Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: TWO OF EACH,NOT JUST ONE.

A BIG word in Wing Chun is Centreline what pattern are we superimposing with this IDEA?

Words are important, they are how we describe what we perceive as reality to ourselves, words are how we approach abstract concepts, how we manifest IDEAS and voice our thoughts, if we are using the wrong word or just using the a word the wrong way we are describing our reality in a way that is not happening.

The human Brain is a self organising pattern maker that dislikes chaos so much that it actively creates non existing patterns from it, this is what allows us to make our way through difficult aspects of life, but the patterns it makes are not real,  we only think they are, once the brain creates a pattern that works it will always choose this pattern, the brain superimposes this pattern over everything we experience, it makes sense to us and it obviously works because we are still here.

The fact that the pattern works is not a sign that it is the best or even appropriate pattern, it gets rusted on so we keep using it, because this story is of our brains own making most of us do not have the tools to question it, that’s why we have such high respect those that can, the creatives, the engineers, scientists and artists.

In every training session for the first couple of years we are bombarded with new information, tonnes of it, the thing is our brains can only process four pieces of information at once so we miss most of what we are told and make our pattern from what may well end up to be random IDEAS, there is no way of knowing if we are all picking up the same four pieces of information, chances are we are not, so we are all trying to make the same pattern with different pieces of information which we then superimpose over every similar situation.

A BIG word in Wing Chun is Centreline what pattern are we superimposing with this IDEA?  Is it close to reality?

Centreline is a way of dividing the body into a left side and a right side, it is about ourselves and does not in anyway interact with anything else, it is a frame of reference.  Centreline does not go from ourselves to another person, this is not its function, thinking that a Centreline does go from us to our partner / opponent is using the word in the wrong way, we are misunderstanding the IDEA, we are no longer describing reality. Centreline is simply a way of understanding that our body has two separate sides.

Simultaneous defence and attack is a by-product of Centreline thinking, two independent, individual, separate sides of the body doing two very different things, it is the same process as rubbing our tummy while tapping our head.

The IDEA that gets superimposed by the Y.C.K.Y.M. The Siu Lim Tao and the way most people play Chi Sau is not the best IDEA for a fighting martial art.

Seeing the Y.C.K.Y.M. As a working position leads to a very one dimensional view of Wing Chun, it leads to lazy and inflexible thinking, due to this we come to the idea that there is only one ball and only one triangle formed by both of our arms meeting in the centre, this is of course a misunderstanding, the theories around the ball and the triangle are part of the theory of our defence, in Wing Chun we do not defend with both arms {except for a couple of extreme situations}, so when playing Chi Sau we are maximising our training time by practising simultaneously but independently defensive ideas with both arms, they are not working together.

For some students this concept is difficult to come to terms with.

Accepting that the Y.C.K.Y.M. is the rear leg position of Chum Kiu opens us up to understand that each side of our body does act independently, and of course this is an aspect of Centreline theory, the left deals with the left or the right deals with the right while the other hand strikes out.  Thinking that there is only one ball or only one triangle situated with its central axis on a line from our sternum to our partner / opponent is an idea that gets drummed into us subconsciously by playing Chi Sau in the Y.C.K.Y.M. and that is why most of what we learn here is only really applicable to playing Chi Sau and not of much use for genuine conflict.

Each of our arms, from the shoulder to the wrist {in Biu Gee to the finger tip}, are the diameter or the axis of a ball, 2 arms = 2 balls, each of these balls has the ability to move through 90 degrees on the transverse plane, in other words the axle can point straight out or sideways, this allows for a coverage of 180 degrees using both arms.

Our arms also acts as a side of a triangle with its base angles on our sternum and our shoulder, and just like the balls these triangles can be opened to over 45 degrees on the transverse plane { further sideways positioning if required would be brought about by pivoting} , a very interesting exercise is to perform the Tarn Sau / Tor Sau movement from the S.L.T. by moving Tarn Sau out down the hypotenuse, Tor Sau in and back down the opposite side and then Woo Sau across the adjacent side to get back to the starting position.

