A Big Picture of the Little Idea.



Forms allow us to develop the habit of paying attention to what we are doing so that we gain a deep and wide understanding of that action.


Only 25% of my students have returned after the lockdown, I imagine that this is average as the pandemic wreaks havoc with our old systems.

Despite this climate of social distancing, I have 2 new people just embarking on the journey, 2 new people to explain the “Big Picture” of Wing Chun.

A Big Picture of the Little Idea.


You could ask 10 different teachers and get at least 9 different answers to this question, and that in itself tells us what Forms are for.

Forms are for different things for different people.

Not only that, but our understanding of Forms will change as we progress through our training.

We find that we can use the same Form to explore very different topics using it in very different ways.

Forms are a consistent vehicle we use to measure the level of our understanding against.

Before we go on it is important to understand that there is no such thing as an “Internal” or “External” martial art.

There is only Internal or External training.

Any Martial Art is and can only ever be a Martial Art, a rose by any other name is still a rose.


People who engage in “Internal work” use the Forms as a distraction to help them focus more on moving their Chi, circulating their Chi, being in control of their Chi.

This is not my area of training and I have very limited knowledge of it.

Can it be used for fighting?

Anything can be used for fighting, it depends on the person, but the main aim of Internal training is to develop the Body-ability to meditate.


People that engage in “External work” use Forms to develop more effective movement.

There are many different types of effective movement, always doing a Form the same way will only deliver the same outcome.

Smoothness, connectedness, speed, power, mobility or stability all require a different approach to the same Form.

Westerners have difficulty understanding the Eastern IDEA of “Softness”, especially when we talk about powerful or strong softness.

Forms offer a way to explore this.

We should be balanced and ask the same question here…

Can it be used for fighting?

Anything can be used for fighting, it depends on the person, training the physical side will not guarantee fighting prowess.

Another very important aside that we must consider is that there is an element of “External” training that frequently gets confused as “Internal” training.

That is what today is referred to as being in a flow state, focusing on the moment, being in the zone.

Internal work is ultimately aiming at enlightenment through the teaching of the Buddha, through stillness and meditation.

To empty the mind.

Flow state is something that we can suddenly fall into while single-mindedly involved in an activity.

To be so consumed by we are doing it fills the mind.

Being in the zone, ‘flow state’ is spontaneous and not capable of being trained.

However, the better we are at something the higher the chance of falling into ‘flow state’, being in the moment.

Forms allow us to develop the habit of paying attention to what we are doing so that we gain a deep and wide understanding of that action.


Forms can be callisthenics that exist solely to prepare the body to move in a particular way.

A skilled and intelligent movement practice that allows us to work on the shapes that we are going to need to access in any of the diverse ways that we will call upon our body to use what we refer to as Wing Chun.

From warming up to flat out fighting to save our lives, the actions we may use and depend upon so we would do well to understand these moves.

Forms can also be remedial bodywork.

If we look at the “B” Section of Wing Chun’s First Form we have a set of exercises that are perfect for resolving impingement of the shoulders.

The opening of the Yi Chi Kim Yeung Ma is a suitable movement for resolving impingement of the hips.

The Chum Kiu and Biu Gee Forms develop balance through the stability of stances and mobility {the opposite of stability} through weight shifting and explore the whole gamut of perambulation.

But where are the steak knives?

Oh yes, doing the Forms provides maintenance of the soft tissue system to improve the overall health of essential joints, and eliminates the potential for motor control problems that happen when the wrong part is in the wrong place trying to do the wrong thing.


Why do we perform them so slowly and so often?

The main reason is not one of memory retention but rather an active survey to see if we have any holes in the movement, just like athletes and weight lifters any ‘holes’ in these movement sets will invariably lead to failure and by extension injury.

If we can look at all of the Forms collectively we see an integrated system where we modulate through all ranges of motion on all 3 planes with full extension and rotation options explored.

Forms can be looked at as very gentle Crossfit.

Getting bag for our buck.

