FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

MOVE OR STAND STILL?

MOVEMENT AND SEPERATION

 

Wing Chun is Boxing, that is what Kuen means.

 

Yet another Kung Fu Master has been humbled by an M.M.A. Fighter in China, here is a LINK to a video commentary on the event by the China-based professional fighter and trainer Ramsey Dewey, it is well worth watching, Ramsey never just puts people down,  he is polite, knowledgable and impartial.

One thing that always sticks out like Doggy Meat Bags to me is the almost complete absence of anything like dynamic or just plain old strategic movement by these Masters, this one just stood still while the M.M.A. Guy picked his spot, stepped in and turned his lights out.

Over the years I have had many conversations with Martial Artists who believe Wing Chun has no footwork, I would play with them and at least hold my own only for them to claim that I was using my old Boxing training and not Wing Chun.

Haters are going to hate no matter what we show them, but then during training at my Sifu’s school training partners would make the same accusations, I.M.O. this was just them trying to find excuses for not moving.

Wing Chun is loved by lazy students if we are honest.

Wing Chun is Boxing, that is what Kuen means.

Surely in the light of so many Kung Fu / Wing Chun hopefuls falling in a great big pile of doo-doo, we would do well to explore the similarities of what we do and what other styles or sports do?

Something we should all realise is that no part-time Martial Artist, living or dead,  would last long against a full-time professional Combat Athlete and we do ourselves and our style a disservice when we pretend that they would.

The following 2 videos are part of what I teach my students, some if not most of the information you may recognise if you watched my posts on throwing the discus and Wing Chun.

 

 

 

 

I advise all of my guys to get on Youtube and watch some Olympic Level fencing, Ice hockey, Speed skating, even a few episodes of ‘Come Dancing’, pretty much anything lively and to try to recognise movements that they use that could easily be from one of our Forms.

 

Movement is just movement, if you are in trouble the only wrong move is to not move.

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESSES, WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

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FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

KICKING IN WING CHUN.

 

Perhaps the problem is not the act of “Kicking” but rather what we think the act of “Kicking” is?

 

One thing that has always confused me has been the role of kicking in a ‘FIST’ art like Wing Chun.

Is it necessary, should it even be there?

What is the historical perspective?

If we go to the Kuen Kuit to get assistance there is practically nothing related to kicking, this is more than odd I think, especially as the Kuen Kuit is the repository of Wing Chun’s original wisdom.

Somewhat concerning is the fact that one of the only times the Kuen Kuit cleary references kicking is in the line “Kicks lose nine times out of ten”, this does not sound much like a positive credit.

The Kuen Kuit also says “Learning the usual ways will allow later variations”.

It just appears that the usual way did not favour kicking.

There are many situations within the ‘Canon’ of Wing Chun were things that make up the backbone of our work begin to fall apart, even contradict themselves, I believe that this is a conflict of translation over interpretation.

My teacher {Jim} Fung Chuen Keung would often say that some things in Wing Chun defy translation to English, if we take this to its ultimate conclusion we westerners that depend on such translations are all, and quite possibly always, wrong, the only option available is a personal interpretation of what is a very cryptic, and incorrectly translated Kuen Kuit.

People, being people, this fluidity leads to ‘Cherry Picking’.

Is it possible that kicking entered Wing Chun because Ip Man was very small, did he elevate kicking because it afforded him the potential of extra distance?

Perhaps the problem is not the act of “Kicking” but rather what we think the act of “Kicking” is?

There is a tendency amongst many Wing Chun commentators to forget that everything we do has a very real physical purpose that supersedes any pseudo – mechanical or semi-mystical deep thinking.

The product supersedes the process.

Any kick has a job to do, and that job has very little to do with how we move our limbs, it is all about distance control, contact, cause and effect, hurting the Bad Guy.

Wing Chun is a ‘Close Range’ fighting style, kicks, on the other hand, are at best mid-range, more often than not long-range.

Approaching kicking as something we do with ourselves as opposed to something we do to an attacker is a road to nowhere.

What do we think a kick is?