 

 

One ball, one triangle thinking has a direct and quite negative ramifications for how we strike, but the main danger is that it creates inflexibility in our thinking.

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

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: IS THERE REALLY SUCH A THING AS A WING CHUN GUARD?

It should be obvious that a style can only have one set guard if it only ever fights against one set style.

I am a martial artist that does Wing Chun, and not a Wing Chun disciple, this allows me the luxury of being able to look at Wing Chun as it is, or at least as I personally see it instead of seeing it as how someone else sees it. Seeing what is really going on instead of seeing what I have been told is going on is important because something that causes a deal of confusion for all of us in Wing Chun is that there is no definitive “Right Answers”, this is the nature of a concept based martial art, that is why it is so important for all of us to continually question the conventional wisdom no matter who the source is, traditional Wing Chun information is significantly outdated compared to what we know today with regards to human movement and how the Human Body works.

Before we look at the misunderstood  Wing Chun Guard position we would do well to understand what a guard position is and what it is trying to achieve.

Any guard position is a precursor to action, a ready position for either attack or defence, if it hopes to be able to choose either option it needs to be neutral in its attitude, it cannot be pressing forwards and it cannot be pulling back.

From a self defence perspective neutral attitude also implies that the guard should not look overtly threatening, as this could escalate an argument into a fight.

No guard positions should compromise balance or obscure vision.

The position of the guard is a place where the hands are equidistant to all of the areas that need to be protected, each style has different defence options and that is why each style has a different guard position. We need to keep all of our bases covered, to be able to reach any base from the guard position in the same amount of time. 

Facing opponents from different styles with different attacks from our own potentially requires different guard positions, known and practiced alternatives that can be performed on the fly, or it needs to be a completely neutral and central position that can be easily and quickly moved to react to any threat.

Does the Wing Chun Guard fit this description?

It should be obvious that a style can only have one set guard if it only ever fights against one set style. The misunderstood version of the Wing Chun Guard is most effective at stopping attacks that come hey diddle diddle, straight down the middle. The one style that favours this type of attack is Wing Chun itself, the Wing Chun Guard is best suited to defend against another Wing Chun fighter.

Is that really who we are training to defend ourselves from?

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: THE UPPER TORSO IN BIU GEE.

Wing Chun is both a Martial Art and a Body System, From the point of view of the Body System the first Form teaches us how to become aware of the joints that control our Arms and how to use them efficiently, the Chum Kiu teaches us upper and lower body co-ordination, teaches us body unity and how to maintain it while moving and the Biu Gee teaches us how to activate and use the muscles of the Torso and Shoulder girdle, how to best manage our muscles for better performance, but it is not just the movements of the Biu Gee Form that this is related to, this is just another aspect of the Little Idea so it relates to everything that has gone before as well., once we understand how to activate the muscles when opening the upper torso we should do it in all Forms, equally when we use our Arms in any Form or application it should be done with the ease of the first Form, only the speed differs, this is how the system works.

Before exploring how to manipulate the shoulder girdle we must open the chest. Opening the upper Torso is a method of improving the overall structure and stability of the upper body, it is a physical stretch that involves the Pectoralis Minor in the chest and the Serratus Anterior in the upper back, the only difficulty in this is becoming aware of them, the easiest way to find them is to take a very deep strong breath and feel what is stretching. Activating the Serratus Anterior allows us to move the Scapula and produces forward pressure to the Arms improving force transmission. Once identified we can manually activate them to open the chest, this should be in a side to side direction and not front to back or up and down, being able to keep these muscles activated while moving the Core is not difficult but it does take time and effort, posing the arms for the flying elbows should be done by this opening of the chest and not with the arms themselves.  Performing Biu Gee without moving the arms is a bit weird but very educational.

