Weekend Headspin

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN. TAKING THE WING CHUN OUT OF WING CHUN.

I have a few relatively long term private students that train with me who are deeply committed to other styles, deeply involved, as much in awe of their own style as I am in Wing Chun, yet still they train one on one with me. 

What we work on is the body method at the heart of Wing Chun, we do not go near any of the Forms, not a single one, we do not do Chi Sau, we do not work on the Wing Chun way of dealing with aggresors, of issuing force, we rarely if ever use standard  Wing Chun as a frame of reference.

In many ways I have removed  all of the things that most students refer to as Wing Chun.

But what I am teaching is beyond any doubt 100% Wing Chun.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

It is nt just me,not everyone teaches the same Wing Chun.

In 1999 my own Sifu’s Sifu, completely changed his approach to Wing Chun,  after my Sifu’s passing in 2008 most of his students changed to this way of Wing Chun, I tried to follow, I really did try to understand what everyone else was getting excited about, but in the end I failed.

It made no sense to me, I am by nature not a person that follows some piper, some mystic, no matter how famous and well regarded so I probably did not invest enough into the dream.

My bad.

To me, and of course to my own teacher Jim Fung,  Wing Chun is all about devastating power, right here, right now, this is what I teach, this is what my non Wing Chun students come to me for so they can add it to their own work and this is what I deliver.

I also have a number of casual students that drop by to get a slice of my version of the Wing Chun Pie, when they are with me they all say that what I do feels a great del more like a Martial Art, that what they do with their regular, twice a week Instructor feels somehow different,  without doubt funkier, deeper, softer, more internal, but definitely less effective, less real.

I apologise in advance if this next statement pisses any of you off.

You simply cannot hit hard with softness!

If, like so many people here in Australia, you do nothing but the First Form are you really learning Wing Chun, or are you just learning Siu Nim Tao?

It is a question worth thinking about.

If someone like me teaches people how to make Wing Chun work without the Siu Nim Tao, without Chi Sau, but adheres totally to the Fist Logic of Wing Chun, a teacher that teaches the song inside the song, who lives and breathes “the principles”, a man who feels that the Forms are of little value to the big picture, but talks the talk and walks the walk of pure Wing Chun, what is Wing Chun?

Stepping sideways for a moment, many years ago I trained with a quite renowned sculptor in Western Australia, I was of course studying sculpture, not Wing Chun, one time as we where out at a local quarry looking for some good stone I asked him for pointers to what he was looking for?

He told me that he was looking for a piece of stone that had an interesting sculpture inside of it.

It took me a while to understand what he meant, but when I did everything changed.

All of our forms and standard ideas are nothing but lumps of stone.

I can lend you a chisel.

 

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Weekend Headspin

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: BODY LOGIC, MIND LOGIC, FIST LOGIC.

 

In a nutshell I am the guy that will be using it to prevent getting his ass handed to him.

SO MUCH LOGIC, SO LITTLE {TRAINING} TIME.

Every Wing Chun teacher has to decide what to take from the pot that is
Wing Chun Concepts, interpret them and find a way to communicate them to others, this is why there is so much difference between teachers, as humans we do not see things as they are but in fact as reflections of ourselves.

What we all teach is what we already know by way of our personal experiences served up in the manner of Wing Chun.

My own experience contains quite a bit of fighting, so for me everything is inevitably looked at through the filter of Fist Logic.

This does not mean that I am right and Body Logic or Mind Logic teachers are wrong, but it does explain a lot about where my teaching is headed and what it can offer, and by inference a lot about what other teachers teach and what they offer.

Fist Logic is less interested with the process and far, far more interested in the results, this is why some people find my views challenging, often bringing into doubt the advice of even the most respected Gurus.

I have been asked what gives me the right to question the teaching of our Wing Chun predecessors?

In a nutshell I am the guy that will be using it to prevent getting his ass handed to him.

A case in point, around about 2 years ago I was invited to a workshop at a friends school, the guest teachers were 2 of the most respected teachers from Hong Kong, on one occasion they were teaching something that really did not make any sense to me so I asked its purpose, I was told that it had no real purpose that it was only an exercise, when I asked what was the value in spending training time doing something without purpose I was again told that it was just an exercise.

Out of respect for my friends I left it at that, to prosecute the argument of practicality, one of the pillars of  Wing Chun,  would of done nothing but upset the other students present that valued that type of training.

I have significant fighting and sports experience, winning and loosing, something I know intimately is that violence and aggression when they are up in our faces is mind numbing.    

Injuries and debilitating knocks are part and parcel of any clash in any environment, no ones body is ever operating optimally if we cannot do something well enough when we physically do it wrong we are screwed.

Is Mind Logic worth the time spent training it?

Is Body Logic worth the time spent training it?

If there is a balance then absolutely shit yeah they are, but there needs to be balance.

