FIST LOGIC

KUNG FU TAG.

IS THIS TAG, SPARRING, OR CHI SAU?

The “Real Truth” of every Martial Art is Body Organisation.

What most people think of as Martial Arts training is really nothing more than a game of Tag played with moves that look like fighting.

Like Will Smith at the Oscars.

PRINCE OF BEL-AIR, OR CLEAR AIR?

Do not misread me here, this TAG is an important game to learn because the movements become the vehicle for the Style Specific Bodywork that turns this version of Tag from a game to a useable defensive or attacking fighting system with real power and ability.

This is all and every Self-Defence-Systems and all and every Martial Art Style without exception.

How can we claim our training is not just TAG when all we ever do is to pretend to hit each other, no one is ever seriously attacked, and this is a good thing.

There is training and then there is fighting, they are not the same thing, they are not even close to being the same thing.

This is especially true of “Reality-Based Martial Arts”, these guys just sweat a lot, pretend louder, pretend harder.

Everyone goes home, and no one goes to the hospital.

When we understand that it is not the shapes and movements that save the day but the QUALITY of the BODY that is making the shapes and movements, things become clearer and all styles become equal.

Different situations require different qualities.

If we intend to compete as an amateur or semi-pro fighter, as a “Combat Athlete” the most important qualities are physical qualities, skill, though obviously desirable is of secondary importance, the overriding “Super Quality” is the ability to go the distance and take the hits for as long as it takes to win, sometimes up to 30 minutes.  Hence the term “ATHLETE”.

Public Domain Self-Defence styles are more concerned with escaping a violent situation in one piece than victory at all costs, hit them hard, knock them down, and walk away, all of our efforts are to survive a violent 5 to 10-second window.

The ‘Super Quality” we need is organisation, good movement, and self-control, again skill, though obviously desirable is of secondary importance.

WING CHUN is a Public Domain Self-Defence System, a Five-Second answer that says F@CK YOU to people that mean us harm.

Think of this when you watch your favorite YouTube video of someone throwing 20 or 30 different strikes in a row, and yet the Bad Guy gets up to be hit again.

As brilliant as these guys are, and I am just as much a fan as anyone else, that is dancing.

 That is WING CHUN TAG.

In all fairness it would not take very much for these brilliant dancers to change what they do into genuine fighting skills, in their own way they are also athletes, just drop around 95% of the movement, in fact, if possible stay still and do the work.

But that “Still” stuff only works in reality, it sucks on YouTube.

The “Real Truth” of every Martial Art is Body Organisation.

If you are interested in learning the deeper levels of Wing Chun Body Organisation, if you are up for the work needed to open up the full potential of Chum Kiu and Biu Gee ping me a message, I am here to help.

Hmmmmm, Call that a slap? More like TAG, your it.
FIST LOGIC

GREETINGS FROM THE EDGE.

How we decode the data is the key, not what we call it or opine about it…..

A while ago I was having a conversation with a D.J. about how Karate was sourced from White Crane Kung Fu, and that at their heart they are the same thing, this led to him asking me if Chinese Forms and Japanese Kata are essentially the same things.

There is an opinion within Kung Fu circles, or at least within the Wing Chun circles I was part of that Forms and Kata are completely separate and different from each other.

I disagree, from my standpoint FORMS and KATA are just different words for the same thing, all training, be it subtle or overtly physical, is nothing more than the accumulation of information, the collection of raw data.

How we decode the data is the key, not what we call it or opine about it.

I think we can benefit from the approach that Wing Chun has FORMS and KATA.

Where is our starting point, and what is our position?

It is the usual thinking that FORMS are about understanding our shapes/postures, understanding their physical/emotional/mental make-up, and how to create and maintain that shape/posture.

The practice of moving slowly, and softly, allows a greater opportunity to ‘clearly’ observe how the shape/posture is constructed and how it relates to the rest of the frame, an observation that would be disrupted by the overt use of active muscles that would cause such tactile feedback as to wipe out the subtle nuances of joint control.

On the other hand, KATA is considered to be Shadow-Boxing exercises performed at full power with the mental image of actual contact and the deliberate injection of overt strength and tension.

Sadly, I have often experienced partisan, myopic snoberry calling out KATA as being way too forceful for a person to be able to feel anything, implying that they are somehow less than FORMS.

I think it is worth repeating myself here, all training, be it subtle or overtly physical, is nothing more than the accumulation of information, the collection of raw data.

How we decode the data is the key, not what we call it or opine about it.

FORMS and KATA do not teach us how to FIGHT, they teach us how to THINK.

As a memory aid FORMS and KATA are two different methods to explore the same sequence.

FORMS are somewhat passive, while KATAS are somewhat dynamic. 

They are two sides of the same coin, a touchy-feely tactile method that we use to help us connect with our training.

It is so important that we do not drift off into some fantasy world in any aspect of our training, but especially so in FORMS and KATA, they are memory aids and not fighting tools.

When push does come to shove both FORMS and KATA are inappropriate and useless.

FORMS and KATA do not teach us how to FIGHT, they teach us how to THINK.

Some say that FORMS are a type of mindfulness training while KATAS are a type of shadow-boxing, but in reality, the only difference between these two ideas is not the content just the context, i.e. If you think that you are being mindful, you are being mindful, or if you think that you are shadow-boxing, you are shadow-boxing as you go through the same set of movements.

