Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: WHATS THE DEAL WITH CONTROL?

WHO IS REALLY CONTROLLING WHOM?

 

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.

Why?

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, Food for Thought

WEEKEND HEAD SPIN: THE CONCEPT CONUNDRUM.

There is a constant and vigorous conundrum alive within Wing Chun that arrises from the very fact that W.C. is a conceptual Martial Art, this conundrum is born from the very reasons we approach the concepts in the first place, our personal need, what we are looking for and what we hope to discover.

A concept is the seed for an IDEA, an IDEA is the blueprint for action, but what action do we approach the concept to find a blueprint for?

Do we know?

Any creative thinker worth their salt will tell you that good concepts are intended to create many varied IDEAS in many different directions, like a round room with many windows offers many different views.

From my perspective Wing Chun is always about Fist Logic, so any of the Wing Chun concepts I ponder will always create IDEAS associated with Fist Logic, other Teachers have a more spiritual IDEA, or a more wholistic IDEA and this will create blueprints for Mind Logic or Body Logic.

To place this conundrum of the Logics in a way that is easier to appreciate think of the concept of Freedom. 

It is a very different IDEA for political activists like WikiLeaks, a teenage girl in a religious household, a wrongly incarcerated prisoner.

But it is the same concept.

Wing Chun can never really be taught unless your teacher can show you a way to view the World and everything in it.

The only person that can do that is ourselves.

The only person worth listening to is ourselves.

My Sifu Jim Fung advised me to never take the pilgrimage to Hong Kong,  he thought it was a complete waste of time, he told me “unless you are willing to go live in Hong Kong and learn what it means to be a Hong Kong resident with all its implications you will never understand your teacher and as a result you will never understand his IDEA of  Wing Chun”.

The Concept Conundrum means that we must know the answer before we look for the question.

 

 

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Articles, Video's, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: WHY WE SHOULDN’T IGNORE THE CONTACT POINT.

What is doing the work, and where is it being done?

 

 

Why does this “ignore the contact point” reference get used at all when it is not in any way correct?

This blog is primarily a portal for my own students to stay up to date with how I am thinking day to day, this is important because our training sessions usually mirror what I am currently talking about on the Blog, so on this past Monday, the second day ofJuly 2018, working on Chum Kiu we were looking at how to use our Kinetic chain to increase momentum so that we could apply WORK to our partner / opponent.

It is my personal conviction that to truly understand Chum Kiu we must understand mechanically exactly what is creating the work, what is doing the work, where the work is being done and what we expect to occur because of the work, these are all very seperate issues.

In physics, a force is said to do work if, when acting, there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force. Wikipedia.

One of my guys told me that he had very recently seen a video where a Wing Chun  Master was instructing his student to “ignore the contact point”.

This is plainly a contradiction of the established science, but it is something that I have heard said before at my Sifu’s school, I have even had an Instructor advise me to avoid the contact point!!!

Which is of course totally impossible, at least in this universe and this dimension.

Why does this “ignore the contact point” reference get used at all when it is not in any way correct? 

Wing Chun is a versatile and effective fighting art that is based on some very clever thinking about how to use the body, but its main strength is of course Fist Logic, and as we would expect Fist Logic does not ignore the contact point, Fist Logic is all about the contact point.

They move, we hit ’em.

At our very first introduction to Wing Chun we are told to make contact with the opponents wrist because it gives a leverage advantage, it is where we do what we do, where we intercept, where we redirect, where we latch, where we Pak, if we ignore the contact point how do we play Chi Sau?

 In so many ways the contact point is the only point worth making.

Every now and then we come across some explanations or ideas in Wing Chun that are really silly, in my experience these are usually translation issues and not genuine silliness, that is why if we ever have doubt we should check the science behind it, Wing Chun is very clever and the science proves it.

 


This passing on of silly ideas is not helped by the fact that in some Wing Chun circles there seems to be a complete misunderstanding between the function of MIND and the function of BRAIN with regards to what does what within the human body, but this is for another post.

 

 

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Articles, In Response to comments, Video's, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: STABILITY, DO WE UNDERSTAND IT?

