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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; BIU GEE AND BEYOND.

 

The composer Stravinsky had written a new piece with a difficult violin passage.  After it had been in rehearsal for several weeks, the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said he was sorry, he had tried his best, the passage was too difficult, no violinist could play it.  Stravinsky said, ‘I understand that.  What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.

Before we begin the exploration of Biu Gee, in fact before we begin the exploration of any Form we simply must accept that all Forms have no practicable value, they have no real use, no way of becoming active, they are vehicles for thinking not acting. The real work is in recognising what the forms are detailing.

This is a very abstract position to find ourselves in and not a position our Brain likes to operate from so we connect this abstraction to something tangible, something we recognise and can do, we retrospectively give it a role or a job so as to glimpse the possibilities within the Form, this can have some very distracting consequences but there is no other way, how can we explore how something feels if we do not perform it physically?

This is one of the reasons that different Schools, different Masters have different ways of describing the Forms, they are retrospectively fitting the same IDEA to different actions, actions that they themselves are more comfortable performing, it has little to do with accuracy or correctness, depending on our point of view everyone can be correct or everyone can be wrong, either way it doesn’t matter, as long as we do not fall into the trap of believing that the action we are using to look at the Form with is what we are actually learning, they all work the same.

Something that helped me get to grips with understanding how to study Forms and what to look for in Forms was about 15 or 20 years ago I asked my Sifu how come there was no kicking in the Biu Gee? He answered me

“While there is no kicking in Biu Gee there is plenty of Biu Gee in our kicking”

One thing I knew was that when talking about Wing Chun with my Sifu he never said anything just for the fun of it so I thought a lot about this and eventually it did something special to everything I knew of Wing Chun, it made everything one IDEA, an expression of potential, a process.

Accepting that all Forms are just a process that contains the potential for action, and not in any way an action in themselves can be a difficult task, it requires honesty, it requires courage, it requires self belief as opposed to believing in the teaching of past masters, we do better and move forwards much quicker once we abandon clan thinking, ultimately getting caught up in idea that lineage is somehow related to performance is just being caught up in someone else’s process.  Who cares who did what or who said what, the real question is always what can we do, what is our process?

Most of what is taught in standard Wing Chun training will not work outside the training hall, this is of course true of all Traditional Martial Arts, there is no way around this, training is training, fighting is fighting, it is the same for all of us and this is why we must not get lost in process but always try to see what end result we want and how the process can help us achieve it.

The real work in Wing Chun is not to be found in the Forms but rather in the spaces between the Forms, we can never learn what we think we are training, I for one do not believe that we where ever really meant to learn it, just understand the feeling of it, the essence of it.  

The composer Stravinsky had written a new piece with a difficult violin passage.  After it had been in rehearsal for several weeks, the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said he was sorry, he had tried his best, the passage was too difficult, no violinist could play it.  Stravinsky said, ‘I understand that.  What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.

It is the combination of the spaces and the silences that shape the music, not the notes, over the coming weeks I will offer some different perspectives, different spaces and silences around the process of Biu Gee. 

 

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2018 : DO WE REALLY KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING?

 

 

OPEN THE DOOR, END THE MYSTERY.

 

If Force Flow cannot exist without external input then it cannot be acquired through solo training for the simple and unavoidable fact that we cannot create a reaction to our own action, they would cancel each other out.

 

WHAT ARE WE LEARNING?

The majority of our time in training is spent engaged in activities that are not the overall learning objectives, all the punching, kicking, defending, Chi Sau and even the Forms are not what we are ultimately after, these are methods to prevent boredom and burn out while our Mind and Body engage in the real work.

Once we take away all the razzamatazz and football fan mentality it becomes obvious that simultaneous defence and counter attack can be achieved just as well with a Dust Pan and Brush as it can be with a Dai Sau and Punch.

What are we really trying to learn, is there a methodology and if so is there a  hierarchy of methods?