Does it fit the Wing Chun ethos?

First and foremost and something that needs to be contemplated deeply is that “Kicking” is effectively fighting on one leg.

It requires exquisite levels of skill to remain in balance on one leg during a dynamic exchange, a lack of balance leads to a lack of power.

A wider and more generalised consensus we can be comfortable with could be…

A blow delivered to an opponent by a foot of shin that has built its energy from a swinging leg.

Kicking is an overt attacking move, often pre-emptive, all eggs in one basket kind of approach, it is difficult to align this with the Kuen Kuit’s ‘he attacks first, but I strike first’ which is alluding to a counter-attack.

Nowhere in any of the Wing Chun Forms does this type of movement exist, in both the Chum Kiu and the Biu Gee it is the body that moves and not the leg.

In Chum Kiu practice we are advised that the extension of the leg must not compromise our balance that we should be able to maintain balance with the leg extended.

This position, this one-legged stance if you wish is called the “Hanging Horse”.

This is a static, solid, stable position that if an attacker walks into is the equivalent of a bike rider hitting a parked car.

If the timing is correct and the attacker makes contact at the exact time that the position is established the exchange of momentum would be almost perfect and extremely powerful.

Seeing this take place from an outside vantage point would look very much like a consensus kick, a swinging leg.

Like so many other aspects of Wing Chun what appears to be is never what is, this can only be taught hands-on, and validated through experience.

I realise that many people reading this will to some extent disagree, and that is cool as I said at the beginning “I am one of those that are in favour of each of us making our interpretation of the work we do, forging our own path ” and of course there is valid and effective leg work in Wing Chun, it is just not kicking.

In Wing Chun we are informed and influenced by an IDEA, to be expected the same IDEA that informs and influences our arms informs and influences our legs.

We do not swing our arms around or hammer them into the opponent’s arms do we, this alone should raise a few flags.

“Greet what comes in, follow what goes out”.

Like the bike rider and the parked car, we offer a place for the opponent’s energy to exhaust itself under Newtons Third Law and the Law of Momentum Conservation.

We then step forward and finish them off.

This is shown in all its simplicity in the Chum Kiu and Biu Gee leg movements, there is no need to add anything.

 

KICKING IN A FIST ART. from WC INCa’s on Vimeo.

 

“Greet what comes in, follow what goes out”.

We call this “Jamming”, to anyone that does not understand the finer points this can look just like kicking and as such is frequently taught as kicking with all of its overt, overcommitted implications.

When it comes to a personal assessment of the validity and effectiveness of kicking, I must admit to holding a bias on this point, my first 20 years in the Martial Arts I followed styles that did not need kicking to get a favourable result, Boxing, Ju-Do, Bu-Jutsu.

Add to this that throughout my teenage years, the “soccer hooligan’ years of the 1970s in the U.K. On the occasions when everything went ‘Pear Shaped’ I consistently fared much better against people that tried to kick me than I did against non-kickers.

This, of course, could also be that many people, back then and today, try to kick because they have little confidence or ability in striking.

The more I think about and the more I study Wing Chun I am drawn to the conclusion that overt attacking kicking does not have a rightful place in this art, I know many people will disagree, many have in the past, but in today’s time-poor training world I think we should question the value of training something that the Kuen Kuit says fails 9 times out of 10.

This is not me saying do not train to kick, if you think you need it then train it, I just think that it is a little bit of an illegal import.

A final thought, FIGHTING ON ONE LEG.

Apart from 1970s Shaw Bros movies, this is something that no one with any sense would choose over fighting on two legs.

It’s a balance thing.

Even the most highly accomplished of kickers, Baas Rutten and Benny “the Jet” Urquidez { if these guys are unknown to you hit up YouTube} to name just two of my all-time faves would, on occasion fail and fall down, thankfully in that environment the opponent was prevented from jumping up and down on their heads.

In the street ???????

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESSES, PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS.

 

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FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

MORE ON SOLO TRAINING.

