Sports Psychologists are often engaged to address the Sef-Talk of the player.

Hi Guys,

The Sil Lim Tao is like a three-legged stool, and like a three-legged stool if we remove one of the legs the stool fails.

The area that is the third leg is the area that in sports is the realm of Sports Psychology, and this is an area we would all do well to research.

Sports Psychologists are often engaged to address the Sef-Talk of the player.

We are no different, that is part of my job as a teacher.

Self-Talk may appear to be a minor part of learning a Martial Art, but once we can ‘clearly’ see the BIG PICTURE, we come to the conclusion that it is, in fact, the most important part of our training.

You have heard me say over and over that the most important aspect for a Martial Artist to develop is honesty.

A genuine plus here is that this aspect of our training delivers a major positive effect on our everyday life.

Positive, honest Self-Talk firstly benefits our training and then leaks into our all-around behaviour making us more reliable and more responsible people, better people, speaking the truth to ourselves leads to speaking the truth to others and by extension living the truth.

Living the truth leads to good decision making not just in a violent confrontation but in every interaction that we get involved in.

The first and most important step is, to be honest about our training.

Honest about ourselves and why we are training.

Honest about what it is we are training and where and why we would need it.

On the whole Wing Chun people are not aggressive people, we would prefer to avoid confrontation than engage it, we choose to be good citizens.

But this is not a description of the person attacking us.

There is a fair amount of political correctness in Martial Arts training, very few students are comfortable to admit that we are learning to be violent, to be better at violence than the person being { not attempting to be } violent to us, but this is the core of what we do.

Violence is rarely the answer, but when it is the answer, it is the only answer.


A large part of the ‘Third Leg’, our Psychology or as I call it our ‘FIST LOGIC’ is becoming comfortable with this proposition.

Every sports team of any merit has a sports psychologist on their staff, the difference between ‘Elite’ teams and just very good teams is frequently down to their psychology.

The difference between going home or going to the hospital could be down to our psychology.




Playing Chi Sau is great fun, but it is not good training, Chi Sau is only preparing us to do Chi Sau.

I have unfortunately had a lot of surgery in my life, as a result, I have had a lot of experience with Physio Therapists and other medical specialists helping me to regain strength and mobility.

I have also had a lifelong involvement in sport at a better than social competitive level.

As a result, my approach to Wing Chun is a lot more physical and performance-oriented than most of my contemporaries in the Wing Chun community.

From my very one-eyed position, I think Chi Sau is not presented in its best light.

In most Wing Chun Schools all over the planet, a Chi Sau session is usually accompanied by laughter and mutual entertainment.

To many, this is one of the best things about Chi Sau.

However, if we find ourselves in a place that requires us to use our training to save our skin, laughter and mutual entertainment will be pretty low on our to-do list. 

When we set in for a Chi Sau session if we hope to get any training benefit it is of great importance that we have a pre-dictated agenda that we are hoping to prosecute.

Chi Sau, like most things, has a long list of pros and cons.

There are some aspects of Chi Sau that on the one hand put us in a strong position of dominance whilst at the same time in a different situation that could well spell out disaster.

In the somewhat basic position of face to face, Bong Sau to Fook Sau where we can both hit each other, this is a good position if we are attacking but turn the tables and we are already on the wrong side of a beating in defence.

This is not a problem if we are aware of these things, but if we ignore them we do so at our peril.

Social Chi Sau has the potential to teach us things that any sane person would avoid like the plague in a violent encounter.

If we are unattentive it can teach us to be in places and try things that would pretty much ensure our failure.

If we just roll with a partner with no overriding objective to be focused on what are the chances of anything we discover, repurpose or even come up with for the first time remaining in the Toolbox?

Chi Sau covers a lot of ground and most bases, it can be used for conditioning, for co-ordination, to develop reflex, for learning how to entangle an opponent as well as how to escape attempted entanglement, to control, to redirect, to press, to borrow force, to lead or to follow the list is almost endless.

Our brain is a self-organising pattern maker, it just loves to stick things away in little boxes, any box it likes.

The odds of it sticking a reflex action in the reflex box, a borrowing action in the borrowing box or a conditioning action in the conditioning box are slim to none.

It will simply stick everything in the Chi Sau box, and it will only ever retrieve that information when playing Chi Sau.

In a violent situation, no one plays Chi Sau.

 The only way we can hope that our brain will allow the things we learned, created or discovered in Chi Sau to be used if we are in need is if we have directed it to store different specific information in different specific locations. 

If we do not pre-program our brain to recognise these actions in the same way we create them, following the function we believe them to be best suited to, it will have no reason to choose them.

The first step is to stop “playing” Chi Sau.

Chi Sau is training and all training is task-specific, at the very least the aim of Chi Sau training should be to become better at dealing with non-compliant opponents.

This is pretty much the opposite of what we do, even in Chi Sau sparring the overriding attitude is play, we loose contact with the specifics of what we are doing in the face of what we wish to achieve.

It is hard to get Ego out of Chi Sau.

Playing Chi Sau is great fun, but it is not good training, Chi Sau is only preparing us to do Chi Sau.

We need to spend quality time understanding how to translate Chi Sau actions into genuine fighting applications.

The Sporting World approach would be to push it ’til it breaks then fix it, pretty much treat it like pre-season training.

If we are in any way serious about Wing Chun as a useable method of ‘Self-Defence’ or fighting in general then we would do well to regard Chi Sau the way professional sportsmen regard the weight room or the gym.

A place to reinforce the mechanics, techniques and principals. 

Using Chi Sau as just Chi Sau does not prepare us for the ‘Big Dance’.

There is nothing wrong with approaching Chi Sau work from the stand-point of strength and conditioning, not brute strength to be sure, but normal, healthy, conditioned human strength.

