Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WT Vehicle Part 2

To me Wing Tsun is a vehicle for us to learn how to fight. It’s a means of teaching us how to use our body as a weapon but it does not dictate what the final end product will be.  This could be said of any martial art whether it’s karate, kung fu, brazilian jiu jitsu, etc.  It does not necessarily (although there will be influences) dictate how you will fight but it provides you with the skills, tool and knowledge you can use to incorporate into your fighting. Some like the kata and hardcore aspect of training and turn to kyokushin karate.  Others prefer a softer approach as it better reflects their personality or physical attributes and turn to bagua zhang.  In either case, one style doesn’t determine who the better fighter is.  The style simply better suits the person’s learning style so as to better encourage them, provide the necessary tools and skills that fit their body type and temperament, and it would also reflect their understanding of the fight – its psychology, its variables, its emotion. In any event, the style itself is no guarantee of fighting ability.

 

Some will argue that some styles are simply better tailored for fighting than others. Sure, maybe that’s true. Just like how jeeps are better tailored for earthy terrain compared to a Porsche boxter.  But then again, the boxter is better suited for the windy tarmac terrain compared to the jeep. This discussion is best suited for another day…

 

There’s a point where the vehicle does its job – it’s built solidly, has a firm suspension, 415 horses, etc - and so crossing the finish line is all on the driver. . So you’re the driver. You got your tan sao (for the most part), you got your structure (for the most part), you got yourself some good chain punches (for the most part) and you’ve got some tactile sensitivity (for the most part) – these are all aspects we train in class with a partner - So now how are you going to translate that over to the free-fighting scenario?

 

I think this is a question that many are scared to ask themselves.  It’s like day 1 all over again. You’re training your body to react in a different way. It’s fun, but also painful – not only physically but also to the ego. But you can’t let that stop you from what your goals are. Heck, if that were true, WT is not for you.  But this is something where little attention is paid, either in the classroom or even in the martial arts media.  Applied WT is different from WT fighting and it would be something that I’d like to see and trying to figure out for myself…

 

Am I asking that we should spar or, dare I say it, bring into the octagon? Not necessarily. I do appreciate the difference between a street fight from a cage fight – but they do share similarities and introduce variables not found in partner drill training.  In our class, we look at the entire spectrum of fully offensive to fully defensive, from using lots of forward pressure to very little, from an aggressive offensive position to a worse-case compromised position, so why not incorporate some aspect of free-fighting variability, un-cooperative play and physical resistance?

 

Until then and happy new year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wing Chun Perception

Check out Adam Williss's latest post describing the actor's, Robert Downey Jr, turn to wing chun to help him overcome his addiction problems.  I think this is great and brings some well-needed positive light to the martial art.

Perhaps this and the latest Ip Man movie, will help shed some publicity to the art of wing chun. I think it's time that Wing Tsun/Chun get some of lime light and be represented in some mainstream studio production. 

Who should we star to use sell this style? Someone who knows what they're doing..or someone who doesn't? How about an unscripted fight scene? that would be fun...

Until then.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Muscle Building Program

As many of you may know, I'm not in the camp that believes that weight training will slow your wing tsun down. I really believe that when guys say that, it's just an excuse to cover up either their laziness or their insecurities of not being bigger and justify it with the fact tthat they are taking wing tsun, karate, kung fu, etc lessons. 

It's not like i'm endorsing "bulking up" nor do i believe it will make your martial skill any better. i just get a kick out of a black belt snobbing off weight training as they think it'll "slow them down". 

Anyway..

In the beginning of the year, I took part in an online training regimen that helped me lose some weight. I was noticing some fat gains from December '07.  I finished the program in April then the stresses of moving out, renovations, and changes on the career front put the whole weight training program on the back burner.  Couple this with a depleted daily diet, I was losing quite a bit of weight..to the point where I was feeling pretty scrawny and could see it in the mirror too. By this time, it's been a year or longer in which I touched a dumbbell. 

So, in Sept of '08, I started a muscle building program. It was 16 weeks long and the concepts were incredibly simple:

1) Eat lots (for me, that meant eating around 2500-3000 calories a day).
2) Lift hard  (each day that you push weights, either increase by 1 rep or add more weight)
3) Get lots of sleep/rest (this was tougher, but tried to get the 8 hrs). 

