Articles, Food for Thought

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: DO WE KNOW WHAT WING CHUN IS?

To be expected not everyone agrees with my assessment of Chi Sau, this is not a recent thing, a few years ago a fellow Wing Chun Instructor wanted to prove me wrong in my opinion that Chi Sau is not for fighting and set up a number of scenarios where we would use Chi Sau as it is played, whenever he tried to trap both my hands I just kneed or elbowed or headbutted him to which he complained.

Thats not Wing Chun it’s Muay Thai!  {In many ways his reaction proved my point, what use is Chi Sau if it fails to other styles}?

This is such an odd thing to say for two reasons, number one I only use Wing Chun and number two I have never in my life trained Muay Thai so where did my ideas come from?

This idea that certain things belong to certain styles is so misinformed, there are many untrained street bullies that kick, punch, headbutt, grapple, throw or use sticks.   What style are they doing and where does it come from?

I have met so many people in Wing Chun with this semi – religious football fan mentality that leads to my Dad is better than your Dad lineage disputes, claiming that anything is or is not Wing Chun just prevents people from seeing how clever Wing Chun really is.

A concept can only ever be a concept, and Wing Chun is a conceptual martial art, we can’t have it both ways.

Wing Chun is a body method, we boast to other stylists that it is based on normal human body movement and not 5 animals, if everything is normal movement there is nothing new to learn, Wing Chun teaches how to make normal movement more dynamic and effective, any movement, it does not teach its own set of moves, that is just the Instructor choosing his favourite moves that he trusts.  This is where lineage wars come into existence.

The beauty and marvel of Wing Chun is that we can take any move from any system, apply our specific logic to it and in doing so improve it, in doing so, as long as we stick firmly to our Fist Logic it becomes Wing Chun.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Food for Thought

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: STILL SEARCHING BUT NOT LOST..

Yesterday an old training friend asked me if I have fell out of love with Wing Chun because I have been openly doubting the validity of Chi Sau, silly question, I am still looking for the heart of it that’s all, this is a post from last year but it is worth revisiting.

EVERYTHING LOOKS DIFFERENT ON THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT

People without questions rarely look for answers.

Most of the time we are not connecting to the thing we think we are analysing, we are only connecting to the practice of analytics.

How do we set about seeking the truth? And whose truth are we looking for?

Before seeking the truth of anything we must differentiate between seeking the truth and seeking validation.  Seeking validation leads to belief, and belief is the enemy of truth.

If everything we know comes from someone else, somewhere else then it is not and never can be our truth. Only when something comes from us as a product of direct experience can it be our truth.

We need other peoples truth to start the journey, to set us on the path but the sooner we can abandon those other truths the sooner we will find our own truth.  Every wisdom tradition known to us has something akin to “first you must empty your cup” although it is often used in respect of meeting a new teacher, it is equally important when meeting ourselves.

The only way to approach knowledge is to come from a position of not knowing, if not we will think we recognise it and see it as something else.

In respect of looking for the truth of Wing Chun we explore it through deeper and deeper analysis. But what do we learn from analysis? Most of the time we are not connecting to the thing we think we are analysing, we are only connecting to the practice of analytics.

Is it possible to do the S.L.T. Form and see what it is you are doing without seeing it as the S.L.T. Form?  Can Bong Sau be anything else besides Bong Sau?

The Form itself is just the process.

How do we find our way to a genuine experience of what we are doing?

This is the real work.

If we can become part of the unfolding event instead of the centre of the event, just as a tree is part of a landscape no matter where it is in that landscape we improve our chances to see things as they are, to experience them.

On inspection we may find that everything we think we know is correct, then again we may find that everything we think we know is incorrect, either way it is the truth, how we deal with this truth is another thing completely.

Learn the Form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the Way, then find your own Way.   

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Food for Thought, Weekend Headspin

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN; STRUCTURAL MOBILITY.

 

 

 

Only a fool would think that in a violent exchange they are not going to get hit.

 

STRUCTURAL MOBILITY.

What makes any M.A, effective is its ability to navigate the Mobility – Stability Matrix in a fluid and rapidly evolving situation.  In general most Wing Chun training focuses on stability, but we really should question what  value should we place on stability in a violent environment that is more than just mobile it is fluid?