 

 ‘shadow boxing is good training and great fun, but shadow boxing never won a fight’…

Knowing what to do in Solo Training is harder than we may imagine, there is a saboteur lodged in our head that works against us.

It is our Brain.

Our Brain is a self-organising pattern maker, it looks out at the Chaos around us and starts clumping things together to give us a reference point, a means of recognition.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing.

Good for dealing with the general chaos of life, bad for understanding the finer details of dynamic movement, for instance, the type of movement found in Forms.

Our brain loves patterns, they are literally in our D.N.A. so we do not notice when we fall into them or overlay them where they do not belong.

Given the choice between paying attention to the overall shape of the pattern or the individual content of the pattern, our brains choose the shape of the pattern.

At the very beginning of our training, we are told that every single move of every Form is a Form in and of itself, but we forget this in the flood of new information and end up just following the pattern.

This is not restricted to the martial arts it is everywhere in life.

Following patterns feels so natural and right that very few amongst us notice the problem, only the artists, the poets, and the philosophers recognise this problem and work hard to change the contents of their patterns.

They choose the Red Pill.

Any Form is just style preferred specific information collated in a way that is easy to remember, it is only the individual bits of information that have any genuine value.

Left to its own devices our brain will focus its attention on the whole Form and not the bits of information, when this happens we are just dancing, you know how it goes  ‘this move follows that move and then we do this other move’.

Just a dance, perhaps a sacred dance, but never the less just a dance.

Solo Training allows us the chance to deconstruct the existing familiar patterns and explore them in their own right, if for no other reason than to see if it is even a useable pattern.

Focusing on anything except the specific thing we are doing physically is not going to bring about the results we are after, how could it, all training is task-specific

If we are thinking about the Form, focusing on the Form, trying to be mindful and become one with the Form, what we are learning is the Form, do not expect to learn anything else.

To put it into a sports perspective, world-class ball hitters, tennis, cricket, baseball you pick will set the ball machine to deliver the same shot over and over again, this is how we improve, little by little, first fix this problem then move on to the next.

What they do not do is set the machine to send out variable balls, to different places at differing speeds, this would be completely useless, more than likely a lot of fun, but nothing to learn here.

When we focus on the whole Form we lose connection with the reality of whatever we are moving, we will not think so because our brain loves this pattern, it is comfortable and familiar.

Does doing something comfortable and familiar sound like a tried and tested way to learn something new or to take the old thinking forward?

Years ago my tennis coach had a saying .. ‘if it feels right it must be wrong, only bad habits feel right’.

Finally, concerning the IDEA that doing the whole Form is a way to prepare us for any necessary spontaneous action, my boxing coach would tell us all … ‘shadow boxing is good training and great fun, but shadow boxing never won a fight’…

 

 

For me, solo training is an opportunity to deconstruct what I know and then find a newer, better way to put it back together, to rewire our interaction with ourselves {Ego} so that it is no longer an operating system on autopilot, but rather a ‘heads up display, a personal user interface’.

To learn anything we must stay with authentic reality, remain rooted in the absolute certainty of the lived experience.

Otherwise, everything is just make-believe.

 

Work on your weaknesses, play to your strengths.

 

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PLANNING.

 

We often imagine that we generally operate by some kind of plan, that we have goals we are trying to reach. But we’re usually fooling ourselves; what we have are not goals but wishes.

The 33 Strategies Of War – Greene, Robert

 

Followers of this blog will be well aware of my conviction that Wing Chun is completely devoid of intelligent, workable strategy, yet still, I love it.

In my often clumsy attempt to inform the ill-informed I have sometimes come over as being Ego driven and stupidly opinionated, I will accept that critique as wrong as it is, I should have done better and I am forever trying to do just that.

In the last couple of years, I have written thousands of words to this end, read countless books and articles to try to improve my delivery because it is the message that is important and not me.

I recently happened upon the author Robert Greene, his book ‘The 33 Strategies of War’ is everything I was trying to say, just done so much better, so much clearer and far more eloquently, better still I found a Youtube video of him presenting his book.

In the previous posting on this blog, I spoke about the difference between Qi Kung and Kung Fu.