The program consisted of 4 days/week training- 2 days upper body and 2 days lower body.   It is known that when you build muscle, you will gain fat, so integrating cardio helps slow this fat gain down. For me, because I was having a hard time consuming enough calories, I skipped out on the cardio. 

The program was set to do the same routine for 2 weeks. Then the routine would change (either in rep count, exercises performed, number of sets, or all of the above).  This would just keep your body guessing and shocked so that it can't get used to the same thing.

In terms of equipment - I have access to dumbbells - the highest was 50 lbs. I also had access to a universal gym (seated bench press, chest flies). Ideally, the program wants you to use a barbbell and dumbbells.  I was limited to what I had and I felt that the universal gym wasn't great but good enough. 50 lb dumbbells are not heavy enough, especially within 4 weeks - but this is up to whatever you're used to.  Also, a chinup bar is ABSOLUTELY neccessary.  I also used a weighted backpack - buying some used weight plates (10lb, 35lb) and shoved them in there. I would also throw in some dumbbells instead of the weight plates into the backpack when it was better suited. 

I could only do max of 3 chinups when I started.

It's been a really fun experience. Workouts weren't longer than 40 minutes and the routine was fun and utilized compound exercises instead of isolation exercises.  The different rep schemes also helped make the routines go by quick. 

My goal - just gain some of the muscle I lost earlier in the year. I'm not trying to get "huge" (and by the way, would be INCREDIBLY difficult to do..) and I didn't care if I gained fat. 

So now I'm almost finished! I have about 2 more weeks left. I will be posting pictures of the progress. So stay tuned!

Until then.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Footwork

When we talk about footwork in the martial art circles, many conjure up the image of Muhammad Ali or Bruce Lee in the "Way (Return) of the Dragon". With the advent of MMA, footwork also can mean sprawling to avoid being taken down to the ground.  

But what about in WT? What does it mean to have good footwork in WT? Unfortunately, the images conjured up are the 'hilarious' stepping scene in the chum kiu and the lack-thereof in the siu-nim-tau.  Even step/punch drills look pretty unorthodox and anything but intimidating.   We don't even have those cool horse/crane/mantis stances either...

So to answer, what is WT footwork? Really, it's all about being mobile in the midst and range of flying punches and kicks. If you notice, many other arts are actually stationary during the delivery of the punch and during the defense of one. All that fancy footwork pauses in the moment the assailant/defender must deal with a kick, punch, attack.  WT footwork, on the other hand, takes the opposite approach - only mobile when you're in the range of punches and kicks. 

That means moving while you can be hit. Moving while you're attacking, moving while a kick is about to hit you. Naturally, the thing to do is to stand there and absorb the blow or deflect it.  Stand there. That means, standing still for that moment. So where's the mobility?

In the flurry of hitting, the WT person should be mobile within hitting range. This also disguises the mobility as well. Kinda cool eh? 

Yep, but you guessed it - it's incredibly difficult to do.  But isn't that always the case with WT?

Until then. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Legs are cool

So in my last post, I discussed the idea of kinetic linking in wing tsun training. The idea being that chi sao and other training tools in the curriculum allow for the practitioner to create this linking and ability to do so more efficiently so that he can absorb force and deliver strikes in a completely upright position, instead of having to take a low/wide stance when throwing a punch or kick.

So once you figure out the kinetic linking idea, you start to realize what muscles you are using (it's a sign that your body is getting more efficient at this!). Now most of the time, we focus on arms and chest. And as you get better, the shoulder, and back muscles too. But we can't forget the legs!

The legs are incredibly huge muscles and shouldn't be ignored. Although not as obvious in the scheme of fighting (beyond kicking), the legs are used to connect your upper torso to the ground. They transfer energy into the ground and from the ground upwards into the arms. SO, my point is, train the legs and the better it can transfer this energy either one way or the other.

As your legs get stronger, that means it can transfer energy out (your punchers are powerful) or that it can absorb a huge amount of energy (your bong sao or pak sao gets incredibly heavier and structured). If you work your legs out regularly, you also increase the limberness in the joints as well as the muscles themselves.

