Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Self-Defense: Fighting Without Fighting

So I'm walking to my car, parked on the top floor of Station Square Metrotown. The area is fairly dead ever since SilverCity opened up. Traffic is primarily made up of people walking to and from FutureShop to Metropolis @ Metrotown.

Unfortunately, the walk way to FutureShop forks: one way towards FutureShop and the other towards the parking lot. It's even more dead than usual and dark outside. As I exit, there's a tunnel walkway that exits into the parking lot...

Ahead of me are two men leaning against the tunnel exit on both my right and left side. Many would describe these guys as shady, homeless but young fellows. In terms of size, one was around 6'2 and the other, I couldn't tell as he was hunched over and it was dark.

As I pass them, I keep my head high, eyes aware. There were bad vibes from the beginning. I hear one say to me:

"It's a nice parking lot, isn't it?"

I completely ignore him as it dawned on me that if I gave attention to the one guy, then my back would be vulnerable to the other guy.

I keep walking...

Then I hear one guy on my left start walking behind me. Slowing increasing his steps. The car lot is dark and no other people are around. I don't want him to know where I've parked, nor trap myself in between cars.

I keep walking...

And it's as if you can feel his presence creep up a little faster than it should. Right then and there, I turn around and stare at the guy.

He slows down. There's a good 20' or so between us. There he stands, 6'2, dirty blond hair, caucasian, dirty looking but confident.

I feel my heart starting to race, my hands and feet starting to tingle. "Here we go..." I thought to myself.

I'm too focused on the situation to even say anything, to do anything. I just stand there with my fists at my sides, back slightly hunched, and legs slightly bent, mentally ready to unleash hell. Hands ready to go, feet ready to go. (Sorry, no fancy Matrix kung fu stance here.)

Quickly, it hits me. "where is his friend???" I scan as quickly as I can and try to listen in case he's walking towards me. Luckily, his friend is behind him still by the walkway... so I'm not too worried about his pal.

Incredibly forced on my part, I assertively say "more trouble than it's worth." I could barely speak... This happens to me all the time. My focus is on the "what physical confrontation is going to happen", rather than on what clever words to say. In that zone, I don't talk...probably because I can't.

I just stand there, ready, for what felt like 2 minutes, but probably was more like 2 or 3 seconds.

He says "fuck whatever" and turns away.

As I leave, my knees and hands are shaky. It's an adrenaline rush that would be difficult to replicate in the training school, in the sparring session, in the cage. It's mentally draining and physically draining. Luckily, these effects happened after the whole incident and not during..

Until then.

What Would You Do?

Posted hot off the press on the Wing Tsjun International Facebook Page:

Hello all.
I would like to share a video of a fight aboard a NY subway with you and ask for your opinion on the subject of moral courage.
As you will see in the video a lady that tried to separate the two brawlers got injured. Unfortunately this is not the first time this year that people who are trying to help get in the middle of the action, get severely hurt or in the case of an elderly man in Germany this year even killed.
I had to experience a situation with my family also this year where I drove through a pretty rough neighborhood and all of the sudden I saw 20 (!!!) youngsters beat up two other kids. This incident took place maybe 20 meters away from my car and I had my wife and kids with me. I honked and yelled and then called the cops, waited in a distance until they were there (which of course made the gang run away) but it laft a bad taste in my mouth for quite a while about not having done more.
I would like to know your opinion on this whole thing.
How would you have reacted, what ideas, tips or remarks do you have on that subject?
How can we still encourage people to help despite stories like these?
Your help would be appreciated.

Please click here to get to the discussion board on the WTI-group page to write about this matter.
http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=19509495448&topic=15126

So here´s the video. It gets pretty nasty around 2.45 so you might not want to watch it if you easily get offended or affected by scenes like these.
http://gothamist.com/2009/12/27/video_bloody_fight_on_the_6_train.php

So what is your response? what would you've done? how about in the more general situation, if you see someone in a violent encounter and needs help. What would you do?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I think I ate too much. Nope. Scratch that. I ate too much. It's great isn't it?

Before the official Xmas day, I had the opportunity to lead the class to provide a fun and stress-relieving class before we all hit the turkey, mashed potatoes and wine. I wouldn't call it boot-camp, but it was enough to work up a good sweat and I just love it when everyone gives it their all.

The class focused on pad work where they could just go all out. What I like to stress during these drills is how different our posture, footing and even punching delivery becomes when we actually have to hit, not only at a target, but through the target.

Without even taking it to the level of sparring, you can see how things fall apart just from hitting the pad (stance dissolves, you push yourself away from the target instead of hitting through it, head leans forward and down, the punching fist slips, etc). You'll even see many develop a version of tunnel vision, where they are so focussed on the pad, that they've forgotten everything else!

