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WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: CONTEXT

When is it acceptable to use violence against another human being, lets be honest here this is what we are training to do, the answer of course depends upon the context of the engagement.  If they are threatening us with violence then more than likely it is acceptable, but if they are just being a pain then the answer is probably no, so it all depends on the context of the engagement, but without a doubt the context that Wing Chun was meant to engage in was violence.

Does our training in any way reflect this?

On the whole we need to admit that it does not.

Most of the Wing Chun people that I have met are against violence, against the use of it by other people or themselves.

How does that work? We train a martial art that many talk up to be brutal and street effective yet no one approves of violence or trains very dynamicly.

Never doubt that how we train is how we will fight, this I not just about the physical approach, much more important is the mental approach, what do we think we are training, why are we training it, what are the circumstances that form the setting where we will use what we are learning?    It is only through this, Context,  that our training can be understood.   If we think we are doing it for fighting there is a very good chance our brain will choose it to fight with, if we think it is for health or for fun it may not be our brains first choice if we get in trouble.

Context is not a one stop shop, we all decide independently where we stand, but context will drive our training even if we think other wise.

Martial Arts where created because someone somewhere needed a local solution to a local problem that was happening in their local environment.

The context that became Tai Kwan Do was the need to knock Japanese soldiers off their horses, the context that became Muay Thai took advantage of wide open rice fields with plenty of room to move, the context that became Wing Chun developed the need to fight on ever shifting surfaces of Sampans common in Hong Kong harbour.

Do any of the traditional Martial Arts have anything in common with our own environment, if not what do we expect to learn? How do we expect to benefit?

We must strive to keep our training relative to our expectations and always have one eye on realistic needs, it is very easy to get lost in the Traditional Martial Arts and without meaning to we just become curators of a long dead and no longer relevent folk art.

Whatever style we do it must be capable of answering todays questions, in todays environment, we no longer need to kick soldiers from the saddle so why train a flying high kick?

Context is a conversation we have with ourselves, it is the what, where, why of any given situation.

Intention is a dialogue that our Brain has with our Body, very often about the situation we find ourselves in and the context of that situation.

Misunderstanding the context of a situation can have very bad results.

If I misread a situation, misunderstand the context and I smack someone in the face I can be in serious trouble with the police and society in general, on the other hand if I misread the same situation and do not smack someone in the face I can be in serious trouble because the bad guy beats me up.

We all set our own definition for context, no one else can ever come close.  Choosing to follow the teachings of a long dead guru from far away land is of dubious practical value.

Years ago I came into my Sifu’s school and one of my training buddies that had recently been on his yearly pilgrimage to Hong Kong was standing there staring wistfully into the mirror.

Me:   What are you doing?

Friend:   I am doing Internal training.

Me:   Why?

Friend:   It is a higher level of Wing Chun training.

Me:   Yeah whatever, but why, are you doing it?

Friend:   It’s what they do in Hong Kong.

Me:   Yeah, but why are you doing it, you live in Sydney.

 

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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: DEEPENING OUR IDEA OF INTENTION.

In times of high stress the Brain always ignores the Mind and moves into self preservation mode, it adopts the approach of “this worked last time so I am going to use it now”

WHAT IS INTENTION?

If we could see ourselves as an android then Intention would be the software that runs the hardware, Intention can never be a power source, Mind Force is not the same as Intention, Mind Force, whatever we think it may be, is by definition a force, it is a power source not software.

Let us start this outside of Wing Chun, what is the intention we call up when we think about walking?

There is a lot going on when we call up the Intention for walking. It is made up of a compound of many different sub intentions, stay upright, do not fall over, walk forwards, stay clear of the traffic, avoid other pedestrians, do not bump into lamp posts, numerous small sub commands that allow us to consolidate the IDEA / ACTION of walking so that it requires minimum attention.

As baby humans our body learns to walk before our brain develops memory, before the creation of Mind, so we have no recollection of the difficulties we overcame, how we needed to learn all of these sub routines  one by one and then combine them into what we call walking.

This is the disconnect between Mind and Brain.

The Brain controls the Body, the Mind is how we communicate with ourselves, the Mind can of course ask the Brain to use the Body in a certain way, this is the process we call training, Intention begins as the Mind asking the body to perform certain tasks, once learned the Mind and Brain no longer need to keep up this particular dialogue, apart from forming the Intention the Mind is now out of the loop, only the Brain can make things happen, the Mind can offer alternatives and always does but if there is any kind of conflict the Brain simply ignores the Mind.

