Food for Thought


All intrinsic force is compressive by nature, especially on a planet governed by gravity, our body structure is always being compressed and in a direct result of this compression our body is in a constant state of expansion.

Compression is the default state necessary to perform effective Wing Chun, to achieve compression we have to activate expansion, they are two sides of the same coin, two different ways of explaining the same event and cannot exist without each other.

It is Newtons third law of motion.

Because the words compression and expansion have different meanings it is very difficult to see or treat them as the same event and to experience them simultaneously, it is very difficult to write of talk about them both without slipping into apparent contradiction.

If an outside force pushes us, for instance a partner pushes {compresses} our Tarn Sau with a force of 10 Newtons, theoretically if we do nothing our Tarn Sau automatically responds with a force of 10 Newtons in the opposite direction.

This only happens in an environment or on an object where there is no real movement, in reality as a person here on planet Earth if someone pushes us we get moved, to bring Newtons third law into being we need to introduce stillness, equilibrium, by way of equal and opposite force, this is where the apparent contradictions of everyday Wing Chun come into play.

Do not push.

As a work around to this contradiction some students choose to try to explain what is going on as Chi, Nim Lik or Thought Force but this is a dead end street that once you get to the end there is nothing there to validate what is really happening.

It becomes belief not fact, religion not science.

To understand the simplicity of Wing Chun we must understand compression, understand that compression is a passive force that manifests out of expansion and as such it cannot be developed, activated or improved, in short it cannot be trained, it is intrinsic, it exists in and of itself.

The only thing that we can perhaps control is expansion.

This is mind bending stuff, it is no wonder generations of people with less scientific knowledge explained it using mystical forces.

Nothing in our universe ever puts itself under compression, and if we follow this thinking to its logical ending, keeping in mind that expansion is simply the effect of compression, nothing expands either, this creates immense confusion about forward force, intrinsic energy, chi, nim lik or whatever tag we prefer. 

If we are not responsible for its manifestation how can we train it, improve it, even recognise it?

As always lets use sports as our frame of reference, we explain golf balls travelling 300 meters or more as being the result of rapid expansion from the compression that they where put under by a #1 Wood and yet depending on our personal bias, our frame of reference, think that it is either the ball that is responsible or the Golf Club, and if we put in work to improve it is only on the swing.

Is the Golf Club creating the force, possibly transferring Chi?

Does the Golf Ball posses Nim Lik?

If the answer to either is yes where do we fit in?


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There is a constant and vigorous conundrum alive within Wing Chun that arrises from the very fact that W.C. is a conceptual Martial Art, this conundrum is born from the very reasons we approach the concepts in the first place, our personal need, what we are looking for and what we hope to discover.

A concept is the seed for an IDEA, an IDEA is the blueprint for action, but what action do we approach the concept to find a blueprint for?

Do we know?

Any creative thinker worth their salt will tell you that good concepts are intended to create many varied IDEAS in many different directions, like a round room with many windows offers many different views.

From my perspective Wing Chun is always about Fist Logic, so any of the Wing Chun concepts I ponder will always create IDEAS associated with Fist Logic, other Teachers have a more spiritual IDEA, or a more wholistic IDEA and this will create blueprints for Mind Logic or Body Logic.

To place this conundrum of the Logics in a way that is easier to appreciate think of the concept of Freedom. 

It is a very different IDEA for political activists like WikiLeaks, a teenage girl in a religious household, a wrongly incarcerated prisoner.

But it is the same concept.

Wing Chun can never really be taught unless your teacher can show you a way to view the World and everything in it.

The only person that can do that is ourselves.

The only person worth listening to is ourselves.

My Sifu Jim Fung advised me to never take the pilgrimage to Hong Kong,  he thought it was a complete waste of time, he told me “unless you are willing to go live in Hong Kong and learn what it means to be a Hong Kong resident with all its implications you will never understand your teacher and as a result you will never understand his IDEA of  Wing Chun”.

The Concept Conundrum means that we must know the answer before we look for the question.



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The Brain and the Mind are not the same thing and they have completely different functions.

Every skier, every skater, every bike rider and surfer can tell tales of imminent disasters being mysteriously avoided because their body did something they did not expect, something that saved the day, a decision that to a very large extent they were not even involved in.

This is a self protection mechanism that is hard wired into our Brains, once we have created the Intention to not fall over our Brain will do everything it can to follow that intention.

Once we establish any Intention our Brain will always try to comply.

This is the Phsycho – Physical connection I have been talking about, it is a product of our Brain, it cannot be accessed by our Mind, it cannot be developed or improved because improvement and development are a function of Mind, the simple truth is that our Mind does not know Intention exists so it cannot contact it or make changes.

If we wish to succeed at anything firstly we must get a deeper understanding of establishing Intention.

It is really important to understand that Wing Chun does not and cannot teach anyone how to fight,  Wing Chun teaches us how to do Wing Chun, it teaches a body set up and a way of moving to enhance our fighting, if you have no previous fighting skill Wing Chun has nothing to enhance.

Luckily we all have some fighting skill even if we doubt it.

Many people equate being able to fight with being able to fight well, they are not the same thing, the very first thing we absolutely must do is make peace with our innate fighting skill, even if it has always failed us.

And we must see that what we do is everywhere.

Whatever action we think we may need if we are using what we learn in  Wing Chun for real it can be found either in sport or in a dance move, more than likely even in your occupation, obviously the intention will need to be changed to suit fighting, but that needs to be done with any aspect of our Wing Chun training because Wing Chun training is not done in a realistically violent way so there is no difference on that score.

If Wing Chun does not teach someone how to fight why do so many people do it?

Because it is fun.

The issue here is that violence is not fun, no fun at all, so why would your Brain choose to do a fun thing in a violent situation?

Think about this, if you took up Wing Chun because you did not like the idea of contact sports, about training for contact sports, about being physically hurt how do you expect your one maybe two evenings a week Wing Chun training to save the day if someone that does like contact sports picks on you?

On the positive side if you can change how you think about your past sports they can become and aid to your present Wing Chun.

Wing Chun is really, really good for people that have done other Martial Arts styles or played contact sports, for people that know how to give and take when things go south, but it has very little real value as a fighting art if you believe that you have no previous fighting skill.

I have spoken with many, many Wing Chun students over the years, it is a small minority that openly say that they train Wing Chun for fighting, it is an even smaller group of people that consider their training to be not only for fighting but specifically to win fights.

Why train to loose, which is what someone is doing if they are not training to win.

I think it is incredibly important that we are honest and open with ourselves about why we train, if not why would our brain choose a Wing Chun option if we are in trouble if we do not believe we are training to fight, what confidence in the outcome could we expect if we are not training to win that fight, this is where intention comes from, this is the fundamental difference between Phsycho – Physical training which is the realm of the Brain and Internal training which is the realm of the Mind.

The Brain and the Mind are not the same thing and they have completely different functions, and will bring about completely different results.


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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.


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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.


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.