Simplify what we think is important and what we need to do to support those things.

As always, deconstruct – reconstruct.

For example; extending to the Tan Sau position from the first Form while acting out a single rear step from the Chum Kiu, while rotating the torso from Biu Gee.

Reset and reverse, step forward, pose Tan Sau and rotate.

Rinse and repeat.

If you are a senior student you are more than likely thinking.. “but wait, that is just the Bart Cham Dao”, which of course it is.

This approach makes it so that we can understand what it is we are trying to learn/program in a couple of years as opposed to decades.

This is in no way a shortcut, understanding anything fully, our job or our Martial Art takes the best part of a lifetime, but we can understand all the components that make up our job or Martial Art in a surprisingly short time and then dig in at our leisure.

I ask again…















Hong Kong and Taiwan’s versions of Chinese history may not be quite as false as the C.C.Ps but they are just as far off the mark.


Over the past 50 years, I have read numerous books and article on how successive Chinese governments, in the wake of the disastrous ‘Boxer Rebellion’ 1899 – 1901 {so-called due to the fact that it expanded out from Kung Fu Schools}, began systematically changing China’s self-image, its belief systems and political ideologies.

Their favourite method was to re-write history.

Firstly with the nationalists, the K.M.T. and then later with the Chinese Communist Party.

Growing up in the west through the 60s the NEWS was constantly calling China out for the destruction of Temples, the burning of records, in short, the ‘re-education’ policies that essentially gave non-party members the choice of ‘Change or Die’.

Many did just that, and sadly so did historical truth.

Due to this, trying to gather accurate historic information about any style of Kung Fu is difficult bordering on possible.

I do realise that there is a lot of documented so-called historic information out there but we must take all of this with a pinch of salt.

Re-written means just that, re-written.

As Martial Artists we are well aware that the C.C.P. removed all of the ‘Fighting Aspects’ out of Kung Fu and replaced them with movement patterns from ballet and acrobatics and relabeled it Wushu, and then invented/reinvented the modern IDEA of Qigong, here is a link to an interesting article make of it what you wish.

Chairman Mao was well aware that the Tong system, something he saw as akin to a cult or at least a secret society, that allowed the Boxers {Kung Fu organisations as secret societies} to organise and combine to fight the Europeans would be a real threat to his hold on the people and banned all ‘Tongs’ and all meetings with regards to these organisations.

There are those in the M.A. community that claim this is why Hong Kong and Taiwan are the true centres of Kung Fu, but it was the Nationalists, the K.M.T. that began this transformation and re-writing of history and it was these same K.M.T. and Nationalists that fled to Hong Kong and Taiwan after the Civil War taking their ideas of the New China with them.

Hong Kong and Taiwan’s versions of Chinese history may not be quite as false as the C.C.Ps but they are just as far off the mark.

Where does leave us, westerners, when we wish to know where our style comes from and why it was created in the first place because it is only by knowing the answer to these two questions that we can truly understand what we do.

One thing we can look at is the history of China as recorded by the Europeans that traded with China, I am not saying for one minute that these are of any more accurate because to be expected they were observed through the lens of European agenda, and measured by European values.

The picture that those histories paint is relatively accurate when it comes to the general mood of the people and the way society interacted, the very thing we wish to know about as Martial Artists.

From 1600 up to 1960 there was an almost constant state of Militaristic conflict, province against province, village against village, ethnicity against ethnicity, religion against religion.

Violence was everywhere and every day, shortage of food was a constant cause of this violence, squabbles over the rightful ownership of fertile land escalated into full-blown conflicts so often that villages had their private militias, the problem was so widespread that temples had warrior monks and no one travelled without highly trained and armed caravan guards.

Politics aside hundreds of years of violence created a country where defending yourself and your property was as essential as breathing, every man in every village was armed to the teeth and ready to rumble at the first sign of trouble.

Except for that guy, the Kung Fu guy.

Why do we think this guy was fighting un-armed when even the monks used weapons?

As a thought exercise, this can be an interesting question.