If you think you are on the can… it is what it is…

With this is mind, if we so wish, FORMS can be used as KATA and KATA can be used as FORMS.

Forms and Kata are just data, albeit two different methods to extract information from the same data.

FORMS are information about ‘SHAPE and CONDITION’, whereas KATA is information about ‘MOVEMENT and SEQUENCE’.

When observing the complete SIL LIM TAO FORM { comprising S.L.T. Chum Kiu and Biu Gee} our focus is on how we create certain shapes, firstly just hand/arm shapes but leading on to whole body shapes, but of equal if not greater importance is how we live inside of these shapes.

Our Body Being, or the ‘Condition’ that I refer to as CRAZY HORSE.

In FORMS there is no promenading, no movement through space, everything happens in one spot, and what movement there is in the FORM is just repetition, mental reinforcement.

The shapes/postures we study in the SIL LIM TAO FORM are starting shapes/positions and finishing shapes/positions, there is no set, organised way to get from one place to another, from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’.

The SIL LIM TAO FORM is, as we all know, an IDEA.

The whole reason for doing THE SIL LIM TAO FORM is to observe our Body doing the SIL LIM TAO FORM, to observe the shape and condition of our body as it does the SIL LIM TAO FORM, and not to observe us doing anything else.

Especially fighting off an attacker.

This point alone is worth serious contemplation.

FORMS exist like a frozen moment in time, an aspect of ‘ONE SHAPE, ONE MOVEMENT, ONE BODY’ but let’s not go there today.

So what of KATA in Wing Chun?

KATA is everything else, the missing bits, the reflections.

If we regard FORMS as still pictures, KATA is a movie made from those still pictures.

If FORMS are simple shapes, conditions, and intentions KATA is a method to transform those simple shapes, conditions, and intentions into action.

 And then optimally progress from one action to another action.

FORMS are impractical, KATA is the very heart of practicality.

Heads/Tails, Yin/Yang, two sides of the same coin.

If we buy into this type of thinking that says we can have the SIL LIM TAO FORM as well as the SILL LIM TAO KATA, where is this dynamic physical practice to be found and explored?

MOK JAN JONG, the wooden dummy.

 LIK BOON DIM QUAN the six and a half point pole.

 BAAT CHAM DOA, the eight cutting/slashing knives.

From the perspective of the Wing Chun structure, there is nothing new introduced as we progress beyond the Biu Gee Form.

What is introduced is a method of dynamic movement and physical power production.

Performing KWAN SAU on the Dummy, the vigorous side slash of the Knives or the lunging thrust of the Pole what are these actions if not a KATA.

Understanding why FORMS ‘are the way they are’, has the potential to teach us more about FORMS than practising them ever can.

Spend time contemplating this statement…..

We do THE SIL LIM TAO FORM for no other reason than to observe our Body doing the SIL LIM TAO FORM.

For no other reason than to observe the shape and condition of our body as it does the SIL LIM TAO FORM.

We do not do THE SIL LIM TAO FORM to observe our body doing something else!

Especially fighting off an attacker.

Why does man kill?  He kills for food.

But not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.
– Woody Allen

WHAT MOON?

FIST LOGIC

VULCAN WING CHUN.

What a paradox, accept that we are play-acting but do not pretend it works.

Settle in guys, this is going to be a long one, this post has been bubbling away for years in one form or another, mostly it is fueled by the questions students ask me in ‘one-on-one’ lessons where we have more time and motivation for exploration.

Firstly we must, as always, remember that the most important attribute for a Martial Artist to develop in their training is honesty.

At some level, we all know that training is not fighting, that training is nothing like fighting, that what we cover in training is nothing like what we will face in a violent encounter.

This is not in any way a negative assessment, there is no other way to approach training, and this is the same for every Martial Art style.

We will never use the things we think we are training, but teachers like myself insist that Wing Chun is a supremely effective method of self-defence once we understand the deeper aspects of the work. 

Deeper aspect, Duh!!

Sometimes when I try to explain this stuff to you guys you look at me as if I am a retired physics teacher that has double-dosed on his meds and needs a sit-down and a cup of tea.

What are we learning/studying then?

We are learning/studying the exchange of force between two people.

How to accept it, how to store it, how to issue it, and if needed how to develop it out of our natural body and its natural movement.

The vehicle we use for this, the testing ground for our theories, is Wing Chun Kung Fu and in particular how to engage an attacker.

From this perspective, the perspective of the exchange of force, things like attacking, defending, punching, re-directing, kicking, borrowing, and anything else we care to mention are all the same thing.

One shape. One movement. One body.

The difficulty is recognising that we are not trying to learn and understand Wing Chun, we are trying to learn and understand the forces that operate it and the ‘Concepts’ Wing Chun uses to realise those forces.

Once we get this, every move we make can be called Wing Chun, in fact, every Martial Art and every Sport can be called Wing Chun.

I know that this is just a bit ‘Out There” but hang in, a light might turn on.

So the work becomes understanding the difference between the real and the unreal, the difference between what we are doing and what we are learning.

Don’t get me wrong, the technical side of the things we are learning will work just as it says on the box, but it is a case of building a skyscraper with good steel as opposed to building a skyscraper with poor steel.

They both may look the same but put them under extreme pressure and one stays up and one falls down.

Do not blame the architect, blame the builder.

Once we accept this dichotomy that nothing we are doing will work but that’s O.K. Because that is not what we are learning, the practicality of the technique we are doing becomes a bit of a moot point.

