Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday




If we can become capable of seeing control through the filter of Fist Logic, nothing controls an opponent as effectively as a solid punch to the ribs immediately followed by three or four good smacks to the head.


I often refer to Chi Sau as being the laboratory of Win Chun and it really does have this potential if we can resist the temptation to turn it into a playground.

We all begin our Chi Sau experience with single arm Chi Sau, but sadly this soon gets left behind in favour of the double arm version, this is the great tragedy of our training, we abandon a simple and elegant learning platform for a complicated and non practical game of hands.

As beginners in my Sifu’s school just like other schools, we started with singles and then moved on to doubles, however once we reached the intermediate level we returned to single Chi Sau, to study it, to form our own understanding and in doing so set the tone for all future training, sometimes it was not clear what we were looking for, it was a little like digging through chicken entrails to see what the universe was trying to tell us. 

One important aspect that we can identify in single Chi Sau is why we have the maxim Lat Sau Jik Chong, when the arms are free strike through, in singles our arms are never free and we can never strike through.

Studying negatives is just as important as studying positives.

In doubles not only are our arms not free but we actively engage in control, we try to learn how to control our partners arms or at least the IDEA of controlling our partners arms.


This action overcomplicates the simplicity and practicality of simultaneous attack and defence and would seriously compromise us in a real situation. If we are using control to prevent our partner / opponent from free movement clearly the same action is preventing us from having free movement, how do we achieve a counter attack by sacrificing a weapon to control our opponent?   

In the Kuen Kuit it reads something along the lines of “do not push an elbow for fear of being led” who is really controlling whom when we apply control?

The answer to all of our questions comes back to FIST LOGIC, Wing Chun is a striking art, if we are making contact with an opponent in any way that is not 100% defensive then we should be striking, if we have the time and opportunity to press our opponents arm into his body we also have the time and opportunity to strike him, the quest for control leads to grappling, if we are not careful Chi Sau leads to grappling.

Surviving a violent encounter is more about good decisions than good technique, why do we seek control, what do we wish to gain control of and are we sure this decision is a result of what is happening and not a result of us forcing our training to exist where it does not genuinely belong and is not  really needed?

The IDEA of control is well worth investigation, but not from the stand point of controlling the opponents actions, more beneficial is looking how to control their options, their space and their timing, this is usually brought about by changing orientation, by footwork, and defence minded Strategic Structural Obstructions {putting shit in the way while we hit them}.

Limb controls such as the traps and latches we do in Chi Sau are alive and well but living in a completely different postcode to where we train them, once we understand this the traps and latches become organic as opposed to how we need to set them up in Chi Sau, if we can remove the Chi Sau effect we can see them for what they are, but the constant practice makes it even more difficult to remove the bad habits of Chi Sau than finding a way to use them. 

This is the major weakness of Chi Sau, it is self perpetuating, usually in the worst possible way at the worse possible time.

If we do use control it should be our whole body that applies the pressure, this will allow us to strike with both hands even as we control our opponents options.

If we can become capable of seeing control through the filter of Fist Logic, nothing controls an opponent as effectively as a solid punch to the ribs immediately followed by three or four good smacks to the head.


Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday



There is a complete suite of mental intentions that we can work on when we play Chi Sau that are of as much if not more importance that rolling arms, however we should not allow ourselves to believe that these are fighting techniques, they are just seed trays for IDEAs, for creativity.

Everything we do requires deliberate intention, without it our Brain may not be able to help our body when needed, it simply will not know what we are trying to achieve.  There are a number of conceptual objectives that can be explored and developed through Chi Sau, most objectives are quite obvious and automatic once they have been identified, some are applied simultaneously even if we are not aware of them but it does benefit us to isolate them and become familiar with the concept.

Asking.  Applying mild pressure to our partner to get an indication of his state of being, relaxed, tense, aware or oblivious, it can be done with the hands or the body.

Running, if too much pressure is detected we can run our own hand away from the pressure to an unguarded area and strike.

Slipping. Similar to running if the pressure is too weak we can literally slip through and strike.