There is a bit of a misconception that tension is bad for us in Wing Chun, this is mainly due to the way the English language uses the word “tension”, muscle tension is caused by contraction, this is of course detrimental to the practice of Wing Chun but the tension we are talking about is created by stretching, tension caused by extending a muscle improves everything we do. Think R. Buckminster Fuller and Tensegrity. The structural improvement brought about by opening the chest allows any strain to be taken up by a vast network of muscles instead of it loading the spine.

 

 

An issue we cannot ignore is the role of the mind in using our body, in my Sifu’s school there was a saying “let your mind do the work”, it sounds quite groovy and many people drifted of in all kinds of directions with this, the thing is our mind does not and cannot do the work, only the body can do the work and the body is controlled by the brain, mind is software – brain is hardware.  Since the 1960’s it has been hip to talk about mindfulness and to be expected it is begining to sneak into Martial Arts, in meditation or zen practice mindfulness means to not use the mind, to just experience what is, mindfulness is achieved by “not doing” so it is hard to credit the mind for not doing if it is not doing it.  My Sifu believed in manifesting Mind Force, I am not trying to say that Mind Force does not exist, I personally do not think it does though, and that is the most important thing to consider about the mind, it distorts reality to suit our own personal ideas, prejudices or agendas, it is a filter that is affected by everything we have ever experienced, whatever side we may fall on the fact is that the mind thinks and the brain does, even if Mind Force was real it would need to ask the the brain to carry the work out, and brain uses muscles to do everything, even breathing.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?

 

Articles, Video's, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: VORTEX POWER.

 

Biu Gee is a very physical set of moves, it is approached in a completely different way than the first 2 Forms, it is the hard edge of  Wing Chun training that all too often gets left behind in the name of softness.

In the last post I mentioned that Biu Gee helps us observe the addition of forces, but what is the mechanism that creates these forces that we wish to add?   When we begin Biu Gee training we are often told that the movements create Vortex Power, but what is vortex power and where does it come from?  

Personally I do not like any explanations of Biu Gee that refers to turning the spine, apart from being incredibly simplistic this leads us away from what it is we are really doing, which is of course Core Winding, leads us in the wrong direction, once this added to the misunderstanding around not using strength in Wing Chun it is no surprise that few students are proficient at using Biu Gee under pressure or resistance.

What is Core Winding?

Core Winding is the deliberate and very physical activation of the deep internal muscles of the body, all of the Pelvic Floor muscles, spinal muscles such as the Multifidus, and the Transverse Abdominal, activating these groups does of course kick in all the intermediate muscles of the abdomen and spine as well, relegating the co-ordination of this collection of very powerful muscles to “Turn the Spine” is really not very helpful to a deeper understanding of what we are about, it is far more accurate and far more useful to think that we use muscular force to turn our Trunk or our Torso, the spine is the flexible support for the Trunk / Torso and in no way capable of turning it.

The Spine has 5 sections, the Coccyx, the Sacrum, the Lumbar, the Thoracic and the Cervical but for our purposes the Coccyx and Sacrum can be seen as one, each of the now 4 sections are interconnected to the extent that when we start to turn our waist the muscles in our neck get activated, doing some basic research on how the deep internal muscles work on the spine will greatly improve Biu Gee understanding and practice.

There is an aspect of Biu Gee that is physical conditioning for the muscles that control our spine, performing Biu Gee in the same manner as S.L.T. or Chum Kiu will not deliver this, Biu Gee needs to be pushed so we can condition the muscles, doing Biu Gee should leave you feeling slightly overextended. Just doing the Form is no guarantee that we are exercising the correct muscles, we cannot strengthen muscles that our brain cannot activate, and it cannot activate them if it does not know they exist so firstly we have to find that muscle and wake it up, mental imaging is a vital part of this, the wet towel imaging is really helpful, as we ‘wind’ our Core Muscles they contract and condense in the same way as when we ring a wet cloth, this creates an inward pull, the spiral action of the winding creates progressive acceleration along the spine, this is what is referred to as the Vortex,  the more aware we are of these muscles and the more aggressively we can activate them the more powerful the inward or centripetal pull of the force.

