There are some CONCEPTS in Wing Chun that that require us to use different mindsets, wear different hats, different levels of thinking


WING CHUN is a counter-attacking fighting style, we believe that to strike first is to show our hand, and in doing so to open ourselves up to our opponent’s counter-attack, we stand, we wait, we watch, we see him begin something then we end him.

It is a very sound system that has been proven effective time after time in real-world situations.

There is also a mass of real-world empirical evidence that points to preemptive strikes predominantly leading to a successful outcome.

If we are certain that violence is going to happen do we stand and wait or do we act preemptively?

To effectively use counter-attack we engage our senses to observe any indicators of an incoming strike. Once a trigger is noticed, primarily at a subconscious level, we act.

To effectively use a preemptive strike we engage our senses, usually at a conscious level, to observe any targets of opportunity, openings we can exploit to land a blow. Once an opening is noticed we strike through.

We cannot effectively do both at once, look for openings as we scan for attack indicators, they use different parts of the Brain, different Mindsets, different levels of interaction, conscious, subconscious.

It is like playing Rugby, a ball is coming my way, so is the opposing sides defender, do I catch the ball and run or do I catch the ball and pass?

If I wait to decide until I have the ball I will be flattened.

Escaping violent situations is not really about what style we use, what technique we employ or how good we are at fighting, it is about making good decisions on time.

There are some CONCEPTS in Wing Chun that that require us to use different mindsets, wear different hats, different levels of thinking, in some cases they are contradictory, when jointly engaged they just neutralise each other.

Attacking uses a different mindset to Defending, different focus, different goals, positive and negative, matter and antimatter.

As a concept, ‘Simultaneous Attack and Defense’ is an enticing theory, one that is easy to make happen in a controlled environment, seductive.

But it is a duality.

Violence is a singularity.







We often imagine that we generally operate by some kind of plan, that we have goals we are trying to reach. But we’re usually fooling ourselves; what we have are not goals but wishes.

The 33 Strategies Of War – Greene, Robert


Followers of this blog will be well aware of my conviction that Wing Chun is completely devoid of intelligent, workable strategy, yet still, I love it.

In my often clumsy attempt to inform the ill-informed I have sometimes come over as being Ego driven and stupidly opinionated, I will accept that critique as wrong as it is, I should have done better and I am forever trying to do just that.

In the last couple of years, I have written thousands of words to this end, read countless books and articles to try to improve my delivery because it is the message that is important and not me.

I recently happened upon the author Robert Greene, his book ‘The 33 Strategies of War’ is everything I was trying to say, just done so much better, so much clearer and far more eloquently, better still I found a Youtube video of him presenting his book.

In the previous posting on this blog, I spoke about the difference between Qi Kung and Kung Fu.

Qi Kung is thinking about the work, Kung Fu is spending time and effort doing the work.

This video is one hour long, investing time in the work is what Kung Fu demands, if you cannot find the time to watch this, and preferably more than once you are not involved in Kung Fu.

A quote that echoes loudly when I watch most Wing Chun people  training is,

We often imagine that we generally operate by some kind of plan, that we have goals we are trying to reach. But we’re usually fooling ourselves; what we have are not goals but wishes.

The 33 Strategies Of War – Greene, Robert


















My approach is Kung Fu first, Qi Kung second, this often puts me at odds with my old training friends.

Wing Chun is a concept-driven Martial Art, and this is the core of most disagreements amongst the different practitioners, we all interpret the concepts differently.

Despite the overwhelming disagreements, I do not think any would argue that there are two main approaches and these approaches depend on whether a person is doing WingChun as a Qi Kung or doing Wing Chun as a Kung Fu.

Ultimately both approaches are needed if we wish to be truly effective.

The majority of the people I know, who are from the Choy Shung Tin – Jim Fung lineage approach the work mainly from the perspective of Qi Kung, establishing the ‘condition’ to do the work of Kung Fu.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, all roads lead to Rome, as long as somewhere along the line they start learning how to use that ‘condition’.

It is not possible to have good Kung Fu without Qi Kung, but it is all too common these days to have good Qi Kung that has no Kung Fu.