We are trying to learn how to be conductive, how to use our body correctly as a conduit. Conductivity is the effect, what we are training is the cause that brings about that effect and as with all training the hierarchy goes from easy to difficult, from static to mobile, from in to out, from solo to combined, from Form to Function.  It makes little difference what side of the Form or Function argument we may find ourselves, what we may or may not think is most practical, before we can ever hope to function correctly we need to understand the Form {a Form without an intended Function cannot exist because it has no frame of reference for self articulation}, the blueprint for the operation, the plan, the cause, this is the natural cycle of training evolution so it all becomes a bit like the Chicken and the Egg, there is no starting point to a circle.

Once we have some understanding of the Form we must temporarily give it away and focus on the Function, we absolutely must undertake this stage incrementally, a little bit of Form then move on to Function then back to Form and then on again, neither Form nor Function can be understood in isolation.  Just doing the Form, any Form for 5 years is the equivalent of spending 5 years punching a wall bag, both of which are great places to start but pointless places to stay.

Q. When we are doing the Forms what are we are trying to learn?

A. We are trying to learn how to deliberately control and use the joints as opposed to accidentally controlling and using the joints, this is done by the correct use of the muscles, without the use of the muscles nothing moves.  All muscles activate by contraction, when they contract they create tension, to say that we do not use muscles or we do not  create tension in the muscles is not strictly correct, something got lost in translation.

In both defence and attack what we are dealing with is the transmission of force, momentum and impulse, issuing and receiving energy usually as weight, we do this by becoming a conduit that allows the force to move freely without hindrance, similar to how oil is moved around a factory or water around a household, all of the activities we undertake in training are the equivalent of us building something similar to a hydraulic system, if we use this image we can research hydraulics to understand Wing Chun.

When a hydraulic system is activated it is measured and observed as Force Flow, the pipes contain and to a certain extent control the Force Flow but they are not a part of the Force Flow, but the Force Flow could not even exist without the pipes, without the strength and tension supplied by the pipes.

In Wing Chun our body, the whole body is the equivalent of the pipes, and we need physical strength and muscular tension to hold the pipes together and enable Force Flow, without the pipes Force Flow does not nor cannot come into operation, it just remains liquid, a lake, a puddle.

Force Flow is not real, it is a by-product, an effect.

Many martial artists will read this and think to themselves “yes Force Flow is Chi, or Nim Lik or whatever”, but it is not, if Chi was to be anything it would just be the liquid, the lake, the puddle.

Force Flow is nothing mystical or magic it is just the physics of our universe in play, it is Reaction Force, and like any reaction it is dependent on an action, in Wing Chun we talk of Forward Force, this is a synonym of Force Flow, if we understand Wing Chun properly we know that it is not us that creates Forward Force it is our advisory’s action.

If Force Flow cannot exist without external input then it cannot be acquired through solo training for the simple and unavoidable fact that we cannot create a reaction to our own action, they would cancel each other out.

When we push the planet the planet pushes back, to make Force Flow materialise I need to allow my adversary to use me to push the planet, contrary to some Wing Chun thinking this can be done equally well with a tense rigid body as it can with a relaxed body, the physics of our universe works the same way on steel as it does on rubber, the key of course is alignment, consider the mediaeval knights with their jousting poles, there is nothing soft or internal about a jousting pole, and I very much doubt that the horse knew about Chi but they still take advantage of Ground Force Reaction because it is a physical law and nothing to do with Jousting.

Ground Force Reaction by its very definition comes from the ground, no matter what Martial Art we do all of our power comes from the ground, we may think that we are instigating the movement from our hips, our waist, our shoulders or any centre for the matter but these efforts only push our feet into the ground and create the Ground Force Reaction that powers our actions whether they are for defence of attack. Even standing still gravity pulls our body mass down and creates Ground Force Reaction so that as soon as people touch us they receive their own force back.

But only if we have the correct alignment.

Relaxation makes it much easier to align our bodies so that incoming energy can push us into the ground but to think that this cannot be done in a tense or rigid state is completely incorrect, it just much more difficult, it requires precision, as ironic as it may sound,  stiffness leaves no wobble room for error.  If tension prevents the supporting of a structure how do suspension bridges work?  If stiffness prevents the transmission of energy why does it hurt when we get hit with an iron bar?

Wing Chun is simple, simple as in uncomplicated, our aim should be to hit it hard with Occam’s Razor and not start to bring in flights of fancy, no matter what style of Martial Art we may practice in the end all we are training is our understanding of basic physics and developing a method to use that understanding.