But we must be aware of what and why of our training or we are simply learning ‘shit’ that will get us done over.

In training, we often talk about developing Simultaneous Attack and Defence.

Let’s not get distracted by the fact that it is not possible to attack and defend at the same time, just as we cannot jump up and fall down at the same time, it is an exercise, a concept and a learning tool that is well suited to the task.

As we stand there fully aware of what is coming and our training partner, who means us no harm, whose role as a partner is to aid our development, PRETENDS to throw strikes at us which, in all honesty, would not put a hole in a wet paper bag, we PRETEND to deal with it.

The ‘Attack’ was never real therefore the ‘Defence’ was never real.

This is obviously ‘play-acting’, and that’s O.K.

As I say, short of going ‘full retard’ [Ben Stiller in tropical thunder]and getting stuck into each other, there is no other way, even in the so-called ‘Reality Based’ Martial Arts which in all honesty is the biggest play acting of all, a far, far deeper immersion into self-deception than Wing Chun could ever be. 

Training has always been this way, and it has always been this way because it is the only way.

We are not the first generation to misunderstand our training, to think that the techniques we train will work when the chips are down and someone means us harm, only to find out too late that they do not.

What a paradox, accept that we are play-acting but do not pretend it works.

Back in the 16th Century, when Self-Defence meant staying alive, the Sword Master George Silver wrote about ‘Reality Based’ Training” in his treatise on Swordsmanship, ‘The Paradox of Defences’

“These schools pay no attention to defence. Because of this, they die like flies. Then they point to these deaths and say, ‘See how deadly our art is?'”

It makes me think of Krav Maga.

Let’s pull this back in.

The purpose of Wing Chun training is to understand defence.

By understanding defence, I mean understanding Defence as a ‘Concept’ and not as a technique to stop a strike.

Defence is the art of preventing external forces from having a negative effect on us.

During training, if we look closely at ourselves and do not get involved in the scenario we are using, we observe that the aim of everything we do is to accept and as a result lessen impact forces.

To take the incoming force into ourselves and then move it somewhere else.

It is not possible to accurately portray this with words, it needs to be experienced, it needs to be felt to be understood.

Imagine throwing a large soft medicine ball with a friend, if we stand still and attempt a hard catch the ball almost knocks us over.

Sifu Isaac tells us that ‘to every action, there is a reaction of the same magnitude in the opposite direction’.

What hits us with the medicine ball exercise is the contact forces pushing us into the ground and the ground returning that same force.

When someone throws a punch or just pushes our hand it is the same.

Force pushes us into the ground and the ground pushes back.

What creates the contact forces is attempting to stop the movement of the ball.

If we move on contact with the medicine ball, prevent that impact force from travelling through my body to my foot and reaching the floor in the first place there is no return force as such.

Sifu Isaac’s first law, Inertia, if a body is at rest or moving at a constant speed in a straight line, it will remain at rest or keep moving in a straight line at constant speed unless it is acted upon by a force.

This is accepting force and redirecting force, keeping the force moving, shapes or stances are unimportant only moving the force matters.

The alignment of our internal structure and correct movement of our external structure allow the force to travel uninterrupted.

Almost.

Now imagine throwing the ball back to our partner.

What did we do? Where did the force come from to move the ball? how do we throw it faster, farther?

This is the real work.

Hitting people is child play, I know, I was once a child, however, hitting people hard from any position is a very special skill.

At 3:00 in the video, I talk about James getting his force back, the reason is that his force is now travelling through me to the extent that he is now trying to move the planet, obviously, he fails and gets his own force returned by the stability of Mother Earth.

The big girl was on my side.

MASTERY IS HITTING A TARGET NO ONE ELSE CAN HIT, GENIUS IS HITTING A TARGET NO ONE ELSE CAN SEE.

I wouldn’t tell you if it wasn’t true.

THE ‘D’ MAN.

WHAT MOON?
WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT?
FIST LOGIC

JOINING – PIVOTING.

“In theory … theory and Reality are the same … but in reality, they are not”.

When someone attacks us when they strike us they are giving us their weight.

Our job is not to try to stop them from doing this but instead to accept that weight and then give it back to them, we do this by joining them and not by sending them away.

The way that Wing Chun does this is very clever, very subtle, and practically a passive action on our part.

Essentially we allow them to walk into something they have stabilised and secured ‘solidly’ to the planet.

The majority of students struggle with this because they do not fully understand Wing Chun Pivoting.

The reason for this misunderstanding is that there is Chum Kiu Pivoting and Biu Gee Pivoting but so few students stay around long enough to deeply study Biu Gee.

There is nothing secret or magical about the Biu Gee philosophy of pivoting, we are talking Wing Chun here where simplicity is the rule, in many ways, like so much of the difference between Chum Kiu bits and Biu Gee bits, we are just flipping the coin, playing the ‘B’ side, Yin and Yang.

Chum Kiu accepts force while Biu Gee issues force.

All ‘FORCE’ exists as a wave, even physical force, think of a Shock Wave.

For this conversation, the stimulus for this force is always a reaction to an action between ourselves and the ground.

Even in defence.

If our alignment is correct and our structure reliable contact with a strike pushes us into the ground creating an action between our feet and the ground which creates a reaction.

Our friend “Return Force”.

Quick recap…

The strike, and as such the line of force, comes into our arm and from there is transmitted through the shoulders, to the spine, then the pelvis then the legs, then the heels, and into the ground.