Qi Kung is not Kung Fu.

When doing a Form from the perspective of Qi Kung the awareness and intention should be a whole-body awareness,  easy comfortable movement with no predetermined use, releasing tension, opening the joints to let the energy move freely.

When doing a Form for Kung Fu it must be almost the opposite, the awareness needs to be singular, direct, focused, we must ask ourselves what are we trying to do here? Where is the work being done?  What is powering the work?

My approach is Kung Fu first, Qi Kung second, this often puts me at odds with my old training friends.

Because of this perspective what I believe to be the most important of the Wing Chun Forms and the one that I would recommend spending more time on is not as many think the First Form but is, in fact, the Fourth Form, the Mok Jan Jong or Wooden Dummy.

Each of the first three forms brings us to part of the total information that we can then work on uniting through the practice of the Dummy, Knives, and Pole, however only the Dummy works as a hands-on solo training that allows us to explore possible combinations of the various movements and ideas introduced in the first three Forms with tactile resistance.

The Jong makes it very clear that the two most important things to be comfortable with, are time and space.

The time to do the work and the space to do the work, without this control everything goes out of the window, only the dummy gives us this aspect of training, everything else is little more than imaginary training, and is only of use in imaginary fighting.

Working on the Dummy is working on all of the previous Forms in a compounded and more practical way, this is, in fact, the raison d’être of the Dummy.

To understand and benefit from the Dummy it is critical that we abandon all fantasy,  50% of the moves in the Dummy Form are wrong and the other half are useless, it is a training aid that helps us understand ourselves and how we move, how to accept force and issue force, it is not a sparring partner.

Before we can have any hope of gaining benefit from the Dummy we must understand the working or core aspects of the first three Forms, and have at least a basic understanding of how to combine them.

From the perspective of Kung Fu, not Qi Kung.

How do we know if we are doing Kung Fu or if we are doing Qi Kung?

If it is just you doing a Form it is Qi Kung, if you are not hitting something, it is Qi Kung, if you are not moving dynamically, it is Qi Kung.

As I said earlier, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, in fact, it is an essential ingredient, the problem arises when someone is training Chi Kung while thinking that they are training Kung Fu.

Qi Kung is not Kung Fu.


Work on your weaknesses, play to your strengths.





A very simple Bomb, a very powerful Bomb.


A while back I asked ‘what is the pointy end of your Wing Chun training’?

The pointy end referring to the aspect that delivers the pay off to all of the training that has been done, the why and the how made into one corporeal expression.

To show where I am coming from with this, to guide our thinking in the correct direction I have created an allegory or if you wish a parable.



There were two countries locked in a war that appeared to have no end, every move was countered every battle ultimately ground to a stalemate, no end was in sight.

It was decided to build a giant bomb and drop it on the enemy capital finishing the war at one stroke.

A Factory was built, the most modern Factory imagined, fully automated, carbon-neutral, the best and brightest scientist were assembled, cutting edge tech invented and the Bomb was created.

A very simple Bomb, a very powerful Bomb.

Even though there was no other factory anywhere in the world equal to this factory, it existed for one purpose and one purpose only.

To build the Bomb.

As the Factory was under construction a tunnel was dug from the Factory to the airfield, the tunnel was secret, safe and the track was a Magnetic Levitation system that could transport the Bomb safely with no chance of fire.

No tunnel of this kind existed anywhere else on the planet and the Mag-Lev system was the first of its kind, but this was unimportant, its only reason for existence was to transport the Bomb.

At the Airfield a new prototype Carbon Fibre Stealth Bomber awaited, it was completely undetectable to all known scanning technology, it was fully autonomous and capable of reaching speeds of Mach 8, there was no equal to this plane.

Without the Bomb, this plane would have never been built.

Looking backward at everyone that had been involved in the project, in all the support, all the innovation all the progress and sheer audacity it all came into being only for the Bomb.

Years later when the war was long over and the world was at peace people only spoke about the Bomb.


Aligning this with Wing Chun training what is our Bomb?

What is our Factory, our MagLev Train, our U.A.V. Bomber Drone?

