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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: A VERY BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE.

 

It is not what we train for and it is not what we do but still there are things in these fights that we can and should learn from …………

After my last post at the weekend 2 different students sent me 2 different links to recent YouTube videos with Wing Chun Master taking on an MMA fighter, it did not go well for the Wing Chun men and cast our art in a dreadful light, I was embarrassed for all of us.  Here are the links if anyone has not seen them Fight 1 with the same MMA guy that humbled the Tai Chi Master, and Fight 2, incredibly in this fight the MMA guy had one hand behind his back at times, truly disturbing. It is very sorry viewing, but it is what it is, the world has changed, when Wing Chun was in its heyday in Hong Kong in the post war 1950’s it was really just skinny young men fighting other skinny young men, no one was fighting fit, no one was particularly strong so there was no real need for conditioning, but in todays world of M.M.A. and its global T.V. coverage everyone mug that fights is strong and conditioned. The 2 Wing Chun masters where not as conditioned as their opponents, that is the first big mistake.  But it is not just these 2 guys there are dozens of videos on the net of Wing Chun guys getting taken to the cleaners by other styles, they can’t all be doing it wrong, there must be something fundamentally wrong with many of the different Wing Chun training methods.

 Wing Chun is a self defence system and I have pointed out quite often on this blog that self defence and competitive fighting are not the same thing at all.  For any Martial Artist of any style to go into the ring with a conditioned and experienced Combat Athlete, and these guys are Athletes their training regime alone would wreck most Martial Artists, is just plain stupid. It is not what we train for and it is not what we do but still there are things in these fights that we can and should learn from.

The most glaring problem in all these sorry episodes is that Wing Chun men do not move like fighters, where is the movement training in Wing Chun?  The nearest we have to movement drills are Chum Kiu and the Knives, but performing them as they are in the Forms themselves is just far to one dimensional to be practical.  But there was another big problem for the 2 Wing Chun masters, they both “Gassed” really early in the bout, being gassed is when your breathing cannot supply oxygen to the muscles, they both ran out of breath.

In general Wing Chun does not offer any information about breathing, when I asked my Sifu about breathing and Wing Chun the answer was some variation of “just breathe the way you usually breathe, just like normal” this is all well and good until we realise that most people do not breathe correctly in the first place, this is often not picked up on because most Wing Chun training is pretty low impact so no one experiences getting gassed, the 2 masters totally gassed out, mainly because they both moved too frenetically to avoid gassing out, moving too much is every bit as bad as not moving enough, if you watch a good boxer a lot of the time they are almost walking to conserve their breath and energy, this takes a lot of discipline and a lot of training it is a long way from “just breathe normally”.

If Wing Chun ever hopes to be able to match M.M.A. type of fighters, and the world is becoming full of them, we need a much better approach to movement, to be able to coordinate the hands and feet when moving quickly takes a high level of skill that needs constant training, to coordinate the body and the breathing when moving quickly is also a high level skill that needs constant training, where is the breathing training in Wing Chun? Neither active breathing or dynamic movement can be learned from any of our Forms, we need to enhance our basic training with a stand alone practice if we wish to be able to fight like a fighter.

There is a simple test we can do on ourselves to see if we are breathing correctly, stand in a relaxed comfortable manner with our arms by our sides and eyes closed, now just breathe and observe what is happening, especially the experiential feeling that is happening. Is the body rising up slightly and then settling back down?  Inhale – get slightly taller, exhale, return to starting position is what many people experience but this is not the correct way to breathe. Our last two ribs are not connected to the sternum, they are the floating ribs, they are that way to allow the chest to expand laterally when we breathe correctly, when we breathe in we should feel as if we get wider not taller.

 If we wish to perform any action with power then we should exhale as we do it, when we consider that the majority of the moves in Biu Gee are meant to be performed with power then we would do well to sometimes change how we do the Form so that the majority of the moves have an exhalation, we can then start to make mental connections to our breathing and our actions, hopefully in time they become habits, this of course means temporarily abandoning the idea of continuous and smooth movements, we need pauses between moves so we can inhale, then exhale on the action, the Forms need to be alive, if we do not breathe we die.