Had he lost his weapon?

Had he been disarmed?

Was he caught out at a place that he considered safe and as such was unarmed?

As interesting as this is something that this line of thinking misses is that if Mr.K. Fu is unarmed his attacker is unlikely to be.

Empty hand styles did not materialise so that people could engage in a game of ‘fisty cuffs’, they came about as a way to deal with an armed assailant when you were for some reason unarmed.

If we look at how Kung Fu, and from my perspective Wing Chun, interacts with an attacker it makes more sense once we add a weapon to the scenario, Chi Sau looks more like a way of disarming or controlling a weapon arm than just a sensitivity exercise and it shines a fresh light on our stances, guards and footwork.

It also ends once and for all the Kung Fu v M.M.A. argument which I will go into later, but for now, these are just my musings, I have no way to prove any of this but it feels a great deal more “REAL” than most of the accepted history.








 it is we will have to work with when the ‘Brown gets Airbourne’.

I am posting this video not to have a dig at the gentleman involved, but rather to shine a light into a dark corner.

I first put it up on my Clubs Facebook page, I know that a good many senior Wing Chun people, even Instructors with their own schools visit this page so I was hoping to start a genuine conversation.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Only one Instructor approached it critically and serious by firstly pointing out that the guy was way out of his depth just by being in the ring.

Gdonya Snowy!!!

Apart from that, it was the usual drivel.

I have one friend, who is also an Instructor, who claimed…

“I just get so bored by these videos”

…which is such a ‘sad and sorry’ thing to say.

How can anyone be “So Bored” by something that validates everything that we say and claim about Wing Chun, something that clearly shows what can happen when you cannot access the intelligence of our Fist Logic, something that on so many levels proves us right when we tell the haters to ‘go eat a dick’.

His comment was, to be expected, followed up with the default Wing Chun position of “Wing Chun is not intended for use in the Ring or Cage”!

Such a mountain of Bullshit it made my eyes water.

Watch some of Bas Rutten Pancrase fights {the forerunner of today’s M.M.A. but with fewer rules} where he just ‘Bitch Slaps’ the shit out of his opponents.

How does a “Bitch Slap” become more fit for purpose than the whole of Wing Chun?

If what you do can transfer force and deliver pain it is well and truly fit for purpose in the Ring or Cage.

But there is something in the Wing Chun Universe that is not fit for purpose in the Ring or Cage, and that, of course, is most of the worlds Wing Chun players, including “Yours Truly”!

Most of us are not fit enough, not fast enough, not robust enough and have little if any of the attitude it takes to engage someone ‘Mano e Mano’.

Why pretend otherwise?

We should embrace this and structure our expectations accordingly because…

“it is what it is’!

And it is we will have to work with when the ‘Brown gets Airbourne’.

Just before the “Lockdown”, I organised a sparring session with a local Karate School, I worked with my guys for about a month on how to spar with someone other than a fellow W.C. guy, what to look out for against a Karate player, how to use what they knew, how to use the things I had shown them, we worked hard and we were as prepared as we could have been.

When my guys started sparring there was no Wing Chun or at least none that I recognised.

At first, they would not believe me, but in the debrief they realised I was speaking the truth, but I was still really proud of them, they did as well if not better than I expected.

Been there, done that!

When I was a young boxer my coach would ask me after a fight “why did you not use what worked on for so long”?

I always thought that I had and that he was just a hard arse.

Go figure.

When we watch these videos, and we should, we should watch them all and watch them many times, we should give our Martial Arts cousin well deserved respect, understand that he is our equal, a fellow Priest of Mars kneeling at the same altar, dancing the same dance, singing the same song.

“Do we really think that this is what he trained for”?

“Do we really believe that this is what he wanted to do”?

We should not just slag the shit out of him, like ourselves he is digging a deep and lonely furrow.

One thing I think about this particular W.C. Master to some of the other W.C. Masters that found themselves in the same place is that this man took it to his opponent, he gave it ‘as good go as he could’, I just think that he was overwhelmed by the experience lack of ring experience, global video audience and all that crazy stuff and not necessarily the fight itself.





