This makes for a completely different World View.

Chinese people and Western people are doing completely different Martial Arts, even if we use the same words and the same moves we are not doing the same thing because we do not inhabit the same mental or emotional universe.

Pre W.W.2. Chinese thinking is very much about finding the middle ground, about accommodating diverse opinions and ideas, no such thing as being completely wrong or completely right.

In western thinking there is the great divide, it is forever and always right or wrong, Westerners truly think that the only way to the truth is by debate {argument} and that ultimately there can only be one way, this is the complete opposite of Chinese thinking. 

At the time when I was having these conversations with my Sifu, many of my contemporaries were taking the pilgrimage to Hong Kong, to train with my Sifu’s own Sifu, Choy Shong Tin.

My Sifu shared his opinion that Westerners would have a serious problem in Hong Kong because we cannot change who we are and that it is the Chinese way to tell people they are doing well when in fact they are not.

Chinese people would understand the subtleties and put in more work, westerners would take it at face value and go buy a new hat.

Later in our relationship my Sifu told me that many of his Instructors did not teach what he had taught them.

They thought they were making things easier for the students by changing the explanations, but in the end they were just making things up and getting it wrong.

When I asked why he allowed this to happen and not fix it, he told me that even though it was his school, and his teachings, when people chose not to listen it was not his place to force it.

If they asked for help he would give it, but until then….

“People lose themselves and people can find themselves”.

The normal Chinese “Kung Fu” way was to understand you were lost and make an effort to get back on track.

This creates some unintended major issues for Westerners who think that they are right until being told otherwise.

For westerners, this is how our system works, how our schools work and how our societies work.

From this point on I would wince when someone said…

 “This is what Sigung Choy said when I was in Hong Kong” implying that this is how it is.

Staying on this point for a moment did they really hear Sigung Choy say anything?

Or did they hear someone else translate what Sigung said? 

Unless the translator is a United Nations-level translator that happens to have the same level of understanding of Wing Chun that Sigung Choy has the chances of that translation being accurate are slim to non-existent.

A genuine example about the vagaries of translations.

There was a video on YouTube of the late Wong Shun Leung visiting my Sifu’s school in Adelaide, Australia in 1992, my Sifu was acting as translator, and at one point W.S.L. describes his thinking about pivoting, which happened to be quite different from my Sifu’s idea so Sifu Jim translated it to be in line what he taught himself.

By the time of this video my Sifu had passed away so I could not ask him why he did that, but his excellent knowledge of English and his natural Cantonese made an accidental mistranslation unlikely.

 Any translation is rarely what the person is saying.

Many people go to Hong Kong and come back as though they now posses secret knowledge.

Hopefully it is not deliberate, but they consider themselves favourably blessed because they have been to Hong Kong whereas others may not have been?  

Suddenly everything they say is….

Sigung showed ME this.

Sigung told ME this.

I saw this in Hong Kong.

This is such a Western way of thinking, and yet many use it to measure  Chinese thinking.

Once we Westerners think that we are following the “Right Way” we are truly lost.

But can we find our own way and if we do will it still be Wing Chun?

A question to all Westerners, do you think that Forms teach anything practical? 

 This is almost pure Plato, the diametric opposition of good and bad, it is hard to imagine any Chinese thinker choosing this path, but I have endured quite a few people that hold themselves in high esteem tell me that there is only THE FORM.

Is there any way that we Westerners can approach Wing Chun from a Chinese point of view?

My Sifu thought that this was just not possible, and now, after more than 30 years training and teaching Wing Chun, I tend to agree.

Shortly before his passing I asked my Sifu 

Me:   What is the “Little Idea”?

Sifu Jim:   It is a Concept.

Me:   But what is it about?

Sifu:   You take an IDEA, any IDEA, and you make it smaller.

If we are smart, and we are in the midst of struggle, loaded like mules on the edge of collapse, we can put down our packs for a moment and stand tall, as humans, even though we know we must soon put back our packs and donkey up the mountain.




image below… The Suspension Bridge on the Border of Hida and Etchū Provinces by Katsushika Hokusai

Does reaching Master Level have any relevance to surviving violence?