This transmission is pretty much instantaneous.

Our connection with the ground is responsible for what happens to that force, whether we dissipate it or return it.

If we rotate our feet as the strike lands, which changes the position of our heels from the contact point with the ground, we dissipate the force at the ‘grounded contact point’ by preventing an alignment for the ‘return force’ to enter back into the heels and as such into our body via the Kinetic Chain or Chain Reaction.

What return force does enter into our body experiences a Doppler Shift.

Although a Doppler Shift is usually used to describe light or sound waves it also relates to shock waves.

In brief, when compressed a wave becomes faster, louder, and stronger, when stretched it becomes slower, quieter, and weaker. If you are not familiar with the Doppler Effect Google it.

When we use Chum Kiu pivoting, where we move our feet, the aim is to negate any return force from entering our body where it could destabilise us and do other mischiefs, it is an intelligent use of basic natural physics.

How Wing Chun exploits this passively is what has always impressed me.

 If our alignment is correct, when the attacker steps into us he is essentially pushing himself into a statue of a person with an extended arm that he stabilises with his mass and stabs himself.

This is the bit that gets missed.

Did you miss it?

We“, -do not hit the bad guy.

Chum Kiu’s philosophy, is good for us, very bad for them.

Flip that coin.

Many students with incomplete knowledge of Biu Gee Philosophy think that the opening pivots are Elbow Strikes and ignore the pivoting.

It is subtle, what begins as a Chu Kiu pivot of the lower body stops before the end of the movement, which in application would be ‘almost contact’ with the target, but the torso is still rotating into and through contact.

Feet and hips are still, while the chest, shoulder girdle, and arm are still moving, our hips, legs, and feet are like a Bar Stool, our torso and all the other bits are like a kid swinging around on it.

Did you miss it?

When we use Biu Gee pivoting, which is happening from a solid base with no foot movement, we return the original force through our kinetic chain and add acceleration by torque brought about by upper body rotation.

Summation of Forces.

Another reason to research the Doppler Effect is to understand, from a dynamic Wing Chun perspective, both sides of the coin when it comes to the compression of time and space.

If we are standing still and the attacker is standing still, which is highly unlikely, everything is happening in standard Earth time, training hall time, the space between us is a shared space under equal control.

If we are standing still as the attacker steps into us, Earth time is being compressed, everything is now happening faster, with more power {louder and stronger} and the space it is happening in is now controlled by the Bad Guy.

If we step or pivot in toward the attacker we accelerate the compression, and “Up Size’ everything that is happening…… 

Understanding this can lead to better decision-making. 

If we pivot or step away, which would see us joining with the attacker’s line of force, we stretch space, weakening the Bad Guy’s attack and give ourselves more time to assess and react.

It is tempting to think that during a Chum Kiu pivot, as we are defending ourselves if we lock our pelvis and legs, rotate our upper body, and extend our arm while stabilising the shoulder girdle and spine just before contact then we can hit the Bad Guy as he steps in and hit him “really hard”.

In theory yes, however…

“In theory … theory and Reality are the same … but in reality, they are not”.

It is possible to pull this off in the training hall where all we need to focus on is our technique, but if we find ourselves in a genuine violent situation we will have other things to think about than pivoting.

Things like pivoting, shifting, and positioning need to be trained responses that we can trust our intention and intuition to make the appropriate choice.

In training, we should firmly set in place the IDEA that when pivoting for defence we move our feet and in attack, we keep them still.

Good judgement comes from experience.

Experience comes from bad judgement?

WHAT MOON?
WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT?
FIST LOGIC

STILL RAINING; STILL WORKING.

The biggest obstacles for us to avoid are the very things we think we are training.

Practical answers to practical problems.

Hi Guys, despite our ever-dwindling numbers, and a general fall-off in participation by those that remain, I am still working on the E-Book to try to shorten your journey.

Perhaps it is because of this that I persist.

We live in a new world, Covid 19 has F*cked with us all and often the question gets asked.

Why bother?

Covid 19, the war in Ukraine, Scott Morrison how much shit can one planet endure?

And yes, it is still raining here in Sydney.

But there is always a light.

In many ways I finished the e-book weeks ago, I just keep going back and finding ways to edit it.

Here is the prologue, hopefully putting it out there will mean I will leave it alone and with a bit of luck this IDEA will result in me finalising it.

A couple of zen koans that I find appropriate.

鬆.

“When we understand, things are just the way they are”.

“When we do not understand, things are just the way they are”.

鬆.

Te shan was sitting outside meditating. 

 Lung-t’an asked him why he didn’t go back home. 

Te shan answered, “Because it is dark.”  

Lung-t’an then lit a candle and handed it to him.  

As Te shan was about to take it, Lung-t’an blew it out.

Te shan had a sudden realisation, and bowed.

鬆.

Prologue

My journey is just like your journey.

The long time student’s experience of Wing Chun.

Sometimes the way was smooth, my mind was clear, I knew where I was, I knew where I needed to be and I knew how to get there.

But then there were those other times.

Times when the very nature of a ‘concept-driven martial art’ caused a mental fog to set in, and I questioned the wisdom, question the FIST LOGIC.

I doubt that just reading this E-Book will clear the fog but hopefully, it will give you enough light so that you do not crash into too many things.

Allow me to switch metaphors, imagine Wing Chun as a river, a deep river with many currents.

