Articles, Weekend Wonderland

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; ROTATION

analogies are at best only similar, they are never the same

I have mentioned in a previous article how I see Chum Kiu as an expansive set of movements and that I see Biu Gee as a compressive set of movements, this is a product of the type of rotation used in each Form, the most common type of rotation in Wing Chun is Eccentric Rotation, rotating on an axis that is not in the centre. Very few Wing Chun Instructors, myself included, have any real medical understanding of how the body works,  as a result we take some liberty with our explanations, we all mean well but often miss the mark.

In Wing Chun everything is powered by rotation, from the outset every time we connect with a partner / opponent the contact point, our wrist / bridge, is on the outer edge of a rotating spherical shape, hence the analogy of the Ball that gets used.  What takes some time to become fully aware of is that the vast majority of the rotations are coming from an axis point that is not in the centre of the sphere, the rotation is eccentric rotation, all of our arm movements are eccentric rotation due to the fact that our arm connects to our shoulder on part of the circumference of the imaginary ball not somewhere inside it, we do not rotate around our shoulder but from our shoulder, this point is important to be comfortable with.

When we engage in Chum Kiu we refer to moving from the hips, the hips are on the outside of the body, the rotation is anchored to the supporting leg that is also on the outside edge of the body, pivoting is moving in an arc from one supporting leg to another, the weight shift and lateral movement inherent in this type of action is one of our power generators, this is sometimes referred to as shifting our axis, I prefer to see this as moving to a new axis, either way it is not a fixed central axis, rotating on a fixed centre is spinning and does not increase power.  There is no need to over think this it is what our body does naturally, it is how we walk for one thing.

Biu Gee upper body movement {and it is only upper body movement that we study in Biu Gee, the waist is always Chum Kiu and the arms are always the first Form} is the only concentric rotation in Wing Chun, our complete shoulder girdle rotates around our central axis, our spine, which is firmly anchored on top of our pelvis which allows for rotation that is independent of the pelvis even though it is usually used in conjunction it is two actions working independently side by side and not two becoming one.

As I mentioned in the last post each Form has its own associated set of IDEAs that we ultimately need to resolve into the unified Form that is the Siu Lim Tao proper, this is why my reference of choice is the first Form most of the time instead of Siu Lim Tao Form.

words are just vehicles for painting pictures of IDEAs.

The most difficult part of teaching anything is in finding the correct way to describe the event we are involved in, Wing Chun is full of descriptions designed to create an image in our minds eye, we create analogies to aid understanding, balls, triangles and centre lines for example, analogies are at best only similar, they are never the same, when something is not the same we are to a very large extent talking about something that is not what we are involved in, it becomes misinformation to a degree, some of the analogies I use in my own teaching method are “Inflatable Skeleton and Overcoat Body”, very useful to create an image feeling but completely false when faced with the reality of what is happening.

Most of the standard explanations for Wing Chun rotation that I have heard are in the same vein, useful in painting mental pictures but completely false when faced with the reality of what is happening.

Something we all know instinctively but have difficulty understanding is that bones are not something that  move of their own accord, they need to be moved, and it is whatever is moving our bones that brings about rotation, not our hips, or shoulders and definitely not our spine. As someone that has undergone 6 spinal operations including spinal fusion and pinning I know intimately that vertebrae are not intended to move individually, at my Sifu’s school it was referred to in this way during Biu Gee instruction, the IDEA that you can rotate the vertebrae one at a time in an ascending order may help draw a picture but it is not how the spine works, when anything twists or winds it compresses becomes smaller and more dense, think of wringing a face cloth.

Unwinding has a very real and important part to play as well, although it is an integral part of Biu Gee it is often overlooked, to a certain extent all Chum Kiu rotation is unwinding, hence my describing it as expansive.  Another of my own analogies is that Chum Kiu opens the cupboard doors and Biu Gee closes them, a useful mental image that has nothing to do with what is occurring.

