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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: MOVING OUR MASS.

 

Some things move and somethings get moved, understanding what this term means can make effective even dynamic movement really easy

We cannot move bones, it is not how our body works, muscles move bones, however it is an easy interface, a decent frame of reference but we should recognise it as nothing more than a useable form of shorthand.

Moving the Hips, moving the Spine, moving the Centre or similar terms are shorthand, not actual, in all instances when we move we advance our kinetic chain and as such each link so to speak only affects the link that is next in the chain, our feet move our legs, our legs move our pelvis,  because our centre is located somewhere inside our pelvis the expression “move the centre” appears to make sense.

But it is false.

Some things move and somethings get moved, understanding what this term means can make effective even dynamic movement really easy, when students struggle to move correctly using either the Chum Kiu or Biu Gee methodologies it is usually a recruitment of moving parts issue and nothing to do with the Forms at all.

A good “non Wing Chun “ place to begin understanding the Chum Kiu method is by observing what is happening when you push a shopping trolley around the supermarket, with the Biu Gee method a good “non Wing Chun” way is to observe what goes on as you reach behind yourself and down to pick up the T.V. remote that you knock off the arm of your chair.

We must be sure to not confuse moving with changing location. The fact that my Elbow moves from point “A” to point “B” while performing Bong Sau  does not mean that I am in reality moving my Elbow.

Movement as a power producer is always and only about momentum not relocation, revisiting the “conservation of momentum theory” can clear things up in a couple of minutes.

As I mention at the end of the video, the usual resistance training that we do in Wing Chun approaches situations in reverse, this is not a problem if we understand this, but taking our training at face value can create very real problems.

 

 

I reintroduced sparring about a month ago and it now constitutes most of our training time, sparring is not fighting, but it is a great deal closer than Chi Sau or 4 corners drills, the compression of time and space brought on by an advancing sparring partner really shines a light on the problems caused by not understanding that we train in reverse.

It is easily fixed, but until it is fixed it really messes people up.

 

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Weekend Headspin

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN. TAKING THE WING CHUN OUT OF WING CHUN.

I have a few relatively long term private students that train with me who are deeply committed to other styles, deeply involved, as much in awe of their own style as I am in Wing Chun, yet still they train one on one with me. 

What we work on is the body method at the heart of Wing Chun, we do not go near any of the Forms, not a single one, we do not do Chi Sau, we do not work on the Wing Chun way of dealing with aggresors, of issuing force, we rarely if ever use standard  Wing Chun as a frame of reference.

In many ways I have removed  all of the things that most students refer to as Wing Chun.

But what I am teaching is beyond any doubt 100% Wing Chun.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

It is nt just me,not everyone teaches the same Wing Chun.

In 1999 my own Sifu’s Sifu, completely changed his approach to Wing Chun,  after my Sifu’s passing in 2008 most of his students changed to this way of Wing Chun, I tried to follow, I really did try to understand what everyone else was getting excited about, but in the end I failed.

It made no sense to me, I am by nature not a person that follows some piper, some mystic, no matter how famous and well regarded so I probably did not invest enough into the dream.

My bad.

To me, and of course to my own teacher Jim Fung,  Wing Chun is all about devastating power, right here, right now, this is what I teach, this is what my non Wing Chun students come to me for so they can add it to their own work and this is what I deliver.

I also have a number of casual students that drop by to get a slice of my version of the Wing Chun Pie, when they are with me they all say that what I do feels a great del more like a Martial Art, that what they do with their regular, twice a week Instructor feels somehow different,  without doubt funkier, deeper, softer, more internal, but definitely less effective, less real.

I apologise in advance if this next statement pisses any of you off.

You simply cannot hit hard with softness!

If, like so many people here in Australia, you do nothing but the First Form are you really learning Wing Chun, or are you just learning Siu Nim Tao?

It is a question worth thinking about.

If someone like me teaches people how to make Wing Chun work without the Siu Nim Tao, without Chi Sau, but adheres totally to the Fist Logic of Wing Chun, a teacher that teaches the song inside the song, who lives and breathes “the principles”, a man who feels that the Forms are of little value to the big picture, but talks the talk and walks the walk of pure Wing Chun, what is Wing Chun?

Stepping sideways for a moment, many years ago I trained with a quite renowned sculptor in Western Australia, I was of course studying sculpture, not Wing Chun, one time as we where out at a local quarry looking for some good stone I asked him for pointers to what he was looking for?

He told me that he was looking for a piece of stone that had an interesting sculpture inside of it.

