Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday



 Wing Chun is a Fist Arts therefore the logic behind it is Fist Logic, which at its most instinctive level simply hits things.  Wing Chun is first and foremost about hitting  people. No matter what drill or activity we are involved in we should always measure it by the Fist Logic metrics of Simplicity, Practicality, Directness, Economy of Movement and Minimal use of Brute Force.

The five main Logics are not stand alone ideas, we cannot use one or two and ignore the rest, if we claim to do Wing Chun they must all be present.   They are “The Five Principles” and as close as Wing Chun comes to dogma.

There are sub logics that evolve from combinations of the Five,  sub logics are not so strict as the Five and allow some latitude, exceptions to the rule because reality is never like training.

Simultaneous defence and attack is a Sub Logic that is paramount to the Wing Chun Idea, where ever possible this approach is taken literally but in its wider sense it means hit at the earliest opportunity.

Another important sub logic is never using two arms to defend against one, we cannot implement simultaneous defence and attack if both arms are defending, in its wider sense though we can use two Lan Sau’s or Jit Sau’s to ward of a stick or high kick, we can employ a double Lap Sau to propel someone into an obstacle or a wall.

Once we seriously consider our actions by this metric, which means become serious and honest about Wing Chun it becomes clear that any action where a Bong Sau is used for defence is not working in accord with the Five, Bong Sau defies Fist Logic and if we can see past the theatre that is Chi Sau this means that it is not a working Wing Chun option. Thinking that Bong Sau is a viable option leads into all kinds of bad practice and misunderstanding, that infects all of the Chi Sau drills, the understanding that many students end up with from the Lap Sau drill also defies Fist Logic, and as such Wing Chun because there is a moment where we use two arms to defend against one.



Other important sub logics are to never fight force with force, to never carry our opponents weight, but Chi Sau play ignores this to a large extent as we grind, grind, chug, chug.   If we cannot see drills for what they are then they become something they are not and where never meant to be,  they become a parody that only works with friends in the training hall and they fail to deliver the intended result when it is really needed.  We need to see the seductive safety and elevated opinion of Chi Sau practice for what it really is.


Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY, 12 – 03 – 2014

Running Palms, How, When, Where?


 Questioning the established Idea’s of Wing Chun, calling a Spade a Spade based on Empirical information, Personal Experience and not “Toeing the Party Line”, accepting the established order, has frequently brought me into conflict with my Wing Chun Brothers over the last 22 years.  There is a very, very strong Pseudo – Religious ethic that prevails with a lot of Wing Chun practitioners, not just my Lineage, that rejects out of hand any suggestions that the “Old Ones” may of just had other things on their Minds on a certain evening and passed on some mixed information that once left unquestioned in due time became Law.

To be a little clearer it is not so much that the Physical aspects, the Forms, the Chi Sau Patterns and the Training Exercises are questionable but the explanation of what the Physical aspect would be used for, that leaves me scratching my Head.

I have always approached Wing Chun as a Martial Art, a living, functioning, active practice that delivers real Skills that can be tested and will succeed in the harshest environments, namely a surprise attack in the Street, not as a Form of Physical Therapy, so for me it has always been important that Wing Chun makes sense in a Violent Situation.

But a lot of the things that are suggested do not make much sense when you look closely at them, when you do a David Byrne and ask you’re self “Well, how did I get here”?

When, where and how would you use many of the things that pass as training?

And this is never more obvious than in Chi Sau and all its extensions, or at least the way I was taught Chi Sau and all its extensions and keep in mind that this method was passed on to something like 4000 people over the last 35 years.

Too often, in all Martial Arts and not just Wing Chun, something is just accepted as being correct because it was passed down the line, but all Masters are human, all can make mistakes or simply get a little confused and give the wrong information, if this information is blindly accepted and passed on it becomes Truth and Tradition very quickly, and in my opinion all Martial Arts including Wing Chun have more than their fair share of these “Unintentional Irregularities”, simple mistakes that have been allowed to grow from Half Truths and Little White Lies into Absolute Truths,………………. that do not work.