Again, this is simply just by incorporating the pad and not including an attacking partner or a sparring partner, just an in animate, nonthreatening pad.

It's amazing how much "power" an inanimate object has over us. As soon as the pad becomes the target, we quickly reveal where are training and skills need more work.

And when that's the case, how can you even begin thinking about sparring. It's as if you want to jump into open heart surgery, when you haven't learned the basics of the circulatory system.
It takes a while to get from circulatory system basics to open heart surgery. Same goes for kung fu and fighting, ironically.

I think my point was made and it was a great class. Everyone worked up a sweat (on their own) and I really enjoy seeing everyone giving it their all.

Until then.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Upcoming Class

I will be teaching class this coming up Wednesday! It should be good - we'll be working up a good sweat and just in time to make up for all those holiday dinners coming up. I would recommend bringing a towel, your shin pads and fist guards if you have them.

I may be bringing my video camera as well! Let's have some fun.

On a separate note: for those that haven't seen it. Here's a Donnie Yen movie where the fight scene incorporates MMA-style fighting into Hong Kong cinema fight choreography. Very interesting

Until then.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dan Inosanto vs. William Cheung

OK, well maybe not. Caught this video on one of the forums.

You know, this was obviously not a real fight, but somehow, i still managed to enjoy it. Goes to show that even a steady-paced, choreographed demo can still entertain ;) Especially when two big names are the ones performing.

Interestingly, the movements, in particular Inosanto's are very alive and flowing...very graceful to watch and you can tell there's something there.

Cheung was fun to watch too, although it would've been nice to see a little more wing chun knife fighting rather than just clashing with the sticks...

Here's another video of William Cheung's student doing the Siu Nim Tao. Very different (to me that is). it's a bit long, but the form gets started at 2:30 into the video.

And just for fun - here's a demonstration of wing chun training. A modification of the pushup. The teacher describes he had to train this way under Yip Man and even gives a quote as to how much it costs!

Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

Never miss another fight once you get dish tv with satellite tv antennas forcable tv satellite tv and do a satellite tv comparison shop at InternetLion.com!

Until then.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wooden Dummy

I was cruising on some of the wing chun forums and one guy asked, if he were to learn the wooden dummy form, how much of the wing chun curriculum would you learn from that? 60% 20%?

I wasn't too sure if he meant in terms of the movements found in the form vs. the movements that make up wing chun weapons...but I am more inclined to think he was thinking of actual learning, for example, applications or useful techniques.

Right off the bat, I'd say 0%. Anyone can learn the form! Anyone can mimic the moves and very well..but that does not correlate with any real wing chun in their fighting. Take actors - they can learn a sequence of moves with no previous training for 4 months and look great on the camera!

You can teach me to perform a facelift, step by step, but no way am I a surgeon or doctor!

To add, there are people who've been practicing wing chun for years, and learning the form and long pole etc and still can't punch. Yet others who've barely learned the dummy form can step and punch through their opponent no problem.

There is no correlation between wooden dummy form and real wing chun skill.

Yea, I realize the wooden dummy form is cool and to do it, looks pretty awesome. And I think that's why many, especially from other arts, like to learn it and incorporate the moves into their own teachings. But they've not learned any wing chun..just an empty "dance" with a wooden pole...yes..somehow, i've managed to compare the wooden dummy form to pole dancing.

Until then.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Weaknesses

With the recent "Sifu" titles announced, I'd thought it'd be nice to take a few minutes to not let being called a Sifu get to my head (for a change), and examine what I feel are things I need to work on.

1) Punching/striking power - I know I have more boom in me, but at this point, I feel like I can only exert 35% of what I can potentially dish out. I know there are plenty others out there who can hit harder than I can...it'd be nice to just close that gap a little more.

2) Commitment - When the other guy wants to tear your head off, it's really hard to go forward - to really just displace the attacker completely. Generally, it is more automatic to go forward enough to hit, but not forward enough to go THROUGH the attacker. What can I say, it's scary bridging that distance when the fists are flying.

3) Sinking - During the heated exchange, shoulders, elbows, arms, stance all tend to rise up. Again, this is a very automatic response and will be hard to train out..in particular as it's directly related with stress, tension and "fear" of the moment/of being hit.

4) Structure/Stance - I don't think I'm "heavy" or "rooted" enough in my stance. This needs improvement, but it gradually does get better as I keep at it.

5) Technical skills - the finer details of the chi-sao sections, in particular the instructor chi-sao sections, wooden dummy and biu tze form - applications and forms training included.

6) Incorporation of the Entire Body - it's one thing to practice it slowly, then it's another thing to speed it up, and it's another to use it during fighting. As stress levels rise, it seems less and less use of the entire body occurs..isolating just to the arms or legs, for example.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive, there are many more things that I need to work on, but just some things that came to mind. what about you? or are your skills top notch?

