FIST LOGIC

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Say what?

 

Once we change Wing Chun it is no longer Wing Chun.

 

At the heart of my own training is the practice of ‘Deconstruct – Reconstruct’.

During ‘Lockdown’ this has been elevated to a much higher level.

Instead of being a weekly practice, it is now more often daily.

Whenever I deconstruct what I know and then reconstruct the components there are always a few bits that I realise are not needed, so they get discarded, and my training becomes streamlined, more compact, more concise.

Occam’s Razor.

I am at a very different place than where I was before COVID 19.

Something that I have always known is that training is training and nothing more.

Nothing we do in training will be usable in an environment that is different than the one we train in.

A violent encounter is a ‘VERY’ different environment than our training environment.

The usual response to this statement by most people is that when needed we will just adapt our training to the new environment.

Really?

Are we to become some kind of Kung Fu Flying Fish.

To adapt means to change from one state of being to another.

Once we change Wing Chun it is no longer Wing Chun.

If what we depend on to get us out of a dangerous situation is not Wing Chun why are we training Wing Chun?

The most obvious example of this is Chi Sau.

Chi Sau has no connection to reality, in fact, Chi Sau only works when playing Chi Sau.

Chi Sau is a game.

Surviving violence is not a game.

 

to be continued…

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS’

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

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Excerpts from a great training session

 

“He who can handle the quickest rate of change survives.” Lt. Colonel John Boyd

 

The Saturday morning senior class really smacked it out of the park this week, frequently I will let the camera run through the session hoping that we will get something good, usually, it is a struggle, the pace of teaching/training is very different than the pace of presenting.

But not this week.

We were hoping to hit three topics with the same session,

  1. understanding the O.O.D.A. Loop.
  2. Creating distractions to facilitate the O.O.D.A. Loop.
  3. Reverse engineering a few of our favourite moves to see where we think they come from, Forms, Chi Sau, Drills that type of stuff.

It was the third aspect that got everyone ticking, so much that I have about 90 minutes of video footage to work through.

This is just a taste, it may look a bit weird if you are not at the level of Sam, Costas and George, who are all junior master level practitioners, but the skill here is top-notch and they are trying hard not to hurt each other.

 

 

 

TRAIN WHAT? WORK WHAT?

 

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 “Understanding the real and implied geometry of Wing Chun”

 

These geometric concepts of Wing Chun are presented in relatively fixed positions and shapes congruent with their respective Forms but they need to translate to all Forms

 

 

We had a great nights training on Monday, it was very theory-heavy but all the guys were up for it so it was a real eye-opener and very enjoyable as the teacher.

This post is, on the whole, a memory aid for my guys to go back and refresh their thinking because there was way too much information to take in in one evening.

Theory can be dry, and it is always tricky because only people with genuine fighting experience understand that theory and reality are in no way related, so we mixed it up with a lot of live contacts to feel the IDEA.

Of equal importance, we worked hard on creating a language to describe the work that we could all understand.

One of if not the first theory we encounter is “Centreline Theory”.

What is a centreline?

The definition of a Centreline is a line that bisects a plane.

The Wing Chun Centreline bisects the Coronal or Frontal plane of our body dividing us into left and right sides.

An imaginary line connecting ourselves to an opponent is not a centre-line, this is a common misunderstanding that leads people down the wrong path, in theory, our Centreline acts like a plane {Sagitalplane} extending forwards so it is easy to see how this confusion arises.

The use of the term Centre-line for a line from person to person is a misnomer it would be easier to grasp if we called it centre plane.

If this is confusing ask yourself “If a line from myself to my opponent is a centreline, what plane is it the centre of? What and where are the two halves”?

This may seem like a triviality but if we do not understand what a Centreline is how can we understand Centreline Theory?

This line that our perception creates that we think links us to an opponent can be anything we want it to be because it does not exist, I like to think of it as the line of mass, this IDEA can tie into other aspects of our strategy and theory.

Line of Mass is just a name we came up with on the night, if it does not work for you pick a different name, just not Centreline.

The reason I chose Line of mass is that irrespective of what type of movement is being used the opponent’s body mass follows this line, and as for ourselves, this is how we promote our body mass toward an attacker even as we appear to be avoiding an attack or moving away.

Then there is the attack- line, this is a line that runs fro the shoulder or the hip of an attacker in toward us.