This is not just a case of me not understanding my Sifu, for 12 years I was an Instructor in a very large Wing Chun School that was representative of a World Class Master, I was taught how to teach his Ideas and applications in a very precise way that was not to be altered because they represented what my Sifu wanted to be passed throughout his School, many things that I now, with the benefit of hindsight, consider Confused at best.

If Wing Chun is a True Martial Art of World standing then we cannot simply keep using the fact that it is a Concept Based Style as an excuse for passing on Idea’s that if used as taught could create Major Problems for our Students.

I doubt your Instructor is so ill informed that He/She cannot explain the Concept without a functional example.

Ask questions, ask Why, ask How.

There are certain aspects of Wing Chun that are truly astonishing and give credence to its claim as one of the Worlds most effective Martial Arts, but there is also a great deal of Material that needs looking at.



My Senior Students came with me from the “Old School” of Sifu Jim after he passed away, they still to some extent come from the “Old Thinking” recently I asked, “How would we apply Running Palm ideas”?

Sadly all the answers had some Track Back to Chi Sau, but as we know Chi Sau itself is only a training device so tracking Back to Chi Sau gets you no where close to how or where or even why to use it if you are attacked.

One failing of any repetitive, turn based drill is that at least 50% of the action is just getting you to a place where your training Partner can have his turn, often there is an outbreak of nonsensical Retro-Fitting at this juncture where the reload action is passed off as a potential response,  but if you think about it ,and your honest, it is not a response you would choose if you where deep in the  Brown and Stinky.

 The “Learning Curve” in Running Palms goes something like 

  • Identify that the Partner is Pressing you
  • Discern if the direction of the Press is such that it can be released without Hitting you.
  • Release in a Manner that brings you back into your Centre without compromising your own safety.

Apart from other considerations Real Fights happen at a velocity that is many times quicker than training, do you believe you can follow this prescription at pace under extreme pressure?

But all these are lessons in “How” to  do Running Palms, there is nothing here that relates to “Why or Where”.  Especially the Why, the Where is usually chosen by our opponent, something that brings in unexpected and uncontrollable variation.

As a drill Chi Sau is teaching us how to respond to the Force Vector or Contact  from a Strike, Running Palms is a Chi Sau exercise and as such you would think it lives in the Chi Sau Box and shares the Chi Sau experience.


If you think that Running Palms is in any way about what you do on Intercepting an incoming Strike you should ask “ if the Bad Guy is attacking me why am I moving towards or in the outside Gate”?

If you think that you are in the outside Gate because your partner / opponent has intercepted your Counter Attack you are just trying to force your answer into the Box that supports your already entrenched Idea’s, you are trying to prove yourself correct instead of being open to alternatives that may enhance your knowledge.

Think about the Default way that we Run Palms from an out pressing Arm {frequently posed as a Bong Sau, which in itself is a bit odd if this is meant to prepare me for a Random attacker, also it immediately has your Mind confusing what you are doing with Lok Sau.}
3 Questions arise
  1. What was the Bad Guy doing trying to push my Arm away in the first place {how did we get here}?
  2. What were you doing while he was pushing your Arm away { i.e. if he was defending then you had instigated the attack and had chosen to use a Big Arc Round House, not something Wing Chun usually advocates}?
  3. Is running my Arm underneath his Defending Arm a better Tactical choice than Cutting down, Redirecting, Latching or Lapping the Bad Guys Defending / Pushing Arm? 

If you are not thinking about a possible use for this action then you do not think that it has individual Merit, you have somehow relegated it to a transitionary movement that leads somewhere else, you are just playing Lok Sau with one Hand  {keep in mind that this post is for People with intermediate Wing Chun skills, not beginners, in the beginning it is a way to approach Lok Sau, if you still think this way you’re still at the beginning}.

Running Palms is an aspect of Chi Sau, so the overriding Goal is sensitivity to your partners actions.

But Who is being sensitive to Whom?

Have we simply got it back to front?

What was going on to put you in the position where an attacker would be using the type and direction of Force that we usually Run Palms on?