To a large degree the movements of Chum Kiu, Biu Gee and even Chi Sau share a great deal in common with swimming, researching the different breathing methods used by world class swimmers can help us develop our own user friendly training program for improved Wing Chun.

I am still embarrassed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Articles

WEEKEND HEADSPIN: ADRENALIN, MIND / BODY CONNECTION AND SOMETHING ELSE.

I started my Martial Arts journey with Boxing and after several years changed to Judo, in both of these arts competition is a fundamental aspect of the art. No one takes up boxing for some spiritual purpose, no one gets on the Judo mat to practice mindfulness or for health, it is about contact, about fighting. In both of these disciplines sparring is a real necessity if you wish to improve, and sometimes sparring is about learning how to take a beating and get back up, sparring is very rarely play fighting, it is purposeful and usually based around what you do badly and not what you do well, learning how to hang in there, not to lose as opposed to learning how to win. If you are in a good boxing gym or judo dojo with a good trainer or sensei most of your sparring matches are against fitter, faster, stronger more skilful opponents, how else can you expect to learn?

In my 26 years of Wing Chun I have never made meaningful contact with a fellow Wing Chun student, there is nothing radically wrong with this, not to spar is part of what Wing Chun believes in, proper sparring at any rate, and I understand why but it is also not very helpful in the long run so over my Wing Chun years I have touched hands with quite a few people from other arts, usually decent black belts, 2nd or 3rd Dan, quite serious people. The majority of these guys I would touch hands with many times, most were also Chefs so we could spar in our break time {frequently in the fridge so we did not get too sweaty, Chefs are very practical people}, over many sessions with the same guys there were times when I won easily, times when I struggled and times when I quite literally got my arse handed to me, when I later debriefed myself to understand what had gone right or what had gone wrong it, was very rarely my Wing Chun, that remained a constant, it was something else.

In all martial arts there is a lot of chatter about Mind / Body connection, but in times of crisis or stress the body simply over rules the mind, the body makes decisions before the mind even knows that there is a decision to make.  If we take a good hit our body thinks it is in danger and registers fear, anxiety, its response is to give us a shot of adrenalin, this makes us faster, stronger and makes our blood clot quicker, it is a survival response that has nothing to do with the Mind Intelligence, it is all Body Intelligence, it cannot be out thought, it cannot be trained away.

The most obvious effect of adrenalin is nervous energy that makes us move, if for some reason we do not move, our body thinks it under dosed us and gives us another shot, if unneeded this second shot usually brings on a total freeze. 

For Wing Chun students this is really important.

PAUSE FOR 10 SECONDS TO THINK ABOUT THAT STATEMENT.

Some Wing Chun schools claim that Wing Chun trains our nervous system, they go on about how doing something over and over brings about perfection, 10,000 hours practice hard wires it into place, this is not true, in fact it is completely false, we cannot train our nervous system because all training is the domain of the Mind Intelligence, the nervous system is Body Intelligence, yes you can thicken and enlarge the neural pathways, lay down more myelin so the information passes more rapidly from brain to body, but in times of stress the body is not listening to the mind, it is too busy saving our ass.

The 10,00 hours rule is a complete pile of something we would rather not step in.

In my sparring experiences no one was seriously trying to hurt anyone but every now and then someone lands a cracker, when it happened to me all of my strategy flew straight out of the window, no matter what I thought I should be doing my body was trying to get out of town on the first available flight.  When I landed a bomb I would instinctively notice the glitch in my partner as his body took control away from his mind and of course I would press in to take advantage of the situation and take a position my partner could not come back from. Our sparring matches usually ended when one person had a position that in a real fight would lead to a beating, that is what happens in the street and it is good to stay aware of it, one wrong step, you get done in.

