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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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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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Only a fool would think that in a violent exchange they are not going to get hit.



What makes any M.A, effective is its ability to navigate the Mobility – Stability Matrix in a fluid and rapidly evolving situation.  In general most Wing Chun training focuses on stability, but we really should question what  value should we place on stability in a violent environment that is more than just mobile it is fluid?

There is no doubt that we can be more effective and transfer body weight more efficiently from a stable position, a stable base, but what is the chance of us maintaining that stable base in the midst of the storm that is a street attack?

The Chum Kiu, which teaches how to move in a way that returns us to stability, or to be more accurate better stability,  is by far the most important Form to understand if you are training Wing Chun to genuinely deal with an attacker, but even Chum Kiu does little to teach us how to deal with the momentum of an attacker that is moving very dynamically. In fact it is not until the Knives Form that we come across movement that combines rotation and shifting that we are genuinely learning how to deal with dynamic momentum.

In early Wing Chun training a  great deal of time and energy is spent developing a strong and stable stance, a solid stance is looked upon as a perfect stance, having the ability to not be moved let alone pushed over is looked upon as being a high level of skill, and under the right conditions it most certainly is, as I have already mentioned body weight transfer is far more effective when a body is still and stable, well balanced stable, but body weight transfer does not discriminate against who is moving and who is not moving, that perfect stance allows any attackers strike that we fail to stop to be even more powerful, we add all of our own unmoving body mass to the strike it is just inertia and the conservation of momentum, the physics of collision.

Only a fool would think that in a violent exchange they are not going to get hit.

It is not the training that I think needs to be brought into question but the implied recommendations that come with that type of training, namely that stability is preferred to mobility.

In a perfect Wing Chun world we would indeed just stand there in the Y.C.K.Y.M and knock people out that tried to attack us, the thing is that our nervous system will be unwilling to allow us to just stand there in the face of a real and present danger, we will move before we think, once we move we are no longer doing stand still Wing Chun, we are no longer working in the environment we have been training for.  We all hope that in a time of crisis we would automatically adapt our training, but what this means is that we expect to use it in a completely different way, time and place to what we have done up to this date through our years of training, in reality we are hoping that we will do something radically different.

If we genuinely hope to do something different than what we have trained, if we pin our survival on doing something different than what we have trained, then would it not make sense to train something different?

And I do mean train something different, and not just try to train the same thing differently.  It does not matter where it comes from body movement is always and only body movement, it is how we use it that makes it Wing Chun.

Chum Kiu teaches us how to re-establish stability from an unstable situation, to a large extent it is about stopping, but how can we hope to understand how to stop effectively if we do not know how to move effectively, they are two sides of the same coin.

There are methods inside the Forms, they are broken down and isolated in the Chum Kiu and Biu Gee, they are not presented as a complete package until the 5th and 6th Forms, even then they are subtle and often overlooked or just plain missed, what we need are bigger circles, grosser movements that are easier to identify, but this “bigger, grosser” IDEA flies in the face of Wing Chun thinking so we need to take something from outside of Wing Chun to prevent contradiction and personal mental crisis.

Never forget that a circle is a shape and not a size, train large until you understand it then make it smaller and smaller.


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Mind Force is the rallying call of the new age Wing Chun.


When I joined my Sifu’s school in 1992 there was around 30 established Instructors / Senior Students, 10 years later as I started to study Biu Gee {what was referred to there as level 3}, there were only 6 senior students ahead of me, and a few years later that became 5 and then 4.  Some left because life got in the way but many left because they lost faith in Wing Chun. The last 2 to leave I knew really quite well as they had been instrumental in my training, they where both early 30’s when they left, both had exceptional skills and were fit strong men, so what happened?

It turned out that they had been sparring with some friends that did B.J.J. and they got flogged so they gave up Wing Chun and took up B.J.J. they came to the conclusion that B.J.J. was a more effective Martial Art if you actually needed to fight.

Is it really?

Do we think so?

I do not think B.J.J. is a better Martial Art, I believe that all Martial Arts are equal it is the man that makes the difference, but I think I do know why they thought it was.

Too much Siu Lim Tao.

Too much Yee Chee Kim Yeung Mah

Too much grind, grind, chug, chug Chi Sau.

Too much trying to “Relax”.

There is a {small} place for this approach to training but when it becomes the only approach it develops a lazy and inflexible mind, what defeated them was not B.J.J. per se but dynamic and flexible thinking that comes from setting and solving problems in real time, what defeated them was an open mind to the event that was unfolding and a strong resolve to persevere, what defeated them was that B.J.J. teaches people how to optimise there intention whereas mainstream Wing Chun only talks about it.

All training is task specific, but so often in Wing Chun training “the task” is not fighting, here in Australia more and more Wing Chun students are training what they refer to as the internal aspect of Wing Chun, trying to raise Nim Lik or Mind Force, what they are not learning is how to take a punch or how to hurt people, they are not learning how to optimise their intention.

Mind Force is the rallying call of the new age Wing Chun.

When I hear people talking of Mind Force or Nim Lik in the context of any style of Kung Fu all I can think of is that history is beginning to repeat itself.

In China, in the summer of 1900, the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, made up of many of the best Kung Fu Masters of the era, walked steadfastly towards the European guns surrounding the foreign legation buildings in Beijing, confident that their Iron Shirt, Chi, Nim Lik, Mind Force or what ever you wish to call it would repel the invaders bullets.

It didn’t.

They died.

No Europeans were surprised.

Minds, even forceful ones, are made for thinking, it is bodies we need for fighting. 

In a violent situation a rigid body under the control of a flexible mind will always destroy a flexible body with a rigid mind.