FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

THE WOODEN MAN.

 

when we lay ‘Hands-On’ we should be looking to begin a conversation.

 

I have pretty much finished the refit of the Studio so that when we can resume training we have plenty of space to work with, we now have over 30 square meters of ‘training area’, more than enough for 8 people at any one time still abiding by social distancing guidelines.

There is still no firm date on when we can resume but the rumblings from Macquarie Street have me anticipating it being before July so I wanted to get something out there for you guys.

Trying to do a solo video about the Dummy is really challenging and confusing, it is not possible to simply talk about any sort of ‘Hands-On’ training,  but in this instance, it gets convoluted because the Dummy is not really about putting ‘Hands-On’.

If we approach it from a ‘Hands-On’ perspective we are going astray, despite it being a ‘Hands-On’ training device it is still solo Training,  it is all about ‘Input’ and not ‘Output’ try not to see it like physical training but connect along the lines of mental training.

More than any other aspect of our training, even Chi Sau, the work we do on the Dummy has no direct practical application to fighting.

A situation arose in my training on the Dummy where I realised that half of what we do is incorrect by our own ‘Fist Logic’, our own philosophy and the other half was so impractical it was of very little value.

As a Martial Artist first and a Wing Chun student second this was a great cause of concern for me.

I would go to my Sifu and ask if I was doing the ‘Form’ correctly because it did not appear to make much sense and he would say “yes that is correct”.

On one occasion after voicing a negative opinion of the value of the Dummy he said to me “perhaps you are asking it the wrong questions”.

This comment stuck with me and I thought about it many times in many different ways, once when using a mind map I found myself wondering about the act of questioning itself.

When we ask our Sifu or a senior student a question we expect an answer that will illuminate the situation and help us progress, but if we ask a training partner we are usually looking to start a conversation that can help us see things from a different perspective, the Dummy is a training partner and not a teacher, when we lay ‘Hands-On’ we should be looking to begin a conversation.

 

 

If you are wondering why my Dummy is so high, my students that are presently working on the dummy are all about 30mm taller than me, it is easier for me to work with a bigger Wooden Man that it is for them to work with a smaller Wooden Man, the joys of being an Instructor.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS’

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

W.C. POLE, WHAT DO WE THINK?

A NEW TAKE ON SOLO TRAINING.

 

My own thinking is that he included the Pole Form as a counter-point to his empty hand system, to establish context.

 

Why is there a long-range tool in a close quarter combat system?

Is it truly part of the Wing Chun System?

If so. Where does the Long Pole fit into the Wing Chun system?

Is it still relevant?

Was it ever relevant?

If we look at the historical record as to why “Empty Hand” fighting styles appeared, it is not as is often indicated that an autocratic regime banned the carrying and use of weapons, although this has happened on several occasions through history.

Early empty hand systems were developed to assist a warrior that had for some reason become unarmed to firstly protect themselves, then secondly stay in the fight by defeating and then taking an enemies weapon.

The armed and unarmed systems would be complementary but not necessarily integrated, or even remotely connected.

Jujutsu was the empty hand fighting style developed for Samurai Warriors that had been knocked off or fell off their Horse or found themselves unarmed in a nasty situation.

These days nobody seriously considers the Katana and the Wakizashi to be Jujutsu weapons but there was a time when Kenjutsu and Jujutsu walked hand in hand.

If we consider the situation in Southern China in the early to mid-1800s, when Wing Chun as we now know it was formalised by Dr Leung Jan, it was in the grip of the most vicious civil war our planet has witnessed.

The Taiping or Red Turban Rebellion.

As late in history as this was many of the rebel soldiers still fought with Spears or some kind of Pole Weapon, it is easy to imagine that these fighters would welcome a simple and effective hand fighting style.

But why would Dr Leung Jan add the Long Pole to his new system?

The Knives I can almost understand, they connect to the empty hands work on certain levels, but the Pole needs to be forced to even look like it belongs.

It is estimated that as many as 30, Million people died in the Taiping Rebellion, many would have been local rebel militia armed with Poles and Knives going up against trained soldiers with muskets.

Dr Leung Jan must have been aware of the impracticality of the Pole as a weapon.

We will never know.

My own thinking is that he included the Pole Form as a counter-point to his empty hand system, to establish context.