Some days when I knew I was going to touch hands with a mate I would be excited and looking forwards to it, I would feel light on my feet and radiant, to be expected they were good days, other times I would not really be up for it, my feet would be like plant pots, my hands heavy and lifeless, a head with no thoughts, I would just be going through the motions, they were usually bad days.

The difference between the good days and the bad days was never my Wing Chun as such, or my friends Karate, Muay Thai or B.J.J, it was usually about who had the better attitude and most importantly the better movement, if we move well we quickly get into better positions to use our martial style and of course get out of bad positions that suit our sparring partner equally quickly.

In fighting there is only one bad move, and that is not moving.

Mental attitude is important but movement is the something else that wins the day, there is plenty of movement in Wing Chun if you look for it, but how many people look?

 

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Articles

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: PRAYER WHEELS, POND RIPPLES AND BULLWHIPS.

Understanding the aspect of the IDEA represented in the first three Forms.

 

 

Chan Wah Shun had a maxim on the wall of his school, “STRUCTURE NEUTRALISES, FOOTWORK DISSOLVES” this clearly indicates the transition from S.L.T. though to Chum Kiu in application.

The physical movement of the Forms are to a very large extent unimportant, they are simply a vehicle to explore the IDEA, ultimately any movement set can be performed with the IDEA of any of the Forms, even though Chum Kiu and Biu Gee are preparing us for the nasty reality they are both basically Chi Kung just as the First Form is and not Kung Fu, they are more about how we move us and very little is about what we would do to someone else, in this respect they all cover the same ground so we could and indeed should do the movements of the First Form {S.L.T.} with the attitude and attributes of Biu Gee, and of course we could and should  do the movements of the Biu Gee with the attitude and attributes of the First Form, this will help us make connections and see that Wing Chun is a total system and much more than the sum of its parts.

What are these attributes that we are exploring?

Abstract IDEAs are difficult to find a common explanation to, they are governed by language and imagination and all of us use these two tools very differently. This is why there are so many analogies in Wing Chun, analogies are not real, frequently it is the best we can do.

If we looked at these attributes as a gear box they would be neutral, reverse and forward, this is pretty much their role in application, the First Form builds the body, creates awareness and understanding of how that body works but does nothing else, it does not interact with the outside world, the Chum Kiu shows how that S.L.T. Body receives and redirects FORCE and the Biu Gee shows how that S.L.T. Body creates and releases POWER.

The only significant difference between the Forms is not the shape and variety of the movements but the placement of the active body mass axis, or line of gravity.

In the First Form line of gravity is central, equal weight in each leg, neutral, it is like a Prayer Wheel, when you push it the Wheel rotates but does not diminish or increase the force of contact, it redirects it but otherwise does not affect it.

Chum Kiu Form is a movement originating from a neutral body position, when the neutral body  receives force it shifts the line of gravity  into the rear of the body, the weight is shifted into the rear leg, away from the attackers intended line of action, the incoming force is extended and weakened, just like throwing a rock into a lake, the initial splash makes small tight ripples or waveforms that hold the energy of the rock, the ripples spread out with equal force but they get wider, slower, the energy is released over a longer period of time and as a result becomes weaker.

Biu Gee Form is a movement originating from a neutral body position in the Form itself but in application more often from a Chum Kiu body position, the line of gravity is shifted from the rear of the body into the front of the body, the weight is in the front leg, the FORCE of the weight shift moving into the opponent compresses and increases, it is like a bullwhip, the force created at the stock is transferred into the body of the whip, this creates a large ripple or waveform that gets progressively smaller, the initial energy is released over ever decreasing periods of time and it becomes much, much stronger.

The video below is from a Saturday morning senior class, like most of our training it is not about techniques or particularly about Forms more it is about the underlying IDEAS presented through the Forms, if we have effective, dynamic movement and good thinking the correct technique will simply present itself.  As for the shapes we deliberately make the motions over large so that we can more easily see the idea, as I always say “A circle is a shape not a size”.