All rotation is the result of specific engagement of the core muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.

Is it any wonder Wing Chun Instructors just say move your hips.

As understandable as it may be are we any better off taking this approach?

I think not, from a personal standpoint I can easily and readily feel my muscles even when relaxed, but though I live with constant back pain I am relatively unaware of my spine, and I am not even sure I have a shoulder girdle.

All rotation is muscular, all rotation is core winding, Chum Kiu rotates  a flat plate and Biu Gee a vertical pole, both rotate horizontally, Big Gee may traverse a helix but any chosen set point is rotating horizontally.

Chum Kiu rotation is a very complex arrangement of all of the deep abdominals, the engagement of which will vary at different positions in the weight shift, luckily for us our brain will take care of the details.

Biu Gee is controlled mainly by the Sacrospinalis and oblique abdominals, but is of course anchored and assisted by the deep abs and diaphragm.

Becoming consciously aware of and then actively using our core muscles may be a challenge at first, especially if we have spent years convincing ourselves that we are moving our bones, but the difference in stability and power are worth the effort. Never forget that deep down we all know we cannot move bones and as such we also know that we are pretending to do something that is not humanly possible.

In my teaching method I use a great many exercises that are not directly related to Wing Chun, exercises that derive from ballet, from sword play and of course ice hockey, these exercises greatly improve effective movement that in turn improves all Wing Chun practices, I no longer teach pivoting in any way my Sifu taught me, instead I have everyone focus on identifying and engaging all of the core muscles relative to the action, as a result my students pivot much better, much sooner with far less struggle, it helps that I do not teach anyone under 18 years of age, most are in their late 20’s to 40’s, so most students already have body skills associated with their work that engage the core on a regular basis, one of my guys is a Brick layer, he spends 8 hours a day engaged in what is essentially Biu Gee rotation laying bricks, I have plumbers and landscapers that use shovels for many hundreds of hours a year, once we tapped into this they took to pivoting like Traffic Cops take to Sunglasses.

This is too big a subject to do any credit to in a blog post, hopefully it will encourage you to do some independent study outside of the Wing Chun method, once you understand what your body needs to do to rotate effectively you can call it anything you want, describe it anyway you want, words only make true sense to the person that speaks or writes them, words are just vehicles for painting pictures of IDEAs.

 

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY. BROKEN POSITIONS

FIGHTS HAPPEN AT HANDSHAKE DISTANCE

FIGHTING RANGE

In the last post I mentioned that we aim to be in the right place at the right time. easier said than done because as a counter attacking martial art the first choice of where to be will never be ours, we will be under pressure, more than likely already in physical contact in a place of the Bad Guy’s choosing, so how do we turn it around and put ourselves in a position of dominance?

For me this is the main practical use of Chum Kiu, and of course what we should be exploring through the practice of the Form itself.

Mainly due to this Blog I get quite a few visitors that come to work just on Chum Kiu, from the beginning I ask them “why do we do Chum Kiu”? The answer are usually somewhere between”For movement {it is our footwork} or to create power”.  As I have said elsewhere Chum Kiu is not about moving, it is about stopping, or to be more precise re-stabalising, what we are exploring through Chum Kiu is where do we shift our weight to when we shift our weight?

This is an aspect of Chum Kiu that is difficult to explain in writing, it is even difficult to demonstrate on video because it really needs to be felt.

And of course why do we do that in the first place?

Firstly lets never forget that the Wing Chun fighting range is close range, closer than our Chi Sau position, Handshake distance, less than one arms length, the space that is taken up when the Bad Guy grabs us by the throat, at this range Stability is more important than Mobility, but do not doubt that we will be moving, if for no other reason than as a result of our nervous system responding to the incoming attack. If we are lucky we will be aware of the attack and in some control of our movements, if we are shifting or pivoting it is an attempt to shift or pivot without compromising our Stability, the smaller the move the better, the less we are destabilised the more chance we have of gaining the upper hand, often regaining our good upright posture from a broken position is all that is really needed.