In times of high stress the Brain always ignores the Mind and moves into self preservation mode, it adopts the approach of “this worked last time so I am going to use it now”, some people call this reflex, this is why in my own training I do not prescribe to any of the doctrines of Mind Force or Internal Training, if it does exist the chances are that when we really need it we will not be able to access it.

Intention creates what I call the pre movement condition, like a sprinter in the blocks waiting for the gun everything is aligned, primed and ready to fire, 99% of what it takes to make that move to start the sprint has already taken place, all we need is the understanding of where to go and what to do once we engage.

Wheels spinning slip the clutch and away we go.

We can develop Intention by being very deliberate and conscious when training, by using our imagination to place the training in a possible context, in many ways we are painting a picture, a plan for our Brain to comply with, the clearer the picture the greater chance of success, every move, every alignment, every impulse and above all every scenario must be clearly understood if we wish our Brain to associate our training with a certain situation, zoning out or focusing on “rising up” while practising a Form is the opposite of developing Intention.

 

 

If we return to Wing Chun related matters, what is the Intention associated with punching? 

What are the sub routines?

What outcome do we expect?

In short what is the context?

You cannot create Intention without context.

 

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Articles, Food for Thought, Weekend Headspin

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: “PSYCHO – PHYSICAL” TRAINING IS NOT “INTERNAL” TRAINING.

The Brain and the Mind are not the same thing and they have completely different functions.

Every skier, every skater, every bike rider and surfer can tell tales of imminent disasters being mysteriously avoided because their body did something they did not expect, something that saved the day, a decision that to a very large extent they were not even involved in.

This is a self protection mechanism that is hard wired into our Brains, once we have created the Intention to not fall over our Brain will do everything it can to follow that intention.

Once we establish any Intention our Brain will always try to comply.

This is the Phsycho – Physical connection I have been talking about, it is a product of our Brain, it cannot be accessed by our Mind, it cannot be developed or improved because improvement and development are a function of Mind, the simple truth is that our Mind does not know Intention exists so it cannot contact it or make changes.

If we wish to succeed at anything firstly we must get a deeper understanding of establishing Intention.

It is really important to understand that Wing Chun does not and cannot teach anyone how to fight,  Wing Chun teaches us how to do Wing Chun, it teaches a body set up and a way of moving to enhance our fighting, if you have no previous fighting skill Wing Chun has nothing to enhance.

Luckily we all have some fighting skill even if we doubt it.

Many people equate being able to fight with being able to fight well, they are not the same thing, the very first thing we absolutely must do is make peace with our innate fighting skill, even if it has always failed us.

And we must see that what we do is everywhere.

Whatever action we think we may need if we are using what we learn in  Wing Chun for real it can be found either in sport or in a dance move, more than likely even in your occupation, obviously the intention will need to be changed to suit fighting, but that needs to be done with any aspect of our Wing Chun training because Wing Chun training is not done in a realistically violent way so there is no difference on that score.

If Wing Chun does not teach someone how to fight why do so many people do it?

Because it is fun.

The issue here is that violence is not fun, no fun at all, so why would your Brain choose to do a fun thing in a violent situation?

Think about this, if you took up Wing Chun because you did not like the idea of contact sports, about training for contact sports, about being physically hurt how do you expect your one maybe two evenings a week Wing Chun training to save the day if someone that does like contact sports picks on you?

On the positive side if you can change how you think about your past sports they can become and aid to your present Wing Chun.

Wing Chun is really, really good for people that have done other Martial Arts styles or played contact sports, for people that know how to give and take when things go south, but it has very little real value as a fighting art if you believe that you have no previous fighting skill.

I have spoken with many, many Wing Chun students over the years, it is a small minority that openly say that they train Wing Chun for fighting, it is an even smaller group of people that consider their training to be not only for fighting but specifically to win fights.

Why train to loose, which is what someone is doing if they are not training to win.

I think it is incredibly important that we are honest and open with ourselves about why we train, if not why would our brain choose a Wing Chun option if we are in trouble if we do not believe we are training to fight, what confidence in the outcome could we expect if we are not training to win that fight, this is where intention comes from, this is the fundamental difference between Phsycho – Physical training which is the realm of the Brain and Internal training which is the realm of the Mind.

The Brain and the Mind are not the same thing and they have completely different functions, and will bring about completely different results.

 

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Articles, Video's, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: MANIPULATION OF MATTER.

 

 

This is a bit like a Kung Fu Big Bang Theory.

We live in 3 dimensional space {excluding time} parameters described by height, width and length, which give way to the six directions of up and down, left and right. forwards and backwards.

These parameters can help us identify the position and orientation of a body in space but not the properties of that body, we need finer explanations such as sinking or rising, expanding or contracting, moving forwards or backwards.

