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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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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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