An opponents attack aways finishes at a point on this line, even from a wildly swinging punch or kick, redirecting this line, and not the arm/fist/weapon using this line is the purpose of our defensive manoeuvres.

Intercepting the attack line and not the arm/leg is the most effective way to defend.

Chi Sau helps us identify and understand this and it also shows us how to create diagonal movement by the use of circular arm motion and curved arm paths.

The proximal to distal {in to out} direction of our action is always in a straight line even from a curved movement, i.e. Bong Sau travels in a straight line.

Try to not confuse straight with being parallel or perpendicular to an external reference point.

Single Arm Chi Sau essentially moves or redirects an intercepted attack-line up and down on our centre-line.

Double Arm Chi Sau moves or redirects an attack-line from the “inside gate” out to the periphery of our structure or from the outside of our structure into our centre effectively breaking both the attack-line and the line of mass of our attacker.

In a real-world application, we would combine a little of both IDEAs, for example in toward the CL and down or out away from the CL and up.

In a poorly trained person, the attack-line is rarely separated from the line of mass.

As a Wing Chun fighter on the attack, we cannot maximise our output if we do not understand the geometry and how to combine the line of mass with the attack-line while at the same time creating torque through “muscular” rotation.

These geometric concepts of Wing Chun are presented in relatively fixed positions and shapes congruent with their respective Forms but they need to translate to all Forms, all planes and directions of action, this is the heart of the work.

This is one of the principal learning objectives of Chum Ku, understanding how to support the actions {arm shapes} with our body mass as we make contact with an opponent.

Anything that makes contact with an opponent in any way, either defending or attacking creates a bridge and as such is Chum Kiu.

 

The following video is not the best I have ever done if you are a visitor I apologise, for us INCas it is a fairly accurate representation of what we worked on all week, I will repost it to the BODYWORK page so you can revisit easily.

 

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS, WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

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CHI SAU AS CONDITIONING.

 

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.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T90H4-UvmB8

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYj84f3s13w

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.

 

 

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FOOTRING AND LIP.

 

If you start correctly and finish correctly it is just not possible to go wrong in the middle.

 

After my Spinal Fusion surgery in 1996, I decided to try a new career path so I studied to be a Ceramic Artist, part of the three-year course was reading up on the history of Ceramics and Ceramic Artists from all around the globe.

It should be no surprise that the approach of many of the Japanese Potters was very closely connected to Zen Buddhism, it was impossible to read about a period or pottery area without deviating into Ikebana, Rock Gardens, the Tea Ceremony and even the Martial Arts.

Everything was interrelated, positions for fighting were used in flower arranging, advice for throwing clay was used in fighting.

One particular thing from pottery that has had a deep influence on my training and teaching of Kung Fu is that when making a vase or teacup only the footring and lip are of importance, and these must be correct and as near perfect as possible.

The IDEA is that when the footring and lip are perfect, nothing in between can be wrong.

 

When my students get to Chum Kiu this is when I introduce them to this thinking, start perfect, end perfect ignore the middle.

When I have a guest or casual students from other schools I notice that they tend to put most if not all of their attention on the movement in the middle, as a result, they struggle to perform or properly understand Chum Kiu.

So many students think that it is about the moving of the body that they ignore the simplicity of knowing what shape we are in now, and what shape we wish to be next.

If you start correctly and finish correctly it is just not possible to go wrong in the middle.

If the Footring and Lip are in the correct alignment and relationship to each other the pot pretty much shapes itself and does so perfectly. if they are out of synch the pot will throw itself from the wheel.

Our eyes may not see it but our senses feel that when the footring and lip are in harmony the pot breathes, it comes alive and we can feel its practicality.

When the foot ring and lip are out of synch the pot may well be very beautiful, but we see it in a sculptural way, solid but stationary and ever so slightly dead.

This is true of any movement set.

If we start correctly and finish correctly by default with no effort on our part the middle becomes perfect.

If the middle was not perfect we would struggle to finish at all let alone finish correctly.

 

STARTS AND FINISHES from WC INCa’s on Vimeo.

 

Bringing this into line with my posts on conditioning I would like to offer a quote from a book I am reading…

“Correct human movement is not open to debate. Technique is not some theoretical idea about the best way to move; it provides the means to fully express movement potential in the most stable positions possible’.

 “Becoming a Supple Leopard”.  Kelly Starrett.

We should work hard to keep this attitude, things either work because they are correct or they fail because they are not, the result is usually injury and not just failure to fire, this is not a critique of your Sifu or Lineage.