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WING CHUN SYDNEY: HOW TO TRAIN THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS.

 

Here we are again, the holidays, starting with Christmas and then because of summer vacations, often stretching late into January and sometimes early February the old dilemma raises its head, what do we train when there is no one to train with?

The short answer is always practice our Forms.

The thing is we all kind of know that it is not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect, this can cause doubts around solo training, “am I doing this correctly,”? “will it undo all the hard work that I have put in”?

This often deters us from deep study of the Forms until well into our training, but even once a we begin to look for the value in the Forms the information is scattered, subtle and difficult to pin down without guidance once again the old doubts raise up.

Wing Chun Forms are not Shadow Boxing Sets, they are Chi Kung Sets, their aim is to prepare and condition the body for the work ahead, in short they are Wing Chun specific exercises and in many ways they cannot be done wrong, after all it is just movement, and once we accept that what we are learning is just a movement exercise then we can do almost any movement exercise and still gain benefit, this is true of most Martial Arts styles and to be expected also true of most sports and holiday pastimes think of Skating, Surfing, Golf, Football, Swimming, Rock Climbing or Bike Riding, are these pursuits in any way related to Wing Chun? There must be and is a common denominator, what do these different disciplines have in common, what is at the core of them that we can utilise.

The common denominator to all physical activity is posture and balance, specifically how to maintain good shape and balance through increasingly complex sets of movement, with the finer details being co-ordination, hand – eye, hand – foot, lower body – upper body, moving everything all at once and all together, learning how to get the whole body to work together.

With the right mindset what we do on our holidays can still be training, if we can see where the worlds collide, even queuing up for Fish and Chips can be turned into training.

Some of the most effective and deepest exercises are the most simple, be warned that simple does not necessarily mean easy { though most of them are}, it means uncomplicated.  The simplest and possibly most important posture and balance exercise for Martial Arts is standing still {like queuing for them fish and chips}, think about it, if we cannot be balanced in a good shape while we are still how do we expect to be balanced and in a good shape when we move.

Standing still sounds easy, it sounds like we just do nothing, that thought changes pretty quickly once we try it.  Standing still requires the involvement of every muscle and every bone in the body, it requires good balance to be still, and good balance requires good posture, even when we have achieved the physical aspects we discover that you cannot have a still body without a still mind.

Despite what I said about it not being possible to be in a good shape and well balanced when moving if we cannot do it while still, which I genuinely think, the only way to learn how to be still is to approach it through movement, a series of controlled stops and starts, moving ever slower as our understanding progresses, sneaking up on stillness. Slow strolls on the beach can lead to stillness, can lead to standing ankle deep in the warm Pacific Ocean, no thoughts to cloud the mind, just the view.

That’s what I call serious and deep training, but just in case you want something a bit more connected to what we do I have put up some videos on the Members page, check out the page Effective Movement.

 

 

WHAT KIND OF HOLIDAY IS IT FOR YOU?

 

LAST TRAINING FOR  2017 .    THURSDAY 21st DECEMBER

 

FIRST TRAINING OF  2018 .      MONDAY 8th JANUARY.

 

Happy holidays, stay frosty, see you all in 2018.

 

 

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WING CHUN WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: WHAT HAVE I JUST STEPPED IN?

WISH YOU WHERE HERE……… AND I WASN’T.

 

Nothing is automatic, we need to give our sub-conscious mind some very clear options if we wish it to not only choose for us under pressure but choose wisely.

 

This is another part of the free preview to my E-Book MAKING YOUR MARTIAL ART WORK ON THE STREET,

WHAT IS THE SITUATION THAT YOU ARE DEFENDING YOURSELF FROM?

The Majority of people that train Martial Arts do not have very much personal experience in fighting, most of the assumptions of what a street situation will be like have no basis in reality, most of the knowledge that they are working from is only what they have witnessed, and that will overwhelmingly be either Competition Match Fighting or on screen Movie Fighting, this is where they get their internal idea of what a fight looks like, no one does this deliberately it is just the way our brains file away information, you see it everyday with new students, they are trying real hard to look like a Jackie Chan, a Bruce Lee or a Liam Neeson.

