Articles, Feather Ruffling


Lets Ruffle some Feathers.
Lets Ruffle some Feathers.


I live and teach in one the outer suburbs of Sydney, Australia, it is almost 40 klms to the centre of the C.B.D.  Out here there is not that much Wing Chun, not proper Wing Chun at any rate, there are of course plenty of Cowboys that teach a hybrid Tae Kwon Do / Tai Chi / Wrestling and call it Wing Chun, most of them are training with SIFU YOUTUBE, but there are very few people that trained with a genuine Master for any length of time.

As a result I get a steady stream of people that come to see me having seen my blog or shock horror having seen ME on Youtube { I have stopped posting to Youtube now because it brings in the weirdo’s} most of these people stay 3 – 4 lessons at best and leave dazed and confused wondering “Who is that masked man”?

The thing that gets them all defrosted is not the way I teach Wing Chun but rather just the way I teach in general.  I expect and demand that the Student be involved in his / her own training, and I will often ask them to share their thinking, to describe their mental process that brought about any action I ask them to perform.

To be self aware, to be involved.

Then they all do the Goldfish on me because I question their intentions, especially when they do something completely alien to what I asked them to do, simple things like present your Tarn Sau, use just your Arm.

So they move the whole Body and cause me to Face Palm.

Angry Picard Meme.TARN SAU

I ask them, seriously, “what do you think  you are doing {as in Mental Process and not as a derogatory question}? what do you think you are trying to achieve and why do you think doing it that way could ever succeed”?

“What, what, what, what do you mean”?

Imagine if acted this way with Sifu Vincent Vega…..

Some of these people claim to have 5 years training or even more, at least that is the claim {I usually divide all such claims by 3 before showing them anything that could overtax them}.

How do people in training just not learn?

These days I teach small groups from my Studio but a few years ago I ran 2 schools in totally separate parts of South Western Sydney {it is a BIG area these Schools were nowhere close to each other} with at one time almost 40 Students, ultimately I closed these Schools because of the same problem, constant Face Palming.  The only thing that the Schools were giving me was Money, and that is not why I teach Wing Chun.

It is always tempting to blame “Instructors” of dubious value for the lack of commitment and understanding displayed by far too many students, but I found that it was happening at my own Schools and I assure you I left no Wing Chun stone unturned with my charges but still ended up with a constant Palm imprint on my forehead.

The sad truth is that a very large percentage of Wing Chun students are only playing, my own Sifu Jim Fung once remarked to me that at least 95% { yes you read it correctly, 95%, and I believe this to be a Global statistic and not just particular to my own Sifu’s School} of the people in his School were only involved in some Kung Fu Movie Fantasy and that this was played out with the number of students that progressed past year 5, and reinforced at year 10.

This whole problem is much worse in the wake of Ip Man 3, the movie had as much to do with Wing Chun as William Cheung, but my phone has been running hot with Guys saying “I watched Ip Man 3 and now I want to learn Wing Chun”.

“Sorry, my School is full call me next year”

As a Group my Students and I watched Ip Man 3 and to my horror a couple of them thought the Wing Chun was realistic. On a weekly basis they witness me rip the shit out of Kung Fu Movies but still they do a Fox Mulder on me.







Articles, Feather Ruffling


Lets Ruffle some Feathers.
Lets Ruffle some Feathers.


Students will often ask ‘What should I train on at home to improve”?

Most Instructors simply answer  THE FORM,  in my opinion this is just a lazy answer trotted out with no real thought of the Students needs, if your aim is to improve your Form then it is a no brainer, do the Form, but for genuine improvement it is more important to work on what you actually wish to get out of your training, The Form will not assist you in kicking nasty people.

I know Instructors that preach the Form is everything you will ever need.

Think of this……….

Would you study Latin for years if your hope was to speak Portuguese?

Latin is the Root of all Souther European languages, just as the FORM is the root of all things Wing Chun.

Would you learn Spanish if what you intended was to speak French? After all they both share the same Root language of Latin.

Would you learn French to improve your English? Half of the words in use in the English language are French.

On so many levels there is absolutely no difference between learning a language and learning a Martial Art.