Leading. Deliberately reducing our own pressure to encourage our partner to move to a position we can take advantage of, can be just hands or by body movement.

Borrowing. Using our partners power to move us or spin us into a return strike.  This is the same as leading except initiated by our partner.

Uprooting. Taking our partners balance away not necessarily in an upwards direction. Glide them away.

Sinking. Applying downwards pressure through the bridges by dropping the C. of G.

Evading.  Using Chum Kiu shifting to bodily evade the line of force.

Dissolving. Using Chum Kiu rotation to turn away partners force.

Pushing, Using Chum Kiu rotation and shifting to aggressively expel our partner away. i.e. into a wall.

Dragging. Using Chum Kiu rotation and shifting to aggressively tear our partner out of their stance.

Shocking. A short sharp jolt as a push or pull to create stiffness in our partner.

Ejecting, {waving}. Using Biu Gee floor to arm wave force, Chum Kiu rising with shifting and / or rotating,  along with rapid angle expansion to bring about a dynamic explosion of force.

Swallowing, {vortexing}.   Using Biu Gee core winding,Chum Kiu sinking with shifting and / or rotation, rapid angle contraction to draw partner in.

As I mentioned last post there are many aspects of Chi Sau that only really have value when playing Chi Sau the principal offender being Gor Sau {trapping and light Chi Sau sparring} these are ways of developing the ability to redirect and tie up a partners hands in real time, they differ greatly from school to school but as they are only used against fellow students it is almost irrelevant how you do them. 

There is a quite widely held belief in some schools that Gor Sau is applicable to “Real Fighting”, even though some of the exercises or traps would work in a “Real Fight” why would we ever be in a position to use them?  If we have intercepted a strike with one arm as we always try to we would be striking them with our other arm and not trying to tie them up, if we found it necessary to defend with both arms we would be kicking simultaneously or just throwing the Bad guy away.

Playing Chi Sau is great fun and educational, there is nothing wrong in playing Chi Sau as long as we understand it is only playing.

Below is some footage from our Saturday morning training, Saturday is usually an impromptu workshop of some kind so I  have the camera running just in case we get something good happening Fly on the wall kind of view and then I post it on the Members page, they are a bit rough and ready, only really intended for domestic consumption but they do highlight some of the intentions from Chi Sau.





Articles, My Own Opinion




Lets Ruffle some Feathers.
Lets Ruffle some Feathers.


If we get into trouble we want to get out of it as quickly as possible, if we get into a fight we want to win it, this is patently obvious.

We achieve these results by moving well and hitting hard.

You don’t, won’t and never will achieve this through defence.

Chi Sau is Defence, most Structure work is defence.

This is is the paradox within Traditional Martial Arts, T.M.A, training that focusses the majority of its time on using structure to resolve incoming force, it teaches defence.

If we look at most Wing Chun Videos, including my own, we see a collection of Cut downs, Pak Saus, Garn Saus even Holy Cows performed against resistance from a Big Burly Bloke, what are these Vids teaching?

My explanation to my own Students is that we are trying to teach them to trust themselves, trust their FRAME based on the fact that if nothing else, they can stop the Bad Guy hitting them no matter how big he is, and hopefully they will be upright long enough to fight back, even while I explain to them that no one defends in a Street Fight.

What most T.M.A are not teaching is how to end what is going on.

In your own training how much time do you spend on developing your Striking, especially your Punching?

What is the Ratio?

Punching 5 : 1 or is it more like Other Things 5 : 1.

Punching ends fights, hopefully for you, defending stops the other guy ending the fight, basically it keeps the fight going.

Q:   If you are drowning does your chance of survival increase the longer you stay in the water?

Something that I am quite critical about with Modern Day Wing Chun is that so often the rhetoric is not justified by the training.

Wing Chun talks up devastating power, the “One Inch Punch” but its approach to striking, especially punching is extremely naive, basic concepts are fine for beginners but why maintain them once the lesson has been absorbed, where is the expansion and refinement? The shape and action of the Sun Punch from the First Form is an introduction to the CONCEPT of Punching, and not as it has become to the majority of Wing Chun Students the METHOD of Punching.   The act of trying to punch down a line from your Sternum contracts your upper Arm into your Shoulder and creates tension in the Pectoral muscles negating maximum power and weight transfer.