The commentary in this video is spot on in places, he talks about the Wing Chun Man losing his shape in the clinch, as we all know the final move in Biu Gee, the 3 Bows to Buddha, would not only get him back into a good shape but help him to a position that he could easily have won from.

As a Master level Tactician, he would surely know this, but that is the thing, knowing may be good, but doing is better..

Would we fare any better?

Personally, I do not think so, I would imagine that he will watch this video and weep.

We should approach these videos with respect and understanding.

If we are honest there is much we can learn from them.

All of these guys must have thought that they had a chance, why be involved if not, I also expect that they trained hard to get ready for the fight, harder than most Wing Chun Hobbyist does.

Which means they would be better prepared at that time than we are right here right now if we went out and got in strife.

This could so easily be us, so what should we be working on to do our best to not be ‘that Guy’?







I have Boxed, and I have raced Bicycles, looking back I was training the wrong thing all along.


If you came into my studio and hopped on my computer you would find anywhere from 8 to 28 articles in progress, writing down my thoughts and opinions are part of my training, they are how I try to push the envelope and expand my universe.

They are also my biggest tool toward attaining honesty.

When I am writing I just throw it all down, frequently these observations are extremely one-eyed, opinionated and I do nothing to filter this out.

At least not there and then.

I leave them for a few days and then come back to them with the metric of “do I believe this piece of writing, is it simple, clear and above all honest”?

Then I begin editing.

WHY ARE WE TRAINING has been ongoing for as long as I can remember, it has so many bifurcations that it is just not possible to keep it going in a straight line.

Why are you training?

Do you know?

Do you have objectives, genuine goals that you are striving for?

Do you know what the key ingredient is for your success?

Are you working to attain it?

As I get older, as I look back on 67 years of experience there are only a few things that ‘really’ stick out.

There were some things that I became almost obsessed with that just faded away and in retrospect, I understand why.

I was following the wrong breadcrumbs.

Experience is a great teacher.

No matter how old you are you have a wealth of experience that is pertinent to you.

COVID is making us all part-time philosophers so do it.


This is a little unrelated but perhaps something to think about.

After winning the 1986 Tour de France, Greg LeMond was asked…

Q. “What do you think was the main reason you won”?

A. I can hurt more than anyone else”.


Greg LeMond did not train to ride a bike, he trained to accept pain.


I have Boxed, and I have raced Bicycles, looking back I was training the wrong thing all along.







What we look for is what we will find.


How are we going at this strange, strange time, what does our training look like, where is our focus?

I think that many of us are taking a “Deep Dive” into the Forms, if not why not, what else can we do from 1.5 metres away from each other?

Let’s pretend we are all doing this, if only for the sake of this post.

What are we finding on this “Deep Dive”?

I think that by now we all understand that ‘what we find’ depends very much on ‘what we look for’.

So perhaps I should ask ‘what are we looking for and how do we approach the Form to find it’?

If we approach the Form to simply validate what we already know are we genuinely learning anything?

If we are it is certainly not anything new.

Looking at the Form in the same way as we have always seen it, the way we were taught it by our teachers turns it into nothing more than a record of our teachers thinking and as good as that may well be it is not our own thinking.

It may be a great place to start the journey from, but is it the best destination we can hope for?

Surely the goal for all of us, as it was for those that preceded us, is to transcend our teacher’s instruction, to cut the cloth in a way that fits us as individuals and not just try to walk around in another man’s clothes.

When taking a ‘Deep Dive’ into the Form {and by ‘the Form’ I am referring to the first three Forms looked at as one} there are a couple of caveats that we should keep front and centre, never ignore.