Just for the sake of this conversation let us nominate the First Form to be the Factory, it could, of course, be anything or even a combination of things, a piece of the First Form, a slice of Chi Sau and a pinch of something else.

Is the way you do the First Form capable of creating your ‘Bomb”?

Delivering the Bomb to the airfield is pretty much what Chum Kiu is all about.

Dropping the Bomb could be the IDEAS formulated in Biu Gee.

In training, we can focus on the three different stages, build it, deliver it, drop it. This not only helps to understand transitioning but can lend an air of semi-reality to the movement.

The most important thing is to understand that even though we have a fantastic Factory, even though we have a cutting edge Maglev system, and even though our Drone is the most hi-tech and advanced when push comes to shove it is all and only about the Bomb.


Train up your weaknesses, work to your strengths.





Do you know your weaknesses, more importantly, do you know how to avoid them?


Let me remind everyone that I am a Martial Artist that does Wing Chun, I am not a Wing Chun disciple.

This is in no way meant to be demeaning to Wing Chun, quite the opposite, I choose Wing Chun because I think it works as well if not better for me than my previous training.

I have a wide and varied fighting skill set that encompasses Boxing, Judo, Military C.Q.C. plus traditional European and S. East Asian weapons training, still, I choose to stay connected to Wing Chun.

Full disclaimer that needs to be factored in, I am 66 years old and semi disabled, if I was ever knocked down it would be near impossible for me to get back up quickly, this greatly affects how and what I teach, how and what I train.

Do you know your weaknesses, more importantly, do you know how to avoid them?

How can we plan for something that we do not even know is going to happen?

Let’s start with the worse thing we can think of, it will be different for all of us but be honest to yourself, there is no need for anyone else to know, we all have one darker fear and if we are ever slipping towards it, we will panic big time if we have not at least played it out in our minds a few times.

My favourite military maxim that should always be considered is …. ‘no battle plan survives contact with the enemy’.

This is not about being real, it is about being semi-prepared, engage your imagination, if in doubt about what would happen in a real situation pick the worst option you can think of.

I will use my worst fear as an example, but it is just the thought process that is important, develop, ask and answer your own questions.

My biggest worry is that I am on the floor!!!

Question #1. How did I get here?

Did the Bad Guy knock me down? Did he catch a kick I attempted and threw me? Did I trip over my own feet?

Most fights that end up on the floor are there because people fall over much more than someone does Ju-Jitsu.

Whatever we decided caused this problem becomes an area for involvement in our training, develop a style that kicks less, stay out of reach of your partner, develop a better, more well-balanced movement.

Question #2. Could I have prevented this?

If it was something the Bad Guy did what happened that allowed him to be in a position to do that? Was it his skill and speed or was it a case of me being inattentive or late to respond?

Either way, this problem was caused by not being in control of my personal space and something I can take into training is the question “what does it mean to control my personal space”?

As a training exercise in Chi Sau get a friend to continuously press you and work on maintaining the same shape, position and distance from them at all times.

Ask yourself can I control my personal space by standing in the one spot while my attacker is mobile, there is no correct or incorrect answer here, just a specific personal idea that we can train to be more natural.

Question #3. Was he fast or was I slow?

We can always work on our speed, especially the speed we think, our body only ever works at the speed of our thoughts, to a very large extent being quick is about having fewer choices to deliberate on.

Do not waste valuable mental processing time on trying to develop or use ‘Mind Force’, be deliberate and only think about things you can do that will actively help.

If we do not know how to transition from one situation or one position to another we will be frozen in time and space and an easy target.

Again as a Chi Sau drill work on changing shapes, stances, and positions in space.

Create a drill in Chi Sau where one partner applies a strong forward drive, the other partner tries to find a way to get behind the aggressor, do not be nice to each other, make it a win / lose game.

In training we usually tend to just do as we are told, often there is no genuine connection to what we as students think may happen, what we may need, very rarely is there any student input to reflect a personal worry or experience.

As Instructors we should encourage this type of engagement, as students, we should force ourselves to ask questions, even when we think they may be stupid.

Nearly everything we do in Wing Chun falls under the umbrella of simultaneous attack and defense, in so many street situations this is a practical impossibility. The IDEA is sound, but how close can we get to it?

In street situations the attacker has no time to try to find the best shot, there is no feinting, no dodging and weaving patiently seeking a better position, it is just a flurry of whatever and it is instantly in our face.

Most street violence that Wing Chun would engage with, the average mugging, for instance, is over in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

I am serious, if we lose control of the first 4 or 5 seconds it is lights out and go home.

If we do not see it coming we are not going to stop it from happening, this is an alarming thought, but it is what it is.

Question #4. Why was I unprepared?

No one can teach functional situational awareness because the situation changes from day to day and place to place, because of this most situations we find ourselves in will appear to be ‘almost out of nowhere’.

Unpreparedness is our default position, get used to it, train it.

If our regular training does not include ways to regain a good position from a bad position then the prognosis will be terminal, do not fall for the fantasy that Biu Gee teaches emergency techniques, find a way to make space and regain balance.

Question #5. How did this situation arise?

The only way to avoid potential problems is to see them as they evolve, and leave before conception.

Most people that fail in a violent situation do not fail because of a lack of skill or ability, it is usually a lack of trust, a lack of confidence all made more destructive by the shock inherent in being attacked.

There are hundreds if not thousands of violently effective people who have no training at all in our world, but they are courageous to the level of foolhardiness, they will walk into our fists, we have a huge advantage if we can only bring it to the fore.

Think. Plan ahead. Survive. This is what all training should be. Any other approach is leading to the wrong choice at the wrong time.


Work on your weaknesses, play to your strengths.







Wing Chun people boast about staying true to the original teachings of Yip Man, staying true to lineage.


If we hope to fully understand our training it is hard and probably self-defeating to ever move away from or ignore the question ‘does Wing Chun work in a street fight’?

Wing Chun is simply a method and as such will always work, the real question should be ‘can we make Wing Chun work for us if we get in a street fight’?

In the Martial Arts World, there are two different and unconnected approaches to fighting.

Firstly there is Combat Sports, Competition Fighting Styles that are essentially for aggressive athletic people to test themselves against other aggressive athletic people, it is essentially a dominance game of strength and endurance and requires great physical conditioning and a very specific mindset.

And then there is Traditional Martial Arts that are usually for ordinary people, usually without great physical conditioning, to get out of violent situations, self-defence oriented, dealing with unplanned unprepared for, acts of random violence.

Young men and Hollywood tend to conflate these two very different approaches with predictable results that we would expect when we, for instance, compare a professional athlete to a weekend ‘fun runner’.

A sad truth, Traditional Martial Arts do not teach people how to think about fighting.

What does any Traditional Martial Art teach any of us?

Pick your favorite flavour not only Wing Chun, it teaches its own particular Martial Arts philosophy and a set of exercises that if used to inform our choices can give us the upper hand over another, SIMILAR, relatively untrained person.

Not how to fight.

However, if we are the type of person that possesses a fighting mentality then the philosophies and exercises of our chosen T.M.A. can inform our actions in such a way as to take us to another level, to bridge the gap and potentially succeed with ease.

It is the thinking we need to address, not the actions, we could be the most efficient and skilled in our style but if we do not know how to transition from our styles environment to the new and very different fighting environment we have little chance.

Similarly learning how to play musical scales can make you an accomplished musical technician but that should not be confused with being a talented musician, much more than a set of scales are needed if we wish to be a world-class composer/performer.

We need imagination, we need to be able to make strange unheard of connections that harmonise beautifully, we need to be able to improvise.

If our T.M.A. does not teach us how to improvise, how to transition between environments, does not teach us how to fight where can we get this help?

That is the easy part, a couple of years back I began to visit a few Throwing and Ice Hockey sites, I was involved in both of these sports as a youngster and some of the IDEAS I learned then I incorporated into my M.A. training over the years.

What I saw in the advances in technique and the imparting of information was so far removed from what I had experienced as a young man that they may well have been different sports.

When I joined my Sifu’s school in the early 1990s and began instruction in Wing Chun what I was taught as current training had apparently not changed since at best the 1950s when it was tested in the Biemo contests between schools in Hong Kong.