Some of these currents speed us forward but then some of these currents slow us down or even turn us around, we cannot influence these currents as they are beyond our control, but with a little help we can learn to see them and avoid them.

The biggest obstacles for us to avoid are the very things we think we are training.

Practical answers to practical problems.

It takes a certain amount of trust to move away from this, to be able to see the physical things as ways to explore the non-physical things such as intention, strategy and planning.

And as weird as it is, understanding the role that the Laws of Physics play, they make many things unavoidable and others unnecessary.

Most importantly however is discovering that the how and what we think, simply put our opinion, is what has the biggest impact on any violent situation, which is the end product of our physical training, much more so than anything we train.

Developing mental flexibility is the core of the work, we need to be comfortable with the physical/non-physical paradox.

The Core of the Wing Chun system is the Sil Lim Tao Form.

Sil Lim Tao translates to something akin to “The way of the little IDEA”.

The Sil Lim Tao Form is not the ‘Little Idea” but it is a vehicle for us to discover and explore “The Little Idea”.

The ‘IDEA” is not a shape, the “IDEA” is not a sequence of movements but the “IDEA” is there, lurking amongst the shapes and movements waiting to be found.

It is highly likely that the “IDEA” will reveal itself in different ways to different people, this book is an attempt to explain how the “IDEA” revealed itself to me.

MORE TO FOLLOW…..

SING IT.
FIST LOGIC

MY BOOMERANG WON’T COME BACK!

DON’T DO THIS AT HOME KIDS.

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

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.

STABILISATION THROUGH COMPRESSION AND ORGANISATION.

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. 

LAO TZU
HOKKA HEY!
WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT?
FIST LOGIC

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE UKRAINE INVASION?

The conflict between nations and conflict between individuals is only a difference of scale, the same rules are in play.

Hey Tribe.

As strange as it may seem the information that comes out during wartime can help us look at our training from a different direction.

This post is almost stream-of-consciousness stuff, open up your thinking and see where it takes you.

鬆.

An ever-present conundrum for all Martial Artists is that ‘Training is not fighting’, it is not even close to fighting, to examine this if we take our cue from the recent Ukraine War, our training is like the Military Exercises that Russia held with Belarus prior to the invasion. 

Pretend fighting with a hint of malice, but when the invasion came it was completely different from the Exercise.

The shape the invasion took would have been decided in a Wargame that was played out some weeks or months before in Moscow.

鬆.

When I bring up the IDEA of Wargaming, most students think about Military Exercises.

They are two very different things.

A military exercise is mostly non-aggressive and cooperative concerned with friendly forces working in unison, learning how to not get in each other’s way.

A Military Exercise is as much about logistics as it is about operations, as much about troop movement as it is about engagement, about troop formation and how to get into position to deploy those formations.

A Military Exercise is what Russia recently pretended to be engaged in with Belarus, and as such it allowed them to have 150,00 men in position to invade.

The major difference between Wargaming and Military Exercise is ‘Boots on the Ground’.

Wargaming is a simulation.

Like all simulations, it begins with accurate information regarding both sides of the conflict’s state of readiness, military capabilities, material capacity as in men, planes, tanks, bombs, and an understanding of both sides’ preferred and trained operating tactics.

These numbers are loaded into a computer and run.

The first aim of the simulation is to find the areas of conflict where known methods of operation could break down upon contact with the enemy.

Finding a solution to these problems is how future strategies are devised.

The conflict between nations and conflict between individuals is only a difference of scale, the same rules are in play.

What we do in the training hall day in day out is a civilian version of a Military Exercise, it teaches us the shape we should be and the way we should move.

Thinking that this training will be ‘Fit for Purpose’ without some kind of related Wargaming, will be walking blindly into other nations/person’s ‘area of control’, effectively walking into a kill box.

When we look at what we do in training, we see that everything is built around set-ups and feeds.

If we are honest we will see that nothing we do is n any way similar to what we would expect to come up against in a violent situation.

This is not just Wing Chun, this is every Martial Art.

Even people like Lee Morrison of Urban Combatives, who bases all of his training material on ‘real’ situations that he has been in, training is still set-ups and feeds.

There is no other way, training is training, fighting is fighting.

Wargaming our training should deliberately set out to find where everything fails, in this way we can have a workaround in place before it goes wrong or a the very least avoid that particular scenario.

In civilian Martial Arts, all of them and not just Wing Chun, there is a lot of foolishness about how good things are, how superior our style is to another so much so that many Martial Artists are blindly and quite stupidly partisan.

Every Martial Art style in the world was created to solve a particular, local problem, they all face the possibility of failure once that local problem changes.

Do not take a knife to a gunfight.

鬆.

If we run a Wargame simulation between ourselves and some random ‘Bad Guy’ what do we come up with?

What do we know in advance?

We have no accurate information about the Bad Guy’s capability or capacity, this lack of information can be a source of panic, fear of the unknown. 

Is there a way to steer this into an area that is known?

It is an uncomfortable fact that {Random Street} Violence happens closer, quicker and is far, far more brutal than anything we do in training.

To achieve some kind of even playing field where we stand a fighting chance we must match the Bad Guy for pace, aggression and determination.

But we do not train these things so how can we do that?

The hardest thing to do in any contest, be it combative or sports is to take back lost ground, so the easy answer is, do not lose ground in the first place.

if we revisit the fact that {Random Street} Violence happens closer, quicker and is far, far more brutal than anything we do in training the only hope we have of not losing ground is to see it coming and slow this attack down to the pace we train at.

