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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY. STRIKING

All martial arts have a problem keeping students, Wing Chun is the same, 50% of new students do not stay 6 months, a farther 25% do not make 12 months, after 5 years you are lucky if you still have 5% of a particular batch of students, when I reached what in my Sifu’s school was classed as Level 3, Biu Gee level I was told “welcome to the 1% Derek”,  all because of student migration.

While this is just a statistic and of no real value to serious students it does shine a light on why there is such a varied impression of Wing Chun out in the Martial Arts community in general, the majority of people that claim to have knowledge of Wing Chun are forming their opinions on very, very thin information.

Take striking as a point in case, the overwhelming perception is that Wing Chun only uses a straight machine gun punch that goes hey diddle diddle, straight down the middle.

The Sun Punch.

If you have only trained for 6 – 12 months then yes that is all you would of worked on, and for good reason, and that reason has nothing at all to do with the merits of this this particular punch itself.  The reason we work on the Sun Punch so much is that the mechanics for this punch and the theory behind it are consistent through all of our strikes, in truth if you are trying to use the Sun Punch from the typical square position and striking hey diddle diddle on a line from your sternum you are not developing a very good punch at all, it is extremely difficult to create genuine power in the Sun Punch from a square position.

But it is not meant to be used in this way, the training method is to ingrain the theory of all Wing Chun striking, and that theory is …

The hand travels in a straight line from where it is to where it is going, it is not chambered and contact is made inside our shoulder line as close as possible to a target that would be on the end of a line from our centre of mass.  If punching the fist is formed as late as possible and the mechanics use joint extension with no excessive muscular force.

In my experience this explanation is always given to beginners but no one remembers the fine details, there is just too much information in the first few months.

In a fight we will never be square on to the opponent, either our own nervous system will blade us or our opponent will try to move to flank us, because of this Wing Chun striking is designed to be delivered from a bladed position squaring up on contact.

Chum Kiu is the first Form that makes contact with the enemy, delivery is what Chum Kiu teaches. What we teach students at the early stages of training is how the strike lands, not how it is delivered, this is the only important factor in any strike. Unknown to the multitude of past students, or even those that train on their own without decent supervision is that Wing Chun has dozens of strikes, in fact every single move in the Form sets can be used as a defencive posture or a strike.

There is a pattern in the first form known as The Plum Flower Palms, this is a set of 5 Palm Strikes, 1 central just like the sun Punch, 2 from the Shoulder { L& R} and 2 from the Hip, change the Palm to a fist and we have 5 different punches. If we only focus on landing the correct fist, as in lower three knuckles Bong Sau becomes an over hook punch, Tai Sau becomes an upper cut. Then there is the double  arms from “B” section that can be a knife hand, a back hand slap, a forearm or even a punch, a quick note here, one thing to be very aware of, this is not is a side slash, think about it, if we strike out from our own body how can we go sideways?

Exploring the first Form with a view to using everything as an attack can be a real eye opener.

Below is some footage from the Workshop at Bargo, we are a group of guys that think you cannot learn if you are not having fun, it is light hearted but very serious.

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In my school we frequently practice forearm strikes that are in reality just Chum Sau, we slap, forehand and backhand, we use hammer fists, inside and out, we use downward Palm Heel strikes, and each and every one of these actions is found in the first Form if you just spend the time to look for them. Where students get sidetracked is when they do not realise that all delivery is Chum Kiu, all contact is Chum Kiu, we are “Bridging”, the S.L.T. is an introduction to the IDEA, not the IDEA itself.

I often tell my Guys that Wing Chun is not really a Martial; Art and that we do ourselves no favours thinking that it is. It is a Body Method that allows us to make our whole body a weapon that can strike from anywhere to anywhere, once you get what Chum Kiu is about the Sternum line becomes a bicycle wheel that allows you to “Poke with a Spoke”.

 

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT. INTERPRETATION.

WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT REALLY HERE.

As a concept driven Martial Art Wing Chun is really an exploration of the interpretation of the Concept, and not really a study of the Concept itself. This is the reason there are so many differences from school to school, from lineage to lineage.