Beyond a doubt without Latin there is no French, but Latin is not what makes French, French.

As Humans everything we train is TASK SPECIFIC, so we need to understand exactly what task we are attempting to learn, and then apply ourselves to completing that task, the method is unimportant, it is just a Map.

What you should practice, at home and at training, is how to solve the problems that worry you with the ability that you have at that point in time.

I have one very irregular Student a Lebanese Gentleman called Abdul, Abdul is a very interesting Man, he was born in Beirut, Lebanon, where he was raised and schooled until he was sent to the U.S.A. to go to college and then he came to live with an Uncle here in Sydney, until he left Lebanon he was very keen on Boxing, at college in the U.S. he became involved in Collegiate Wrestling, from a M.A. point of view he has a very effective skill set, and by his own admission his lifestyle frequently leads him into situations that require this skill set.

In many ways I do not teach him anything, he presents a situation that he would like to work through and we go from there.

I simply refine the things he wants to do with his current Skill Set from a Wing Chun perspective, introduce him to Wing Chun thinking and the Wing Chun Body Method when and where applicable,  he soaks it up like a sponge, so much so that even though he has only trained with me about 10 times over the last 2 years his actions abide by Wing Chun Principles and Theory more than most Wing Chun Students I know, many of whom have been training for years and years.

I have taught Abdul no Forms, no Chi Sau, he knows nothing nor cares nothing for Wing Chun history or past Masters and yet when he fights he uses Wing Chun { even though it does not look like any kind of Wing Chun you may of seen before it is beyond a doubt Wing Chun according to the Principals and Body Method}, this is so interesting, he trust what I teach him simply because he has used it and it worked, because of his sporting background he readily accepts instruction and applies it honestly and completely.

All of our Forms are just shapes we choose to work with, Abdul uses different shapes.

I have seen many decent Students get lost in the Vacuum that is Wing Chun training, many years spent doing the same thing in the same way yet somehow expecting a different result { improving is changing, changing is becoming different from what you are now}, when the whole idea that drives our civilisation, “the Scientific Method” is that you do the same thing in the same way time and time again to get the exact same result so as to validate it, and once validated it is time to move on with confidence.

Why did you take up Wing Chun in the first place?

It really does not matter why you started but has your training delivered what you expected it to deliver, in fact what you wanted it to deliver on that first day, or have you been redirected?

Are you learning what you think you are learning?

Abdul, paid me a “Back Handed” compliment the last time he was here, he said “I always find it so hard to understand how someone your age, your size and in your physical condition can prevent me from hitting you”.

I passed up the chance to tell him it was because I was very good and very skilful and told him that he could not hit me because I did not wish to be hit, that was the pressing problem that needed solving, in that moment I used Wing Chun, but at another time and place I may well of used a chair.

And it would of still be Wing Chun, but not as you know it.

I do not run my school the way my Sifu ran his, teaching Forms, Chi Sau and Techniques, this is an easy way for the teacher but of very little value for the student, it is not practical it is Academic, good for talking but not for use, I start with a problem or an idea and see where it takes us, find out how to make things work.

Articles, Feather Ruffling

Pacquiao – Mayweather wrap up.

wing chun sydney

A number of people engaged with me about the Fight of the Century, and my Blog Post regarding it, this is in part a reply to all of those people.

The first really obvious thing of note was how few people understood the Sport of Boxing, and it is a sport, and like all sports the objective is  to win.

But there is a great deal more to Boxing than winning and loosing.

We often refer to Boxers or any Professional Fighters as Modern Day Gladiators but this is just Media Hype, there is nothing Gladiatorial about Sport Fighting, the aim is not to KILL your opponent but to win the match according to the rules of the game, and hopefully go home to your family.

Some of the people I spoke with did not think that the Mayweather – Pacquiao fight was a good fight, mainly because nobody was visibly beaten up, there was no Gladiatorial aspect to the fight.

It turns out that quite a few people do not watch Boxing for the display of Pugilistic Skill but in fact they just tune in for the Blood, there is little appreciation of a skilful fight won on points with not even a knockdown to show for all the efforts.

It is not just Boxing either, few people enjoy a Soccer game that ends up 0 – 0 despite there being passages of sublime football.

