Can learning how to meditate make you a better fighter?

I was writing something this morning and I had a Deja´ Poo experience, ‘hang on I have written this shit before’.

This is a reposting of a piece from 2019, but it still says what I want it to say.

This post is intended as a provocation and conversation starter, please feel free to rip into me.

As something for us all to think about over the festive break I want to share some thoughts on the condition known as ‘Sung’, and whether it has any role or benefit in the Martial Arts.

There is no doubt about its value for health and has not been in doubt since the 5th century when Da mo introduced it to the Shaolin monks.

I believe that it is a great aid to training, but for the real world, I am not so sure any of us could create the environment needed to make it active.

I first came across the IDEA of Sung in the 1970s, I had been getting into meditation and discovered a Daoist Martial Art I had never heard of called Bagua Zhang.

Something that confused me was the Master telling me Bagua Zhang was a martial art that did not fight, he went on to say that no Daoist Martial Styles were intended for fighting.

They could be used in that way if the need for a physical response was required but it was primarily Daoist Alchemy, self-improvement.

I only trained in this style for around 2 years and only ever with this one teacher, I am sure there are other views out there.

The work consisted mainly of walking circles doing different Form sets the sole purpose was to develop ‘Sung ‘ while moving through evolving steps and shapes.

Sung means to ‘let go’.

Of everything.

“Sung” had three elements to it

First, we develop ‘Sung’ of the Physical Body, this frees up our energy channels from obstructions and allows our energetic body to wake up and our internal energy to flow freely and naturally.

Secondly, once awoken we mobilise our internal energy {Sung of the Energetic Body} and use it to feed different parts of our real physical body, our organs, our tendons and ligaments, our bone marrow and finally our brain.

Thirdly, with a healthy body and well-fed brain, we clear our mind of everyday thoughts.

I am paraphrasing my teacher’s words here b the intention but the I got was that the final goal was to be able to separate ourselves from the world {and confussions} of men.

Feet on the ground, head in heaven.

Wing Chun appropriates some of the aspects of Sung of the Physical Body, although there is no talk of trying to use Sung to correct any errors or illness in the body, to cleanse the organs, muscles, even the bone marrow.

Tendon/Muscle changing and Bone Marrow Washing is the original exercise set passed on by Bodhidarma to the monks of the Shaolin Monastery to improve their condition to meditate.

This is very clearly Qi Gung {health/meditation} and not Kung Fu {fighting skills}.

The reason I gave this away was that I trusted my teacher, he told me that it is not possible to progress to the second stage of Sung of the Energetic Body until I had mastered the first stage of Sung of the Physical Body, and that would take many years.

I can truly understand how the complete ‘Sung” would be of great benefit to a Martial Artist, in a Kippling kind of way…

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…

but I am unsure what use just the Sung of the Physical Body would be if we have become one of the others and lost our head.

The extended Wing Chun that I am a part of borrows a number of Meditation techniques, Dai Gung,  is a version of the Indian Buddhist practise of Mula Bandha, which is essential when attempting to awaken and raise Kundalini.

And as I have mentioned Sung is Daoist Meditation.

I am very aware that many people do Wing Chun with absolutely no intention to fight, but the style sells itself as a genuine fighting style.

Can learning how to meditate make you a better fighter?

If the person learning to meditate is already a decent fighter then yes, I believe it can.

However, learning meditation practises can only help in meditation, that should be a no brainer.

In my very first Wing Chun lesson, I was informed that we must cultivate Sung because we cannot absorb force if we have any tension in the body.

I thought ‘is this a practical fighting method or a self-improvement method’?

I have asked many senior Wing Chun people ‘what is Sung and how does it relate to fighting’?

On one occasion one senior told me that although he could not explain it he knew what it was and that I had it and used it.

If we cannot explain something how can we recognise it in others?

At the end of the day always the same answer ‘you cannot absorb force if you have tension in the body’.

The thing is that this is incorrect.

This incorrect information is a very real problem that has the potential to create doubt in other aspects of Wing Chun.

Doubt erodes confidence, lack of confidence allows fear to take hold, fear prevents Sung of the Mind”.

Do I have any answers?

Not really this is just a conversation starter, where do we go from here and why?

I do think we should stop using the term RELAX.

Relaxed is an adjective, it describes a condition that is brought about by stopping doing something, it is passive, inactive and our brain recognises this at a very deep level.

Letting go is a verb, we do it, it is active, dynamic and our brain recognises this.

Do we genuinely think that stopping activity {relaxing} is a winning tactic in a fight?

As always I find better information in sport, and especially in my personal experiences, as a young Ice Hockey player, my coaches would say ‘do not hold yourself so tightly, loosen up’ they never said relax.