I'm not asking to squat abnormal amount of weights. I'm just saying, don't forget them! I'm sure many of you are doing pushups but why not throw some body weight squats into the mix? or some forward lunges? Even knee bends will help lubricate the joints. You have to admit, standing in IRAS (internal rotation adduction stance) can really make your legs stiff..almost dead. So add a leg exercise to your repetoire in between your SNT and chain punch training..

Until then.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wing Tsun Wall

One of the beauties of Wing Tsun is the ability for the practitioner to develop an incredibly stable stance while being incredibly upright. That allows for us to throw heavy punches without having to really lower the centre of gravity by way of taking a really low and/or wide stance approach. We can stand normally, as if you're talking to a friend, and throw a punch that will move the guy off his feet and we, as the puncher, do not move off from our original position.

Try this experiment - standing in front of a punching bag (50lb, or whatever you wanna start with), stand normally, feet parallel as if you're about to knock on a door (as opposed to one foot in front of the other). Now throw a punch into the bag and see what happens. Does the bag move? Or do you move? or is it both? Ideally, only the bag moves.

How is this possible? Well, the term kinetic linking has been thrown around to describe the linking between the ground, through the various parts of our body to the tip of punch, which explains how a punch can be so powerful as all the energy built from each linkage is exerted out and into the target. When punching, many take a wider stance, with one foot in front of another, as this is more natural for kinetic linking to take place. But this is where wing tsun shines - it trains the body to develop the ability of kinetic linking with an upright stance.

How is this done? Chi sao. Over time, and when trained properly, the body starts to learn how to transfer force into the legs from the arms and from the legs into the arms in an upright stance...well because chi sao is trained in an upright stance. Your body just gets used to it after a while. You can stand up right, and when really good, knees LOCKED and still throw a powerful punch!

But does that mean this is the approach we should take when fighting? Absolutely not. It would be a shame to only throw punches with feet parallel or center of gravity high. But assuming you can throw a punch in a such an "awkward" position, just imagine the BOOM you would have in your punches should you take a lower stance or "one foot in front of the other" position!

This is where "function" comes in play. Once the kinetic linking abililty is discovered, you don't have to neccessarily abide to the "form" of WT...in terms of application.

Until then.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

November Calgary Seminar - Part 2


So now that you know what I did in Calgary, let's take a look at what I thought of the Calgary seminar experience..

Some points:

1) The students are a great group. I wish I could say it better. But this is the one major thing that I could feel right off the bat. The students were there to have fun, to learn and to kick some butt. No one was shy from new experience and everyone was eager to work with everyone else. The energy was positive. There was no ego and no partner preference (you know, the guy/gal that only wants to work with the "easy" partners). These cats wanted to train hard...and punch harder. You guys are incredibly motivating...

And, just on a general note, people could shake hands well. You know, eye contact, good grip and smile. I mean, that says a lot on its own, and i have to respect that. Not to take anything away from the hugs at all... It's just a reflection of character and personality. Great to see in my books.

2) Of course, this type of atmosphere was fostered by a good leader and teacher. German was a pleasure to train with. It was all about helping each other. I really appreciated that. He could let go and just train colleague to colleague in front of his own students. And I think the students also respect that too. In the politics of the wing tsun circles, it seems that it's only about image (teacher always wins, students can never hit or attempt to hit the teacher back) and not the hard work and sweat that goes into learning wing tsun. It was not about who hit who when we trained..instead it was about figuring out how to reproduce results and to take each other to that next level.

3) And Si-Fu, as always, manages to turn it up a notch to get the guys going. The energy, mixed with some humour, practical examples, and of course, amazing wing tsun skill provides an enlightening, entertaining and motivating experience for the entire class. His perspective reinvents the wheel each time for all of us as we journey through this WT path. How can you not appreciate what he gives day in and day out at his school? Us WT-Vancouverites are a lucky group.

Now I have to say it'd be great to see you guys make it to Vancouver! Unfortunately, I don't really have any means to contact you guys, but you can definitely hit me up at byam@functionalwingtsun.com at least to stay in touch.

Hopefully next time I will get an opportunity to train with each and everyone you.

I know some of you follow this blog, so please forward this to those that haven't seen it yet! I actually would love it if you guys could do a guest entry some time and share your experiences (good and bad).

So yea, I definitely had a great time! Would I do it again? Yes. Under one condition - I get a picture with the ladies too.

Until then.





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