Many of the guys I spoke with were Wing Chun people,  or at least Martial Artists of some style.

My own students understand how I think, so to them there was no surprise that I said Mayweather won clearly and easily, and that the fight illustrated perfectly how a Wing Chun Fighter would deal with a Street Fighter, I have said here on this Blog previously the Floyd Mayweather jnr. is as close as any professional fighter gets to being a Wing Chun Fighter.

Now that the fight is over and there are repeats of the fight readily available I recommend that every Wing Chun student download it and study it.

What are the principals of Wing Chun?


2. Practicality.

3. Directness.

4.Minimum use of Brute Force.

5. Economy of Movement.

Mayweather epitomised all of these in his fight, the same cannot be said for the Pac Man.

Similarities between Wing Chun and Boxing.

Mayweather and Ali were defencive Counter Punching Fighters that ruled World Boxing and their most famous challengers where often regarded as Street Fighters, Pacquiao and Frazier fit that bill perfectly, my own Sifu would say that when Ali stepped back and set himself to Jab at an incoming fighter {that he was always leading around and never backing away from} he was simply using Chum Kiu thinking.

If as a Wing Chun student your cannot see how Mayweather clearly beat Pacquiao using Wing Chun thinking { and how most of the OLD SCHOOL Maxims and advice from the Kuen Kuit could well of been written for him} and why we should all to some extent try to emulate him  with how we deploy our own skill set,  you need to spend a bit more time on Chum Kiu, and  avoid Street Fighters like the Plague.



Feather Ruffling


Analogies – are they any use at all?

Lets Ruffle some Feathers.
Lets Ruffle some Feathers.

I have been training in one form of Martial Art or another for over 50 years, in that time I have heard so many analogies that started off as being quite useful thought maps but ended up just being buzz words.

Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee.

When people hear this they do not think Boxing, they think Ali, it is now a Buzz word for Ali and no longer brings up thoughts of mobility and direct action.

It has completely lost its Mojo.

Its use by date has come and gone.

As an Instructor I sometimes use analogies to try to get a Student to draw a Mental Picture from which they can then extract a feeling they can work with so that they can mentally and physically perform the task I want them to perform. It has some minor value.

In my experience when a student uses an Analogy he is simply using it as an excuse to justify why he is still  working on an old problem instead of engaging new ones.

Where am I going with this?

I quite simply do not understand why so many Wing Chun people obsess over the First Form, and I do mean obsess.

When I question them the most frequent answer is that “The First Form is the foundation of the whole system, and if you build a house with weak foundations it will collapse”.

They use the Analogy of building a house to learning a Martial Art.

 Déjà Poo {I have heard that Shit before}.

But is this analogy relevant?

Is this analogy trapping people inside their own fear of being tested?

Do people obsess on the First form because if they are still working on it it cannot be wrong – yet.

I took up Wing Chun in my late 30’s, I had over 30 years experience in other Martial Arts, what initially impressed me about Wing Chun was the almost complete absence of Bullshit, it talked the talk.

But it did not take too long before my seniors started with the Fairy Stories.

I was first given the house building metaphor when I asked why it would be 5 years before I was taught Chum Kiu and asked why everyone was so Gung Ho on the First Form, once enlightened I happily pointed out that there are literally thousands of Great Houses in Europe that are 400, 500 even 700 years old that where built with NO FOUNDATIONS.

This was soon changed to “it is not so much about foundations as when you lay the Bricks, if the first layer {Form} is wrong then everything will be wrong, so we make sure that we lay one layer {Form} at a time and get it totally right”.

This was hilarious, the person telling me this was a Public Servant who knew nothing about Bricks whereas I had actually worked with a Bricklayer and laid thousands of Bricks, when I pointed out that his explanation had absolutely nothing in common with how Bricks are actually laid he suddenly needed to be somewhere else.

I know what he was trying to say, but when you lay Bricks you do well to lay as many Courses as you can, the mass keeps everything true, single layers always twist.

By now it was not about the Bricks or the Forms, it was the fact that the Senior responsible for my training had no idea what he was talking about.

How could I take anything else he said seriously?