There is a saying that my Sifu used, and many of my fellow students still use, that I absolutely and completely disagree with….  Wing Chun is easy to learn but difficult to Master, maybe like so many things in Wing Chun this saying simply does not translate clearly into English, because in English this statement makes no sense.

Improving in any Martial Art, but especially Wing Chun is not really about the physical training, it is not about power production or dexterity, it is not about footwork or punching, it is not about Chi Sau or Forms but these are the things that consume our time, this is what we consider to be the work.

But is it?

I know from personal experience that in the chaos of a street fight there is precious little thinking going on, it is only in hindsight that we can garner an idea of what we did to survive.

And then we try to retrofit those actions to reflect our training as if it was even important, only the outcome is ever important.

The question must be asked, does reaching Master Level have any relevance to surviving violence?

These oblique ideas need to be justified if we truly wish to be in control of our own training and have it fulfil the role we wish it to play.

How do we do this?

How do we shape our involvement and as such propel our training to the top level?

Many people in Wing Chun focus the majority of their training on the Siu Nim Tao Form, which if it works for you is just fine but how do you know it is the best approach if it is the only approach you use?  

We benefit in any endeavour by using multiple approaches, by having different expectations.

It may be a cliche but it is also true that “If you only do what you have always done you will only get what you always got” so hoping to achieve upwards momentum by continually working on the Siu Nim Tao is a bit of a pipe dream.

Empty your cup and think about this.


I believe that only working on one Form is procrastination, it is lazy and ultimately tied to fear of failure.

Growth and improvement require feeding with a complex diet, they need dynamic involvement. 

There is another relatively large stumbling block when it comes to advancing in Wing Chun.

Most of the important work of Wing Chun is spent working out how to not do certain things.

Such as not fighting force, not creating tension in the body, not using overt strength.

The difficulty becomes learning how to not do something by actively doing something else?

This is quite a conundrum.

Anchoring our training in any single Form, not just the Siu Nim Tao, is always self-limiting bordering on self-defeating. 

Each Form has a core learning objective, often multiple core learning objectives, that only begin to make sense once they are viewed in relationship to the whole.  

That fabled 30,000-foot view.

For instance, what does the Siu Nim Tao teach us about moving our body or accepting force?  

What does Chum Kiu teach us about driving our energy out to the edges of the body or core winding?  

What does Biu Gee teach us about positioning and negating an opponent? 

What does the Dummy Form teach us about extending our awareness and energy out to manipulate a weapon?

Ultimately we must ask ourselves what does Wing Chun teach us about anything that is not Wing Chun?  

We need a large dose of honesty here, when the brown gets airborne and the fan shares it around it will not be two people doing Chi Sau.

Dai Sigung Isaac Newton informs us that every event is the sum of its parts, so at best, even if we are faultless and perfect, it will be only 50% Wing Chun.

As a final circling of the wagons, there is another thing that my Sifu would say that I absolutely and completely do agree with…. 


A painting of a Horse never won the Melbourne Cup.

Angry, art loving punter.



Any Martial Art that teaches their students how to defend is not teaching them how to fight.

This is a question many students ask, and as a result, many schools set out to teach people how to fight with Wing Chun, but this approach is fraught with troublesome issues.

The first cab out of the rank is that Wing Chun does not fight.

This does not mean that we cannot use Wing Chun stylings in a fight, but it is not what the training is all about, and as such, if you use these stylistic motifs in a fight, it is not Wing Chun.

This IDEA can be difficult to understand and get our heads around, especially if we have limited experience with violence.

And it is not helped by internet celebrities using Wing Chun stylings in set-up demonstrations where they effortlessly punish numerous opponents.

History teaches that they come unstuck once they enter the arena with a genuine fighter.

This guy is truly amazing, but this is movie stuff, not real, and not Wing Chun.

But this is not just a Wing Chun problem.

Any Martial Art that teaches their students how to defend is not teaching them how to fight.

This should be obvious.

It teaches them how to defend because they are being attacked and not because they are involved in a toe-to-toe duel.

It teaches them how to escape violent situations.