Fighting is physical much more than spiritual, forget Tai Gung and awaken your muscles.

In some instances, we benefit from working under loads that lead to some kind of structural failure, getting our partner to apply unrealistic levels of force, exaggerated upward force and downforce, especially bigger partners, and then working back to address the problem areas.

The most obvious failure to pay attention to is our loss of balance and unity.

From a conditioning point of view, this will point us in the right direction to do some work on co-ordinating the 3 body segments to bring full-body pressure to the actions we are using.

I am very aware that in a real-world situation, the last thing we would choose to do is stand our ground and carry our opponent’s weight, but fighting is a 2 man event with 2 very different agendas, it may not be our choice, we would do well to prepare for that possibility.

Fighting is not a static activity, stances are important, but it is moving out of them and back into them that we should work on, not just standing still.

It is hard to move left if our feet are weighted to the wrong side, hard to move in control if our balance is compromised, hard to issue or accept force if our unity is disconnected.

Reference the balance position under pressure, instead of feeling that we are standing on the centre of the foot become aware of placing equal pressure on the ball and heel and equal pressure on each foot from side to side.

Correct alignment begins at the feet, not the other way around.

Stack everything on top in the right order and then get someone to apply force.

Especially with a larger partner, it can help us condition our capacity for axial loading of the body which in turn can help us understand how to better handle uneven loads.

Then take what we discover into Chum Kiu.

Here is a great video from K. Star talking about various training regimes for his athletes, it could easily be overlaid onto Wing Chun training morphing through to self-defence reality.

Towards the end of the piece he talks about not confusing one level of training with another or how we could use it, if you do watch it think Chi Sau to fighting, this is so important for a Martial Artist, it is 10 minutes long but well worth the time, the guy is probably the most highly regarded P.T. guy in the world at present.

He knows his shit.

A slightly unrelated but equally informative video is this one

From my perspective, this talks to the heart of any system or sport.

One great quote from it that could easily be from Martial Arts is…

 “It is really about taking a shape and challenging that shape because we think that this shape makes a better more robust, agile human being to go out into the world”... Kelly Starret.

If we can connect this thinking to our level of training, if we can remove some of the “Mumbo Jumbo’ about the Forms and see them as Range of Movement Exercises, which at first might seem like a big ask, we can step up, step forwards and step into the “big dance” with confidence.




An important consideration is that the body does not truly absorb force

When we discuss force/energy we tend to use words such as flow, kinetic linking, even going so far as to say that force/energy flows along the Kinetic Chain, for instance from foot, through knee to hip, to spine, to shoulder, to arm to hand.

As convenient and often used, even by yours truly, as this approach is it is full of holes.

The idea/concept of the kinetic {or kinematic} chain is a great place to start but our body is not a chain and force/energy does not flow like water through a hose.

It would be more accurate and easier to understand if we see it as a “Chain Reaction”, an impulse that passes from one link/location to another sequentially along an obvious path.

If we use light as an analogy instead of seeing force as a solid beam of light similar to a flashlight we would do better to see it as an ultra-rapid series of pulses, like a quasar, that we perceive as continuous.

I am by no way an expert in this type of thinking, I did not go to Uni’ or ‘Med’ school, I am a moderately researched layman that approaches the work with a specific and personal agenda, Martial Art.

If we think ‘Chain Reaction’ as opposed to ‘Chain’ it opens up the possibility that sections of the body, such as the lower section that contains our foot, our calf, our thigh, the hip, the pelvis can be an individual chain that is self-contained.

This body section could now operate as a link and cause a ‘Chain Reaction’ with another body section such as our torso which itself can be seen as a self-contained chain.

The torso could now react with our arm, another self-contained chain.

The following may appear as a bit of a sidestep but remember issuing force and accepting force happen at the same time instantaneously.

An important consideration is that the body does not truly absorb force, at least not in the way we often speak of it, as a global/whole-body occurrence taking force at the arm and transferring it to the floor.

Our body absorbs contact force by transferring that force to local muscles where contractions in the opposite direction neutralise the force.

It would be more accurate to say that we join with the force instead of absorbing it.

This joined force is transferred to the next body segment and the pattern is repeated, a series of local phenomenon, not a global/whole-body event.

This is, of course, a conceptual approach, but one that has very practical applications if we do our Forms with this consideration in mind, it opens up many new dynamic possibilities and a deeper understanding of how to make our Forms come alive.

The mental method I employ is that my body is made up of three independent segments.


Segment 1. The legs and Pelvis.

Segment 2. The torso, which sits inside the pelvis.

Segment 3. The Arms, that hang from the torso.


If we consider a step and punch from this perspective.

When the legs move the pelvis the torso goes along for the ride at the same velocity in the same, usually linear direction, this is a very important point to keep in mind.

The torso is not involved in the legs moving and as such is free to make its own movement, which is usually lateral rotation, the upper body pivots to face the target.

The arms are not involved in the rotation of the torso so they are free to make their own movement, which in the step and punch would be linear, straight to the target.





All movement creates power, and as we know acceleration increases power.

Acceleration it is not only going faster, this is an aspect of acceleration, positive acceleration, slowing down is also acceleration,  negative acceleration.

Acceleration is a change in velocity.

If we change the direction of the movement of our torso from the direction of the movement of our legs or change the direction of the movement of our arms from the direction of the movement of our torso we are changing the direction of the velocity and creating acceleration.

This is very much the model adopted by throwing sports.

It is known as sequential acceleration and results in successive force summation.

For force summation to be successful we also need sequential stabilization of body parts, which I find easier to understand with the three-segment method.

Force Summation is a big post waiting to be written.