If the Wing Chun weapons were ever genuine fighting weapons or not is a mute question, in our time and our society using a weapon, even for self-defence is illegal and likely to make matters much worse.

The most important attribute for a Martial Artist to develop is not speed, it is not power, it is not balance or co-ordination it is HONESTY.

So let’s be honest, if we seriously need a weapon are we going to choose a Pole?

If we did choose a Pole would we choose a Pole that was tapered?

And if we chose a tapered Pole would we choose to hit the Bad Guy with the thin end?

A Pole can be looked at as a very long Baseball Bat, which end of a Baseball Bat would you use and why?

 

 

 

We can however still benefit from the Knives and Pole by paying close attention to the footwork and the challenges the Forms bring to staying in balance and remaining in a neutral state while working with loaded arms.

 

 

ON WEAPONS AND DANCING.

Bake in the U.K. during the 1970s I had friends that were involved in historical re-enactment activities, during most of this time I moved from ‘city to city’ because of my work and these groups gave me a touchstone to quickly make new friends.

Especially the Sealed Knot group the I became acquainted with from spending 3 years in Windsor.

Many were active soldiers and many did martial arts as well so it also helped me find training partners.

Although the training I did with these re-enactment groups was 100% theatrical, a bit like the Red Boat Opera, their desire to be as correct as possible meant that there was a premium placed on doing things that were accurate to how things were done at that period.

A time capsule.

As non-combative as this was, it was clear how deadly some of these techniques would have been, how weapons that may appear clumsy, like a Pike, in the right hands became unstoppable.

The Pike is a formidable weapon and a very real weapon.

The Lok Dim Boon Quan is a “Dancing Stick”.

But it teaches a great dance.

Turn the music up.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS’.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

WRAPPING UP BIU GEE.

 

 

WITHOUT STUDENTS AM I STILL AN INSTRUCTOR?

 

HEY GUYS,

I would love to think that you all got something from the last few weeks posts, but I know better than that, none of us can learn anything without direct experience of the event.

My second choice is that these posts have encouraged you to think about your training, to question it, dig into it, to try to reshape it, to develop a personal understanding of what you do.

Like every other teacher, all I can do is reflect on my personal experience and what works for me, it is up to each of us to find our personal “Sweet Spot”.

The S.L.T. { from my perspective inclusive of Chum Kiu and Biu Gee} is a vehicle to study the theories and concepts of Wing Chun.

In many ways, it does not teach Wing Chun at all, just the thinking behind it.

Theories and concepts are abstract constructs that are never set in stone, they have a tendency towards being vague, nebulous and inconclusive.

It is up to each of us to look out of the window and describe our personal vista as we see it.

My teacher, Jim Fung, would say that every move in the S.L.T. Form is separate, individual, complete.

Every move could and should be considered a separate Form unto itself.

This IDEA was passed down from Ip Man to his student Chu Shong Tin, from C.S.T. to my Sifu Jim Fung and on to me and now out to the world via this blog.

If every move is individual it goes without saying that there is no pattern, no proper sequence to how we do the Form.

This is a liberating thought.

This gives us the freedom to observe the Form from inside, outside, upside and down.

No preconceived rightness or wrongness.

While we have the time this is a mental exercise worth engaging in.

Without the ability to make contact we have had no choice but to approach the Form from the perspective of human ranges of motion that hopefully, can help us see that our Form is and always was simply movement, not magic.

When we play with these things we discover that they are common movements that we use every day.

Deconstruct – reconstruct.

For me, this is “the magic”.

 

 

This Isolation is doing my head in, troubling questions bubble up unheralded and unwanted.

WITHOUT STUDENTS AM I STILL AN INSTRUCTOR?

We are all Instructors now, teaching ourselves.

During these trying times, it is quite pointless to try to maintain the notion that there is a right or a wrong way.

There can from now on until this thing breaks only be “our own way”

 

HE DID IT, SO CAN WE.

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS.

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

STAY FROSTY.

 

FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

INTENTION.

 

 

 

Whatever we think we are doing when we do any Form, without a genuine feedback loop that allows us to experience it, we are not doing what we think we are. It should be very obvious that we only think we are doing it.

 

When we look closely at our Forms and simply reference them against themselves, “NOT AGAINST EACH OTHER BUT EACH UNTO ITSELF” we find that the information delivered by any Form is laid out pretty much in its entirety in the first one or two sequences.