Can we do that?

How do we do that?

Space is Time and Time is Space.

If I can create more Space then I create more Time.

If I can create more Time then I slow everything down.

In my opinion, there is a fateful flaw in the way Wing Chun is presented to the general public, if you watch any videos or think back to any seminars that you have attended the Wing Chun Actor/Sifu is always stepping into his attacker.

Stepping in compresses Space and as such reduces Time.

This might work in the training hall with a compliant partner that is standing still but once again we must think about the fact that {Random Street} violence happens closer, quicker and is far, far more brutal than anything we do in training.

Our best hope of not losing ground is to make Space and extend Time.

Apart from anything else Wing Chun is a Counter-Attacking Martial Art, it is unlikely we would ever be in a position to step into an attacker that is aggressively stepping in toward us.

So why do we do it?

It is to get a feel for the way time and space would be compressed and changed when the Bad Guy steps into us and we stand still.

鬆.

Wing Chun is a Concept Driven Martial Art, it is not a methodology.

There is a bit of an ongoing Furphy in Martial Arts, and that is that we train so we can be responsive and not reactive in a violent situation, this is of course bunkum.

Nice Idea, but so is World Peace and where are we with that?

When someone attacks us it is a stimulus, stimulus incites action, action creates a reaction.

We respond to emails, not actions.

To respond requires thought, saying that we will respond and not react is kidding ourselves, pretending that we will be able to think clearly amid the chaos.

But this is not bad news, it is simply data, it describes the environment we occupy, if we know that we cannot think amid the chaos then we must try to control the chaos, try to control what causes the chaos and in most cases it is our mind that creates the chaos.

If we can teach our Mind/Body to react in a certain way if we are in certain environments, which of course we can and we can do it easily, then the aim becomes choosing the most appropriate environments or changing the environment we are in for a more suitable one.

鬆.

Sifu Isaac informs us that every action creates an equal but opposite reaction.

Can we factor this breakdown into our Wargame?

THE SAME, NOT SIMILAR.
FIST LOGIC

LEARNING AND FORGETTING.

NOW WHERE WAS I?

In so many ways keeping to the ‘Routine’ is more important than the content of any training.

I was recently on the phone with a prospective new student and he asked me…

… ‘How often should I train, and how long will it take me to become proficient”?

Wow, what a question.

The reality is that if we want to make any kind of meaningful progress we should train every day.

However this is not what most people wish to hear, so I made up a number that I hoped pleased him, twice a week for two years.

In my experience, the type of people that ask this question never stick it out, even for just two years.

I have not heard back from him.

The reason that we should train every day is often misunderstood, it has nothing to do with the complexity or difficulty of the subject matter, and everything about how our brain handles and stores information.

Be it Kung Fu, mathematics or learning a new language they all suffer the same.

When I was in management, I became aware of a thing called the Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, or simply ‘the forgetting curve’ which details how information is lost over time when you don’t try to retain it.

Trying to retain it is not just hoping you remember.

This blog is not the place to go deep into this kind of stuff so I am just going to paste a piece from an old article that I advise you to cross-reference.

Research on the forgetting curve (Figure 1) shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 per cent of the information you presented. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 per cent of new information, and within a week, forgetting claims an average of 90 per cent of it. All of your hard work simply drains away.

Figure 1: The forgetting curve

Snippet from ‘Learning Solutions’

After one week we only retain 10%!

Training every day does not mean supervised training, although that would be ideal, but, to be effective it does need to be structured, it needs to become routine.

This concept of making training a fixed routine was introduced to me as a junior Boxer, and then reinforced when I switched to Judo.

Routines establish patterns, and we all know how much our Brain loves patterns.

My Judo Sensei would say that diligently turning up to training was more important than what we did in training, and at one time about 20 years later when I was talking with my Wing Chun Sifu Jim Fung, I asked him…

Me…”What does it take to become a Master”?

Sifu Jim…”Turn up to training and pay attention”?

This is a deep subject that deserves personal study.

When we consider that what we do in training is mostly make-believe it is not so big a deal if we forget it, but there are parts of it that simply must be remembered, must become routine.

If you can remember the conversations we have had about short-term memory vs long-term memory, conscious memory vs sub-conscious memory this is very much connected.

Translating the work we do into images, feelings and ideas as opposed to techniques.

My main reason for this Blog is to try to keep everyone connected to what we are striving for, but nothing comes close to real-time, hands-on training.

I do know how tricky it can be to prioritise our training to be the number one choice for what to do in our free time, friends and family tend to see ‘training’ as a hobby and do not understand the drive to keep the routine.

In so many ways keeping to the ‘Routine’ is more important than the content of any training.

The thing about routines is that they don’t require us to predict how we will feel in the future but instead ask us to determine how we’ll act despite how we might feel.

There’s real strength in that.

Routines develop disciple.

Discipline develops Self-Control.

Self-Control wins the day.

HOKKA HEY.
FIST LOGIC

CONCEPTS AND ORGANISATION.

There is a brilliant flip side to this, once we understand how something works, we also know how to stop it from working, how to break it.

THIS IS WHERE CONCEPTS COME IN.

This may end up a long post, make ‘yerself’ a coffee, or perhaps two.

There are two distinct sides to Wing Chun that in many ways have so little in common they do not, at first, appear to fit together.