  1. Wing Chun Forms are not ‘Shadow Boxing’ Forms.
  2. The movement sequence of the Form is not important.

Caveat #1. Wing Chun Forms are not ‘Shadow Boxing’ Forms… Nothing at all in the Forms has a predetermined reason for being, a raison d’etre. A certain move may look like a Leg Sweep or an Elbow Strike, it may even be able to fulfil that task, but that is not the intention. Once we assign a specific job to any action from the Form we will not be able to see it as anything else, this reduces our options of how to use that particular piece of the puzzle, this is not how to get the best value from a concept.

Caveat #2. The movement sequence of the Form is not important The shape, sequence or patterns that we might see inside the Forms, up/down, forwards/backwards, left/right or whatever are non-existent manifestations that our brain creates to deal with the chaos of the world around us. There is no relevancy to the sequence, it is simply an aid to memory, a way of securing the information so that it does not get forgotten. There is no practical reason for any particular move to follow or precede any other move.

What we look for is what we will find.

If we are looking for answers we have a much better chance of a successful outcome if we ask simple, clear and concise questions of the Form.

If we are doing the Form and not asking questions it may be a very long wait for any kind of answer.

This is not about right or wrong, it is simply a method to find out certain things that we can, later on, decide for ourselves if they are right or wrong.

Question suggestions.

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Balance?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Dexterity?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Range of Motion?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Weight Shifting?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Dynamic Movement?

Many such questions will overlap, mostly reinforcing each other but occasionally contradicting each other.

It is these overlapping junctions that offer the most fertile ground to grow new IDEAs.

Spend some time there, camp out, dig in.

Fighting and Self-Defence may be looked at as two sides of the same coin but in reality, they are totally unalike, they require different approaches and different thinking.

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Fighting?

How does the Form answer us when we ask about Self-Defence?

There is no predetermined “Right Answer” to any of these questions, we are involved in exploration, not explanation.

Ultimately our answers, our final outcome, will depend on how far along the path to honesty we have progressed.


How does a Form answer us when we ask about surviving a violent encounter?

How does an Alphabet answer us when we ask about writing a novel?

How does a Music Scale answer us when we ask about creating a melody?



The clips in the video are taken from a normal Saturday training session, nothing was pre-planned, there were no do-overs or double-takes we just shot it ‘on the fly’.

When we do this the result is frequently a little long-winded, sometimes circuitous and maybe even a bit vague, and let’s not even start on the framing.

But the information is in there, some really good information if you have the eyes to see it and the mind to understand it.










We need to learn things that we can use today.


Though Sydney has opened up after the worst of the pandemic things are slow, quite a number of people are playing it safe and have not yet returned to training and to complicate things when they get here it does not resemble the training we were doing before the shutdown.

Teaching during this post lockdown time is taking all of us in unexpected directions, it is forcing us to think more and believe less.

This post is a thought exercise, well at least I think it is.

A quite surprising, at least to me, turn of events are that there are people that I know, who practice a style of Wing Chun that I do not believe is a working, practical Martial Art, who are suddenly interested in the reality of violence.


‘believe less’.

The three most important questions to ask if we hope to get a complete understanding of what we do are ‘WHY, WHERE and HOW‘ in that order.

Recently a couple of my students asked if we could dedicate a complete class, 2 hours, to kicking, no Forms, no drills, no Chi Sau.

No veg, no potatoes.

Just MEAT.

Just kicking.

I believe that if my students think they need to learn something in particular then I need to teach it to them, irrespective of their level of skill or where what they want to do sits in the system.

As well documented I teach a practical approach to Wing Chun, physical, not internal, so I take situations such as this seriously, we are talking genuine self-defence.

Get it wrong, get hurt.

These training events begin with me asking…

“Why do you think you will need to use this”?

Nothing goes ahead until this conversation takes place until opinions have been voiced and positions established.

Beyond a doubt, this is the most important, even a critical aspect of how we interface with our training, without this I do not think we can hope to achieve our training objective.

Not only does this question, or more accurately the answer to this question help us navigate our training but it also shines a light on our deepest and most personal thinking.

In my experience very few students, practically zero, in fact, have a plausible reason.

Mostly the answer comes around to some variation of ‘in case I ever need it’.