From there on in it is a case of rinse and repeat, look at it from a different perspective, use both arms instead of just one, work one side then the other, essentially we try to get a 360-degree view of a single move and not as is sometimes thought to learn several different moves in different phases, planes and locations.

We can only understand this when we ‘SEE’ what we are doing.

Seeing what we are doing is not that easy as it turns out.

To quote Anaïs Nin…

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are”.

How I relate to the work is as much about me as the work itself.

The very IDEA that to me my training is in the world of “WORK” places it in a specific environment with specific outcome expectations.

Somewhat diametrically I advise my students to start by “PLAYING” in their training.

What differentiates ‘WORK’ from ‘PLAY’?

What differentiates ‘TRAINING’ from ‘FIGHTING’?

What differentiates ‘REAL’ from ‘IMAGINARY’?

What differentiates ‘PRACTICAL’ from ‘IMPRACTICAL’?

“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are”.

The difference is INTENT.

Why are we doing what we are doing?

I know quite a few people that say they do not practice Wing Chun for violence, which is fine.

But if the ‘INTENTION’ attached to the training is not to fight why would our brain pick this method to defend ourself in a dangerous situation?

During this ‘Lock-down’, the one thing we can all do is think deeply about what we do, why we do it and why we think it will work when we need it to.

Whatever we think we are doing when we do any Form, any drill, without a genuine feedback loop that allows us to experience it, we are not doing what we think we are. It should be very obvious that we only think we are doing it.

Read that sentence again and give it some thought.

 

 

There are never any right or wrong answers, everything is a personal choice, if it all goes egg-shaped we have no one else to point the finger at than ourselves.

And the choices we made a long time before the ‘Brown Got Airborne’.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

WORKING WITH MOMENTUM

 

What are these attributes that we are exploring?

 

This is a repost from a couple of years ago, but while we are in isolation and have no assistants this is the best way to remind ourselves of this aspect of our Forms.

There are aspects of Biu Gee that are all about gaining a better understanding of momentum.

 

 Understanding the aspect of the IDEA represented in each of the first three Forms.

Chan Wah Shun had a maxim on the wall of his school, “STRUCTURE NEUTRALISES, FOOTWORK DISSOLVES” this clearly indicates the transition from S.L.T. though to Chum Kiu in its application.

The physical movement of the Forms are to a very large extent unimportant, they are simply a vehicle to explore the IDEA, ultimately any movement set can be performed with the IDEA of any of the Forms, we could and indeed should do the movements of the First Form {S.L.T.} with the attitude and attributes of Biu Gee, and of course, we could and should do the movements of the Biu Gee with the attitude and attributes of the First Form.

What are these attributes that we are exploring?

Abstract IDEAs are difficult to find a common explanation to, they are governed by language and imagination and all of us use these two tools very differently. This is why there are so many analogies in Wing Chun, analogies are not real, frequently it is the best we can do, but we should be careful of anything that begins with anal, including of course analysis.

If we looked at them as a gearbox they would be neutral, reverse and forward, this is pretty much their role in the application, the First Form builds the body, creates awareness and understanding of how that body works but does nothing else, it does not interact with the outside world, the Chum Kiu shows how that S.L.T. Body receives and redirects FORCE and the Biu Gee shows how that S.L.T. Body creates and releases POWER.

The only significant difference between the Forms is not the shape and variety of the movements but the placement of the active body mass axis, or line of gravity.

In the First Form line of gravity is central, equal weight in each leg, neutral, it is like a Prayer Wheel, when you push it the Wheel rotates but does not diminish or increase the force of contact, it redirects it but otherwise does not affect it.

Chum Kiu Form is a movement originating from a neutral body position, when the neutral body receives force it shifts the line of gravity into the rear of the body, the weight is shifted into the rear leg, away from the attackers intended line of action, the incoming force is extended and weakened, just like throwing a rock into a lake, the initial splash makes small tight ripples or waveforms that hold the energy of the rock, the ripples spread out with equal force but they get wider, slower, the energy is released over a longer period and as a result becomes weaker.