Do as little as is possible, this is not as easy to do as it is to say

The core of my School is really quite senior, both in experience and age, they are all about or over 40 years of age, and they have been training with me from 5 to 10 to 15 years so most of the work we do is not the usual run of the mill Form Stuff, in many ways if you are still overtly working with Forms you are not very advanced.

There comes a time in everyone’s training {if they stick to it for long enough} where we understand that what we do has precious little in common with any of the things we have been involved in over the years, not the Shapes, not the Forms, not the Stances, these were simply vehicles for us to come to understand how to do very little, in an easy a way as is humanly possible.

There is no correct way to do anything at all in Wing Chun, no techniques, no answers to the dilemma of violence, once your mind and body understand, every movement creates a new technique and every time an opponent touches you they create the answer to that particular problem.

In Daoism, this state is known as 樸 PU, the Uncarved Block.

It may take almost a lifetime but we eventually see that we have always had this ability, it is inherent in all of us, the reason the journey takes so long is that a great deal of it is backtracking to an earlier, simpler and natural way of being, we do not really learn Wing Chun or any natural skill for that matter, we simply learn to release it from the bonds that we ourselves created.

Just like when carving wood, we are not involved in a struggle to force the wood into a new shape, we simply remove everything that does not belong and what is left is what we were after all along.

After 30 years of Wing Chun, I feel that at last everything is now natural, effortless almost empty.

Can this be taught?

I do not think that it can be, it needs to simply grow, but I do believe that there are ways to make the length of the journey far more acceptable, and the first thing needed is to stop taking Wing Chun so seriously, wishing to improve is a curse, thinking that there is a correct way to do this thing is just making the chains harder and tighter.

Do as little as is possible, this is not as easy to do as it is to say, when I do stuff with my students I get zero feedback in a physical sense, I just watch them get thrown away and understand what and why and these days that is enough, this is a softness that is in no way soft.

When you touch me you touch the planet.

Do less, much less.

Clarity of vision is the key to achieving your objectives.


der it is.



“Hey Fella, you wanna buy some crap? I am just your guy, full contact all reality pressure tested crap, right here, just sign up”.

As a follow on from my comment that new students struggle to grasp Wing Chun because it does not reflect the thing they fear.

We must, above all else, realise that what we fear will never happen and just settle the ‘fk’ down.

Easier said than done.

This ‘false belief’ prospective students hold heavily impacts what is being offered up in the Martial Arts Marketplace as training.

Never doubt that it is a marketplace, even with my small operation there are costs that must be met, and I meet them by selling my IDEA.

For the most part, and for most salesmen, selling is selling, and the customer calls the shots.

“Hey Fella, you wanna buy some crap? I am just your guy, full contact all reality pressure tested crap, right here, just sign up”.

In the early 1900s, George Bernard Shaw opined that “Those who can do, those who can’t teach”.

And on the wall of Liverpool University {U.K.} A centre for prospective teachers, a wag wrote, “and those who can’t teach, teach teachers”.

This is oh so true of the Martial Arts.

So many teachers have little to no lived experience of random violence, if they had they would spend more time and effort teaching the NIKE DEFENCE and less on chaining impossible combos and machine gun punching.

Why am I any different?

One thing I know, that many others simply do not, is what it is like to be on the wrong end of a beating.

Let’s just be honest for a moment, this is the place we do not want to go to, this is what we are trying to avoid, and this is what we need to learn and understand.

It is a place I hope to never revisit, especially as I have been there more than once.

A few things I know about being hit, especially by big men, is first, that it hurts.


Forget the IDEA that adrenalin will make it so that you do not feel anything, for that to happen you need to know what is going on and have not only already had an adrenalin dump but been able to MANAGE it. 

In sport, this happens back in the sheds before the run-on and not just before or upon contact.

Secondly, being hit turns your brain off, the world becomes a blizzard that you do not understand, and dealing with an angry Bad Guy is difficult when your mind is elsewhere.

And thirdly, being hit moves you through space.

In the movies people get hit with all manner of stuff and not only stand there but also just keep going, doing whatever it was they were about to do, they bounce off of walls and into a perfect stance without so much as a stain in their tighty whities. 

And then they fight back… good luck with that. 

Fantasies of chaining multiple shots together while Big Ben is ringing in your ears are just that, fantasies.

If films are where students choose to get their IDEAS from, then they should all watch and rewatch the original ‘Karate Kid’.

Mr Miyagi tells his student “Best defence, not be there”.

As great as this advice is if we are in trouble we did not take it, so our aim should be to escape this Shit Storm, and not just try to become Jason Statham.