There is no doubt that we can be more effective and transfer body weight more efficiently from a stable position, a stable base, but what is the chance of us maintaining that stable base in the midst of the storm that is a street attack?

The Chum Kiu, which teaches how to move in a way that returns us to stability, or to be more accurate better stability,  is by far the most important Form to understand if you are training Wing Chun to genuinely deal with an attacker, but even Chum Kiu does little to teach us how to deal with the momentum of an attacker that is moving very dynamically. In fact it is not until the Knives Form that we come across movement that combines rotation and shifting that we are genuinely learning how to deal with dynamic momentum.

In early Wing Chun training a  great deal of time and energy is spent developing a strong and stable stance, a solid stance is looked upon as a perfect stance, having the ability to not be moved let alone pushed over is looked upon as being a high level of skill, and under the right conditions it most certainly is, as I have already mentioned body weight transfer is far more effective when a body is still and stable, well balanced stable, but body weight transfer does not discriminate against who is moving and who is not moving, that perfect stance allows any attackers strike that we fail to stop to be even more powerful, we add all of our own unmoving body mass to the strike it is just inertia and the conservation of momentum, the physics of collision.

Only a fool would think that in a violent exchange they are not going to get hit.

It is not the training that I think needs to be brought into question but the implied recommendations that come with that type of training, namely that stability is preferred to mobility.

In a perfect Wing Chun world we would indeed just stand there in the Y.C.K.Y.M and knock people out that tried to attack us, the thing is that our nervous system will be unwilling to allow us to just stand there in the face of a real and present danger, we will move before we think, once we move we are no longer doing stand still Wing Chun, we are no longer working in the environment we have been training for.  We all hope that in a time of crisis we would automatically adapt our training, but what this means is that we expect to use it in a completely different way, time and place to what we have done up to this date through our years of training, in reality we are hoping that we will do something radically different.

If we genuinely hope to do something different than what we have trained, if we pin our survival on doing something different than what we have trained, then would it not make sense to train something different?

And I do mean train something different, and not just try to train the same thing differently.  It does not matter where it comes from body movement is always and only body movement, it is how we use it that makes it Wing Chun.

Chum Kiu teaches us how to re-establish stability from an unstable situation, to a large extent it is about stopping, but how can we hope to understand how to stop effectively if we do not know how to move effectively, they are two sides of the same coin.

There are methods inside the Forms, they are broken down and isolated in the Chum Kiu and Biu Gee, they are not presented as a complete package until the 5th and 6th Forms, even then they are subtle and often overlooked or just plain missed, what we need are bigger circles, grosser movements that are easier to identify, but this “bigger, grosser” IDEA flies in the face of Wing Chun thinking so we need to take something from outside of Wing Chun to prevent contradiction and personal mental crisis.

Never forget that a circle is a shape and not a size, train large until you understand it then make it smaller and smaller.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Food for Thought

WEEKEND HEADSPIN. THE TAKE AWAY FROM BIU GEE.

Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Of all the Wing Chun Forms Biu Gee is by far the most complex and far reaching, I am not trying to imply that it is difficult or advanced, just very, very deep, and a great deal of this is because through Biu Gee we are forced to reexamine everything we thought we knew from a more profound and dynamic perspective.

Above all else Biu Gee is closest to the manner in which we will make contact with an opponent in real time, as paradoxical as it sounds Biu Gee is the way we should use Chum Kiu, but we should not really be surprised by this, after all Chum Kiu is essentially Biu Gee inverted.

Question.   How deep is Biu Gee?

Answer.      As deep as we can make it.

Biu Gee introduces the universal physical IDEAs that are in play whenever we are using Wing Chun, but these IDEAs are not found in the movements of the Form itself  but in the way Biu Gee creates the moves, the way it employs applied kinesiology, and of course the more we each understand the facets of applied kinesiology the more we will take away from Biu Gee, it is simply not enough to turn up to class and ask Sifu we must hit the books, engage in serious research or at the very least ask Google.