Their concerns are based on an irrational fear of a non-existent problem and not on real and present danger, everyone is learning things to ‘maybe’ use in the future.

I get it, we all think that shit can happen down the line, but shit could also happen tomorrow, we need a much narrower focus if we hope to deal with whatever tomorrow or beyond may throw at us.

We need to learn things that we can use today.

For the sake of brevity, clarity and to cover in advance all possible bases as we revisit the question, we could paraphrase it as…

‘why would we need to use violence’?

To work through this we would do well to have a scenario that contains at least a locally possible, genuine incidence of violence.

This approach should eliminate the “what if” type of question especially if the subject matter is driven by the students and not the school/business.

If the student has no personal experience with ‘street violence’ where does that scenario come from?

This becomes even more complicated and perilous when the Instructor has no personal experience of street violence, and there are many.

Why this approach?

Understanding the attack will dictate our response, and in doing so guide our training down a specific path.

If informed by genuine experience, while still imaginary, these training events are completely possible and have valuable learning outcomes.

“Only spend time learning things you genuinely believe that you will use”.

Fantasy techniques and spiritual influences have no place in a violent situation.

Why does that statement make me think of this one?


‘Never take a knife to a gunfight’.


To my guys, think about this and bring it up next time we are in each others company.

To guests of this blog, please feel free to engage in this conversation.









‘Sinking and Rising’ are not methods in and of themselves, rather they are ways to improve things we already know and trust.


This is a follow up to Saturday mornings training with Sam, Costas and George, something to help it all sink in [no pun intended].

Sinking and Rising is not bobbing up and down, it is not ‘ducking and weaving’ although if you watch early Mike Tyson you can see how he incorporated it, it is not accidental it is deliberate and purposeful.


The answer is two-fold…

  1. We sink so as to deliberately apply bodyweight to any defensive structure.
  2. We sink to enable us to Rise Up.



Again we have a two-fold answer…

  1. We rise to uproot an opponent and take his stability.
  2. We rise to increase the power of our attack.

‘Sinking and Rising’ are not methods in and of themselves, rather they are ways to improve things we already know and trust.









Simultaneous attack and defence is Wing Chun’s version of the “Schroedinger’s Cat” paradox.


Training is very different due to COVID 19 and the ensuing restrictions such as social distancing and limited personal contact, but as strange as things are I genuinely believe that looking back in a few years time the people that stayed engaged with their training will see this period as a great leap forwards.

At the moment our training has more words in it than kicks and punches.

Words are the tool we use to paint pictures in our mind that our brain relaxes in front of and studies.

These pictures can be fine, accurate and detailed, or they can be vague, abstract and suggestive but either way, it is up to each of us to return to them, again and again, to see if there is anything more we can glean from them.

I make an annual sojourn to the National Gallery down in Canberra to spend some time sitting in front of the Jackson Pollock artwork “Blue Poles”.

When I leave the gallery the world is a different place, or more accurately I am a different person.

Art changes how we view the natural world, a Martial Art changes how we view the martial world.

Geof Koons said that Art manifests in the fuzzy space between the artwork and the observer.

Accordingly, a Martial Art manifests in the fuzzy space between the attacker and the defender?

Simultaneous attack and defence is Wing Chun’s version of the  “Schroedinger’s Cat” paradox.

It only exists in the box we call drills such as Chi Sau, 4 corners and the like.

Once we open the box and reality presents itself it becomes one or the other.

It can never be both.

As a concept, SA&D is a powerful tool to dig deeper into what we do and how we do it, but it is just a concept.

We have been spending the last few weeks exploring the dubious world of attacking and defending, or as we like to think of it, issuing and accepting force.

The final analysis is that it is a myth.



This is not doom and gloom in any shape or form, as per usual we can find equivalencies in sport.

There are Table Tennis players that are described as aggressive and then there are Table Tennis players that are described as defensive, defensive players win by returning/using their opponents force not by creating/using force.