 

Of all of our stances the Goat Stance, Y.C.K.Y.Mah, is the least stable and the least suited for accepting force

What do we mean by stability.

To most students stability is the ability to stay still or remain in place, such as maintaining our Y.C.K.Y. Mah stance {Goat Grabbing Stance or Goat Stance} against pressure while playing Chi Sau, this is very much the IDEA that comes through when training in the First Form.

But is this the only way to look at stability, is it even the correct way when we are talking about dynamic, antagonistic situations?

Stability is also defined as “the property of a body that causes it when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion to develop forces or moments that restore the original condition”.

From a dynamic antagonistic perspective “to come back to the original position from a condition of steady motion” begins to make stability look a great deal more like a product of Chum Kiu than a product of the First Form.

Sometimes looking at what we do from a purely mechanical perspective can give us a clear indication of what we should be doing instead of just doing what we have been told or what we think we are meant to do.

What are the requirements for stability?

The things that have a great impact on stability are the height of the Centre of Gravity {CoG}, the size of the base of support {in our case the width of the feet}, the orientation to the line of force and the weight of the object.

We cannot do much about our weight { we can of course borrow weight from our opponent / partner but that is a different topic} but we can easily and readily adjust the height of our CoG, the size of our base of support and our orientation to the line of force.

The lower the CoG, the larger the base of support {width of the feet} the greater the stability, the higher the CoG, the smaller the base of support stability is diminished.

If we compare the Goat Stance of the First Form with the Front Stance from the Chum Kiu we find that the Goat Stance has a higher CoG and a much smaller base of support than the Front Stance of Chum Kiu, the obvious result is that the Goat Stance is  less stable, even without the implications of orientation to the line of force.

If we follow the progression of our training on to the Horse Riding Stance from the knives and pole we are bringing in even more stability, but this is not how much of mainstream Wing Chun explains itself.

This is science not opinion and it is independently verifiable so there is no need to take my word as truth, Google it.

Of all of our stances the goat Stance, Y.C.K.Y.Mah, is the least stable and least suitable for accepting force, but this is the opposite of what is most often taught. 

As I pointed out in an earlier post the Y.C.K.Y.Mah comprises of 2 rear leg positions and is how we are introduced to the mechanics of Chum Kiu movement through activation of the adductor muscles, it prepares for movement, not how to stand still.

Allowing the physics to just be physics what we should be thinking is whether we wish to be still or be mobile, how to move from a position of stillness or how to achieve stability from movement and what is the best way to accomplish this. 

This is of course one of the two the central learning objectives of Chum Kiu, the second being how to support our arms with our body which is another aspect of bringing in stability.

This leads us on to weight shifting {which is expanded and refined through studying the Biu Gee Form} and understanding what is actually doing the work, where we want that work done and what we hope to achieve through the work, in this instance I am talking about work in a purely mechanical sense, as in work and load.

 

 

Every Middle School kid in the world understands that stability is the cornerstone of power production, stability is the cornerstone of force absorption, why is it then that most of our training is done from the least stable of our stances?

There is a reason, a good reason, Wing Chun is a very clever martial art, but here as in so many instances in Wing Chun the messenger is getting mistaken for the message.

Would you try to push a stalled car from the position of the Goat Stance, and if not why not if it is such a good stance?

 

 

 

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Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: CHI SAU, WHERE TO FROM HERE? pt2

 

Does this mean that I think Chi Sau as a practice has no value?

