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, 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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Articles, Food for Thought

WEEKEND HEADSPIN. THE TAKE AWAY FROM BIU GEE.

Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Of all the Wing Chun Forms Biu Gee is by far the most complex and far reaching, I am not trying to imply that it is difficult or advanced, just very, very deep, and a great deal of this is because through Biu Gee we are forced to reexamine everything we thought we knew from a more profound and dynamic perspective.

Above all else Biu Gee is closest to the manner in which we will make contact with an opponent in real time, as paradoxical as it sounds Biu Gee is the way we should use Chum Kiu, but we should not really be surprised by this, after all Chum Kiu is essentially Biu Gee inverted.

Question.   How deep is Biu Gee?

Answer.      As deep as we can make it.

Biu Gee introduces the universal physical IDEAs that are in play whenever we are using Wing Chun, but these IDEAs are not found in the movements of the Form itself  but in the way Biu Gee creates the moves, the way it employs applied kinesiology, and of course the more we each understand the facets of applied kinesiology the more we will take away from Biu Gee, it is simply not enough to turn up to class and ask Sifu we must hit the books, engage in serious research or at the very least ask Google.

Understanding the Conservation of Momentum Principal will revolutionise everything we know about striking. Understanding how Torquing increases force will change the way we pivot for ever. Understanding the Kinetic Linking Principle will have us creating power instead of using force. Kinetic linking expresses force as a wave and as such understanding the Doppler Effect will make us more effective in both defence and attack.

When we take our new knowledge back into our Forms the aim should be to see how all of the laws of natural science exist in their own right the Forms simply allow us to see these laws from the singular perspective of Wing Chun, but it is the science that is the real magic.

Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Learn the form, but seek the formless, learn it all, then forget it all, learn  “The Way”  {Dao}, then find your own way.

 

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Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY: CHI SAU:  INTENTIONS / CONCEPTS.

WHAT WE LEARN IS NOT THE SAME AS WHAT WE USE.

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.

 

 

 

 

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