As we all know Wing Chun is a concept-driven Martial Art, having more time to ponder these concepts can never be a bad thing.

The issue is always language.

Or how we perceive language, and by extension communication.

Which of course aligns with how we perceive concepts.

The concept changes completely if we simply change the position of the words without changing the words themselves.

Issue the force.

Force the issue.

Very different stories.

Simultaneous attack and defence.

Simultaneous defence and attack.

Very different stories.

Accept force and issue force.

Let’s play with this and see where it takes us.










This semi-lockdown period is a perfect time to challenge ourselves, a time to step into the dark corners of what we do.

To seriously think about the unthinkable, and prepare ourselves for the one thing we all would rather not face.

Thinking about violence is not easy, it is uncomfortable and more than a little alien.

To a very large extent our training is non-violent, this raises some questions such as ‘Can there ever be an equivalence for violence in a non-violent setting’?

We need to find a way forward and the only way forward is through understanding much more than training.

All training is task-specific, what are we training for?

To be able to maximise our training to accomplish the task of responding to violence we need to have some IDEA about violence, how it happens, where it could happen and who is likely to cause it.

We do well to use our imagination to create templates of the kind of people we think we may be facing.

Facing a tall person requires a different approach than a short person, different techniques to provide answers to different questions posed by this person, the same goes with heavy or light people, fast or slow people, kickers, grapplers or any other stylistic method.

Thinking that a one size fits all approach can work requires a deep, deep understanding of what our training has taught us.

And a big bag of luck.

We should engage in the mental exercise of “Who will we be fighting” in this way we can form the basis of a plan that we can enact instantaneously the moment something happens and not be left like a Deer in the headlights.

There is another important aspect, a possibly more important aspect to be considered, and that is who will be doing the fighting?




Something I know from experience is that the body and mind that we inhabit during training is nothing like the one we will inhabit in a violent encounter, even in a Boxing or Judo Match everything changes, been there, done that.

There is a lot of talk in the Martial Arts about remaining calm, controlling our breathing, staying focused on the task at hand, all essential if we hope to get out in one piece but does our training give us any idea how to do this?

In my opinion, Traditional Martial Arts do not.

Do we have any clue as to how our body will react if we get hit in the face? When it happens in training everyone stops what they are doing to see if we are O.K. In a Street Situation, this is usually just the first shot of a barrage.

Will we be able to pull off our smooth moves as our heart rate hits the accelerator?

Here is a snippet from an article by Rory Miller, a man well worth listening to.

 “Note that this is a hormone-induced increase in heart rate. BPM increases caused by other things, such as aerobic workouts will not have the same effect. Also, be aware that a hormonal jump in heart rate can be almost instantaneous.

Here are the rules of chemical fear:

If you get scared enough that your heart rate goes over about 115 BPM, you will start to lose your fine motor skills. That means your precision grabs and locks are gone.

About 155 BPM, complex motor skills deteriorate- you lose your patterns, combinations, traps and sweeps.

About 175BPM, planning and thinking are severely compromised. You lose your near vision, peripheral vision and depth perception. Your hearing will deaden or be lost.

Above 175, if there is anything in your bladder, you will lose it. Most will freeze or curl up in a ball and wait for mommy to save them. Only the grossest of physical activity is possible- running and flailing.

In short, the more desperately you need your skills, the less you will be able to rely on them. If you ever hear or say or think, “If it was for real, I’d do better” know that it is a lie. When it is for real, you will do much, much worse than in practice. The belief that people improve under stress is a myth.”


Here is a link to the article… LINK 

It is well worth reading.

This passage should be taken to heart.

Note that this is a hormone-induced increase in heart rate. BPM increases caused by other things, such as aerobic workouts will not have the same effect. Also, be aware that a hormonal jump in heart rate can be almost instantaneous.

No amount of S.L.T. can control our hormones.





Knowing what we are doing is the first step to being able to use what we know.


One thing that is becoming very clear to me as we reopen for training is that so many Wing Chun Students, including some Senior Instructors, have a remarkably poor IDEA of what violence is.