If we have been surprised and experienced a Spinal Reflex Action then our first move is to stop moving, or rather regain stability. If you think back to the last post our attackers forward pressure on us is returned to him by his own actions as we regain stability.

Let’s not slip into Wing Chun la la land here, unless we are being attacked by a complete dummy our position will be broken.

Something I have observed over many years of teaching is that when students engage in Chum Kiu analysis they begin in a perfect position and then pivot or shift, this is of course the correct way to start as it allows us explore the IDEA from an easy position, however once we are familiar with this way we really do need to explore doing the postures from a broken position, after all it is not how we start or how we move that is the real learning objective, it is how do we finish?

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FIGHTING RANGE from Derek Evans on Vimeo.

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In life the journey may be important but in a fight there is only the destination, everything else is just transport.

It does not matter which particular posture we choose to work this with, in time they are all the same, a good place to start is the Lan Sau.

Once we learn how to regain our good position we simply hit whatever is in range, this in turn will move the opponent and allow us to engage from the position we train in, in fact we will more than likely need to chase him down or pull him back to keep him in the Kill Zone.

The Wing Chun fighting range is anywhere we can hit the Guy, from a one inch punch to a fully extended Biu Gee finger jab.  Let the Bad Guy be the architect of his own destruction, let him come unto us.  This after all is the Wing Chun way.

 

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Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

W.C.W. CREATING LIMITATIONS.

 

careered-india-career-opportunities-in-indian-ngos-8-638

Most of us understand instinctively that to be truly competent at anything, Kung Fu, Sport, playing a Musical Instrument we only accomplish it once we can free ourselves up, free up our thinking, free up our emotions, be uninhabited physically,  give our body permission to choose what it believes to be the best option.

This is a paradox that as Humans we seem to meet at every juncture, every turning point in our existence, unless we set ourselves free we will usually fall short of our goal, our best efforts are hampered by our own limitations.

But where did these limitations come from?

The short answer is ourselves, short but not very helpful.

The longer and more complex answer is that we worked hard and long to put these limitations in place, we chose to do this consciously and deliberately.  The first step to Freeing Ourselves Up is to understand and accept that this is what we did, and possibly what we are still doing.

When we began Kung Fu training we had nothing, no ability, no knowledge but of greater importance no limitations, but that is not such a good thing, without limits to work within it is easy to wander off and get lost, in time limits become limitations, however without limitations to escape we can never set ourselves free , so we really had no choice but to introduce some, there is no other way.

In respect of Wing Chun all of our Forms, all of our Chi Sau all of our training is to a certain extent the systematic creation of limitations.  The building of a cage that from day one we intend to escape from.

To be able to grow in an environment fraught with limitations we instinctively become creative, expansive.

Limitations are the Bridge that spans the gulf between ‘not knowing’ and ‘knowing’.

All of our Forms, all of our Chi Sau, all of our training are nothing more than the plans to a gilded cage, they are important, indeed essential if we ever intend to transcend from trying, to doing, the big question is ‘how and when do we break out’?

To continually work on the same things may seem like a way to improve but how can it be? How you trained last year, last month, last week is what it took to get you to where you are now, how can doing the same thing possibly take you anywhere else, if you always do the same thing you will always get the same result, all constant repetition does is force your knowledge to stagnate, progress is movement, progress is change.

Learn the Form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the Way, then find your own Way.   

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
Articles, My Own Opinion

FEATHER RUFFLING TIME:

PUNCHES END THINGS

 

Lets Ruffle some Feathers.
Lets Ruffle some Feathers.

cartoon-character-popeye

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.

WHAT KIND OF DAY WAS IT FOR HIM….
Wing Chun Wednesday

W.C.W. TWO DIFFERENT FISH.

KNOWLEDGE / ABILITY

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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.

WHAT TYPE OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?
WHAT TYPE OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?