Self-defence is not fighting.

In a fight, both sides attack, and attack, and attack.

Watch some tournament fights, no one wins a fight by defending.

This is not all doom and gloom, we just need to understand what we are trying to achieve.

There is a different mindset/attitude between fighting and escaping and it is a mindset/attitude that we unconsciously slip into and not one we consciously choose.

Fighting is two people exchanging blows, this is not what happens in an attack, and it is not what we hope to achieve in a counterattack.

In a violent encounter, which is the scenario that Wing Chun trains for, we are attacked, and our response is initially more in line with sheltering from a storm than defending…

…and then we find a way to turn the tide and unleash our own storm.

There is no exchanging punches, no looking for weakness’, no ducking and weaving, no feinting, and no concern about putting ourselves in a weak position, all hallmarks of fighting.

It is all or nothing and then home.

It is really, really important to think about this, to talk to fellow students to see their thinking on this, especially friends that have experience with combat sports.

Ask your Sifu when, if ever, he has used his Wing Chun, what was the situation?

I have used my Wing Chun on more than one occasion.

And none of them were fights.

If we do not understand when and where we will need the training, how can we make it work?

I will go into this deeper in a future post, meantime, think about this…

It is not the shapes or the moves that define a style.







How we train and what we train is not Wing Chun. Wing Chun is just a tin of tomatoes.

If, as I contend, there is only one body, only one shape and only one movement in Wing Chun, then it makes sense that there is also only one post.

This post is only 18 months old but I would warrant that you have all forgotten it.

Luckily, or perhaps not, I have not.


The most valuable thing we can do at this time is to spend some time sorting out what it is we think we are doing.

What it is we want to do.

And find a way to get there.

Going into this post there are three things that I want you to take away from it for future reference.

They are more what the recently departed Edward de Bono would call a ‘provocation’ than information.

First off: In 47 B.C.E. Gaius Julius Ceasar, after a swift victory against Pharnaces II at the Battle of Zela, reported to the Roman Senate the words Veni; Vedi; Vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.

Considering that he was ‘greatly’ outnumbered he would have been more accurate to say Veni; Vidi; et bonam fortunam, I came, I saw, I got lucky.

Secondly: The great S.African golfer Gary Player once hit a seemingly impossible shot from a deep bunker straight into the hole.

As he walked out of the bunker, a spectator shouted, ‘That was a lucky shot, Gary’.

Gary Player turned to the fan and said ‘It sure was and you know what? The more I practise the luckier I get.

Finally: A poem I heard from Spike Milligan…

My Brother Tim had a tomato thrown at him, while tomatoes are soft and wrapped in a skin,
this one was especially packed in a tin.

How we train and what we train is not Wing Chun.
Wing Chun is just a tin of tomatoes.

Hopefully, this will all make sense in the end.

Back in the day, 15 or 20 years ago,I asked my teacher…

‘what is needed to become a Wing Chun Master’?

He said ‘there are no shortcuts or secrets, just turn up to training and pay attention”

Very wise words that have since proven true.

Then he winked, handed me a tin of tomatoes and said ‘don’t leave home without it’.


Something to consider.

If we find ourselves in a violent situation either we did not see it coming,

if we had we would have surely avoided it completely,

or we started it ourselves. 

Think about that.




In a world where too much Wing Chun is not enough, we all gave more.

This Saturday just past turned into a monster training session, the guys were all right up for it and I really felt the vibe.

The training was as the training is, but we all dug deep, so deep that I had way too much video footage.

I have cut the video up into 3 chunks so that you guys can watch one over coffee or what have you, and then tomorrow and the next day.

In a world where too much Wing Chun is not enough, we all gave more.

For tribe members that did not make it Saturday bring it in with you next time you train.

If your plan is to watch one a day then I suggest starting with the last video we shot, “The last 10 minutes” it was more a chat than training but it was tasty.

Most of the training that we improve from takes place between our ears, without it, there is nothing, so train every day.

Warriors don’t raise to the level of expectations, they fall to the level of their training.”




Because if we ever do get into a fight, it will be on that bridge.