Punching down that Sternum Centre Line is DEAD WRONG, there are 3 sides to a right angled triangle, the adjacent side, the opposite side and the hypotenuse, the Sternum Central Line is the ‘opposite side’, to effectively transfer power you need to expand down the ‘hypotenuse’.

Very few Students hang around long enough to study Bill Gee, as a result many get the fanciful idea that you can Punch without using maximum effort, attack with softness, { in YODA’s voice} “much amusement from this one is received”.   Instructors may amaze or inspire you with soft little pokes that jolt you on your feet, but will that really work?    It is quite astonishing how much punishment the Human Body can endure and the Human Mind ignore, think State of Origin.

Attacking with softness will not cut it.

I was trained for many years by one of the very best Wing Chun Masters on the Planet, after about 12 years diligent training I was introduced to Punching Mechanics that I had been shown as a 9 year old Junior in my Boxing Club.

There is no doubt that my Sifu could punch with great power, but very few of his students could replicate him, the correct approach to the work of punching was not there, if we were lucky Sifu would give us a snippet of advice that would lead us forward, a reward for being a diligent student, but it was more luck than planning, if we did not get it at that time we had missed our chance to expand our knowledge, meanwhile at my Boxing Gym all of the well trained guys had a punch like a falling fridge.

Punches END things.

After almost 25 years in the Wing Chun Community I find it really distressing that the vast majority of Wing Chun Students,pretty much everyone that has trained for less than 10 years, cannot Punch effectively, not on the move and under pressure at any rate, even sadder is the fact that they think they can.

Most people try to Punch too fast, too hard and too often, I have hit people, they move in unpredictable ways once hit hard, landing effective multiple punches on the same target is a fantasy unless the guy keeps walking into you, just like your partner in training, just like Oliver Twist he stands there asking for more.

But it is not just Wing Chun, it is all T.M.A. Too much defence, 1 or 2 good punching mechanics and practically no instruction of how to bring about the environment to land your Punch when the other guy does not want to be hit.

And absolutely no instruction on how to Punch from the wrong position, everything is about being in the right position.

Real fights do not have “right positions”.

In theory Wing Chun and many other Southern Fists use just 1 defence and then step in and deliver a multitude of attacks finishing it off there and then, I have had a good few fights, and since my early teenage years I have had the ability to hit really hard but very few situations turned out to be one defence and then goodnight Irene, landing a solid Punch is as much to do with the other Guy being in the wrong place as it has to do with you being in the right place, I have knocked guys out cold in the Street, but never with the first Punch.

Unless it was a Sucker Punch.

T.M.A training, Wing Chun included, tends to be about building confidence, and there is nothing wrong with that, but this is just FEAR MANAGEMENT, and by pretending that what your doing is a viable Martial Art that will work against a nasty human the way that it is taught in the Training Hall is doing nothing to get past that FEAR because deep down everyone knows it is improbable, in many ways it is embedding FEAR into the Psyche and eroding any confidence that has been built up.

Knowing that you can hit people and really hurt them builds a great deal more confidence than knowing you can perform a Cut down on  Big Dave the Power Lifter.

To be really effective 60% of our training should be Punching, or at least Striking but Punching is the ‘go to’ tool in a street fight, after all if someone is a true believer of the Art then they are going to use simultaneous Attack and Defence and launch into Continuos Punching, 1 defence then multiple attacks { if you need to hit someone 6 times then the first 5 sucked}, I realise that very few part time Martial Artists have the patience or focus to do this, I realise that to most people that do Wing Chun it is just a hobby, but if somewhere in the corner of your mind you hope to use your training if you get in trouble then your training needs to be around 40% Punching and 60% other stuff.

And your training motto should be “Lights out MOFO, I am not playing”.

Well thats my opinion at any rate.