Biu Gee Form is a movement originating from a Chum Kiu body position, the line of gravity is shifted from the rear of the body into the front of the body, the weight is in the front leg, the FORCE of the weight shift moving into the opponent compresses and increases, it is like a bullwhip, the force created at the stock is transferred into the body of the whip, this creates a large ripple or waveform that gets progressively smaller, the initial energy is released over ever-decreasing periods and it becomes much, much stronger.

Chan Wah Shun had a maxim on the wall of his school, “STRUCTURE NEUTRALISES, FOOTWORK DISSOLVES” this clearly indicates the transition from S.L.T. though to Chum Kiu in its application, but it does not tell us how to turn the tide on our attacker if anything this aspect is the secret that was not meant to leave through the front door of the school.

When we are training in Wing Chun something that should be held front and centre in our mind is that Wing Chun is based on normal Human body movement, if for some reason we are struggling with any particular action or any section of any form it is because we are not moving like a normal human. Once we get past the dance, at their core all Forms are just dances, Forms function as an observation deck into how much we understand about our own body, they are not really teaching us anything, we already know how to move around, placing special emphasis on any particular set of movements is a trap that binds and blinds, it prevents us from understanding the totality of the Wing Chun system, the end game of which is to be able to create power from any position, any shape with any part of our body.

There are ideas introduced in Chum Kiu that are not repeated in Biu Gee that we are meant to take along with us just as we are meant to bring everything from the First Form with us into Chum Kiu. In particular, we have a Bong / Dai movement that is performed in the first section with a pivot and in the second section with a shift. This is a clear indication that all arm structures can be performed either pivoting or shifting.

All arm structures.

Biu Gee is predominately performed with pivots, but if we follow what was introduced in Chum Kiu the moves can also be done shifting, and of course, we see that in the Dummy with the Kwan Sau and Garn Sau movements being performed with shifting in the first section and pivoting in the second and third section of the Dummy Form.

By the time we complete our study of Biu Gee we have been introduced to the complete repertoire of movement in Wing Chun, but it is still to a large extent a jig-saw that needs putting together, looking ahead we see that there is backwards shifting and stepping in the Knives and the Pole, the straight back shift to the cat stance from the Pole is introduced in Chum Kiu albeit, in two separate parts, the lateral curved backwards shift in the Knives was introduced in Biu Gee.

Deconstructing the forms and reassembling them in different ways is the key to mastery, bringing forward the idea from the S.L.T. to use only one hand breathes new life into the Chum Kiu and Biu Gee, performing the opening sequence from the S.L.T. with the movement and aggression of Biu Gee is exactly what we do with the Dummy and of course in its application. Breaking apart the sequence even the direction of travel is enlightening.

 

 

For reasons I really do not understand the majority of the people that I began this journey with over 25 years ago have chosen to mostly work on the First Form, if as I firmly believe what we are talking about is learning to understand how to use our body this is a bit like learning to walk on only one leg, not in any way normal human body movement in my book.

Wing Chun is a system, although we have six Forms all the relevant information is in the first three, the Dummy, Knives and Pole Forms add complexity and difficulty due to the tools themselves this allows us to approximate challenges in controlling our body mass and balance that we may face when confronting the force of an opponent.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

STAY FROSTY.

 

FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

BIU GEE – A START OF SORTS.

BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE – IT MUST CONCUR WITH OUR FIST LOGIC.

 

The people that stutter and struggle are usually conservative by nature in their outside lives, they think that we should stick with what we did last year because it worked last year.

 

Wing Chun is like a house with many windows, when we look through different windows we see different things.

I approach the S.L.T. as being a composite of the first three Forms, I see what many refer to as the S.L.T. as the “A” section, the Chum Kiu as the “B” Section and the Biu Gee as the “C” Section, things make a great deal more sense to me this way than thinking that they are separate practices.

The First Form teaches us how to stack our body and align our limbs, specifically our arms, it teaches the most efficient way to use our joints and how to hold our body correctly to facilitate the acceptance and issuance of force.

Chum Kiu adds to this and as such teaches us only the things that are not covered in the First Form, there is no need to learn a new way to set up our body or a new way to move our arms.

When we move our arms in the Chum Kiu we are performing a variation of the First Form. Chum Kiu is a composite of two different instances of the IDEA, or more correctly two ideas working in tandem.