Qi Kung is thinking about the work, Kung Fu is spending time and effort doing the work.

This video is one hour long, investing time in the work is what Kung Fu demands, if you cannot find the time to watch this, and preferably more than once you are not involved in Kung Fu.

A quote that echoes loudly when I watch most Wing Chun people  training is,

We often imagine that we generally operate by some kind of plan, that we have goals we are trying to reach. But we’re usually fooling ourselves; what we have are not goals but wishes.

The 33 Strategies Of War – Greene, Robert

 

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESSES, WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

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FIST LOGIC, VIDEO

SPORTS IDEAS FOR THE MARTIAL ARTS.

 

I am a firm believer that we cannot train for violence we can only train to control our own movement and our own decisions

 

To be expected I have a number of friends that are involved in the Martial Arts, a surprising number of them in Traditional Chinese Styles with traditional approaches, they often quiz me on why I put more stock in sports instruction than even the instruction from the very top teachers  of my own lineage, especially now that I am at Master level and have my own school and students.

The first thing I ask them to consider is the position that modern sports are a ritualistic replacement for combat, people engage each other with a vigour as intense and desperate as any violent encounter, at elite level even non contact sports tend towards what is essentially full contact and can readily slip into actual physical violence.

While  we as Traditional Martial Artists on the other hand are involved in training that never engages an opponent in anger with a real outcome to prosecute and secure, much if not all of our training is a lot closer to imagination than reality so can we honestly say that there is any practical difference between the moves used in Ritualistic Combat vs the moves from Traditional Martial Arts Sources?

Once we begin to ask honest questions we eventually come head first into the ugly question that asks “if we never use our training in anger how do we know it will work in anger”?

We don’t, none of us do including myself, I am not trying to set myself above anyone here, it has been approaching 10 years since I used my skill set to its obvious conclusion.

Relating back to sports I am not sure I would put my money on a player that has been out of the game for 10 years no matter how hard he trained, or who he trained with.

From a personal perspective I have been in enough violent encounters to know that each encounter was different from all the previous encounters, over the years  I have used numerous styles so the common denominator was not what I did, I did what I did in spite of my training not because of it, the only real common denominator was me as a person.

How I moved, how I reacted to stimulus how, how I read the play as the encounter unfolded.

I am a firm believer that we cannot train for violence we can only train to control our own movement and our own decisions, in the sports environment this could be advantageous positioning and intelligent shot selection, in a violent encounter it could be to get out of the Bad Guy’s way and hit him while he is not looking.

Some well known  issues in the M.A. training environment is that many students get a little too close to the target and try to hit it too hard, it is almost impossible to be aware of this as we do not have an accurate metric to measure it by, however if we are playing a ball sport, Tennis or perhaps BaseBall, being too close, even by as little as half an inch and trying to hit too hard always result in failure.

There is no practical difference between learning how to be in the right place at the right time using the correct timing and technique to hit a baseball or tennis ball as there is in hitting an opponent.

If we allow ourselves this freedom, and it is a case of allowance, blinding dogma is always a choice, we notice that at a base level all of the moves that create the impulse { Force times Time} to generate momentum are the same for every sport, every martial arts style every normal movement.

It is a Human Movement thing.

We Humans have a limited range of movements with which we perform all actions, as obvious as it is, it is of  no matter what we may think we are doing we can only move in a human way so to that end all of our moves in any endeavour  are the same thing from the same place, there is no special way of doing anything.

Once we see this it cannot be unseen and everything becomes the same, for instance the lateral body shift in the Chum Kiu Form is exactly the way a good baseball player hits a ball, baseball players practice in an environment that is a great deal closer to their sports reality than most of what we do in the Martial Arts.

 

 

Positional and structural ideas that Baseball Coaches think are important for hitting a base ball will crossover seamlessly into our practice of Chum Kiu, shot put and discus ideas crossover seamlessly into our Biu Gee practice, if we have the eyes to see without personal bias.