Wing Chun Wednesday




Knowledge and Ability are not correlated, in fact they have nothing in common they are like 2 different fish swimming in the same pond.  One fish feeds on the pond surface and one fish feeds on the pond floor, the chances of these 2 fish being in the same part of the pond at the same time are slight, the chances of catching both at the same time infinitesimal.

This post came about after a conversation with a long time friend and ex training partner that went just a little bit sideways.

Recently here in Sydney there was a gathering of the C.S.T. Alumni, a Day and a Half Seminar with numerous presenters from the C.S.T. Lineage, some over from H.K. for the event, I chose not to attend and a few days later was contacted by a friend who asked how come I was a no show.

I told him there were numerous small reasons but mainly that I did not think that I could learn anything so I chose not to go.

He immediately and completely misunderstood me, as I am sure some reading this post have, and heard instead that I thought that none of the presenters had anything to teach me .

There is a world of difference between these 2 statements, they are indeed 2 different fish.

I was of the opinion that I was not in the right mindset to learn.

I do not believe in learning by osmosis, I do not think you can learn Kung Fu by enacting the Law of Attraction you need to be open, receptive and willing to learn, otherwise the cause is lost.

Seminars are by and large all about knowledge,  they are different presenters giving their personal take on how they approach the same Idea with the aim of helping you see things in a new light, expanding your knowledge, it is never about working with people that want you to fail, a situation that can only be resolved by using ability.

The thing is you cannot learn something that you do not already know, at least to some extent, if you do not speak Japanese and someone speaks Japanese to you would you somehow expect to understand it simply because that person is a World Class Expert at Japanese?    It is like those people that speak English louder and slower to non English speakers thinking that somehow louder and slower is easier to understand.  Having the greatest Master in the world show you something you do not understand may be inspiring but ultimately it is futile.

You need to do the work, there are no short cuts.

My own training at the moment is very much in a physical / ability cycle, I am absorbed in body work, getting my body to operate at a higher level, moving better, this is how I train, this is how I run my school, focussing for a couple of months on thinking and understanding, knowing what goes where and why, and then focussing on turning that knowledge into raw ability without any concern for what goes where and why, if it works its a success.

Now is a doing time.

I am the type of person that when I am absorbed in something there is quite simply no room or mental energy for anything else, my cup is full and because I am enjoying, savouring what it is full of I have no wish to empty it.

I have witnessed many, many students spend big dollars going to seminars, sometimes overseas, yet so few of them improve, some even go backwards, some even start believing that they simply cannot do it and never could, soon they question going on.

Does it really take longer to understand any Martial Art than it does to become a Brain Surgeon or a Rocket Scientist?

Knowing when your cup is full and you are o.k. about it being full can not only save you a heap of cash but also allow you to know when it is beneficial to go to a seminar or when it is better to use that cash for a one on one lesson specifically aimed at improving physical ability.

Most seminars cost more than a private lesson, yet a private lesson will deliver far greater and much more tangible results.

But no group photo’s for Facebook.

Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday




I learned how to fight a long time before I studied any Martial Art, and if we say that a 3 year involvement is the minimum to say that you have studied anything then I have studied 5 Martial Arts, including Wing Chun that I have been studying since 1992.

I also played a lot of Football, dabbled with Ice Hokey and played enough Tennis to consider and begin training to be a Coach. And of course I Danced, not just disco but also a bit of Ballroom.

The way I teach Wing Chun is really very different than the way my contemporaries that trained with me under the same Master teach Wing Chun, which is interesting to me because we are trying to teach as we ourselves where taught, keeping the information undiluted as it where, but our own Life Experiences shape things in such a way as to make the approach to the work seem like different Arts, or at least different Lineages.

Before learning any M.A. I was taught how to move my Body to get a Job done.  Any Job.

I personally do not spend most of our training time on the Stances, or the Forms as some of my “Brothers” do, FORMS would constitute no more than 10% of our Groups training time, maybe less.

I do of course encourage my Students to spend as much of their own time on this aspect of our thing, but not our training time, I am much more concerned with Flow. The ability to be able to smoothly move from one action to another completely different action, from one place in Space to another different completely different place in Space, and the ability to combine the controlled movement of both the action and the Space.