As every Shit Storm is different this cannot take the form of any kind of techniques, defences or attacks, and it is not something we can make up on the fly.

This is about having a strategy to escape before that strategy is needed, and then simply having the courage to put that plan in place.

Keep it SIMPLE, keep it DIRECT and above all else, make sure it is PRACTICAL.

Once we understand this, we understand Wing Chun.

But it is not all doom and gloom.

For some ‘unexplainable’ reason’, Martial Arts students think that this nasty reality will only happen to themselves and not to the Bad Guy.

What I refer to as the “Bruce Lee’s cousin syndrome”.

This is not the case.

All the negative things that happen to us when we get hit will also happen to the Bad Guy when we hit them.

It is Sifu Isaac’s second Law.

Once we understand this, we understand Wing Chun.







They get VIOLENCE confused with FIGHTING.

Many, in fact, most, new students struggle to grasp Wing Chun because it does not reflect the thing they fear.

Big swinging punches, high kicks, rushing to and fro to deliver thunder crash elbows, arm bars, rear naked chokes or any of the choreographed movie fight scenes they imagine.

Even people that have suffered from violence, where the reality was unexpected, brutal, and above all else quick, still do not seem to understand that random violence is over in the blink of an eye.

They get VIOLENCE confused with FIGHTING.

Fighting is ‘Social’. – Violence is ‘Anti-social.

What does this mean?

Fighting is a social contract between two people, usually, but not always, two blokes.

They agree to meet at a set place and a set time. Sometimes months in advance but sometimes just ‘you and me, outside right now’.

It is still social, a choice, a request that can be refused or accepted.

In a fight, all bets are off.

From the onset, both parties constantly attack, until one or the other is defeated.

Nobody defends in a fight they may dodge, they may duck and weave, they may even evade and avoid.

But no one defends, it is attack, attack, and win at all cost.

As an anti-social situation, violence is a one-sided affair for both parties.

The “Bad Guy” attacks the “Good Guy” unannounced and for no good reason, it is an assault.

And if the Bad Guy has timed it right, and that will be their aim, it will also be a surprise.

People choose to use assault because they are too scared to fight.

The ‘Good Guy tries to do their best not to be overwhelmed, defending as best they can.

It should be a no-brainer that good fighters fail just as much as poor fighters when assaulted by surprise.

I have said it many times before, the goal of Wing Chun is to survive and overcome the initial surprise and then turn the tables on the Bad Guy and become the attacker,

If we manage to do this, turn the tables, it is still a solo operation as we attack relentlessly, neutralise the threat, and then make good our escape.

Our aim is total, one-sided domination, Not to start a fight.

In a fight, both sides fancy their chances, maybe even trust their training, if they have any, but only one can win, and history tells us that “will” always beats skill.

But mostly, it is luck.

That is why ‘Scum Bags’ choose to attack by surprise.

“Do you feel lucky punk”!



Never forget or doubt that “FIGHTING IS EASY”.

I realise that offering up 5 videos and expecting any of us to truly get anything from them, is, to say the least, hopeful.

So I will try to unpack them over the next few weeks, on the blog, and in training.

As you should be well aware of I grew up in a different world, back in the 60s & 70s in particular, violence was accepted.

And expected.

My lived experiences give me a ‘very different approach to, and expectation of, all Self-Defence or Fighting Arts.

This influences how I present the work.

Because of my lived experiences, I understand that no Martial Art, Fighting Style, or Combat Sport prepares us for a violent encounter.

They just give us better tools.

Here is footage from Saturday morning with Sam and Rick, unpacking some information from last week.

We have done all this many times, but one of the mysteries of being a Human Being is that we need to do things again and again before the penny drops.

Even when we get it and know it inside-out, we must keep repeating the exercise to maintain the IDEA.

The most important thing to keep front and centre is that everything we do has a real purpose, just using this filter can answer many of the questions that crop up.

If not, just ask me.

Never forget or doubt that “FIGHTING IS EASY”.

Winning that fight or not getting injured are slightly different matters.

That part of violence is not what Wing Chun teaches.

If you think it does, you are taking a BIG risk.

Wing Chun only teaches Wing Chun.

Develop honesty.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.”

Niels Bohr.




One thing I have always accepted, even back in the day as a tradesman teaching apprentices, is that any failings of the student are the fault of the teacher.

This post was initially meant to be a follow-up of sorts to the last post.

However, once I started thinking of reusing, and as such viewing some of the older videos that no longer get viewed, I realise what a wealth of information I have put out there, that is now sadly just talking to itself.

And I cannot help but ask, “have I always been talking to myself”?