Let us call these sides the Physical side and the non-Physical side.

On the physical side, the bulk of the technical work is simply to develop dexterity and coordination.

To develop a ‘high’ level of control over our physical movements.

Training is not an open-ended exercise, all training in every style is a way to deal with a specific problem.

Wing Chun training is about surviving a random, violent encounter with a ‘person or persons unknown‘.

This fact is what many students struggle to come to terms with and as such fail to grasp the purpose of the training.

Training becomes a never-ending succession of “But what if”?

Because of this, students often have less confidence after 6 months of training than they did with no training at all.

Let me repeat this, Wing Chun training is about surviving a random, violent encounter with a person or persons unknown.

For application purposes, we only need four movements/techniques to deal with all of the problems we are anticipating from this person or persons unknown, they are Tai Sau, Jit Sau, Pak Sau and Tarn Sau.

Plus, of course, striking, but all men/women already know how to hit other men/women, all we need to do is improve that aspect.

This physical side is simply generic Kung Fu.

MacDojo Kung Fu.

As hard as it may be to believe, there is no need for anything more and we could learn all of this in that first 6 months if we gave it some air.

At this stage, this MacDojo Kung Fu is not yet Wing Chun, it is just ‘the box’ Wing Chun comes in.

THE NON-PHYSICAL SIDE.

From day one, working with the non-physical aspects of Wing Chun, what I refer to as our ‘FIST LOGIC’, simply rubs the wrong way.

Trying to resolve physical problems with non-physical answers is ‘always’ going to be a challenge, but that is the ‘work’.

It is not difficult ‘work’, but neither is it quick ‘work’.

If we use the old chestnut analogy of a journey, the physical side and the non-physical side are heading to the same destination, however, not only are they taking different routes but Physical is going by Aeroplane, while Non-Physical is going by Boat.

Non-Physical is, to be expected, where the whole Conceptual Martial Art comes in.

So how does that work?

A Concept is an understanding retained in the mind, from experience, reasoning and/or imagination; a generalization (generic, basic form), or abstraction (mental impression), of a particular set of instances or occurrences (specific, though different, recorded manifestations of the concept).

WIKIDIFF.

Something to get our head around is that a Concept is different and separate from function, action, or methodology.

Concepts are starting points, whereas all applications are destinations.

Non-Physical training is to take what we do in the training hall and relate it to things we already know and understand.

Normal Human Body Movement.

Wing Chun’s Fist Logic is not a method for dealing with violence, human beings know this well enough, rather it is a self-organising map [S.O.M] for understanding certain physical aspects of violence.

Concepts are non-physical tools we use to build new approaches to old IDEAs.

They are thought exercises that only exist in our heads.

We must realise that the Bad Guy will never do what we ask our training partners to do, accordingly, nothing we do in training will work the way we train it.

But that’s O.K. That’s not what we are looking for.

The scenario that we are training becomes the seed for the thought exercise.

Our training becomes a study of the Concept of Random Engagement.

We are not trying to learn how to defend against a swinging headshot, we are using this scenario as a thought exercise to explore and observe the dynamics of the situation.

Concepts seed Sub-Concepts, this is where we can take our MacDojo Kung Fu and begin to turn it into Wing Chun.

When we explore the concept of ‘power production’, we develop Sub-Concepts of good body shape, relative positioning, stability, speed of delivery, correct skeletal alignment, the summation of force, hierarchy of joint movements, efficient recruitment of the kinetic chain and so on.

There is a brilliant flip side to this, once we understand how something works, we also know how to stop it from working, how to break it.

Now we can ask what makes this swinging headshot attack work? 

We can identify the sub-concept of relative positioning and ask “How can I prevent that”?

Or if we think the most important aspect of the attack is the speed of delivery we can ask “How do I slow him down”?

The clenched fist that hopes to land is the last link in the attacker’s kinetic chain, how can I use that knowledge? Can I break the chain?

We can take our sub-concepts and use them as stand-alone concepts, if we choose to do this with relative positioning we seed new sub-concepts such as the attacker’s movement, or possibly lack of it, our own movement and even stillness, we can understand how to slow things down or speed things up by the manipulation of this relative positioning, redshift and blueshift in spacetime.

We can get all of this by exploring just one dynamic scenario.

Once we understand this way of thinking, once we see this event from the position of our ‘Fist Logic’ what we are training almost does not matter.

Everything we do will have power, everything we choose to do will work.

But somewhere along the road, this shit might get real.

Surviving a violent attack is as far away from a thought exercise as we can get, in fact in a violent encounter, there is no time to think.

It is only the training that involves concepts and uses thought exercises.

The purpose of the thought exercises is to change how we perceive what is going on in a particular event.

To change the relative non-physical positions of ourselves and the Bad Guy.

We cannot change the reality of what is happening, things are always just what they are, but we can change how we think about it and as such how we react to it.

Without Wing Chun’s ‘Fist Logic’ we get drawn into the Bad Guy’s universe, we try to stop them from doing whatever it is they are doing, it becomes their show, it becomes all about them.

If something is happening to us, and we wish to control/understand/change it, then we must make it all about us.

Because it is all about us.

The first BIG change in our perception is that we do not want to try to stop the Bad Guy from hitting us, it is already too late for that we are under attack, fists are flying.

How we respond to situations emotionally is of far greater importance than any technique.

THINK ABOUT IT.