Below is the link I spoke of in the video, it is a bit long at 10 minutes but it is really well presented information.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0lm_GigMJE&list=PLLTdvs1kZsQ6IEym7CzwOb0f_poNk2F2o&index=3&t=26s

 

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BENEFITING FROM OUTSIDE INFLUENCES.

 

In top level professional Elite Sports if a player can improve by as little as 1% they can earn many millions of dollars in extra prize money

In the last post I spoke of changing our thinking and approach to moving in Wing Chun, and how if we can connect to other skills from other places, such as sports, then we can dramatically increase our rate of improvement.

Previously I focused on throwing skills and how they relate and can improve our understanding and application of Biu Gee, today I want to revisit how Ice Hockey and Speed Skating can improve our understanding and application of Chum Kiu.

But firstly we need to accept that there is no internal power in Wing Chun, as hopeful and tempting as that may be, standing still moving our arms will give us nothing we were not born with, everything is physical, in fact everything is Physics.

I occasionally get outside students from other schools or friends of friends coming to see me to help them with Chum Kiu.

I ask them to show me what they know and then apply resistance against their movement, in fairness if they knew what to do properly they would not be seeing me so to be expected they fail to move correctly.

I ask them “where are you moving from”?

The most common answer is “my centre”.

This is wrong.

All movement comes from the ground, not the hips, not the centre, these are the initiators of the force but not where we are moving from, this is a subtle but enormous difference, once we understand this we can begin to understand the fundamental aspects of Chum Kiu.

Straight off the bat we can explore this with an office chair.

It is the interaction with the ground that makes all movement, when the waist turns it creates torsion that is transferred into movement.

Without that connection to the ground all we can do is wiggle our butt.

It is the torsion in the leg that creates the down force that coupled with dropping the weight creates instant movement as soon as we remove any brakes we may of put in place, such as our other leg, a common error made by students that think the Y.C.K.Y.M. is an actual working stance.

The Y.C.K.Y.M. introduces us to the idea of torsion, allows us to experience it, feel it, trust it, to get what I mean think of it as being two rear legs in Chum Kiu being trained at the same time, which of course is what it is.

The torsion in the leg can be created in numerous ways, but the most effective for dynamic application, and the most natural is by turning the chest.

If we understand Core Winding and allow the upper body separation that we can learn from Biu Gee the act of turning the chest creates torsion with the waist and passes it down the kinetic chain via weight dispersion into the foot, then the ground, Newtons third law then turns this into movement.

When I was a nipper and learning the fundamentals of Skating for Ice  Hokey the coach would say when you turn you go top down, turn with your head not your feet, this is the same thing, the head turns the Chest and so on down to the feet, the legs and feet themselves do nothing except keep us upright.

When we do Chum Kiu in the training hall we can get many things wrong and never really notice, on the ice even the smallest errors in balance, weight dispersal, weight shifting and postural alignment can and usually do result in kissing the ice.

An error many students that spend too much time in the Y.C.K.Y.M frequently make is trying to keep the feet flat on the ground, this interferes with the alignment of the reaction force from the planet, in our everyday life when we walk there is a certain amount of natural pronation that occurs, we really must free up the ankles to allow natural pronation to occur where and when it is needed, we do not deliberately pronate the foot, but neither do we prevent it from happening.

Allowing the natural weight shift to pronate my foot, even if I just lean into it creates and action that pushes the floor, the resulting reaction moves me forwards, if I use torsion to pronate it has the effect of magnifying that action / reaction.

 

OTHER INPUTS from WC INCa’s on Vimeo.

 

The big difference between being on the ice and being in the training hall is all about traction, in the training hall our feet create traction with the floor that prevent us from realising we are minimally out of balance and alignment, or that we are building negative or at least contrary tension or torsion in our body, on the ice the traction is so slight that these negatives instantly effect our direction and stability.  Having even just a slight understanding of what it takes to be balanced on a slippery surface is a huge advantage on a sound surface.

In top level professional Elite Sports if a player can improve by as little as 1% they can earn many millions of dollars in extra prize money, it makes sense to cross reference everything we think we know against modern sports science.

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS, WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

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