This post is only 6 or so months old so hopefully, it is not totally forgotten, it pretty much applies to what we have all been exploring this past week, albeit through different methods.

Everything will work to a certain extent, and everything will fail to a certain extent.

It is about 3 things.

Understanding how our body works

Understanding our ‘FIST LOGIC’.

And… Understanding how to build a bridge between the two.

Because if we ever do get into a fight, it will be on that bridge.

We are not people learning Wing Chun, we are people using WingChun to learn about ourselves.

There is a joke here in Oz. 

“What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back”?

A stick.

Asking “will my Martial Art work” is a little bit like asking will this stick work?

It will.

But only if you know how to use it, and are willing to use it.

If we do not align our training with hitting someone, and hitting them really hard, we have the wrong stick.

At the end of the day, everything we do is about hitting people, and not about defense.

The moral of this tale is knowing the right stick.


Biu Gee introduces us to stabilisation through compression and organisation of the body, mostly, but not only, through ‘Core Winding’.

The various but sometimes subtle rotations of Biu Gee are intended to induce spontaneous martial Innovation’.

How can we approach this work to gain an understanding of these Concepts?

We should use something, anything we use frequently, and have a very natural feeling for, in my case, it is the Knife Hand.

Learn the shape of the Knife Hand.

Learn the shape of the transition from defense to attack and how this action creates and stores kinetic energy.

The best place to explore this is in the Biu Gee Form not in free play.

Any movement in the Form that extends into the ‘Hit Zone’ can be regarded as a Knife Hand, or if you prefer a punch mechanism.

By now you should all be aware that I believe that when training doing all of the Form slows your understanding down.

The best approach is to repeat the segments that can transition from a defensive {Chum Kiu} posture to an extension, be it Knife Hand, finger Jab, or Punch, they all use the same mechanism.

 The next step, take it into active play, in Chi Sau steer your partner out of his zone and into yours, this will simulate taking the Position of Dominance in a real fight.

How did you achieve it?

Did you push?

Did you pull?

Check it out.

C.K. shift left, B.G. upper body pivot to the floating ribs, do not let the feet dissolve the torsion.

In general, most Wing Chun practice does not improve overall movement, the information is there, but it is veiled in subtle inferences that are not openly discussed, it is the whole ‘Secret Information’ aspect of Biu Gee.

However, if you have good movement and agility, when you play the Biu Gee Form they will stick out like Dog’s Do Dah’s, here is a link to some good info on movement from outside of Wing Chun.

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy,

and great things in that which is small. 



Forms are organising patterns that have little if any genuine purpose apart from dexterity and proprioception.

This post was originally for Rick, but as I said back then…

It never hurts to go over stuff we think we know.

All Forms are a way to organise our body along certain lines to fit certain agendas.

Forms are organising patterns that have little if any genuine purpose apart from dexterity and proprioception.

Added to this we are training our body to be in a specific and exact shape.

This is very important and frequently overlooked or at the very least misunderstood.

Creating an exact shape is a transferable skill, once we can accurately make one exact shape we can accurately make any exact shape.

Chum Kiu introduces us to contact and as such introduces us to force/power and how to deal with it, use it.

Force/power comes from Gravity, sinking or dropping. It comes from Momentum, moving in a straight line and it comes from Torque, rotation.

Instead of just taking all this as a given try to identify these IDEAS in the various FORMS.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.  George S. Patton





Thursday evening 6.50pm. Jordel has just let me know he is stuck at work, Sam S. is not up for it due to a big day’s work and yes George has been called back into work, and Costas is staying home.

Rick, Saleh and Sam B. do not train Thursday.

8.00pm no one is coming but I am here, ready.

So here are a few quotes to think about and a small video.

“ Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. 

Arthur Schopenhauer 

Knowledge is gained by adding something every day. 
Wisdom is gained by taking something away every day.

Lao Tzu

Violence happens by Surprise, Closer, Harder and Faster than in most Martial Arts Training.

Everyone that knows anything.

Hit hard, hit first and keep on hitting.

Jackie Fisher.
 First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy 1904

If this brings up any questions bring them in.