This really is a serious worry because the only aim of Wing Chun is to deal with violence that is being acted out upon us, if we do not understand the nature of violence how can we ever hope to train to survive it?

Yes, due to COVID 19 these are difficult times, changes need to be made and adhered to, but what changes?

Even a complete idiot would tell you that you cannot teach a counter-attacking Close-Quarter Martial Art from a distance of 1.5M.

At this time practical Wing Chun must take a back seat, our focus should be on understanding the environment of violence, understanding the ‘mindset’ that leads to violence, and of the utmost importance the mindset needed to deal with violence, without this there is no Wing Chun.

I will expand on this over the next few posts and hopefully offer suggestions to take us forwards.

Even from 1.5M.


Let’s start here with an approach to attitude, and what it takes to develop the right type.


As Martial Artists, even if we are just a bit half-arsed, we all trust our training, and expect it to work if and when needed.

But what do we really expect the outcome of our training to be, do we even know?

For instance what ‘BOX’ does it live in?

From a biophysical standpoint, training is training, there is no difference between training to play a sport or training to defend ourselves from violence.

I personally find that my training fits perfectly in the all-round General Sports Box.

But so many of my Martial Arts friends and associates rail against this opinion.


Kung Fu is kick ass man, sport is just sport.


I believe that to become functionally effective it is, in fact, more beneficial to approach our training from a sports perspective, to embrace and include modern sports science, if for no other reason than to foster a lesser involvement of the Ego.

We are less likely to respond to a situational question with ‘I will just step in and hit him’, which we may well do in reality, but we cannot train for that.

Especially from 1.5Mtrs away.

All training is task-specific, it just is.

So what specific task is what we are doing preparing us for?

Is it enough?

Is it too much?

Is it just right?

Anyone with a schoolboys experience of sport is well aware that before playing we go through a routine using the same movements and actions as we may use in the game at an easier, softer, slower level of participation.

This allows the body to prepare itself for the greater demands to come.

We all know this as the ‘Warm-up’.

Anyone that has undertaken training to improve their sports capability knows that here as well we do similar movements and actions as we may use in the game but this time under increasing load.

Increasing weight, resistance and speed.

This brings about an overall physical improvement, this is the ‘Training Effect’.

The ‘Training Effect’ helps us to develop a higher power output for a lower effort input, hence the maxim ‘Train Hard, Play Easy’.

This also indicates that the environment we expect to use these skills, to be operationally effective in, is considerably more involved than a ‘Warm Up” but not as full-on as “Heavy Training”.

Traditionally in Chinese Martial Arts both the ‘Warm-up’ and the “Heavy Training” fall under the banner of Chi Kung while the operational aspect is, of course, Kung Fu.

On the face of it, Wing Chun does not have a Chi Kung component, everything is useable Kung Fu.

Sadly this is just spin, marketing, selling less for more.

How can we tell the difference between Chi Kung and Kung Fu in our Wing Chun training?

This a great deal more simple than you may imagine, and Simplicity is one of the central pillars of our ‘Fist Logic’.

If whatever it is we do is not aligned with our ‘Fist Logic’ it is not Wing Chun.

Similar is not the same.

Close, but no cigar.

The absolute ‘Central Pillar’ of our Fist logic is ‘Practicality’.

I have said elsewhere that there are only 2 important aspects to using Wing Chun effectively.

  1. We must not get hit.
  2. We must be able to accurately and powerfully hit our opponent.

If we defending against a genuine attack that is genuinely meant to harm us we are using Kung Fu.

If we are hitting our opponent with full focus and total commitment to finish this right here, right now we are using Kung Fu.

Everything else is Chi Kung.

This is not a bad thing, this is in no way a negative, it is in-fact an absolute and dynamic positive.

Knowing what we are doing is the first step to being able to use what we know.

The big test, the real goal in all of our training is to not allow our Ego to coax us into self-delusion, this starts with being honest about our training, what it is, what it can do for us but most importantly…