FIST LOGIC AND MIND BOXING.

There is a style of Kung Fu named Yi Quan {translates to Mind Boxing} that has no physical techniques whatsoever, I worked with a Chinese guy that trained in this style, it was interesting but it did not work very well.

We can gain great benefit from any form of Non-Physical or Mind Boxing but we must never forget why we are doing it.

Wing Chun training is about surviving a random, violent encounter with a ‘person or persons unknown‘.

The most testing aspect of becoming capable in Wing Chun is being able to combine the Non-Physical {Mind Boxing} with the Physical {MacDojo Kung Fu}.

This forms the FIST LOGIC, the destination is always us hitting someone that is trying to harm us.

However, because we are decent Human Beings this is easier said than done.

“The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way we can grow is if we change. The only way we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we are exposed is if we throw ourselves into the open.”

C. Joybell
THIS DAY IS EVERY DAY.
WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT?
FIST LOGIC

LEAD-IN TO UNDERSTANDING ‘CONCEPT’

Ip Man more than likely created the world’s first MacDojo, teaching students basic Kung Fu moves.

Thinking Hats on guys.

This is a warm-up piece to set some sort of ‘context’ to when I try to explain what I ‘THINK’ it means to be a Concept Driven Martial Art.

To understand Wing Chun today we need to have some idea of where it came from, which is almost impossible as most of what is thought as our history is just B.S. pushed out by unscrupulous Martial Arts Entrepreneurs such as William Cheung and Leung Ting, and all who copy them today.

The history of Wing Chun is at best vague and mostly fictitious but after decades of serious research by dedicated professionals, we think we know that what we call Wing Chun was formulated by Doctor Leung Jan from Guangdong in S.E. China.

Dr Leung was a Shaolin Kung Fu practitioner of some merit and a medical doctor that is reported to have worked closely with the Red Boat Opera Company.

Opera companies consisted of a troupe of performing Martial Artists that used most styles of Kung Fu to tell their stories.

Dr Leung’s role in today’s terms would be that of a physiotherapist and sports doctor, and then, as now, his main job would have been to keep the Opera Martial Artists fit, healthy and able to perform.

THINK KUNG FU CROSSFIT.

In this way, he would have automatically compiled a catalog of movements that caused serious physical injuries to the person performing them and other movements that did not cause any injuries to the person performing them.

Keep this in mind, I believe it is central to getting this thing of ours.

KNOWN HISTORY, NOT FAKE HISTORY.

Throughout the 1600s to 1800s Guandong, especially the Peral River Delta, was in a state of constant war, rebellion, or just plain old social disorder.

There is no need for extravagant Martial Art mythologies, the reality of the times was far worse than any movie.

The Pearl River Delta experienced an almost continuous assault from Japanese Pirates to the Portuguese Navy to the British Navy, French Navy {the opium Wars}, the Taipings and then the Heaven and Earth Society it is no wonder that Foshan became a center for respected Martial Arts learning.

Those skills were needed to survive.

For whatever reason in the mid-1860s, Dr Leung decided that his chosen Martial Art was not quite fit for purpose, it is easy to imagine that with him being a well known wealthy businessman and the breakdown of social order he would have been the target of many attempted muggings or robberies.

He decided to do something about that.

Aided by his medical knowledge and years of repairing the damage to the Red Boat Opera Crew he devised a way to refine everything he knew.
At first, this was just a family thing.

Outside of his apothecary was a money lender named Chan Wah Shun, we can only imagine the problems he faced at this unstable time.
Dr Leung passed his knowledge onto Chan Wah Shun, it is highly unlikely that Chan Wah Shun did the same Martial Art as Leung Jan as he was reported to be a very large and strong man, but he was able to use Leung Jan’s method to improve what he knew.

Chan Wah Shun was the first person to teach this new method publicly, his last and most famous student was Ip Man.

From the beginning Wing Chun, if it was called that back then, was about refining and improving a known set of physical movements.

Ip Man and Hong Kong.

After the Chinese Civil War, Ip Man was in Hong Kong and found himself in a perilous position, not only was he from a wealthy landowning family but he had also worked with the K.M.T. The Nationalist government, so he would have definitely been on the communist hit list because of this he stayed in Hong Kong.

Ip Man needed to live so he began to teach Wing Chun publicly at the Restaurant Workers Union.

These Unions were not like our Labour Unions they were more an employment agency that provided workers to employers, Kung Fu lessons were provided free by the Union as a way to get people to sign up to that Union.

Ip Man more than likely created the world’s first MacDojo, teaching students basic Kung Fu moves.

Then as now, students came and went rarely attending for more than three months, to try to keep up with the requirements of the post-war young men Ip Man would change what he taught as Wing Chun in an attempt to placate the paying customers.

Let’s be fair he needed to eat.

When his children rejoined him after a ten-year forced absence they did not recognise what he was teaching.

However, if anyone stayed long enough to learn those basic Kung Fu moves he would then introduce them to what has always been the true work of Wing Chun, how to refine and improve what is already known.

This description of our history and about Ip Man upsets many students and I have had many heated conversations, but it should not, it is honest and for my money, it helps us get to the place where Wing Chun lives.

All Wing Chun Schools are MacDojos until the students have genuine skills that can be refined.

I think that this is actually a very good thing and not as negative as it sounds, the trick will be ‘can I convince you’.

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

– Arthur Schopenhauer 
HOKKA HEY.
WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT?