‘Wing Chun is not based on any particular “Small Idea”, but on the WAY of a small idea’.

I had a very long conversation with my teacher ‘Jim’ Fung Chuen Keung about the heart of Wing Chun, the Sil Lim Dao, long as in short individual discussions over many years and not one marathon conflab.

One thing that came up time and again was his view that the difference between the ‘Chinese Collective Consciousness’ and the ‘European Collective Consciousness’ was so vast that translations became impossible.

When trying to explain/translate nuanced concepts, he would say ‘there are things that we Chinese people know that we are not aware we know’ but we know we cannot explain them in any other way than Chinese.

European and Chinese cultures stem from a different root.

Even though he was not a Daoist, Daoism influenced his and all Chinese peoples thinking and values, just as Judeo – Christian thinking influences European thinking and values, even when like me, one is an atheist.

As is the way with these type of conversations, ideas would lay dormant for months sometimes years and then bubble up unexpectedly to be rehashed, revisited.

In one exchange he said ‘Wing Chun is not based on any particular “Small Idea”, but on the WAY of a small idea’.

To my surprise, this made a lot of sense to me then and still does today.

The continuous practice of Wing Chun is about resolving everything down to its smallest and simplest possible state.

The work now becomes how do we reconcile this concept/idea/practice with 6 Forms and Chi Sau.




Beginners want instant gratification from their training, instant improvement, measurable, observable improvement, that they can see and feel.

As in Instructor, I spend a great deal of time trying to inspire my students to spend time engaged with our Forms.

Usually, it takes about three years before a student engages with the Forms on any level that is likely to enable genuine improvement.

The First Form gives no tactile feedback and in no way relates to dealing with violence.

Hence the hesitation to engage.

I get it, I ‘really’ do.

Beginners want instant gratification from their training, instant improvement, measurable, observable improvement, that they can see and feel.

{ it was this aspect that led to my abandoning Bagua Zhang and Xing Yi back in the ’80s, there was not enough of what I thought was “Real Work” that would improve my fighting ability}.

Actual improvement in how we play a Form is exceedingly difficult to measure and a long time coming.

Here is the rub, our improvement in Wing Chun is nothing other than a reflection of our understanding of the Forms.

It really is a ‘no brainer’ that the sooner we engage with our Forms the better.

The Paradox is that from a practical point of view all Forms are useless, but without Forms, we can never progress, never understand and never become competent.

Let’s have a look at that.

It is not the movements, the shapes or sequences that make the Forms pivotal in our advancement, they are all close to pointless, it is the how and the why we make those moves.

Engaging with the Form is a far cry from simply waving our hands around, it is about thinking, feeling, questioning and exploring.




Nobody fights standing still.

If we aim at a target and miss it by 1 millimetre we have missed the target completely.
We may try to console ourselves by saying that we only just missed, but had we missed by 20 Metres the result would be the same.

We missed.

Whether we like it or not some things are absolute.

Being correct needs to be 100%, if we think that we are 99% correct we are, in fact, 100% wrong.

It is the same with stillness.

We cannot be 99% still.

Nobody fights standing still.

At some point, all stances are still.

Ergo stances are not for fighting.

Stances are Feedback devices.







Although the area I live in was a ‘COVID Hot Spot’ for a while there are no active cases anywhere near the Studio so training is as safe as it ever was


This pandemic is 6 months old and no signs of vanishing, how often do we hear “The new normal” is what we are experiencing and we need to get used to it.

Way back at the beginning of the ‘Lockdown’ I had great intentions of posting at least one video a week to help all of us in the club, myself included’, keep our mojo active, I did not quite do that, I tried and came close, but not good enough.

Getting our routine back means different things for different people but at its heart, it is the same thing, the same challenge…

“How do we get today to look a much like way back then as I can”?

We have all invested time, energy and money into our pursuit of Wing Chun excellence, we train to be able to defend ourselves and our loved ones against any or all attackers, only to be beaten by a bug.

Although the area I live in was a ‘COVID Hot Spot’ for a while there are no active cases anywhere near the Studio so training is as safe as it ever was, perhaps safer now that we all take precautions.

In an attempt to help you all {my fellow INCas} resume your own routine I will endeavour to resume mine and post a training help video every week, if there is any particular aspect that you would like covered just ping me, this blog is our Club’s after all, your blog as much as mine.

Stay Healthy, stay frosty.









Mind Force?

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2020-06-03 16:31:44Z | |


Muscles are binary by default, they are either on [tense] or off [relaxed]


I have never been a fan of the IDEA of Mind Force with regards physical movement and specifically Wing Chun and fighting.

Nothing I have ever experienced in 60 years of Martial Arts and a vast assortment of sports training has given any credence to that position.

Check this out.

I was recently watching a presentation from Dr. Kelly Starret when he made the following observation…

‘There is no movement that specifically turns on a muscle, that is not how the brain works, the Brain doesn’t work on musculature it works on movement’…


Disagreeing with something I may say is pretty healthy, but disagreeing with what a world respected expert says is bordering on stupid.

This presents a whole different way to think about releasing tension and dare I say it, Relaxing.

Muscles are binary by default, they are either on [tense] or off [relaxed], if our Brain does not turn our muscles on how on Earth can it turn them off?

Mind force begins to sound a little bit like Space Force.








A Big Picture of the Little Idea.



Forms allow us to develop the habit of paying attention to what we are doing so that we gain a deep and wide understanding of that action.


Only 25% of my students have returned after the lockdown, I imagine that this is average as the pandemic wreaks havoc with our old systems.

Despite this climate of social distancing, I have 2 new people just embarking on the journey, 2 new people to explain the “Big Picture” of Wing Chun.

A Big Picture of the Little Idea.


You could ask 10 different teachers and get at least 9 different answers to this question, and that in itself tells us what Forms are for.

Forms are for different things for different people.

Not only that, but our understanding of Forms will change as we progress through our training.

We find that we can use the same Form to explore very different topics using it in very different ways.

Forms are a consistent vehicle we use to measure the level of our understanding against.

Before we go on it is important to understand that there is no such thing as an “Internal” or “External” martial art.

There is only Internal or External training.

Any Martial Art is and can only ever be a Martial Art, a rose by any other name is still a rose.


People who engage in “Internal work” use the Forms as a distraction to help them focus more on moving their Chi, circulating their Chi, being in control of their Chi.

This is not my area of training and I have very limited knowledge of it.

Can it be used for fighting?

Anything can be used for fighting, it depends on the person, but the main aim of Internal training is to develop the Body-ability to meditate.


People that engage in “External work” use Forms to develop more effective movement.

There are many different types of effective movement, always doing a Form the same way will only deliver the same outcome.

Smoothness, connectedness, speed, power, mobility or stability all require a different approach to the same Form.

Westerners have difficulty understanding the Eastern IDEA of “Softness”, especially when we talk about powerful or strong softness.

Forms offer a way to explore this.

We should be balanced and ask the same question here…

Can it be used for fighting?

Anything can be used for fighting, it depends on the person, training the physical side will not guarantee fighting prowess.

Another very important aside that we must consider is that there is an element of “External” training that frequently gets confused as “Internal” training.

That is what today is referred to as being in a flow state, focusing on the moment, being in the zone.

Internal work is ultimately aiming at enlightenment through the teaching of the Buddha, through stillness and meditation.

To empty the mind.

Flow state is something that we can suddenly fall into while single-mindedly involved in an activity.

To be so consumed by we are doing it fills the mind.

Being in the zone, ‘flow state’ is spontaneous and not capable of being trained.

However, the better we are at something the higher the chance of falling into ‘flow state’, being in the moment.

Forms allow us to develop the habit of paying attention to what we are doing so that we gain a deep and wide understanding of that action.


Forms can be callisthenics that exist solely to prepare the body to move in a particular way.

A skilled and intelligent movement practice that allows us to work on the shapes that we are going to need to access in any of the diverse ways that we will call upon our body to use what we refer to as Wing Chun.

From warming up to flat out fighting to save our lives, the actions we may use and depend upon so we would do well to understand these moves.

Forms can also be remedial bodywork.

If we look at the “B” Section of Wing Chun’s First Form we have a set of exercises that are perfect for resolving impingement of the shoulders.

The opening of the Yi Chi Kim Yeung Ma is a suitable movement for resolving impingement of the hips.

The Chum Kiu and Biu Gee Forms develop balance through the stability of stances and mobility {the opposite of stability} through weight shifting and explore the whole gamut of perambulation.

But where are the steak knives?

Oh yes, doing the Forms provides maintenance of the soft tissue system to improve the overall health of essential joints, and eliminates the potential for motor control problems that happen when the wrong part is in the wrong place trying to do the wrong thing.


Why do we perform them so slowly and so often?

The main reason is not one of memory retention but rather an active survey to see if we have any holes in the movement, just like athletes and weight lifters any ‘holes’ in these movement sets will invariably lead to failure and by extension injury.

If we can look at all of the Forms collectively we see an integrated system where we modulate through all ranges of motion on all 3 planes with full extension and rotation options explored.

Forms can be looked at as very gentle Crossfit.

Getting bag for our buck.

Simplify what we think is important and what we need to do to support those things.

As always, deconstruct – reconstruct.

For example; extending to the Tan Sau position from the first Form while acting out a single rear step from the Chum Kiu, while rotating the torso from Biu Gee.

Reset and reverse, step forward, pose Tan Sau and rotate.

Rinse and repeat.

If you are a senior student you are more than likely thinking.. “but wait, that is just the Bart Cham Dao”, which of course it is.

This approach makes it so that we can understand what it is we are trying to learn/program in a couple of years as opposed to decades.

This is in no way a shortcut, understanding anything fully, our job or our Martial Art takes the best part of a lifetime, but we can understand all the components that make up our job or Martial Art in a surprisingly short time and then dig in at our leisure.

I ask again…













 it is we will have to work with when the ‘Brown gets Airbourne’.

I am posting this video not to have a dig at the gentleman involved, but rather to shine a light into a dark corner.

I first put it up on my Clubs Facebook page, I know that a good many senior Wing Chun people, even Instructors with their own schools visit this page so I was hoping to start a genuine conversation.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Only one Instructor approached it critically and serious by firstly pointing out that the guy was way out of his depth just by being in the ring.

Gdonya Snowy!!!

Apart from that, it was the usual drivel.

I have one friend, who is also an Instructor, who claimed…

“I just get so bored by these videos”

…which is such a ‘sad and sorry’ thing to say.

How can anyone be “So Bored” by something that validates everything that we say and claim about Wing Chun, something that clearly shows what can happen when you cannot access the intelligence of our Fist Logic, something that on so many levels proves us right when we tell the haters to ‘go eat a dick’.

His comment was, to be expected, followed up with the default Wing Chun position of “Wing Chun is not intended for use in the Ring or Cage”!

Such a mountain of Bullshit it made my eyes water.

Watch some of Bas Rutten Pancrase fights {the forerunner of today’s M.M.A. but with fewer rules} where he just ‘Bitch Slaps’ the shit out of his opponents.

How does a “Bitch Slap” become more fit for purpose than the whole of Wing Chun?

If what you do can transfer force and deliver pain it is well and truly fit for purpose in the Ring or Cage.

But there is something in the Wing Chun Universe that is not fit for purpose in the Ring or Cage, and that, of course, is most of the worlds Wing Chun players, including “Yours Truly”!

Most of us are not fit enough, not fast enough, not robust enough and have little if any of the attitude it takes to engage someone ‘Mano e Mano’.

Why pretend otherwise?

We should embrace this and structure our expectations accordingly because…

“it is what it is’!

And it is we will have to work with when the ‘Brown gets Airbourne’.

Just before the “Lockdown”, I organised a sparring session with a local Karate School, I worked with my guys for about a month on how to spar with someone other than a fellow W.C. guy, what to look out for against a Karate player, how to use what they knew, how to use the things I had shown them, we worked hard and we were as prepared as we could have been.

When my guys started sparring there was no Wing Chun or at least none that I recognised.

At first, they would not believe me, but in the debrief they realised I was speaking the truth, but I was still really proud of them, they did as well if not better than I expected.

Been there, done that!

When I was a young boxer my coach would ask me after a fight “why did you not use what worked on for so long”?

I always thought that I had and that he was just a hard arse.

Go figure.

When we watch these videos, and we should, we should watch them all and watch them many times, we should give our Martial Arts cousin well deserved respect, understand that he is our equal, a fellow Priest of Mars kneeling at the same altar, dancing the same dance, singing the same song.

“Do we really think that this is what he trained for”?

“Do we really believe that this is what he wanted to do”?

We should not just slag the shit out of him, like ourselves he is digging a deep and lonely furrow.

One thing I think about this particular W.C. Master to some of the other W.C. Masters that found themselves in the same place is that this man took it to his opponent, he gave it ‘as good go as he could’, I just think that he was overwhelmed by the experience lack of ring experience, global video audience and all that crazy stuff and not necessarily the fight itself.





The commentary in this video is spot on in places, he talks about the Wing Chun Man losing his shape in the clinch, as we all know the final move in Biu Gee, the 3 Bows to Buddha, would not only get him back into a good shape but help him to a position that he could easily have won from.

As a Master level Tactician, he would surely know this, but that is the thing, knowing may be good, but doing is better..

Would we fare any better?

Personally, I do not think so, I would imagine that he will watch this video and weep.

We should approach these videos with respect and understanding.

If we are honest there is much we can learn from them.

All of these guys must have thought that they had a chance, why be involved if not, I also expect that they trained hard to get ready for the fight, harder than most Wing Chun Hobbyist does.

Which means they would be better prepared at that time than we are right here right now if we went out and got in strife.

This could so easily be us, so what should we be working on to do our best to not be ‘that Guy’?








I have Boxed, and I have raced Bicycles, looking back I was training the wrong thing all along.


If you came into my studio and hopped on my computer you would find anywhere from 8 to 28 articles in progress, writing down my thoughts and opinions are part of my training, they are how I try to push the envelope and expand my universe.

They are also my biggest tool toward attaining honesty.

When I am writing I just throw it all down, frequently these observations are extremely one-eyed, opinionated and I do nothing to filter this out.

At least not there and then.

I leave them for a few days and then come back to them with the metric of “do I believe this piece of writing, is it simple, clear and above all honest”?

Then I begin editing.

WHY ARE WE TRAINING has been ongoing for as long as I can remember, it has so many bifurcations that it is just not possible to keep it going in a straight line.

Why are you training?

Do you know?

Do you have objectives, genuine goals that you are striving for?

Do you know what the key ingredient is for your success?

Are you working to attain it?

As I get older, as I look back on 67 years of experience there are only a few things that ‘really’ stick out.

There were some things that I became almost obsessed with that just faded away and in retrospect, I understand why.

I was following the wrong breadcrumbs.

Experience is a great teacher.

No matter how old you are you have a wealth of experience that is pertinent to you.

COVID is making us all part-time philosophers so do it.


This is a little unrelated but perhaps something to think about.

After winning the 1986 Tour de France, Greg LeMond was asked…

Q. “What do you think was the main reason you won”?

A. I can hurt more than anyone else”.


Greg LeMond did not train to ride a bike, he trained to accept pain.


I have Boxed, and I have raced Bicycles, looking back I was training the wrong thing all along.








What we look for is what we will find.


How are we going at this strange, strange time, what does our training look like, where is our focus?

I think that many of us are taking a “Deep Dive” into the Forms, if not why not, what else can we do from 1.5 metres away from each other?

Let’s pretend we are all doing this, if only for the sake of this post.

What are we finding on this “Deep Dive”?

I think that by now we all understand that ‘what we find’ depends very much on ‘what we look for’.

So perhaps I should ask ‘what are we looking for and how do we approach the Form to find it’?

If we approach the Form to simply validate what we already know are we genuinely learning anything?

If we are it is certainly not anything new.

Looking at the Form in the same way as we have always seen it, the way we were taught it by our teachers turns it into nothing more than a record of our teachers thinking and as good as that may well be it is not our own thinking.

It may be a great place to start the journey from, but is it the best destination we can hope for?

Surely the goal for all of us, as it was for those that preceded us, is to transcend our teacher’s instruction, to cut the cloth in a way that fits us as individuals and not just try to walk around in another man’s clothes.

When taking a ‘Deep Dive’ into the Form {and by ‘the Form’ I am referring to the first three Forms looked at as one} there are a couple of caveats that we should keep front and centre, never ignore.

  1. Wing Chun Forms are not ‘Shadow Boxing’ Forms.
  2. The movement sequence of the Form is not important.

Caveat #1. Wing Chun Forms are not ‘Shadow Boxing’ Forms… Nothing at all in the Forms has a predetermined reason for being, a raison d’etre. A certain move may look like a Leg Sweep or an Elbow Strike, it may even be able to fulfil that task, but that is not the intention. Once we assign a specific job to any action from the Form we will not be able to see it as anything else, this reduces our options of how to use that particular piece of the puzzle, this is not how to get the best value from a concept.

Caveat #2. The movement sequence of the Form is not important The shape, sequence or patterns that we might see inside the Forms, up/down, forwards/backwards, left/right or whatever are non-existent manifestations that our brain creates to deal with the chaos of the world around us. There is no relevancy to the sequence, it is simply an aid to memory, a way of securing the information so that it does not get forgotten. There is no practical reason for any particular move to follow or precede any other move.

What we look for is what we will find.

If we are looking for answers we have a much better chance of a successful outcome if we ask simple, clear and concise questions of the Form.