Movie fights need very clever people to set up the fight scenes so that they look like a fight to the camera, this usually means the swings need to be bigger and slower so they do not blur, in fact most movie fight scenes are shot relatively slowly, pretty much walking pace and then the frame rate is adjusted in post production, punches that break toilets in 2 or smash tiles from the wall hardly even bruise the hero, and it takes an atomic bomb of a combo to eventually put down the Bad Guy, even then he is likely to come back for one last futile gasp of an attack, and the hero comes out with a band aid on his nose or an arm in a sling, especially Jason Statham or Matt Dillon.  

 Match fighting, as real as it gets match fighting is still entertainment on one level, no one likes to pay good money for a fight that is over in 5 seconds, the first few rounds are just to give the punter his monies worth, both of these set up fight situations unconsciously have us thinking there will be time to get the job done, while in reality there will not be, street events are over in a matter of seconds, even if the beating goes on for minutes there was no doubt about the outcome after the first 5 seconds, movie and match fights unconsciously have us disconnecting to how bad it feels and how serious the consequences are when someone punches us in the face, real hard.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

A couple of things, firstly we need to change what we think a street situation will be all about, it may shake our conviction for a while but once the dust settles and we accept that this was the way it always was anyway we will be training for something a lot more likely to happen.

Secondly, if street situations only last 5 seconds we need to be the one finishing it in 5 seconds, do you train to put people away, or at least do you incorporate putting your attacker down and pissing off?

The Nike defence has saved many lives, do you add it to your own training, do you have an exit strategy to use after you have dropped your best moves on a Bad Guy?

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE WON?

So here we are it has all kicked off and we are deep in the middle of the one thing we never wanted to be in the middle of, being in the middle is easy, the Bad Guy decided that, but how do we end it? 

WHAT IS A WIN?

Does pushing him on his ass and running away count as a win?  If it doesn’t will you allow yourself to take this option?

 There is plenty of advice available on the Internet about the importance of fighting to the goal but how do we know what the goal is when we are in the middle of somebody else’s sh*t storm?

If in everyday training the usual procedure is for us to do our stuff and then stop and let our partner have his turn then guess what, that is the goal of that training exercise, that is the goal you are fighting to here and now, the goal was to finish your attack and allow the other guy to have a go.

In training if you do something wrong, use an improper strike for the combo or use it in a different sequence what do you do, do you carry on regardless to the goal or do you stop and replay it. If you stop and replay then the goal is perfection and not punishment.

Can a strike really be delivered from too close or too far or be wrong in any way if it connects with the target in such a way that it compromises the targets defence and allows us to follow up with more strikes? 

Nothing is automatic, we need to give our sub-conscious mind some very clear options if we wish it to not only choose for us under pressure but choose wisely. If we genuinely  think that pushing people over and pissing off is a good option, a good result then we need to put it into our training, always finish with a goal achieved and acknowledge it to ourself before we give our partner his turn, and encourage our partner to do the same, because in doing this we remind ourself that the other guy has a plan as well, and it is to hurt us.

 

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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; FINALLY, FINDING FUNCTIONALITY

PLUG AND PLAY

The end game we are looking for is to have complete movement system that comprises of shifting and pivoting without any set pattern or mechanics, one that allows us to have control over our weight from a feeling stand point and not one that relies on being in the right place at the right time, the beauty is that we were born with this, all we need to do now is polish it and trust it. I am sure that at one time or another all of us have ran through a crowd of people for some reason, catching a bus or a lift for instance, we avoid other people easily and do not fall over, physically this is all we need if you think about it, except that in these incidences we are controlling our weight so as to not impact any one else, in fighting all we really need is to learn how too change our intention.

All of our movement comes from the floor, the first move is downwards, and usually this is performed by gravity os we may not notice or recognise this, Newtons third law then sends this force back to my centre, Ground Reaction Force, I push the planet and the planet pushes back to push my lower centre then the lower centre transfers the force to the upper centre, feet, hips, shoulders and out into the world.  Often it is said that we move from the hips, this is only partially correct, if you are aware of your own body to a high degree when you move your hips you will feel that what it does is push your feet into the planet, everything comes from the floor.

 

 

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