Forms do not do this…… If you think they do then you are drinking the “Kool-Aid” and not paying attention to what is going on.

Standing still will never teach you how to move!!

As a Footballer I was taught how to “Kick” the Ball, as a Tennis Player I was taught how to “Punch” my Volleys and as an Ice Hockey Player I was taught how to “Slap” the Puck, all on the move often at full tilt, all with great power and always with someone trying to make this difficult for me.

These skills have saved the Day on more than one occasion.

Deep down everyone knows that is is not a good idea to pick a fight with an Ice Hockey Player… Rugby Player.

There are no “Stances” or “Forms” in Sport.

I used to be a Club level  Boxer, and I soon learned that things went better for me when I was not where the other guy could Punch me, I competed at Judo and I soon learned that I did better when I changed position so the other guy could not Throw me.

I did better when I moved.

Stances did not teach me this………

Forms did not teach me this……….

Dancing taught me this.

Forms, Lineage and the Old Way, this is a Big part of all Martial Arts but does it really teach you anything?

I am a Chef with almost 50 years experience of cooking ion a professional kitchen, something I know implicitly is that a  talented Chef with Great knowledge will always find new recipe’s in an old Book, but that is due to the Skill and experience of the Chef, to years and years in Kitchens on the Stove, and has nothing at all to do with the Book.

I am not trying to say that my approach to teaching is better than any one else’s, there are always many ways to achieve the same objective and all have equal value, but my methodology it is a lot more fun and my current crop of Students are making much quicker progress than the Students I taught with my Masters School.

There is a place for the Forms, that place is at Home when you have no one else to train with, and in this way they offer a great resource because you spend a lot of time at Home, but when you have a Partner or an Instructor you should not be spending most of your time doing something that is not dynamic.

If you have a partner abandon the Theory and get stuck in, apart from anything else we all know what Albert Einstein said about theory…….

“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they are not”.

Movement works with and accepts any given situation, Forms exist like Monuments. A Student that trains and bases his knowledge on Forms and Stances cannot compare with an Adept that bases his actions in Movement and Adaptation to another’s Movement. The Form player will always be looking for answers found inside the Form, instead of allowing what is happening to happen and bring the answers in with it whatever they may be.

“Escort what comes in, follow what goes out”… there is movement here not stillness.

Movement is more important than Form because it is needed to understand the application of Forms, for those times when you aren’t being “fed an attack”, you get a feel for real action with violent intent at high rates of speed that’s unpredictable because it’s unrehearsed. And you develop the instinct to correct incorrect actions, regain your Balance and take advantage of your opponents weakness without worrying about if you are or are not on Centre or where your feet are pointing.

“This method isn’t for everyone. That’s not to say everyone couldn’t benefit from it, but – not everyone will embrace it. Many practitioners find a kind of comfort in the safe choreography of Forms, knowing they are part of a tradition that has been handed down the same way for generations”.  Terry Trahan.

But has Wing Chun really been handed down through many generations?????

There are many aspects of Traditional Kung Fu training that are omitted from Wing Chun, things that Ip Man removed due to being ridiculed by his British Classmates at St Stephens College, according to his nephew Lo Man Kam he removed the Ba Gua from Bart Cham Do {which means he removed the 8 triagrams from the 8 cutting knives} along with other aspects often referred to as Chinese Mumbo Jumbo by his Occidental friends.

There are many Martial Arts that have the same movements as us but use Mind Images to help a student connect with the overall IDEA, one style in particular, White Crane Kung Fu,  has the distinction of being an antecedent to both Wing Chun and Karate, Budo Mind Images such as “Conecting the Heaven and Earth” along with “Holding up the Sky” are things we do in Wing Chun but have no easy way to connect to them due to the trimmed down rhetoric, I believe that we need to expand our thinking, in fact I believe we need to completely change the way we go about thinking and think in pictures the way that generations of Kung Fu practitioners have done before us if we truly wish to understand Wing Chun.

I intend to expand on this subject.

The Dragon whips its Tail.