Force summation of a rower. (source: sportsmedbiotech, 2009)

Up goes the cry ‘Wing Chun does not use strength”.

Guess what? Conditioning and fitness are not just about strength!

This is a reposting from 18 months ago, but this is a vital piece of the puzzle. Rule #1 if you wish to win a blue, be a better human.

I want to spend a few weeks looking at various types of and approaches to conditioning to make the most of our training, this may sound off-key but there is a great deal more to being effective at Wing Chun than just learning Wing Chun.

Fighting is a physical experience, so surely there needs to be a physical element to the training.

It makes no difference what so ever if we do ‘Internal’ or ‘External’ Wing Chun.  If we depend on ‘Thought Force’ or ‘Physical Force’

If our body is not up to the task of performing as the blunt instrument needed to deliver our force of choice we could be in serious trouble the day we need to use it.

Hands break when they hit faces, this is the real reason Boxers wear gloves.

Talking to certain sections of the Wing Chun community about the need to introduce strength and fitness is as difficult and fruitless as talking to an Australian Liberal politician about the need to phase out coal.

Up goes the cry ‘Wing Chun does not use strength”.

Guess what? Conditioning and fitness are not just about strength!

It is just as much about building mobility to get out of the way, improving our VO2 Max so we do not gas out in 5 seconds or developing the resilience to not fall in a heap if we fail to get out of the way and get hit in the head.

Wing Chun very strangely does not have specialised training regimes such as Chi Kung of other T.C.M.A.

I have no idea why this is, it makes no sense.

But perhaps it does, perhaps we have just stopped identifying them as such, upgraded them to something else, helped of course by the post-war Hong Kong entertainment industry.

If we had not all fallen the romanticised exploitation of Chi Kung and Kung Fu that was perpetrated by the Shaw Brothers beginning in the early 1950s perhaps we would have realised that Chi Kung was a precursor of today’s sports science and maybe, just maybe Kung Fu would not have slipped into obscurity and disregard compared to Modern Combat Sports.

The idea of a genteel scholar defeating thugs was such a breadwinner for the Shaw Studios it was pretty much the theme of every movie, perhaps unintentionally it allowed weak unfit people to think they could compete if they just played Kung Fu.

Many still do.

Many are still wrong.

What conditioning do I think we need?

This is a very difficult question to answer, it all depends on what type of trouble we think we will get into.

I am sure we all think different things.

Do we need to be steady, stable and strong?

Do we need to be mobile, quick and adaptive?

Can we be both?

If we can begin to see all of the Forms as being conditioning exercises, at least at a base level, we are at least starting from a sound base.

By all means, keep seeing them as ways to circulate Chi if that is your approach but first let them be simply physical.

In my last post, I mentioned the ‘Stretch Reflex’ and how in some situations it can have a negative impact on our actions.

That does not mean that the ‘Stretch Reflex’ is always negative, there are many situations where it can be used to our advantage.

Understanding the ‘Stretch Reflex’ and how we condition our body and our thinking to work with it, and of great importance understanding that we cannot influence it in any way.

No matter what some people may say or even claim, we cannot train a reflex. Training is a conscious action, reflexes are unconscious actions.

To think otherwise is to pursue a fantasy.

But once we identify, understand and can predict the effect of a Stretch Reflex we can adapt our training so that it has less of a chance of working against us.

So that we have less of a chance of working against ourselves.


There are a lot of people that say Wing Chun does not work on account of some very sad YouTube fights, the simple truth is that a hobbyist, a weekend warrior, no matter how skilled or capable will always loose to a full-time combat athlete.

Survival of the fittest is not a cliche, neither in the ring or on the street.

If we wish to do better we must become more athletic, more dynamic, more physical, the whole IDEA behind the do not use strength argument is a misrepresentation, it should be “do not depend on strength”, which really is just another way of saying trust your skill first, however, if your attacker is smaller and weaker there is nothing wrong with using strength, it will work.

The popular sales pitch representation that doing Wing Chun will “level the playing field” against a stronger, bigger, faster, fitter opponent only works if the opponent has no skill, only brute strength.

Being faster, fitter, stronger does not guarantee a win, but it helps.

Get fitter, get stronger, get faster, get conditioned, and of course, keep improving your skill.

Learn how to walk and chew gum.





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.










 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’?







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.










‘Sinking and Rising’ are not methods in and of themselves, rather they are ways to improve things we already know and trust.


This is a follow up to Saturday mornings training with Sam, Costas and George, something to help it all sink in [no pun intended].

Sinking and Rising is not bobbing up and down, it is not ‘ducking and weaving’ although if you watch early Mike Tyson you can see how he incorporated it, it is not accidental it is deliberate and purposeful.


The answer is two-fold…

  1. We sink so as to deliberately apply bodyweight to any defensive structure.
  2. We sink to enable us to Rise Up.



Again we have a two-fold answer…

  1. We rise to uproot an opponent and take his stability.
  2. We rise to increase the power of our attack.

‘Sinking and Rising’ are not methods in and of themselves, rather they are ways to improve things we already know and trust.









