Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Knee Pressure

What is knee pressure? why do we stress it so much during class?

For the longest time, I had no concept of what knee pressure was really supposed to be. Of course, I did what was told in class - to squeeze the knees slightly during the IRAS (Internal Rotation Adduction Stance) - but really, I had no idea what the end product was supposed to be. I just hoped it would somehow develop into whatever it was supposed to develop into.

Behold - chi sao! This is when I started to feel the strange benefits and reactions of knee pressure/stance work. The two go hand in hand - without knee pressure, you can't maintain a strong stance..especially in our awkward wing tsun ways (feet parallel, upright body position, let alone - pigeon toed!).

And now, just looking back, knee pressure is not something about squeezing the knees together. It's more of a reaction to an attackers stimulus that compresses the legs/knees together. It seems to do a few things:

1) it lowers the center of gravity - especially in our upright stance, we can still maintain a lowered center of gravity.

2) it encourages our body to drop into the ground, rather than lift ourselves upright (related to above point).

3) It stresses relaxation - can't really replicate the effects of knee pressure unless you're relaxed.

4) It protects the groin area - as the knees close in together, they hinder the path for an attackers leg to strike the groin.

5) anything else you'd like to add?

Best part is, as you get better, the "physical requirements" of really bringing those knees together dissapear and what you are able to get is an end product w/ the benefits of knee pressure but without the pigeon toed look. You are able to replicate this while standing completely naturally. How cool is that?

Isn't that how fighting should be? - natural?..not stiff and locked into our classical ways (eg. a pigeon toed stance)?

Until then.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Useless Moves?

Almost anyone can pin point moves/techniques, either in kata, kumite, drills, etc in which they deem useless but kept either for tradition, because "sifu says", or simply "just cuz". Whatever the case, it's pretty obvious that many feel that this is the case. Look at MMA - it's boiled down to a grappling art, some kickboxing and you're set! What happened to phoenix eye, tornado kicks, the cat stance...OR..even..the crane kick?

Wing Tsun touts being an efficient fighting system. Efficient as in how? That takes advantage of the shortest distance to reach its target? Efficient in not having to kick high? Efficient in being practical? Efficient in being one of the faster arts to learn/use?

But are there techniques in the system that is really redundant, or really not that practical, even though it may have practical implications? For all those "chunners" out there, take a moment to step away from the "WING CHUN IS THE BEST" perspective and examine what moves do we use too much, or not needed?

Is it tan sao? Is it bong sao?

I think we use bong sao way too much.

I also think we stick too much.

I don't think we need to stick at all nor do I think we need to use bong sao.

But to get to this level, we do NEED both?

What do you think?

Until then.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why Are You Not Here?

As with many schools, including the school I'm in, there is a turnover rate. On top of that, the men easily outnumber that of women participants. Why? I can't say, but I can say why I've left other schools.

  • Cost - the price per hour of instruction or monthly cost for what you're getting out of the class is low. Either you're spending 50% of the class stretching and doing pushups or the number of classes per week is minimal (one/week).
  • Sport oriented - the martial art was geared to tournament sparring or forms competition. Apparently, the number of trophies is an accurate reflection of martial skill
  • Not realistic - as much as they tout how realistic the art could be used, the focus was purely on sport and no matter how fast my punches were or how many points I could rally in kumite, I really didn't have the confidence. Even able to "hold my own" against other martial artists at the time of differing style, I still didn't feel this was it for me and that there was more out there.
  • Glass ceiling - it was not a matter of if I could get that black belt, it was a matter of when. I knew that the "black belt" was simply a matter of being able to spar decently during a belt test, learn my katas, and perform good technique. No test in whether I truly know my stuff - if my skills were automatic, reflexive, alive..and FUNCTIONAL.
So let's go back to why the low female attendance? Honestly, wing tsun faces the truth that we are confronting a stronger, intimidating, bigger opponent. Because we make this such a known point, female practitioners have to really face this fact. In doing so, the whole experience is intimidating, frustrating and pair this up with the fact that wing tsun is not easy to apply (initially)..especially against egotistical male macho-ness (either aggressive or even in a passive manner) and you get frustrated females who jump ship and instead learn katas (beating the crap outta imaginary partners and kiai-ing the air).

Unfortunately for men, they underestimate the danger of the attacker and assume that our partners in class are reflective of what we face on the street. So, interestingly, we get a certain type of man that enrolls in arts like wing tsun. add..guys like that get their asses wooped on the streets or in the ring and so you can't blame the MMA guys who point at laugh at wing tsun guys.

Until then.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Why Are You Here?

Why are you learning martial arts? Why wing chun, karate, kung fu? How come you've chosen your art, considering the plethora of arts that are in your area. Well, at least in the Vancouver lower mainland, there are numerous karate, taekwondo schools, many kung fu schools, some capoeira and the list goes on and on.

For myself, 2 things that I was looking for:

1) Practical street self-defense. At the time, it was pretty much limited to Wolfe's Hapkido (also known as Defendo now), and wing chun. Everything else: karate, tkd, kick boxing, tai chi, etc "says" they could be applied for self-defense, but none was actually teaching it that way. MMA was still relatively young, but it was gaining momentum very fast.

2) Whatever system I chose, I felt that there's something inherently important in knowing that whatever you happened to learn in class that it was 100% applicable in application. For example, in kung fu ,you would learn tiger claw, but when it came to sparring/fighting, the tiger claw never made its debut, rather it was the jab, right cross, etc.