An Interpretation is nothing more than a representation, but a representation of what?

One of our biggest challenges is to properly interpret the words used to colour in Wing Chun, understanding the idea that the words are trying to represent.

I have a term that I use in training “Allowing our arms to fall to straightness”, I use the word FALL to differentiate from the word and action PUSH, to give an idea that in some way we are not the one straightening the Arm, but of course it is us, we are trying to create and idea that equals “using the least possible amount of force needed to accomplish the task at hand”,  it is shorthand.

But even shorthand needs to be learned and then we confront the issue of what exactly is shorthand?

Since the beginning of human existence when faced with some thing or event that we are unfamiliar with our deep and natural instinct is

 “Is this safe or dangerous”?  

“Will it eat me or can I eat it”?

“Am I lost or do I know where I am”?

We do not really see what is in front of us rather we relate to its relative value to ourselves, we interpret the event through the filter of  value to the self instead of simply experiencing what is.

And once we have developed this vantage point we never change our view.

This is how we survived to this point in time after all, as individuals and as a species.

We have done this forever and as a result we do not really see it, as we evolved and civilisations came and went we acquired different values, social, religious, political ideas that changed what we believed was of  relative value to ourselves and as a result we filter everything through these experiences, basically telling ourselves a story that we wish to hear, a story that does not clash with our pre set convictions.

When I say WE I really do mean WE, all of us.

When I listen to someone telling me something, without meaning to, completely unintentionally I listen for things that fit in with my personal narrative, it is not a conscious decision it is an inherent trait because I am human, so I never really hear what is being said.

Nobody does.

It gets very twilight zone once you realise that the person doing the telling came to the conclusion they are sharing by not listening to the person that told them about it in the first place.

Think about that for a moment.

If we are involved in a tradition that places value on keeping intact information that has been handed down from generations before us this is a problem.

Everything we read, everything we see, everything we hear is from our own pre-conceived vantage point and not a genuine true experience.

If we are teachers we are in all reality passing on something we never actually heard, read or saw and as such do not even know, we are passing on a misrepresentation.

So was everyone that came before us, and so will all those that follow us.

 

Nothing is true, everything is permitted. 

  Hassan-i Sabbah.     The Old Man of the Mountain.

 

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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY. WORKSHOP.

HERE COMES THE SECRET INFORMATION

 

This just past Queens Birthday public holiday we held a workshop at the home of one of our guys, Tony,  that live in the Southern Highlands {70 km’s from my Studio where he trains every week}, it was so nice to get out of the city if only for half a day, the first thing we noticed was the different ambient sounds between Tony’s place and “The Studio”, or to be honest what we noticed was the absence of Sirens, Aircraft noise and Traffic noise, things that are so much part of Western Sydney, I hardly noticed them until they were gone, in their place was Bell birds, the snorting of two lovely horses that kept sticking their noses over the wire fence and a whole load of nothing else, except tranquility, it was a lovely setting.

Oh, and the light.

This was not a public workshop it was at its heart s much as a family day, a club day, a social day with benefits, the day started of with a bang, my senior student, Sam Beydoun, has completed his empty hand training, and I was really very pleased and a little proud to present him with his Level 4 Certificate, he had earned it.

Being an “in house” presentation there was some shorthand used that my guys all understand, things like “the Mothership”, what this refers to is the habit of certain people to zoning out when they think they are working on “Internal Aspects” of Wing Chun, they adopt a kind of “Beam me up Scotty” pose that achieves just a little bit less than nothing at all, if there is anything else that does not make any sense please ping me.

 

Below is some footage from the day, it is longer than I like to post to the blog at 9 minutes but there was no way to cut any more and still keep it making sense, there is some really interesting stuff going on and I think you will find it well worth the investment in the time.

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Exerpt from workshop #1-Vimeo Export from WC INCa’s on Vimeo.

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Food for Thought

WEEKEND WONDER: DENIAL

THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ELEPHANTS HERE!