If you do not know what the action would be used for how do you know if it is for real.

How do you know if it is something that there is any chance at all of encountering, and if you decide that there is no chance of encountering this action why are you wasting time learning how to deal with it?

If you do not know what the action would be used for how do you know if  your response is appropriate or effective?

If you do not know what the action would be used for how can you measure your overall ongoing progress in your training?

In my experience people only try to push your Arms out if they are trying to get inside to Clinch or Choke you, is it really Tactically Sound to remove your Arm {Run Palms} and let him do this?

People usually only push your Arms in, down or across because they are trying to take away your Striking ability and again looking to wrap you up, Clinch you or simply push you over, is moving your Arms away, even if you are hitting them the best choice here?

I am not in any way advocating that we change the actions and patterns the we use to train Running Palms, like all of our Exercises and Drills it is as much about Bio-Mechanics than Simulated Defence, as much about exploring the options than a Tactical Suggestion but if you do not know why you do the Drill, if you are unaware of the intended Learning Objectives how can you be getting the most value from it?  Where is your Intention going to arise from?

What I am suggesting is that we revisit the reasons behind the exercise, there is a great deal to find in Running Palms and valuable lessons to learn if you know what to look for.

Many, many Wing Chun Students think and hope that with Chi Sau they are training their Nervous System , and why wouldn’t they, it’s what we tell them very early on when they join the School, teaching the Nervous System to respond to certain Stimuli automatically, be careful how you are training yourself to respond when Running Palms, if you use Running Palms the way you train it, when you find yourself in trouble it may make things worse.

If you have trained you Nervous System to trust these actions it will use them.

If you prescribe to the idea that if you do get in trouble your training will modify itself on demand {another Chi Sau claim} here is a quote from the great American Educator John Dewey

“we cannot just expect our Minds to go in one direction or another, to concentrate or suppress, without the necessary practice, know-how and skill”. 

In all Chi Sau related exercises you need to decide “What do I hope to gain here? Am I doing this exercise solely to improve my sensitivity or am I looking for a way to utilise what this exercise teaches”?

You really do need to let your Brain know what things you are learning as a platform for creativity and what things you are learning to apply in an event.

Unless you can separate the “Idea” from the “Action” and see them both for what they are how can you ever expect to use the “Idea” to enable the “Action”.

They are not the same thing Mentally, Emotionally or Physically.

As difficult as it may be to do, some Sacred Cows should be turned into Meat Balls.

If this was just an Academic pursuit it would be of no real consequence, just one persons opinion up against another’s opinion, but it is not Academic, if you are ever unfortunate enough to need your training to get you out of a Seriously Violent Situation the consequences of trusting your personal safety to something that is faulty could be dire indeed.

Wing Chun Wednesday

Wing Chun Wednesday 05 – 03 – 2014



We started with Dan Chi Sau, through to Springy force then Lap Sau and last week Wing Chun Throwing, this is a recap before we move off into Lok Sau, Chi Sau trapping, and some other outlying districts of the Province that is Wing Chun Kuen.

So far this little series has been of great value to my own Students, in training we often cover 3 or 4 aspects of Wing Chun in a single evening, this is way too much for the Short term Memory to process so things get mixed up, left out or just ignored. A few of my Guys are hearing and seeing things that they have been told on numerous occasions for the first time in these Video’s, I hope that other people are finding them of value to help process what they are doing in their own training.

As I have said before, my aim is not to tell people what to do, it is more to help them realise how much they already know.



A very interesting thing happened when we were planning this latest Video, we drifted off into talking about how Students very easily get confused between the Vehicle and the Message, the old “Finger Pointing at the Moon” again, and this led us to look at the Chi Sau exercise of Running Palms.

Shock Horror, they were at it again, they where back at the Kool – Aid Fountain.

At the risk of alienating half of the known Wing Chun World, apart from sensitivity, Chi Sau exercises and all their sub-genres have nothing to teach us apart from the act of Chi Sau itself, it simply reinforces what we learnt elsewhere.