The descriptions we use and how we use them have a different effect on the Neuro – Muscular response from our body,  for instance both of the terms rising and expanding could be regarded as growing, while both sinking and contracting could be looked at as shrinking, although the mental images are really quite different, and the physcho – physical response would also be different, this is the whole point of intention.

Forms allow us to explore these movements and come up with our own way of understanding them, our own way of explaining them, our own perspective of intention, in a way they allow us to observe and understand the dynamics of matter in our personal universe, once we have described these dynamics to ourselves our bodies phsycho – physical response can be looked at as a way to manipulate matter in our personal universe that does not really involve directly applied attention.

This is a stretch I know but it does allow us to step out of the box of Wing Chun and into the wider universe of being a dynamic human.

While we are thinking way, way outside the box consider this, there is a Quantum Mechanics theory that is known as the Pauli Exclusion Principal that states that no two particles of matter can ever touch each other, when one particle moves every other particle in the universe also moves.

There is a resonance to Wing Chun thinking here, we are never trying to move our partner only ever trying to move ourselves, the Pauli Exclusion Principle in action.

There are other properties that also describe actions working on the six directions that have very different Neuro – Muscular responses such as giving or taking in respect of weight, issuing or receiving in regards of force, leading or following in regards of action.

The First Form allows us to explore all these avenues with just our arms, the Chum Kiu allows us to explore these same avenues with our body, but also introduces rotation, a variable that brings in new complexities, new IDEAS, that lead on to Biu Gee’s Core Winding that comprises of sinking and contracting acting together, and the opposite action of Core Release that is a combo of rising and expanding.

This is a bit like a Kung Fu Big Bang Theory.

This exploration is the sole purpose of Forms, in themselves Forms teach us nothing, they are simply the messenger, it is our job, all of us, to break the code and understand the message.

 

 

As I have said before the Wing Chun Forms should be looked at as six episodes of the same series, it is only once we have watched them, perhaps even a couple of times and spent time reflecting that we see it was just one story all along and then we get the IDEA.

Articles, Video's, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; PSYCHO-PHYSICAL, NEURO – MUSCULAR CONNECTIONS.

When I wish to look deeper into my own training I usually look towards sports or dance that share the same movements

All movement is a psycho-physical process, an outward expression of inner intent therefore we should engage our thinking and feeling to create a mental image to both inform and match the movement, there is a ton of empirical evidence that show the Human Brain fires up identically to thinking about an action, watching the same action or performing that action this is the Neuro – Muscular connection  I refer to.

Many people refer to this type of training as “Internal”, I am not a fan of this term as it too easily slips away into mumbo jumbo that practitioners cannot explain in general terms and is brought into disrepute by too many Chi Masters, another aspect of “Internal” that I am uncomfortable with is that at its heart “Internal” ideas stem from meditation practices, they are not very dynamic, whereas Psycho – Physical and Neuro – Muscular ideas stem from sports and application of sports science knowledge, very dynamic.

When I wish to look deeper into my own training I usually look towards sports or dance that share the same movements, in general sports and dance have easier accessed and far more accurate information about how best to use the Human Body. When I see any physical action used in sports or dance I try to find them in our Forms, they are of course present but hard to find due to their subtle appearance in the Forms.

With the next few posts I will try to explain my thinking on integrating the psycho – physical through comparing Chum Kiu and Biu Gee applications to the application of these same ideas in Basketball, Wrestling and Dance.

Sinking and rising on a purely physical level is straight forward manipulation of the Centre of Gravity, each action is the opposite of each other, but when we engage our mental image we do well to move along the lines of sinking the pelvis but rising the chest, when we take force into us we take it into our pelvis, this brings with it a feeling of condensing and settling into ourselves but when we issue it we should think of issuing it from our chest, this brings about a feeling of rising and stretching.

Wing Chun employs progressive training, each Form introduces separate components that require combining as we progress, through the First Form we develop and IDEA of  Body Unity, we create the Frame or Wing Chun Body, the Chum Kiu introduces sinking and rising of the Frame and the Biu Gee introduces compression and expansion of the Frame.  Intuitively this gives birth to becoming a heavier or a lighter presence, interpretations of stability and mobility.

Traditionally Chum Kiu shifting is done in a pretty flat lateral manner that does not develop a great deal of momentum, but if we add the Core Winding from Biu Gee to the shift it at once becomes dynamic and far more natural, the more we can integrate Biu Gee dynamics into the Chum Kiu the more fluid, powerful and natural we move.

 

 

 

When performing any exercises, or in fact when doing any Form, we can make these moves over large so that we can identify everything more easily, but in real application they would want to be a relatively small, large movement tends to be slower and less powerful than small movements.

 

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