Mind Logic develops the thought to do work, Body Logic develops the body to do work, but only Fist Logic does the work, this is the way of all disciplines, of all encounters, even in the workplace, as a Chef there have been many times when the orders just keep pouring in, so much work, looking around I could see my staff shell shocked and semi paralysed just by the thought of the work to be done and the short amount of time we had to do it in.

Mind numb, Body offline, the answer was to buckle in and make a Fist of it.

 

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WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: “PSYCHO – PHYSICAL” TRAINING IS NOT “INTERNAL” TRAINING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we must see that what we do is everywhere.

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

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

Because it is fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: THROUGH OTHER EYES.

A simple truth all Martial Artists understand is that we can never truly know what the Bad Guy is going to do, that is why all styles talk of being calm, focused and relaxed in the face of danger so that we can respond to whatever happens next, this is how we train, this is the theory.

In theory,     theory and reality are the same.

In reality,      they are not.

If we are in a situation where we know beyond doubt that the brown stuff is about to get airborne we cannot afford to try to live the dream and to stand there circulating our Chi, uninvolved, relaxed waiting to respond to what happens next, we must have a plan, to have a plan we need to train one up and if we have put in the time and effort to train a plan up we must stick to it.

The simplest plan is usually the best, “if they move punch them”, forget Chi Sau, forget Siu Nim Tao, forget everything and throw your lot in with Fist Logic, this is what Wing Chun does, it hits people, and it is only ever about us, and what we do, never about the bad guy or responding to what they do.

The great 1970’s tennis player Jimmy Connors was asked what made him the best returner of service in the game, he said, “as soon as the ball leaves his racquet it is all about me, all about what I do”

To succeed we must live in this space, to live in this space we must train in this space.

There is a well known saying that came from some long ago military, “how you train is how you will fight”, is how we train the way we wish to fight?

Much of Wing Chun training revolves around Chi Sau, there are some very good reasons for this, some very important things to learn inside of Chi Sau, but if we look at the Chi Sau around us, on YouTube, in our Facebook feeds at our own club not many people are trying to find some deeper knowledge most are just trying to play Chi Sau, if they do work at anything it tends to be working at playing better Chi Sau.

They mistake the messenger for the message.

If we did not know what Chi Sau was and we came across two people in a park doing it what would we think?

Are they playing?

Are they dancing?

Are they fighting?

As Wing Chun people it is almost impossible to see anything Wing Chun from a non Wing Chun perspective, even in our minds eye, so let us say we think they are fighting.

Are they using a striking art or are they using a grappling art? 

 

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WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: IS CHI SAU JUST A GAME TO BUILD SPIRIT?

It is my belief that the way most people play Chi Sau {my Sifu Jim Fung would refer to it as Hong Kong Sports Chi Sau}, is not in their best interest, I don’t think that it teaches functional skills that can transition into fighting, and that it is totally impractical for dealing with violence.    However I happen to think that Wing Chun is really clever so why do we have it?  Why do we have Chi Sau?

Let’s take a side step for a minute, many Martial Artists students attach elevated importance to the unarmed combat styles that various countries militaries adopt, the U.S. Marines practice Brazilian Ju Jitsu, the Israeli Defence Force uses Krav Maga, the  Red Army uses Systema and the implication is that these styles are chosen because they are so deadly. 

But this is far from the case.

Soldiers carry 2 guns, a knife, a flashlight, a tactical pen and usually travel in large groups, even special forces operate in 4, 5 or 6 man teams, and never forget that the Bad Guys all have guns as well, unarmed combat is simply not a consideration.  The reason any military has an unarmed combat program is to help bonding, develop and maintain martial spirit and to keep the guys literally fighting fit, 3 of my Uncles were Royal Marine Commando’s in W.W.2 they all wrestled or boxed in their units, but they only ever shot at the enemy.

Another very important consideration in an armies choice is that the preferred fighting style must deliver bonding, martial spirit and fighting fitness without causing major physical injury, you cannot go into battle with damaged soldiers.  In many ways a martial art style picked by any army is quite unsuited to real self defence.

According to popular history Wing Chun was originally developed and used by the Ming freedom fighters {genuine and active underground political organisations, not a social media group}  trying to undermine the occupying force of the Ching Government, this was a dangerous practice to be involved in so they needed to keep spirits high and fitness levels up because they could be called upon to use their Wing Chun to evade capture, escape or even save their lives at any given minute, this is where Chi Sau fitted in, not as a genuine fighting system but as a means to bond as a group and stay ready to act.

A lot of what people do in Chi Sau flies in the face of Wing Chun Fist Logic, but that is O.K. because Chi Sau is not meant as a component of Wing Chun, it is simply an ancillary exercise, it is only a problem when students depend on it to be more than it was intended for.

If we can see this it becomes clear that polite, social Chi Sau, the kind practiced by most schools, is of little use to any one.

Ramp it up.

 

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