It took me a while to understand what he meant, but when I did everything changed.

All of our forms and standard ideas are nothing but lumps of stone.

I can lend you a chisel.

 

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Articles

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: APPROACHING SOFTNESS.

 

 

How can we ever hope to understand softness without some element of resistance to measure it against?

 

Softness and not using strength are a really tricky things to introduce students to, partly because of the difficulty of articulating what it is we are really doing and partly because it is counter intuitive.

It is important to understand that we always use strength and we are never soft, without the use of strength we could not even stand up, and our body does not change its physical condition at will so what we mean by ‘do not use strength” or “softness” tends to be shorthand for a variety of complex ideas that we need to get straight in our heads before we can hope that they will materialise in our body.

Hurdle #1. We all think differently.

Training is real and goal driven while concepts are imaginary. Softness is a concept, how do we adequately justify a concept that is mental through training that is physical?

The goal of all training is to acquire competence, competence requires a high level of trust, trust requires a high level of understanding, understanding is a function of our mind, it is a completely mental process that cannot be learned backwards, i.e. from body to mind.

Despite the practice paradox of training first then thinking about what we have just trained, everything starts with thinking, then understanding and then competent action.

Spending hours doing any action, such as footwork, exciting combinations or even just one of the Forms, without the understanding of what it is we are doing is of limited value but without some kind of physical involvement how do we hope to know what we are thinking about?

How do we make it real?

If we consider that the bulk of our training is solo training how do we introduce a tactile element that can give us the subject matter to later sit and think about?

The default almost knee jerk answer to any problem in Wing Chun is ‘do the Form”, this is so over simplistic, doing the Form without understanding is not going to take anyone anywhere, paradoxically once we do understand the Form there is no longer any need to keep on doing it, once we gain knowledge, gain understanding it is ours for life, this is the way of all learning, who ever felt the need to take time off from university to go back to primary school?

Most of the breakthroughs and most of the grind are done on our own, as such how do we add that feedback element that we need as humans to create the bridge from imagination to reality?

To give us that “Food for thought”.

Hurdle #2We all train differently.

How can we ever hope to understand softness without some element of resistance to measure it against? This is the same problem all practitioners of all styles face when doing unsupervised training.

I have a number of practice ideas that on the surface appear to be quite silly things to do, but in practice have proven to be very powerful tools to help us advance our thinking in pursuit of softness and not using strength, especially in a “Solo Training” situation.

 

 

A shortcoming of any conceptual system is the lack of a realistic and useable frame of reference, my funny elastic band training may not be everything we need, it is just a good place to start.

 

 

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Articles

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: THE WEAPON SETS.

 

It is the weapon sets and not the dummy set that allow us to combine all of the aspects of the earlier sets and ultimately discover the “Little Idea”.

 

Saturday morning training is all about deeper understanding, my senior students attend and to be honest I learn as much as I teach most of the time, this week we worked on the Baat Cham Do.

The first thing to understand about the Baat Cham Do, and the Luk Dim Boon Quan for that matter is that they are not real weapons, and the training we do with them is not weapons training.

From the perspective of weapons the movement of both sets is pedestrian and the applications one dimensional.

I know many people that disagree with this statement but they have not trained real weapon styles and I have, firstly I studied Bo Jutsu, Japanese staff training and later Doce´ Peres Philippine sticks and knives training, I assure you that the Wing Chun weapons sets are not comparable.

Why does a clever style like Wing Chun have these components?

My Sifu once joked that the main purpose of the Knives was to practice the Pole, and that the main purpose of the Pole was to practice the Knives, that is worth thinking about.

It is really tempting to say that the weapons are there to hide what we are working on from outsiders or casual students, this fits nicely with the belief that for many years Wing Chun was a secret martial arts style, unfortunately if that was the idea it also hid it from many normal students, this is so noticeable when you watch them moving, they lose their shape, their body unity and their stances.

This is the purpose of the Knives and the Pole, maintaining body unity while changing stances, coordinating hands, feet and body weight, and developing focus and projection of intention.

In Biu Gee we project our intention to the end of our fingers, in the Baat we project it out to the tip of the blade, and of course with the pole we extend that projection out towards infinity.

It is the weapon sets and not the dummy set that allow us to combine all the aspects of the earlier sets and ultimately discover the “Little Idea”.

 

 

As always the greatest strength / weakness of Wing Chun is that there is no standard way of doing things, we all need to find our own way, and this is mine.

 

It may be different from what you or your favourite Guru think but at least it works as a learning tool.

 

 

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