What winds up must also release, I am the first to say that videos are no way to asses the ability of a person, but so many people learn from videos that they cannot be completely ignored or excused, I am yet to see a single Biu Gee video that talks about actively and deliberately releasing the tension that is set up through Core Winding, my own sifu Jim Fung thought the un-winding every bit as important as the winding and he treated them as separate stand alone elements and not just a reverse in direction, without understanding the release, which is of course every bit as physical as the winding, it is almost impossible to come to an understanding of the “left to right – right to left” power line of Biu Gee.

Biu Gee is a very physical set of moves, it is approached in a completely different way than the first 2 Forms, it is the hard edge of  Wing Chun training that all too often gets left behind in the name of softness.

 

 

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: CHI SAU:  INTENTIONS / CONCEPTS.

WHAT WE LEARN IS NOT THE SAME AS WHAT WE USE.

There is a complete suite of mental intentions that we can work on when we play Chi Sau that are of as much if not more importance that rolling arms, however we should not allow ourselves to believe that these are fighting techniques, they are just seed trays for IDEAs, for creativity.

Everything we do requires deliberate intention, without it our Brain may not be able to help our body when needed, it simply will not know what we are trying to achieve.  There are a number of conceptual objectives that can be explored and developed through Chi Sau, most objectives are quite obvious and automatic once they have been identified, some are applied simultaneously even if we are not aware of them but it does benefit us to isolate them and become familiar with the concept.

Asking.  Applying mild pressure to our partner to get an indication of his state of being, relaxed, tense, aware or oblivious, it can be done with the hands or the body.

Running, if too much pressure is detected we can run our own hand away from the pressure to an unguarded area and strike.

Slipping. Similar to running if the pressure is too weak we can literally slip through and strike.

Leading. Deliberately reducing our own pressure to encourage our partner to move to a position we can take advantage of, can be just hands or by body movement.

Borrowing. Using our partners power to move us or spin us into a return strike.  This is the same as leading except initiated by our partner.

Uprooting. Taking our partners balance away not necessarily in an upwards direction. Glide them away.

Sinking. Applying downwards pressure through the bridges by dropping the C. of G.

Evading.  Using Chum Kiu shifting to bodily evade the line of force.

Dissolving. Using Chum Kiu rotation to turn away partners force.

Pushing, Using Chum Kiu rotation and shifting to aggressively expel our partner away. i.e. into a wall.

Dragging. Using Chum Kiu rotation and shifting to aggressively tear our partner out of their stance.

Shocking. A short sharp jolt as a push or pull to create stiffness in our partner.

Ejecting, {waving}. Using Biu Gee floor to arm wave force, Chum Kiu rising with shifting and / or rotating,  along with rapid angle expansion to bring about a dynamic explosion of force.

Swallowing, {vortexing}.   Using Biu Gee core winding,Chum Kiu sinking with shifting and / or rotation, rapid angle contraction to draw partner in.

As I mentioned last post there are many aspects of Chi Sau that only really have value when playing Chi Sau the principal offender being Gor Sau {trapping and light Chi Sau sparring} these are ways of developing the ability to redirect and tie up a partners hands in real time, they differ greatly from school to school but as they are only used against fellow students it is almost irrelevant how you do them. 

There is a quite widely held belief in some schools that Gor Sau is applicable to “Real Fighting”, even though some of the exercises or traps would work in a “Real Fight” why would we ever be in a position to use them?  If we have intercepted a strike with one arm as we always try to we would be striking them with our other arm and not trying to tie them up, if we found it necessary to defend with both arms we would be kicking simultaneously or just throwing the Bad guy away.

Playing Chi Sau is great fun and educational, there is nothing wrong in playing Chi Sau as long as we understand it is only playing.

Below is some footage from our Saturday morning training, Saturday is usually an impromptu workshop of some kind so I  have the camera running just in case we get something good happening Fly on the wall kind of view and then I post it on the Members page, they are a bit rough and ready, only really intended for domestic consumption but they do highlight some of the intentions from Chi Sau.

 

 

 

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?