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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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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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Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: THE ROLE OF KICKING IN WING CHUN.

 

Our kicking is meant to distract or disable more than it is intended to damage

Where does kicking reside in a style governed by Fist Logic?

To answer this we should look to how kicking is presented in the Forms, the only Forms that have kicking are the Chum Kiu and the Dummy, the Chum Kiu is more about the IDEA, the role kicking plays, while the Dummy is closer to the practice or application.

There are three kicks in Chum Kiu that introduce three slightly different mechanics, in the first kick, first mechanism there is no weight shift and no body movement, only the Leg is active. In the second mechanism there is still no weight shift but there is rotation on the supporting leg creating a certain amount of momentum, a certain amount of thrust, and in the third mechanism there is still no initial weight shift just a turn and a thrust similar to the second finished with a late weight shift into the landing leg.

As with all of our Forms these are not suggested applications but rather a collection of IDEAS that benefit from being studied, understood in their first instance then disassembled and reassembled in new formation, rinse and repeat.

The fact that there is no weight shift is very significant, remaining in position implies that we are kicking from a defensive position, the target is coming to us as opposed to us needing to seek out a target.

Being defensive in nature the kicks are meant to function without compromising our balance or stability, on contact we are firmly pushed into our stance and Ground Force Reaction increases the payload transferred into the incoming target.

The science behind collisions, the Conservation of Momentum Theory, coupled with Ground Force Reaction enables us to deliver massive force without the need to manufacture massive force.

In the Chum Kiu Form once the kick has been completed we are for all intent and purpose standing still with our leg in the air, we then shift the weight forwards and land on the kicking leg, in application we are stepping into the attacker after the kick has landed so that we can continue the attack with our main weapon, our Hand Strikes or in the third mechanism we continue into another type of kick such as a stamp kick.

The role of kicking in Wing Chun is as a complimentary assistant, it is not as a primary weapon but as a support weapon that sets up positions and situations for deployment of our primary weapon. 

Later, once we understand the core IDEAS of Biu Gee and the Knives we can manufacture greater, even massive power through our weight shifting, but even then our kicking still plays a supportive role, it is almost as if our complimentary assistant has just turned into the Incredible Hulk.

Wing Chun kicking also has a strategic role, feinting as in the charging knee and bridging the gap, these are to facilitate Fist Logic.

In the Video clip below I am not moving too well as by the end of winter { it is the third day of spring here in Oz as I write this} my poor old spine is not so flexy, but the information is sound and summer is on the way.

 

 

Our kicking is meant to distract or disable more than it is intended to damage, without the need to generate force we can be quicker and more precise, once distracted or disabled our opponent will drop their guard or lose their shape allowing us to do what we do best.

Fist Logic.

 

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WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: FORMS ARE NOT KATA.

 

If you see the Forms in the same way today as you did 5 years ago what have you been doing for the last 5 years?

 

Wing Chun Forms are the blueprint for how we move, they are not Kata, they are not shadow boxing sets. There comes a point in our training where our understanding of the Forms changes so much that we see in many ways they go nowhere and do nothing and are all the better because of that.

They are how we move and not where or why.

I have played many sports and trained in numerous styles of Martial Art, there comes a point where they all become the same thing.

As a young man in the U.K. I played a great deal of Lawn Tennis, English winters are not Tennis friendly so I would head indoors and play Racquet Ball, Table Tennis even Badminton to maintain court awareness, keep my hand-eye coordination up,  keep my reflexes sharp, they share many of the same moves, same shots, same plays.

In many ways they are the same game.

I tried Squash a few times but when Tennis players play Squash watch out, those flowing follow-throughs become lethal head shots in the confines of a Squash court.

Squash needs different movement due to the environment it is played in, once we recognise that the differences in movement, footwork and shot creation are caused by environmental necessity we can see that all the moves are still the same, they just look different.

Approaching the Wing Chun Forms with this perspective opens them up in many surprising and enlightening ways, new thinking proliferates, new questions arise, what is really going on when we move our arm through Bong Sau?

Using an open perspective approach describe what happens when we move our arm in a large complete circle.

In the beginning we think we that move our arm in one large circular motion, from “A” back around to “A”, but with new thinking we see that we also move our arm in many small arcs, “A” through  to “B”, “B” through  to “C” and so on, from here it is a short step to moving many different sized arcs, “A” through to “K”, “L” through to “M”, “N” through  to “D” and so on.

Directions become nothing more than descriptions, forwards, backwards, up, down, the same movement different value.

Arm swings, Leg swings, same movement different value.

Is there any kicking methodology in Biu Gee?

Same movement different value.

If you see the Forms in the same way today as you did 5 years ago what have you been doing for the last 5 years?

Tick, tock.

 

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