I will go over this in detail and with a Video next week, but until then in your own training take what you think is happening when you are playing Chi Sau, simply call Freeze and both sides stop where you are in the middle of what you are doing and ask ….

What would need to happen for me to find myself in this position in the first place?

How do I think I will use this exercises in the real World.

Does this solution actually solve the problem?

If these things are not real why do we do them?

We will see next week.

Video's, Wing Chun Wednesday



Wing Chun Sydney

Last weekend I was at a Friends School, celebrating its Anniversary,  I mentioned to one Friend that this weeks Wing Chun Wednesday’s Video was about Wing Chun Throwing, my Friend thought I had lost my Marbles,

“There isn’t any throwing in Wing Chun” he stated.

“Read the Post and watch the Video before you close your Mind” I advised him.

Later we all had a bit of a Chi Sau Party, and I was amazed by how differently we all Mentally approached Chi Sau, especially as we are all contemporaries of the same Sifu.

Always in Wing Chun, you eventually run Head first into the effect of your personal understanding  of the Concepts that drive this System.

It became very clear from our chatting that the Guys I was Rolling with expected to use their Wing Chun skills in a controllable and familiar environment, their ideas seemed to come from a place that was looking at some level of “Match Fighting”, they obviously expected to have plenty of Space to do their thing, they expected to know that it was happening and it was really obvious that they envisioned it being against just one Person.

As Humans we may not be aware of it but we see the World through a Filter of our own past experiences, and as such sub-consciously we think that the future will be very similar to the past. It’s normal, we all do it.

So for me the environment that I anticipate the need to call upon my Wing Chun Skills will not be of my choosing, there will be little warning, there will not be not be enough Space to work comfortably and their will almost definitely be more than one Person.

I will never be in a “Match Fight” with some one with 5 – 10 square Meters of Open Ground. I will be in a Crowded Bar, a Night Club or even a Football Match, because for me this is where the Bad Guy’s are, this is where my own experiences have occurred.

In Pubs, Clubs and Football Stadiums multiple Attackers just evolve out of over excited onlookers, they do not need to be with your opponent at the instant it all kicks off.

Beware of Opportunist Arse-Holes.

My terminology of Wing Chun Throwing may not be the most accurate because in reality it is more about using Powerful Latches and Extended Lap Sau to help the attacking Bad Guys to loose their Balance, to become Romantically Involved with a Pub’s Furniture, to learn to Fly down a Set of Stairs or to become a Projectile or even just a Pole to hit a second Attacker with.

In my experience these things work in crowded places.

Frequently after hitting someone they stagger back a little but leave an Arm out in front of them, exploit it, after jamming someones advance with a kick the same thing happens, if there is just you and him in the Octagon then of course follow him and Rain down Hell, but in a Bar where he will more than likely have Friends this can leave you blind to his reinforcements.

As always the aim of these Video’s is to open up your possibilities, increase your knowledge and widen your Wing Chun Horizons.

If you look closely at your Chum Kiu and at your Bill Gee there are a number of Movements that lend themselves to Balance Manipulation.



This Video was taken at training with no rehearsal, it has not been set up to make us look Funky and Show Off. As I am sure you can see.

As a new set of co-ordinations there is a lot to get your Head around at first, Sinking from Chum Kiu, Spiralling from Bill Gee, continuously rotating your own Arms from Chi Sau, Half moon Stepping from the Knives and the overall feeling of holding the Pole, this  encapsulates my idea of the 7th form.

My Guys are still becoming familiar with the whole Concept, hence the slow and somewhat uneven Speed of operation, this is  pretty much the first time doing this for them and their nervous system is struggling with the idea of not using Strength, not Wrestling, struggling to understand that the Goal is to find their Partners Balance and take it away, they will get there soon enough, after all it is almost Dan Chi Sau.

I think it is easy to understand that as training Partners the Guys are not too keen to be thrown around, so without meaning to do it they are not in the position an attacking Bad Guy would be, they know what is coming and to a certain extent are trying to not be there.