3) Curriculum and structure - this probably came from my karate days. I liked the idea of structure and a set curriculum. I personally found it hard to adjust to the more lax teaching style of some of the wushu instructors I've met.

4) It's gotta work! Can the instructor consistently apply his methods? or is he just getting lucky because he's faster than me or stronger than me?

5) Costs. There's gotta be a balance between what you pay for, what you get, and what you can afford. Interestingly, what you pay is not always reflective to what you get. A lot of the other wing chun schools here charge WAY too much considering the lack of skill the school is producing.

So what are your reasons? We will touch on why people leave a particular school next time.

Until then.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Just wanted to take a moment to step away from the WT side of things and just thank those of you who are helping me pay for this site by clicking on my ads. I'm currently using Google's adsense and i have to say, it's for the most part, decent and easy to use and incorporate.

Seems like regulars click less, but still there are clickers. Each time you guys click, I get a little bit of the change. By all means, not a lot. But just wanted to say thanks for dropping by and for those that click, to keep on clicking ;) My goal is get this yearly domain subscription paid off.

thanks folks!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Most Technical Street Fight Ever

It seems that IN every forum or every youtube video..there's always that ONE guy who, about 3 comments in has to add the "try this against some MMA guy" blah blah blah. And then this is followed up by the wing chun guy that says "yea but there are rules" blah blah blah...which is usually followed up with "come over and i'll show you" etc etc etc.

Anyway, check this video out. There are two on the grassy area, and one on cement.

I think this should be an eye opener for MMA with regards to the DANGERS of MMA fighting (note that i didn't say 'effectiveness'.) In the first fight on the grass, buddy is taken down and hits his back on the a cement edge. OUCH. Second fight, the guy is on the guard position and has his head slammed into the cement and immediately lets go.


I wonder what MMA would look like if they fought on cement regularly. and added the occasional bumps and edges to the terrain. I'm not going to say grappling doesn't work or that they have no technique or skill or whatnot..all i'm asking is that they consider what/how their fighting methods would train if they kept this in mind....

Also..i don't know if these guys are really skilled. But let's take the first few seconds of the first fight as an example. You take away the muscles and the idea that these guys are in a MMA reality show and just imagine this in a playground. how is this fight any different from two "amateurs" going at it? they just grab each other! Not to say that WT/WC guys aren't guilty of it...but i'm just saying they shouldn't be so fast to talk..

Until then.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What makes WC so great?

I find it interesting that many describe the reasons of wing chun, wing tsun, etc as great because it's "scientific" or it's based on geometry, angles or "multi-vector forces". So say the economy of motion is the key or sensitivity training.

To me, wing tsun is not a better martial art for any of these reasons. All martial arts have some degree of economy of motion, geometry, multi-vector forces, uses the opponents strength, etc. Sure there are some that deviate but in doing so they gain other benefits at the expense of "economy of motion" or whatever point you want to insert there. All martial arts are limited by the physics of this earth, by the physiology of our attacker and ourselves - we are bound to geometry, angles and whatnot.

Wing chun is not good because it has simultaneous attack and defense. It is not good because it has bong sao or has a high stance, etc etc. All these benefits are found in any successful fighter in any other art because again, they are bound by the same rules as we are. Those that know how to apply their art will adjust it so that, although the training may be different, in application, the stance may be high, the movements are more "economical" and the kicks are just comes with experience. That goes true with karate, kick boxing, kung fu, etc. It's just that there are few that can apply it well, as a result, this commonality is lost.

WC is just as good as silat, which is just as good as bjj which is just as good capoeira. They all end at the same point, but very few people ever get there. The majority of us confuse the training regimen as true application, and judge the art as so. We think, oh karate doesn't have simulataneous attack/defense or there's no economy of motion in choy lay fat kung fu...what is this based on? the forms we see people practice? or better yet, the teacher that has no understanding of how it's supposed to be used (but may have a lot of knowledge of the forms)?

Until then.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Chain Punch

When practicing my chain punching, I’ve noticed that in times of fatigue or simply just “brainless” chain punching, my punches are faster during the last 2/3 of the punch than the first 1/3 of the punch. I’ve noticed it’s not delivered in consistent explosive 100% committed bursts. If I look carefully, it seems that the first few inches of “punch-delivery” is slower than when the punch is nearing completion.

Why is this? My thoughts – in weight training, when you lift a weight (let’s say 45 kg plates during bench press), the majority of stress on your muscle occurs during the initial push and as you gradually continue the push, the weight gets “lighter” in the sense that muscles aren’t stressed the same way. This is why you see many people cheat when they perform an exercise – they only go down less than half way but are able to stack on the weight plates. I believe this effect is due to leverage, angles inherent in the positioning of our arms in relation to chest during the exercise, as well as pre-existing muscle conditions. As you continue with the push the amount of weight exerted on your muscle decreases since the angles change as you continue with the push, thus leverage changes thereby decreasing the force required to push the weight.

If this idea can be extended to the chain punch, this may explain why the chain punch is relatively slower in the first part of the punch compared to the last part of the punch. To counter this, what I’ve tried to do is focus on exerting more initial burst so that the speed of the punch at the beginning of delivery is consistent with that at the end of delivery. In class, I sometimes ask students to imagine the scenario that their forearms are chopped off and they have to hit w/ the ‘stubs” of the elbow. This might help you get the idea of the type of driving force I’m trying to replicate.

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