Simultaneous attack and defence is Wing Chun’s version of the “Schroedinger’s Cat” paradox.


Training is very different due to COVID 19 and the ensuing restrictions such as social distancing and limited personal contact, but as strange as things are I genuinely believe that looking back in a few years time the people that stayed engaged with their training will see this period as a great leap forwards.

At the moment our training has more words in it than kicks and punches.

Words are the tool we use to paint pictures in our mind that our brain relaxes in front of and studies.

These pictures can be fine, accurate and detailed, or they can be vague, abstract and suggestive but either way, it is up to each of us to return to them, again and again, to see if there is anything more we can glean from them.

I make an annual sojourn to the National Gallery down in Canberra to spend some time sitting in front of the Jackson Pollock artwork “Blue Poles”.

When I leave the gallery the world is a different place, or more accurately I am a different person.

Art changes how we view the natural world, a Martial Art changes how we view the martial world.

Geof Koons said that Art manifests in the fuzzy space between the artwork and the observer.

Accordingly, a Martial Art manifests in the fuzzy space between the attacker and the defender?

Simultaneous attack and defence is Wing Chun’s version of the  “Schroedinger’s Cat” paradox.

It only exists in the box we call drills such as Chi Sau, 4 corners and the like.

Once we open the box and reality presents itself it becomes one or the other.

It can never be both.

As a concept, SA&D is a powerful tool to dig deeper into what we do and how we do it, but it is just a concept.

We have been spending the last few weeks exploring the dubious world of attacking and defending, or as we like to think of it, issuing and accepting force.

The final analysis is that it is a myth.



This is not doom and gloom in any shape or form, as per usual we can find equivalencies in sport.

There are Table Tennis players that are described as aggressive and then there are Table Tennis players that are described as defensive, defensive players win by returning/using their opponents force not by creating/using force.

As we all know Wing Chun is a concept-driven Martial Art, having more time to ponder these concepts can never be a bad thing.

The issue is always language.

Or how we perceive language, and by extension communication.

Which of course aligns with how we perceive concepts.

The concept changes completely if we simply change the position of the words without changing the words themselves.

Issue the force.

Force the issue.

Very different stories.

Simultaneous attack and defence.

Simultaneous defence and attack.

Very different stories.

Accept force and issue force.

Let’s play with this and see where it takes us.










In our post COVID world, we are still more involved in the mental aspects of our training than the usual physical aspects, there is a lot more to be gained from this type of training if we know what to look for.

On Saturday the senior guys and I spent some time working on a video to expand on why what we do is not what we think it is.

How the learning objective of the things we are doing is not the things we are doing themselves and as such how the things we do are of little if any practical value.

How the fact that nothing we do will work if we try to use it and why this is not even the slightest of problems.

However, it was 6 days before my 67th birthday and I appear to have had a ‘seniors moment’ and forgot to press the record button.

This video is a preamble to the next video.



This line of thinking brings me back to one of my favourite maxims…
















It is all Wing Chun and all inter-related.


Going forwards in the short to medium term will be very challenging for the collective Martial Arts community, not just Wing Chun, with such a major disruption to training some students will simply not return.

Especially when we consider that a situation could easily arise were by Schools will be forced to deny training to their students due to the number of restrictions.

Visitors will be out of the question.

Many M.A. Schools run more as a labour of love than a business, overheads are high and returns are low so the requirements of greatly restricted numbers will be a severe test for many schools.

Rent will become a real threat to existence and the shortage of available extra evenings will be crippling.

Here at Wing Chun Sydney, we train in the Studio at the rear of my home, I am my Landlord, that gives me much greater flexibility than many of my colleagues, I can easily open up on additional days if needs be.

For our community to get through this upcoming test as best we can the keyword needs to be FLEXIBILITY.

I have always run an open door here, people are welcome as a casual that visits once or twice a year or a semi-regular that turns up every couple of weeks so to a large extent I am capable of being lineage agnostic.

The type of training we are used to will be on hold for some weeks perhaps even months, direct physical contact will be very limited.

Things like Chi Sau and Hand Drills will be sidelined, most training will be focused on Pad work and the Forms, especially the Knives {Baat Cham Dao} and the Pole {Lok Dim Boon Kwan} which I am happy to teach to any person of any level of training.

It is all Wing Chun and all inter-related.


If you find yourself in a difficult position, perhaps just want some guidance or small help so that you have things to work on at home until things return to normal consider having a one on one lesson with me.

Better still if you have a friend or three in the same position let me put together a program just for you and your friends at a day and time of your choosing covering exactly what you want to work on.

During the immediate post COVID period, until normality resumes, I am reducing the cost of private training to $40.00 per session so that everyone can at least stay in touch with what we do.

Stay healthy.











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.









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.




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.