You all by now know my IDEA of “only one shape, only one movement, and only one body”, and without meaning any disrespect to anyone I just do not see it, even in the senior guys.

I struggle to try to understand why this is and what I can do to change it.

One thing I have always accepted, even back in the day as a tradesman teaching apprentices, is that any failings of the student are the fault of the teacher.

I caused this problem, by always creating new content I unwittingly diminish the value of the old content and create the illusion that there is still more to learn.

There isn’t.

From the day before we began this journey, yes you read that correctly, the day before we began, we already knew everything.


This has turned into a huge post, I realise that these days many people do not have the attention span for something like this, so it may well be for nothing, but I hope not, try approaching it in the way we eat an Elephant.

One bite at a time.

Read through the text before watching the videos, this act in itself will be a severe test for the YouTube generation.

In my time as a teacher I have assisted hundreds of students with their training, back in my teacher’s school, I was the go-to mentor for my group when talking about all things Chum Kiu, but even then, almost 20 years ago, the advice I gave did not show on the students, and I would wonder.

Why do intermediate Wing Chun players move so poorly?

One big issue is that after spending some time getting to understand the “Standard Model”, that in Chum Kiu the lower body moves the upper body, which from the outset is a misleading way of describing it, we move on to Biu Gee, and everything changes to the extent that it almost gets turned on its head.

This contradiction arises from the fact that most mainstream Wing Chun is still working with 1950s Body Mechanics, or at least how to teach and understand the Kinetic Chain approach to Body Mechanics.

In reality, it is much better to see that in Chum Kiu we only move the Pelvis/Hips, we do not move the upper body at all, the Torso simply sits there and goes along for the ride.

Better or easier understanding is not helped by the teaching/learning of the Forms as stand-alone patterns, especially in a linear way.

There is and has always been “only one Form”.

If, as we always claim, that Wing Chun is based on normal human body movement then everything we do is, at some level at least, Wing Chun.

As an “IDEA” and not a Form, Sil Lim Tau is a circle, with no set beginning, and no set end.

Even though it is taught Arms first, then Lower Body/Pelvis, and then Upper body/Torso, to be understood it must be seen as an impulse from the feet up through the Body and out of the Arms.

However the learning curve is too steep if we do not learn the Arms Form first, this is why I refer to it as what everyone knows as S.L.T. as the “First Form” until we have progressed through the cycle.

Once we have some understanding of the First Form, then the Chum Kiu Form, and then the Biu Gee Form we now have the information that makes up the Sil Lim Tao.

Not the Sil Lim Tao Form, the IDEA itself, but to see it we must read it from Chum Kiu Form, then Biu Gee Form, and then Sil Lim Tao Form.

There are countless complexities inside all of the Forms, but if we are talking about how to move the Wing Chun Frame it could be learned in a weekend.

Chum Kiu is simply side-stepping, Biu Gee is Core Winding and Sil Lim Tao is extending the Arms in an optimal condition.

It really is this simple, but like all “GOOD THINGS,” the Devil is in the details.

Here are some views on how to play the Forms.

Here is another video, try to see that these are all just different ways to observe the IDEA, it is like looking into a large hall from different windows, a different perspective from every window, but still the same hall.

Or if you prefer a more imaginative visualisation, we circle the IDEA like hungry sharks around a dying whale.

A bite here, a swim, and then a bite there.

If the window we are looking through is the window that helps us use our training out in the wild it would look a lot like the video below. At 6.00 minutes there is some important information about natural body recruitment. We think we know this stuff but usually, we do not, we only think we do and as such overlook it.

At last the Steak Knives.

If any of these videos fulfill its promise as a direct follow-on to the last post it is this one.

Hopefully, you have watched all of the videos and can clearly see how, in their own way, they were expanding on this.

A really significant difference between today and the earlier times, 1960 through to 2000 in particular, is the availability of information, especially Wing Chun information.

Up until the mid-1990s, there was nothing on video, it was all written and very expensive at that.

Finding anything in English was rare, and anything about Wing Chun was even rarer.

Information was cherished and reread many times until even the page numbers were remembered.

Today information is everywhere and easy to access, so it is not looked on with the same reverence, to the extent that nothing is important anymore.

To paraphrase Rutherford Rogers, “we are awash with information and starved of motivation”.

If we do not wish to be the type of students that watch and forget, we need to deliberately become the type of students that watch and learn.

It is simply a choice, unfortunately, I do not have a video for that.


Henry David Thoreau




I.M.O. Wing Chun is not a fighting art, it is a way to think!

Listen up Tribe!

I doubt that many of you will remember this post from over a year ago, seeing as we were deep into the second Covid lockdown, we all had much more to think about, or at least complain about, so it may well have gone through to the ‘keeper.