Absolutely not, I think Chi Sau is a great exercise once we look in the right direction, I think it can be truly amazing, a genuine crossroads to endless possibilities

My teacher Sifu Jim Fung was a very pragmatic teacher, he taught Wing Chun as a fighting art, his training class was usually Form Analysis, Power Production and Real World Applications, he rarely taught Chi Sau, if we wanted to practice Chi Sau we were advised to turn up early and roll with our fellow instructors before he commenced teaching, this meant that to a large extent we were left to our own devices. Many of the more senior students travelled to Hong Kong to train with my Sifu’s Master, and this heavily influenced the way Chi Sau was played, Sifu would tongue in cheek call this Hong Kong Sports Chi Sau, when I asked him why he saw it this way he told me that in his opinion no one was trying to learn anything, everyone was just trying to score points on their partner, in his own early training Sifu Jim only trained privately one on one with his master Chu Shong Tin as a result he never took part in the social side of Chi Sau, he was my Sifu and to me his opinion mattered so I asked him how I should change my approach, Sifu Jim always maintained that Chi Sau was just a means to an end and not an end in itself, that the Chi Sau collective of Lok Sau, Lap Sau and Gwoh Sau where exercises to develop dexterity, learn how to free up the shoulder joint while moving it and increase range of motion, it was not meant for application, he would advise to never attack in Chi Sau and to never try to do Chi Sau if you are attacking, he would say that the essence of Chi Sau was  “Loi Lau Hoi Song, Lat Sau Jik Chong”, stick with what comes in, follow what goes out and when the hands are free strike, so what we should be looking for in Chi Sau was not a way of manipulating our partner but a way to find a position where our hands are free, if we add to this thought the maxim accredited to Chan Wah Shun “Ying Siu Bo Fa, Ying Fu Sung Yung”, which translates along the lines of structure neutralises, footwork dissolves, the only conclusion we should come up with is that we should be implementing physical movements like pivoting, shifting, stepping wherever possible, however this movement should not be to apply pressure to our partner but to find this free position where we can work unhindered.

I was fortunate in the fact that I ran a sub-school or branch for my Sifu so he would spend five to ten minutes with me {and my wife who I trained with} every training evening as he did with all branch leaders, this eventually ended up as him teaching me how to teach myself a better approach to Chi Sau.  Usually I would simply roll Lok Sau and Sifu would apply ever increasing amounts of force to my arms pushing in the shape of a strike, my task was to learn how to take that force into my body, after a few minutes we would change roles so that I could feel how he would adjust the pressure in his arms to alter the return force of my actions, at five to ten minutes a week this was no crash course by any means but as I trained with my wife who was also an instructor he would show us how to work this at home. Over the years he would give us advice on how to take this training forwards by introducing Chum Kiu concepts, Biu Gee concepts , this was not secret information often it was vague and thinly detailed he wanted us to find our own way, he once said to me “if you look closely you will see that nothing is what we think it is in Chi Sau, especially Fook Sau”, but never expanded on that thought.

Interestingly he advised us to give away all of the fancy trimmings such as Running Palms, Trapping, over arm Bong Sau moves or pushing each other around the room as he maintained that all of these ideas only come into play if we are directly in front of someone having made contact with both arms, and the only reason to ever be in that place is to play Chi Sau, most of the work he wanted us to do was about receiving and shedding force, and to understand that “outside goes in, inside goes out and nothing goes forwards”.

Does this mean that I think Chi Sau as a practice has no value?

Absolutely not, I think Chi Sau is a great exercise once we look in the right direction, I think it can be truly amazing a genuine crossroads to endless possibilitiesChi Sau is multi faceted yet so many people only look one way, things we should be learning is how to deal with the physical aspect of being pushed around, violently pushed around and not guided like a shopping trolley, then more importantly how to avoid it, how to counter it and how to reorient ourselves into a stronger position, and most of all how to do it right now.     As I say this was not secret information, Sifu would tell all the class that only one person should do Chi Sau and that person should only be defending and moving while the other person only attacked, sadly it wasn’t what many people wanted to hear, and so they did not hear it, we have all been guilty of this over the years, in more than just Wing Chun, if you doubt it ask your parents or your partner…..

The following video was from a very active training session and towards the back end of the video I am a bit loud and pumped, I apologise if I sound like I am talking AT YOU and not to you, it is not my intention.

 

 

If we can be honest, and as Martial Artists who believe that somewhere along the line we will need these skills, it is best not kid ourselves up, what I am describing makes a lot more practical sense than grind, grind, chug, chug of Hong Kong Sports Chi Sau even though it is not so much fun.

 

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