Understanding the Conservation of Momentum Principal will revolutionise everything we know about striking. Understanding how Torquing increases force will change the way we pivot for ever. Understanding the Kinetic Linking Principle will have us creating power instead of using force. Kinetic linking expresses force as a wave and as such understanding the Doppler Effect will make us more effective in both defence and attack.

When we take our new knowledge back into our Forms the aim should be to see how all of the laws of natural science exist in their own right the Forms simply allow us to see these laws from the singular perspective of Wing Chun, but it is the science that is the real magic.

Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Learn the form, but seek the formless, learn it all, then forget it all, learn  “The Way”  {Dao}, then find your own way.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Food for Thought

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: WHY BIU GEE MUST BE PHYSICAL

 

He was asked “how do we know when we are on the right path”? He replied “you know you are on the right path when you do not know where you are , as soon as you think you know where you are, you are lost”!

Unfortunately for me the last 30 years have been marred by chronic back problems as result I have spent way too much time in the company of sports science doctors, osteopaths, muscular skeletal specialists and neurosurgeons, people who know how the body works, one thing I took away from this is that none of us are truly aware of why our body does what it does, in most cases we have it completely wrong, even those who know academically what is going on tend to fall for the same trap.

Most of this stems from the fact that we confuse our Mind with our Brain, but our Mind is not our Brain, there is a significant separation, mind works on the body via conscious thought whereas the brain works subconsciously.

From the brains perspective everything it does is to protect the body, to keep it healthy and keep it alive, nothing is about Martial Art, or Ballet or Football, but from the minds perspective everything is related to the the activity we are involved in.

For example no matter what the activity the instant we have the intention to move our arm the brain activates the muscles of the spine to support and protect the spine from the consequences of the intended action.

This is not Mindfulness, or Nim Lik or Chi, they all reside in consciousness, this is the brain – body link that works the same with babies as it does with Kung Fu Masters. Our body is making choices aimed at self protection it is not about the creation of outward forces.

INPUT v. OUTPUT.

Since the 1960’s and the coining of the term “Training Effect” our understanding of why our body changes through exercise activities has been hijacked, we now all believe that adding extra load through exercise conditions our muscles, makes us stronger and fitter and this allows for better force or energy output, but in reality our body – brain develops stronger muscles and a more robust system to deal with the incoming consequences of the increased activity. 

Some may see this difference as being more semantic than actual, but think what happens when we have an overuse injury, we tell everyone or perhaps our doctor tells us that we tried to do too much, it is an output problem ,when in fact the truth is that we did not put enough support in place for the load we were asking our body to carry, this is an input problem.

It makes very little real difference which perspective we hold either way the result is the same, and this is the reason that we must approach Biu Gee as a genuine conditioning exercise and engage it physically.

In application Biu Gee is capable of producing remarkable power, and when we contact something that power is returned to us via Newton’s reaction force, if we have not prepared the body to work easily with that increased load the consequences could be quite dire, getting injured in the middle of a violent encounter will not help things at all.

Bill Giu needs to be done right up to the limit of our physical body {however it is advisable that we approach our limit incrementally and with caution}, in this way we will in time be able to perform Biu Gee with much more effort than we would ever need to use and the reaction force incoming load will never be more than the body can support. It is important to do this from as early as possible, there will come a time in our lives when we can no longer improve our body, only maintain it. In the mid / late 1990’s Grand Master Chu Sheong Tin was at my Sifu’s School, when we began to discuss Biu Gee he asked my Sifu to demonstrate because he was now to old to ask so much of his body.  There was no doubt that he could still do Wing Chun but by his own admission he could no longer do Biu Gee as it should be done.

Over the last few decades there has been a movement within some quarters of the Wing Chun community to use no physical force, instead to use Nim Lik, Thought Force, Mindfulness or Chi, I do not wish to poke at this particular wasps nest but all of these things are aspects of  the mind, of consciousness, the body is controlled by the brain subconsciously.  It should be obvious that the conscious can never override the subconscious, because it is just not aware of it.  We cannot know something unknown.

Many years ago when I was involved in Yoga and Meditation we had a visiting Swami from India, when asked at a workshop “He was asked “how do we know when we are on the right path”? He replied “you know you are on the right path when you do not know where you are , as soon as you think you know where you are, you are lost”!

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?