It is worth revisiting however because I think that this is an important notion that once gripped never falls away from us.

As scattered as it may at first appear, the video to this post is a powerful aid to progressing as a human being, let alone a Wing Chun Man, save it somewhere and come back to it every few months just in case I do not cover the same ground again.

Albert Einstein was of the opinion that “time is an illusion”.

Without time nothing happens, so nothing moves.

Hence the confusion because of his own words ‘nothing happens until something moves’.

Well, I hear you ask, what does Uncle Albert have to do with Kung Fu?

Here is where I am coming from, I.M.O. Wing Chun is not a fighting art, it is a way to think.

This is why it fails so often when people try to use it as it is taught, as a stand-up fighting skill.

I do not think that this was ever Dr. Leung Jan’s intention.

How we engage with the work mentally is more important than how we engage with it physically.

Mental fluidity is essential for us to reach out and touch the ‘little idea’.

The ancient Chinese monks that established and expanded Kung Fu, be they Buddhist or Taoist, considered their training as a form of alchemy, turning lead {the initiate} into gold {the master}.

Most of my own training is a hybrid of all the things that have affected my life, Boxing, Judo, numerous diverse sports, cooking, and even music because it is through this eclectic lived experience that I view my Wing Chun.

To be expected, you will see it differently as you have lived differently.


A common issue with all solo training is that we can begin to doubt that we get it, begin to doubt that we are doing the right thing.

Problem solved, there is no ‘right thing, there is only ‘doing, use Yoda’s voice when you verbalise that.

So as not to overwhelm us all with too much information I will post a follow-up blog article, I am writing it as you read this so it is fresh info, hopefully in the next few days.

Stay tuned.

The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. 

Hunter S. Thompson





“[Stability] is the cornerstone upon which your strength is delivered, your aerobic performance is delivered and your anaerobic performance is delivered. And it’s the way that you do so safely.”


Hey Tribe.

This is a link to a podcast I subscribe to from Peter Attia.

Peter is a dead-set Wonderkind, he is an extreme athlete, a Mathematician, a Surgeon, and a Physician, oh, and a very clever man.

I am not posting this podcast as an “I told you so”, moment but…





everyone there is trying to sell something, and it is not always Kosher.

Now that there are 5 of you working on the Dummy it is important that we are all on the same page.

I have no issues with people checking out the DUDES on Youtube to see what they are about but never forget that youtube is a shopping platform, everyone there is trying to sell something, and it is not always Kosher.

At the end of the day anything that helps… helps.

So go at it.

Just remember that how you train is how you will fight, so unless you are fighting a stationary piece of wood…?





A General Theory of Fighting Arts becomes grounded in Human Movement and not, as it so often is, ‘Esoteric Ideology’.

 The General Theory of Fighting Arts is a term widely used to try to get students to identify the mutual movements of all martial styles, and the alignment with most dynamic sports.

One thing we have all been told, and if we are talking to beginners or non Wing Chun people often repeat is that ‘Wing Chun movement is based on normal human body movement’.

I do not think that students give enough credence to this statement, that ‘Wing Chun movement is based on normal human body movement’.

It gets treated as if it is just some sort of cagey advertising spin just as many Instructors still claim that Wing Chun was invented by a woman, a device to encourage smaller, less athletic men to take up Wing Chun instead of a rival code.

But Wing Chun IS based on normal human body movements.

If we approach the work from this perspective and look at what is presented and how it is presented, we see a pattern emerge, that in the progression of the FORMS, as we move from the first Form to Chum Kiu and then Biu Gee, this progression is nothing more than the introduction of more complex movement for people not familiar with this way of moving.

This approach more than likely had merit back in 1860s Foshan but today, due to the average sporting curriculum of most western schools every 12-year-old child is familiar with these moves.

A very large proportion of what is introduced through the Forms is simply unnecessary, at least from the point of view of controlling our body.

Do not get me wrong, the FORMS are needed for other reasons so I am not suggesting abandonment.

But we can easily be moving at a level that is needed for any aspect of the work be it the Dummy, the Pole or the Knives if we put more practice and focus into moving better as a Human.

Take any movement or action from any sport, especially a throwing or bat and ball sport, and you will find the moves somewhere in the Form.

 A General Theory of Fighting Arts becomes grounded in Human Movement and not, as it so often is, ‘Esoteric Ideology’.

This week spend some quality time exploring the similarities between Martial Movement, Sports and Dancing, once you see how they amalgamate, consolidate and integrate FORMS become a secondary consideration. 


And while you a re at it put some minutes into the MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Here they are, and here is a recap.