As Human Beings {a group I only just qualify for} we are more than happy to suspend reality, it gives us a break from our everyday routine, you only have to look at our Myths and Religions to see the truth of that, and do not ever get me started on the “Internal” aspect of Martial Arts, we love Fairy Stories, we all deeply want Magic to exist and we know that Kung Fu Sifu’s can fly.

But it is crap.

Analogies are not real experiences, they are imaginary, if you take them as being real then your training becomes imaginary and that opens the door for all manner of mysticism, Chi and Empty Force.

My Sifu, the late Jim Fung would very politely inform everyone that there was no such thing as “Internal Kung Fu”, there was only hard work and deep understanding of what it means to be a Human, since his passing even some of his most Senior Students are pushing the “Empty Force” Bandwagon.

As I have already mentioned I use analogies with my own Students, but as soon as they break through and begin to experience it as a human Body I get them to discard the analogy and develop a deeper understanding of where their own body is taking them.

An analogies working life in my opinion is at most 45 minutes.

As Instructors we have great influence on how our Students act and think, we have a responsibility to keep it in the Realm of the Real and to drag improvement out of people that come to us for assistance, even if it scares them.

It does not matter how long I spend thinking about it, my Head will never be the Flame of a Candle and my Shoulders will never be the melting Wax running down the side of the Candle.

But Head up – Body down is something I work with everyday.

Feather Ruffling


Lets Ruffle some Feathers.
Lets Ruffle some Feathers.



A “Pet Hate” of mine are Schools that claim to allow you to “Learn at your own Pace”!!!!

How can anyone that does not know what they are doing have “Their own Pace”?

I frequently get Students coming to see me from other Schools, some for just a few lessons to help them move forward past plateaus in their training, some are making a shift to join me.

The majority of these Students are significantly less skilful than my own students at a similar point on their Training Time Line.

This is not because I am a superior Teacher.

I am a very good Teacher but it is not the differentiating factor.

It is that the School they are with or used to be with had no real intention of taking them forwards, no real intention of teaching them what they needed to know, no real intention of providing the service the Student was paying for.

The School was “Protecting the Rice Bowl”.

Learn at your own Pace.

No pressure.

No instruction.

Wing Chun by Osmosis.

The School I began my training with was very much like this, one day I approached my Sifu and expressed my dissatisfaction with the quality and quantity of the Instruction that I was receiving {and paying for} I was informed that when I came to training I should not be coming to be Spoon Fed but should be coming too get my Homework marked.

“Then you should begin to give me homework and not expect me to guess” I answered, in fairness he did just that and took a much more active role in my development, but it was a case of the Squeaky Wheel getting the Grease, others where less lucky.

Not so long ago I was asked to assist a group of Guys that had all been training for over 10 years, some much more, and yet none of them had any understanding of the Second Form, their time had been spent on the First Form and on Chi Sau, the School they had trained with used the “ learn at your own pace” model and the much overused cliche´that it is “only Siu Nim Tao that matters”.

Deep inside most Students stuck in the Quicksand of a devious Sifu will use the “There is only Siu Nim Tao” as a means to shield themselves from the truth that they are being exploited, quite recently I spoke to a Student that had progressed to “Level 2” with a devious bunch, and THAT STUDENT PROUDLY ANNOUNCED  that they would be between 5 and 10 years before they reach “Level 3”.

“Pass me the Key to my Cell and let me throw it out the Window for you”!

I am thirsty, pass me the Kool – Aid.

I have a close Wing Chun Brother that has been training for over 20 years and yet thinks he will never become a Master.


There is “Absolutely no reason” why you cannot Master Wing Chun inside of 10 years, if you go training, you pay attention and you apply yourself, if you are not improving every day then either you are a useless Student of you are being ripped off.

If you are at this moment scoffing at this remark you should ask yourself “WHY”.

What is it about “YOU” that is so substandard that you cannot learn all there is about one of the worlds most Simple {least complicated} Martial Arts in less time than it takes a boy to train to be a Brain Surgeon?

If you still think that it takes a lifetime to become a Master you are a lost cause and would not become a Master in 5 lifetimes, because for some unknown reason you do not wish to be one.

If you are “Training at your own pace” why not put a wiggle on and pick up the pace?