When people first approach me to teach them I enquire why they wish to embark on training, very few say “I wish to be a more effective fighter”, mostly it is some strange mix of T.V. Hippy Culture and Kung Fu Hero Worship, so I tell them “I am the wrong Teacher for you, I teach people how to become more effective fighters, Wing Chun is the vehicle I choose because it works, I do not teach Culture.

Some leave there and then some stay for a week or a month but leave soon after, it is not that me and my people train hard physically, I teach like most Wing Chun teachers, but mentally and emotionally we are very tough, we do not let ourselves slip into denial about the very real dangers that encouraged us to seek training in the first place.  We do not play the  “I think it is good to have some skill IF I ever need it, but I hope I don’t” game, we play the “Training to be ready for WHEN I need it because I know I WILL need it someday” game.

 

This dichotomy exists in most Martial Arts, but it appears to be more common in Wing Chun than any of the other styles I have trained in, students would rather spend years doing Forms and Chi Sau than learning how to really hurt someone, they are in denial that they will ever need their training.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in his book Fear Less.

“..denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn’t so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling. Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.”

Lt. Col.Dave Grossman writes ..

“Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: You didn’t bring your gun; you didn’t train. Your only defence was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by fear, helplessness, horror and shame at your moment of truth”.

Denial is not just about thinking the Brown will not become Airborne, it is also in the delusion that what you do in training in and of itself will be enough to save the day, usually it will not be..

Just last night {Thursday 8 / 6 / 2017} at training one of my guys said “I have a question I would like to hear your thoughts on. In a f*#ked up thing like the attack in London, what would we do in that situation”?

Everyone was ears and eyes wide open, “We get stabbed to death” was my reply, we spent a few minutes talking about what had happened and if there was any chance of any martial artist suddenly becoming Chuck Norris, we then spoke of violence in general and what to expect and not expect, what to do and what not to do, we spoke of violence and survival, of awareness and escape.

At my Sifu’s School there was an Instructor that talked the talk that Wing Chun was bulletproof, went on the Wing Chun Haj to Hong Kong went to every seminar, he lived on a diet of pure Nim Tao, one evening in Darling Harbour he was challenged by some guys and thought “Bring it on”, they did and he got hammered.

Denial is really just not being honest.

WE NEED TO BE COMFORTABLE WITH INTER PERSONAL VIOLENCE.

We are Martial Artists, it is what we do.

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WING CHUNWEDNESDAY. SEEKING THE TRUTH.

 

People without questions rarely look for answers.

We learn how to connect to the process of analytics, we are not connecting to the thing we think we are analysing.

How do we set about seeking the truth? And whose truth are we looking for?

Before seeking the truth of anything we must differentiate between seeking the truth and seeking validation.  Seeking validation leads to belief, and belief is the enemy of truth.

If everything we know comes from someone else, somewhere else then it is not and never can be our truth. Only when something comes from us as a product of direct experience can it be our truth.

We need other peoples truth to start the journey, to set us on the path but the sooner we can abandon those other truths the sooner we will find our own truth.  Every wisdom tradition known to us has something akin to “first you must empty your cup” although it is often used in respect of meeting a new teacher, it is equally important when meeting ourselves.

The only way to approach knowledge is to come from a position of not knowing, if not we will think we recognise it and see it as something else.

In respect of Wing Chun, but in truth it holds good for anything, we explore it through deeper and deeper analysis. But what do we learn from analysis?

We learn how to connect to the process of analytics, we are not connecting to the thing we think we are analysing.

Is it possible to do the S.L.T. Form and see what it is you are doing without seeing it as the S.L.T. Form?  Can Bong Sau be anything else besides Bong Sau?

The Form itself is just the process.

How do we find our way to a genuine experience of what we are doing?

This is the real work.

If we can become part of the unfolding event instead of the centre of the event, just as a tree is part of a landscape no matter where it is in that landscape we improve our chances to see things as they are, to experience them.

On inspection we may find that everything we think we know is correct, then again we may find that everything we think we know is incorrect, either way it is the truth, how we deal with this truth is another thing completely.

Learn the Form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the Way, then find your own Way.   

 

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