That is the problem with ‘Tradition’, it does not change, in Wing Chun people boast about staying true to the original teachings of Yip Man, staying true to lineage.

There is the rub.

Nothing changes, if nothing changes.

Here is a brief thought experiment, if you needed to choose between two dentists, one with equipment and methodology from the 1950s or one with equipment and methodology from today which one would you choose?

Really!!!!! 1950? That’s going to hurt.

This is not Wing Chun’s problem as such, it is more that the majority of the teachers choose to present it in a way that is outdated, outmoded and out of touch with reality.

They all mean well but so few have a genuine experience of violence, those that do tend to make excellent instructors, as for the others the best I can say is that you are buying a Pig in a Poke.

With or without assistance from an Instructor we can quite easily develop the correct type of thinking that can facilitate using our T.M.A. to do the job we hoped it would do.

Think about the dark possibility of losing in a street confrontation, as unpleasant as that may be it is the only logical place to start, let us imagine for instance that we are on the floor being kicked.

How did we get there?

Did we trip or where we knocked down?

Could we have avoided it?

This is the way to build a plan, it should not start with he does this so I do that, it should start before the first blow, how do we prevent him from carrying out his plan?

In this respect, there is very little difference between violence and sports matches.

I will talk more about this soon.






What is your frame of reference for relevance?

Without Martial Purpose is Wing Chun even a Martial Art?


To help us help ourselves move forward with our training there are better questions we can ask than “Does Wing Chun Work”?

Questions that once answered can help forge a direction to influence our training such as…..

What is the ultimate take away from Wing Chun”?

“What task do I expect Wing Chun perform”?

“Where is the pointy end”?

To a certain extent, all of these questions move in the same direction but they are not the same question.

No matter what subject matter we are training in there is an end product that we expect to achieve, writing, cooking, even Wing Chun are all teaching us something specific.

Does learning how to write mean that I will be a decent author?

Does learning how to cook mean that I will be a decent Chef?

No, it does not, learning a skill is simply the departure point.

For many years I was in charge of every aspect of some very large kitchens, food, and staff. When seeking to hire a new team member for the kitchen I drew up a shortlist from their resumes, what they said and thought they could do, then when they came to see me I handed them a box of ingredients and asked them to cook me something.

Completely their call.

Surprisingly it was often the person who on paper had the least knowledge that created the most imaginative food.

They would work with what they knew and not get lost in flights of fancy.

All training is task-specific, in Wing Chun if you are not training to improve fighting ability exactly what is it you are training for, what is your intention.

What is your frame of reference for relevance?

Without Martial Purpose is Wing Chun even a Martial Art?

Or is it merely Chinese Boxercise?

Never doubt that people who come to Boxercise with a previously established fighting skillset can gain real benefit from it, although it should be obvious that genuine boxers do specialised calisthenics and not Boxercise to improve their conditioning, mobility, and overall physicality.

“What is the ultimate take away from Wing Chun”?   We will all have different answers to this, the key is to measure that answers suitability to deal with violence.

Just saying self-defence is not enough, defending one’s self does not in any way guarantee a satisfactory outcome.

“What task does Wing Chun perform”?   If you are doing it for relaxation, for health or for some form of mindfulness these are all perfectly sound reasons for investing your time, sound advice would be to not take it into places you are not training it for.

“Where is the pointy end”?   What is the one thing in all of the training that would get whatever you needed doing, done? This applies equally to any reason that you engage with Wing Chun.

The IDEA behind asking ourselves this type of question is to get a clearer definition of what as individuals we thing Wing Chun is, why we train it, and hopefully how we can use it, there is no correct or standard answer just as there are no standard human beings.

If we intend to develop and use a strategy for any purpose the most important thing is to have a very clear idea about ourselves, how we relate to the purpose and whether or not our knowledge and ability are fit for the task.

This is mostly an exercise in attitude and mentality, from here we can build a strategy that will not only work but one we can be happy to deploy.

It is not only about smacking people in the head.


Work ‘ON’ your weaknesses, work ‘TO’ your strength.