 

 

Chan Wah Shun had a maxim on the wall of his school, “STRUCTURE NEUTRALISES, FOOTWORK DISSOLVES” this clearly indicates the transition from S.L.T. though  to  Chum Kiu in application, but it does not tell us how to turn the tide on our attacker, Biu Gee does, if anything this aspect is the secret that was not meant to leave through the front door of the school.

 

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Articles, Food for Thought

WEEKEND HEADSPIN. THE TAKE AWAY FROM BIU GEE.

Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Of all the Wing Chun Forms Biu Gee is by far the most complex and far reaching, I am not trying to imply that it is difficult or advanced, just very, very deep, and a great deal of this is because through Biu Gee we are forced to reexamine everything we thought we knew from a more profound and dynamic perspective.

Above all else Biu Gee is closest to the manner in which we will make contact with an opponent in real time, as paradoxical as it sounds Biu Gee is the way we should use Chum Kiu, but we should not really be surprised by this, after all Chum Kiu is essentially Biu Gee inverted.

Question.   How deep is Biu Gee?

Answer.      As deep as we can make it.

Biu Gee introduces the universal physical IDEAs that are in play whenever we are using Wing Chun, but these IDEAs are not found in the movements of the Form itself  but in the way Biu Gee creates the moves, the way it employs applied kinesiology, and of course the more we each understand the facets of applied kinesiology the more we will take away from Biu Gee, it is simply not enough to turn up to class and ask Sifu we must hit the books, engage in serious research or at the very least ask Google.

Understanding the Conservation of Momentum Principal will revolutionise everything we know about striking. Understanding how Torquing increases force will change the way we pivot for ever. Understanding the Kinetic Linking Principle will have us creating power instead of using force. Kinetic linking expresses force as a wave and as such understanding the Doppler Effect will make us more effective in both defence and attack.

When we take our new knowledge back into our Forms the aim should be to see how all of the laws of natural science exist in their own right the Forms simply allow us to see these laws from the singular perspective of Wing Chun, but it is the science that is the real magic.

Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Learn the form, but seek the formless, learn it all, then forget it all, learn  “The Way”  {Dao}, then find your own way.

 

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Articles, Video's

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: BIU GEE POWER SHIFT

 

When I was a schoolboy I really liked and enjoyed Track and Field Sports,   at my school if it was summer in was Pentathlon {Decathlon in the final two years}, I would train hard, ask a lot of questions and get help from anyone, student, teacher, coach or rag and bone man that I thought knew something valuable, sadly eagerness and amassed knowledge can never compete with natural ability so in the end I became a Chef and not a Decathlete.  I did however learn how to learn and how to source good information and recognise blind alleys, flights of fancy or wishful thinking.  When I first began training Biu Gee it was at the hands of senior students, my Sifu would oversee the training but only got involved if you asked him to get involved, some of the claims made for Biu Gee by my seniors would immediately set of my B.S. radar but when I questioned the validity of the claims I would get treated as some kind of heretic, so I did what I have always done and started my own research.

I have always been heavily involved in sports, right up until my late 40’s I was still playing club level competition tennis and golf, I would not go so far as to say I was a stand out player but I was definitely a serious player, over the years I sought out professional level coaching in every sport I was engaged in, at their root all sports are more alike than different so understandably I found it easier to approach Biu Gee from the direction of other sports and then work back, it allowed me to see the simplicity of everything we do in Wing Chun, which after all is supposed to be based in normal human body movement, and allow my body to make its own choices based on my own previous experience.

Things that I have a personal knowledge of that really helped when it came to Chum Kiu and Biu Gee were the Discus, Shot Putting, Speed Skating, Tennis, Golf and Rugby, when we understand what we are looking for they are all doing the same thing, as I keep saying in this Blog, we are not so much trying to learn Wing Chun as remembering how to move effectively and then using it for Wing Chun.  If we look at the ready position to throw a discus, put a shot or start a speed skating race it is the same as the Chum Kiu Huen Ma.  Coincidence? I do not think so, and once they move it is laterally.

 

Things I recommend getting a better of idea of are what is referred to as stacking and unseating, both are introduced in Chum Kiu but easy to overlook.

 

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