If we are doing the Form and not asking questions it may be a very long wait for any kind of answer.

This is not about right or wrong, it is simply a method to find out certain things that we can, later on, decide for ourselves if they are right or wrong.

Question suggestions.

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Balance?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Dexterity?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Range of Motion?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Weight Shifting?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Dynamic Movement?

Many such questions will overlap, mostly reinforcing each other but occasionally contradicting each other.

It is these overlapping junctions that offer the most fertile ground to grow new IDEAs.

Spend some time there, camp out, dig in.

Fighting and Self-Defence may be looked at as two sides of the same coin but in reality, they are totally unalike, they require different approaches and different thinking.

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Fighting?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Self-Defence?

There is no predetermined “Right Answer” to any of these questions, we are involved in exploration, not explanation.

Ultimately our answers, our final outcome, will depend on how far along the path to honesty we have progressed.


How does a Form answer us when we ask about surviving a violent encounter?

How does an Alphabet answer us when we ask about writing a novel?

How does a Music Scale answer us when we ask about creating a melody?



The clips in the video are taken from a normal Saturday training session, nothing was pre-planned, there were no do-overs or double-takes we just shot it ‘on the fly’.

When we do this the result is frequently a little long-winded, sometimes circuitous and maybe even a bit vague, and let’s not even start on the framing.

But the information is in there, some really good information if you have the eyes to see it and the mind to understand it.











We need to learn things that we can use today.


Though Sydney has opened up after the worst of the pandemic things are slow, quite a number of people are playing it safe and have not yet returned to training and to complicate things when they get here it does not resemble the training we were doing before the shutdown.

Teaching during this post lockdown time is taking all of us in unexpected directions, it is forcing us to think more and believe less.

This post is a thought exercise, well at least I think it is.

A quite surprising, at least to me, turn of events are that there are people that I know, who practice a style of Wing Chun that I do not believe is a working, practical Martial Art, who are suddenly interested in the reality of violence.


‘believe less’.

The three most important questions to ask if we hope to get a complete understanding of what we do are ‘WHY, WHERE and HOW‘ in that order.

Recently a couple of my students asked if we could dedicate a complete class, 2 hours, to kicking, no Forms, no drills, no Chi Sau.

No veg, no potatoes.

Just MEAT.

Just kicking.

I believe that if my students think they need to learn something in particular then I need to teach it to them, irrespective of their level of skill or where what they want to do sits in the system.

As well documented I teach a practical approach to Wing Chun, physical, not internal, so I take situations such as this seriously, we are talking genuine self-defence.

Get it wrong, get hurt.

These training events begin with me asking…

“Why do you think you will need to use this”?

Nothing goes ahead until this conversation takes place until opinions have been voiced and positions established.

Beyond a doubt, this is the most important, even a critical aspect of how we interface with our training, without this I do not think we can hope to achieve our training objective.

Not only does this question, or more accurately the answer to this question help us navigate our training but it also shines a light on our deepest and most personal thinking.

In my experience very few students, practically zero, in fact, have a plausible reason.

Mostly the answer comes around to some variation of ‘in case I ever need it’.

Their concerns are based on an irrational fear of a non-existent problem and not on real and present danger, everyone is learning things to ‘maybe’ use in the future.

I get it, we all think that shit can happen down the line, but shit could also happen tomorrow, we need a much narrower focus if we hope to deal with whatever tomorrow or beyond may throw at us.

We need to learn things that we can use today.

For the sake of brevity, clarity and to cover in advance all possible bases as we revisit the question, we could paraphrase it as…

‘why would we need to use violence’?

To work through this we would do well to have a scenario that contains at least a locally possible, genuine incidence of violence.

This approach should eliminate the “what if” type of question especially if the subject matter is driven by the students and not the school/business.

If the student has no personal experience with ‘street violence’ where does that scenario come from?

This becomes even more complicated and perilous when the Instructor has no personal experience of street violence, and there are many.

Why this approach?

Understanding the attack will dictate our response, and in doing so guide our training down a specific path.

If informed by genuine experience, while still imaginary, these training events are completely possible and have valuable learning outcomes.

“Only spend time learning things you genuinely believe that you will use”.

Fantasy techniques and spiritual influences have no place in a violent situation.

Why does that statement make me think of this one?


‘Never take a knife to a gunfight’.


To my guys, think about this and bring it up next time we are in each others company.

To guests of this blog, please feel free to engage in this conversation.