Chum Kiu is primarily concerned with different methods of moving the waist with as little disruption to what we learned in the First Form as possible. The lower and upper bodies are held together and move as one.

With Biu Gee once again there is additional information, and again the only things we are learning are the things we did not use in Chum Kiu, and they are primarily concerned with the shoulder girdle. The method, however, is a complete departure from how we addressed the Chum Kiu.

Biu Gee provides freedom of movement for the upper torso, the chest and shoulder girdle from the lower torso the pelvis, hips and legs.

Any living thing that moves has three states…

  1. Static.
  2. Fluid.
  3. Dynamic.

Static – Sil Lim Tao, Joint integrity, putting everything where it belongs, working correctly.

Fluid – Chum Kiu, Developing Mobility, and by mobility, I mean the full range of motion.

Dynamic – Biu Gee, Maximising Mobility to bring about Efficiency. By efficiency, I am referring to the way our body can effortlessly communicate with itself to bring about any required action.

If we relate this purely to the movement we could say that the progression is from slow to smooth to ballistic.

With this model S.L.T. is performed slowly, Chum Kiu is faster but with an emphasis on smoothness and Biu Gee is as fast as we can make it without losing control.

If we look at the hierarchy of movement S.L.T. moves first, slowly, then Chum Kiu comes along smoothly followed by Biu Gee ballistically.

If we do not have the sequential acceleration I outline the three body sections cannot complete their individual tasks together.

And we are lost.

 

 

For reasons I have never understood the ‘bog standard’ Wing Chun person seems to hate progress, they abhor change from what they consider tradition.

They call it Lineage.

For the person that originally manifested Wing Chun from the multitude of Kung Fu influences, THERE WAS NO BEFORE,  there was no Lineage.

There was a time, maybe long ago, when Wing Chun was the vehicle of change from the established Kung Fu.

One thing I have noticed is that the people that progress have very open minds, in their outside lives they are ordinary and love the idea of change.

The people that stutter and struggle are usually conservative by nature in their outside lives, they think that we should stick with what we did last year because it worked last year.

 

Conservatives search for answers while progressives look for questions.
Conservatives believe that ’cause creates effect’.
Progressives understand that effects create the illusion of a cause.
 
Biu Gee requires us to throw everything away and start again.
WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS’.
PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.
STAY FROSTY.

 

 

 

FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

PLAYING WITH THE KNIVES.

 

It seems far more likely that Empty Hand Fighting Skills were a repurposing of the Weapon Fighting Skills

 

Hi Guys,

I was talking with an ex-student of mine over the Easter break, he was a private student that trained with me ‘one on one’ for about 3 years.

With most private students I find that they are more interested in genuine fighting skills than learning the whole system to become a Master, so I have a somewhat hybridised approach to the work.

One big difference is that I teach the Knives and Pole from very early on, the Forms are shorter, simpler and I believe add context to the ‘Empty Hand Forms’.

Why do I think this way?

If we look at the history of Empty Hand Styles around the world the usual
evolution is that the carrying and use of weapons are banned by the government of the day or forbidden for religious reasons.

Throughout history, we see this when a new government or religion supplants the local traditions with their new agendas.

It seems far more likely that Empty Hand Fighting Skills were a repurposing of the Weapon Fighting Skills, that the Hand styles were a devolution and not as is often thought that the weapons are an evolution.

I have briefly trained in a few genuine weapon systems, European Long Sword, Philippine Stick and Knife and Japanese Bo Staff and a little Kendo, the interesting thing is that they all have applications for a situation where you lose your weapon, guess what? These are the very same moves that are used with the weapon.

Something that I think highlights this is that Ju Jutsu was formulated so that a Samurai who had been de-horsed and was without a weapon could continue the fight, usually by de-horsing an opponent and rearming himself with his opponent’s weapon.

When weapons are available and allowable everyone makes this choice.

If we look at Chinese history, it was Kung Fu Weapons that were used in warfare and not fists and feet.

If everyone else is using a weapon why would someone spend years to learn an Empty Hand Form?

It is so much more practical {practicality is one of the pillars of Wing Chun Fist Logic} to repurpose the weapon skill if you find yourself unarmed.

 

 

Playing with the knives will help your body prepare for the rigours of Biu Gee, and maybe put a few of the moves into a more easily understood context.

Focus on the aspect of “PLAY”.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.