In full flight when some  Bad Guy committed to his action is giving you all of his Body Mass at speed this is almost like Ballroom Dancing meets Nascar.

Hopefully you can see that I am not using Strength to manipulate the Guys.

The theory of Wing Chun is to limit your Movements, I understand this, I even teach it to my People.

But in a Street Encounter with a person or persons that actually wishes to harm you, Movement is vital, often “The Only Wrong Move is not to Move”, and in a crowded place “Hey Diddle Diddle, Straight Up The Middle” is a recipe for disaster.


Video's, Wing Chun Wednesday



Something we Wing Chun People are very fond of, is telling everyone that it is a Concept driven Martial Art, as it is…  to a certain extent.

A Concept is a thought, a Mental Process.

Concepts are mental representations that allows us to draw appropriate inferences about the type of entities we encounter in our everyday lives

Once we move into Techniques, Forms or Drills we are involved in Physical Actions, that may or may not derive from a Concept but are never the less actual and not conceptual.

When we perform the Lap Sau Drill, what is it that we are trying to learn?

The Concept of Lap Sau or the Action?

Training does not happen by Osmosis, so it pays to be aware of what we are doing so we do not miss vital clues.

All Drills are about “Doing” and not “Thinking”.

Increasing our Knowledge, not affirming it.

Lap Sau is a part of our Chi Sau Drill, therefore it should be obvious that just like Chi Sau itself, it is “A MEANS TO AN END, AND NOT A MEANS IN ITSELF”.

As I have mentioned previously as far as I am concerned


so we should understand what any Action we train hopes to achieve.

Why are we doing this?

What is its FUNCTION?

The primary FUNCTION of Lap Sau is  Improved response time to Contact Stimulus, understanding this will help you work on your  Tempo during training.

Like all Chi Sau Drills there are as many objectives in the Drill as you can think up, but the more obvious learning objectives in the Lap Sau Drill are Fluidity of Movement and the correct alignment for the Application of the Lap.

Ultimately Lap Sau is a sensitivity Drill that teaches use how to immediately take the initiative on contact.

The start off position in Lan Sau is only to help you work on approaching the intercept without the need for your Partner to hold his Arm in Space for the duration, it is not part of the Drill proper, often Schools will add a reply of sorts so this Drill can be rotated from one Student to another, it is often used as away for Kwan Sau practice this again is not part of the Drill, the timing and co-ordination of the Drill is

  1. Contact with Partners Strike Hand.
  2. Slightly extend your own Lead Arm to effect redirection and Withdraw Lan Sau to Rear Woo Sau {this simulates moving to intercept the Strike, and places you in a position where you would be in a real situation}.
  3. Lap and Strike.

To aid in understanding I get my Students to break it into “Bite Size Pieces” that can be easily digested.

  1. Explore how to make the contact, which is the best / easiest way for your level of training { I am a big fan of the SUCK IT AND SEE method}.
  2. Approach how to locate the Arm to take hold, observing the position of the Elbow through out {taking note of the incorrect as well as the correct position}.
  3. Finally the Lap and Strike.

It is quite common for students to be over involved in the final step, the Lap and Strike, and as such they miss out on a great deal of useful knowledge in the set up.

Think “Finger pointing at the Moon”, if what you are focusing on is the finger, you will miss the Moons Heavenly Beauty.

A Map is not a Country.
A Map is not a Country.

I will begin with what is just a preparatory exercise and not actually Lap Sau, utilising Chum Sau we will become familiar with how to locate our Partners Arm to set up the Lap, and performing Kwan Sau will enable us to smoothly position our Hand in the Rear guard and of course give us Kwan Sau practice. This is not Lap Sau because there is no Lap.



A good practice to get into in any Drill is to look at the position you are in and ask yourself “What would need to happen for me to be in this position using this Action”?

The vast majority of Drills are unrealistic fabricated positions that are just a Training Construct, try not to get over excited and think you are fighting, pulling your Partners Arms off and seriously trying to connect your Punch.

This kind of practice can make you go blind, if you follow my drift.