 

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESS, PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

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CONDITIONING, A CONTINUATION.

Force summation of a rower. (source: sportsmedbiotech, 2009)

 

Up goes the cry ‘Wing Chun does not use strength”.

Guess what? Conditioning and fitness are not just about strength!

 

I want to spend a few weeks looking at various types of and approaches to conditioning to make the most of our training, this may sound off-key but there is a great deal more to being effective at Wing Chun than just learning Wing Chun.

Fighting is a physical experience, so surely there needs to be a physical element to the training.

It makes no difference what so ever if we do ‘Internal’ or ‘External’ Wing Chun.  If we depend on ‘Thought Force’ or ‘Physical Force’

If our body is not up to the task of performing as the blunt instrument needed to deliver our force of choice we could be in serious trouble the day we need to use it.

Hands break when they hit faces, this is the real reason Boxers wear gloves.

Talking to certain sections of the Wing Chun community about the need to introduce strength and fitness is as difficult and fruitless as talking to an Australian Liberal politician about the need to phase out coal.

Up goes the cry ‘Wing Chun does not use strength”.

Guess what? Conditioning and fitness are not just about strength!

It is just as much about building mobility to get out of the way, improving our VO2 Max so we do not gas out in 5 seconds or developing the resilience to not fall in a heap if we fail to get out of the way and get hit in the head.

Wing Chun very strangely does not have specialised training regimes such as Chi Kung of other T.C.M.A.

I have no idea why this is, it makes no sense.

But perhaps it does, perhaps we have just stopped identifying them as such, upgraded them to something else, helped of course by the post-war Hong Kong entertainment industry.

If we had not all fallen the romanticised exploitation of Chi Kung and Kung Fu that was perpetrated by the Shaw Brothers beginning in the early 1950s perhaps we would have realised that Chi Kung was a precursor of today’s sports science and maybe, just maybe Kung Fu would not have slipped into obscurity and disregard compared to Modern Combat Sports.

The idea of a genteel scholar defeating thugs was such a breadwinner for the Shaw Studios it was pretty much the theme of every movie, perhaps unintentionally it allowed weak unfit people to think they could compete if they just played Kung Fu.

Many still do.

Many are still wrong.

What conditioning do I think we need?

This is a very difficult question to answer, it all depends on what type of trouble we think we will get into.

I am sure we all think different things.

Do we need to be steady, stable and strong?

Do we need to be mobile, quick and adaptive?

Can we be both?

If we can begin to see all of the Forms as being conditioning exercises, at least at a base level, we are at least starting from a sound base.

By all means, keep seeing them as ways to circulate Chi if that is your approach but first let them be simply physical.

In my last post, I mentioned the ‘Stretch Reflex’ and how in some situations it can have a negative impact on our actions.

That does not mean that the ‘Stretch Reflex’ is always negative, there are many situations where it can be used to our advantage.

Understanding the ‘Stretch Reflex’ and how we condition our body and our thinking to work with it, and of great importance understanding that we cannot influence it in any way.

No matter what some people may say or even claim, we cannot train a reflex. Training is a conscious action, reflexes are unconscious actions.

To think otherwise is to pursue a fantasy.

But once we identify, understand and can predict the effect of a Stretch Reflex we can adapt our training so that it has less of a chance of working against us.

So that we have less of a chance of working against ourselves.

 

CONDITIONING – STRETCH REFLEX from WC INCa’s on Vimeo.

 

There are a lot of people that say Wing Chun does not work on account of some very sad YouTube fights, the simple truth is that a hobbyist, a weekend warrior, no matter how skilled or capable will always loose to a full-time combat athlete.

Survival of the fittest is not a cliche, neither in the ring or on the street.

If we wish to do better we must become more athletic, more dynamic, more physical, the whole IDEA behind the do not use strength argument is a misrepresentation, it should be “do not depend on strength”, which really is just another way of saying trust your skill first, however, if your attacker is smaller and weaker there is nothing wrong with using strength, it will work.

The popular sales pitch representation that doing Wing Chun will “level the playing field” against a stronger, bigger, faster, fitter opponent only works if the opponent has no skill, only brute strength.

Being faster, fitter, stronger does not guarantee a win, but it helps.

Get fitter, get stronger, get faster, get conditioned, and of course, keep improving your skill.

Learn how to walk and chew gum.

 

TRAIN YOUR WEAKNESS, WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?