Until then.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Forest and The Trees

When given the opportunity to lead class, I generally like to work on basics - things like forward pressure, step and punch, chain punches and stance/core training. I don't really go into details, or sequential drills (strike A, then B, then C, etc) too often for two reasons:

1) We generally focus on detail-oriented drills for the majority of classes. These could be as simple as examining how to defend against a hooking punch - what can go wrong for us? where can it go wrong? Or another example would be the signature WT Chi-Sao sections...

2) I want everyone to realize what they have in them, what they can take home with them, or what they need to improve on. I want to answer the question, "If someone attacked you at this very moment, what can you do?" It's interesting - some people laugh to mask their nervousness, some tense up, and some can punch away no problem.

But there's something intrinsically interesting in all this basics training. You need the details, the time to explore all the facets of a movement, the what-if's. And that means, you also need to slow the exercises down, to pinpoint where things fall apart, at what point is your technique successful or failure.

When you get the details down, it only helps your basics training.

You can't have the basics without the details, and certainly you can't have the details without the basics. Can it get any more yin/yang than that??

It truly goes to show that you only really start to understand student level 1 when you reach technician grade 2.

As annoying as this is, there's something very kung fu about it.

Until then.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Plug

For those that follow this blog on a regular basis, you'll notice that some of my posts have diverted from the wing tsun/martial arts topic and have actually delved into the realms of weight lifting, cardio, health, etc.

Aside from Wing Tsun, I enjoy the weight room and over the last year have found myself discovering the world of muscle building, resistance training, increasing metabolism and overall cardiovascular health. In addition my career is centered around the health, wellness and pharma/nutraceutical industry. So putting it altogether...

I'm currently in the works of a blog that will focus on the health, fitness and wellness side of things and of course, still continue with this blog. The new blog will focus on the supplement industry but without the need to sell you anything (unlike majority of blogs out there) and provide real insight from my own experiences within the industry. I'm hoping to give you more insight and knowledge so that you can use that next time you're walking down the pharmacy aisle.

To bring some fun to the entire ordeal, I'll also provide product reviews. RedBull, Monster Energy Drink, Acai pills, Fish oils, etc will be reviewed, documenting my experience with the product.

The new site will be launched soon but in the mean time, if you have anything you want me to add to it, please let me know.

The new site will be www.mightygrasshopper.com. I will let you know when it's officially a go!

Now let's train!

Until then.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

EBMAS Canada

For those that aren't familiar - EBMAS is the "brand" of Wing Tsun taught by Emin Boztepe, who originally is from the Leung Ting/EWTO lineage. EBMAS stands for Emin Boztepe Martial Arts Systems. Here's a good demo (i thought) from some guys of EBMAS school. (It's a little long, but the ending i thought was pretty good..to put a nice slant to the seriousness of the demo. But great energy from the guys as it must've been incredibly tiring.) It's important to note that the Wing Tsun school I attend is not affiliated with EBMAS nor Emin Boztepe in any official way.

That said... EBMAS now has a club in Vancouver! If we can leave politics and history aside for a moment, I just wanted to extend my welcome of the EBMAS club, headed by Behzad Kahrim, to Vancouver and the wing chun community.

Although the departure of Sifu Emin from the WT organization was not in the best of spirits, hopefully we can put that behind us and share genuine Wing Tsun skills and discussion for the betterment of the art, rather than the business.

All the best to the new club!

Until then.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Future of the EWTO/IWTA

Ok Leung Ting has been sentenced to jail for beating up his girlfriend. Really classy guy. I don't know him personally and I've only been to two of his seminars. No doubt he's got skills, but my experience with him was only at a student/teacher level..and only for the few hours at that.

So what's the official position of the WT organization on this? What about all the schools that dawn the WT name and Leung Ting's face on websites, logos and advertisement?

Do you shun him away or do you say that the verdict is wrong and that he's the victim?

My guess is that many schools are going to shun him away, and that the WT organization WANTS to as well, but may fear that this will only divide the organization further (which it really has taken a beating over the last years).

Well, really it comes down to money. Will they make more money by shunning him away or by keeping him within the organization and just hope this will blow over? Answering that will determine what lies ahead for the "company".

Some business advice to the EWTO/IWTA - the latest trend is all about going RETRO. How about a back-to-the-80's/90's hardcore wing tsun training? build some amazing fighters that will compete in, dare I say it, the MMA lime light. Go back to its roots. Create a new Boztepe..a Boztepe that this generation can relate to. The formula was simple and I think the organization has lost sight of what made it what it was. People, especially WT guys and gals, are dying for some hardcore representation. Give them what they want and the organization can look to a brighter future.

Any business execs of the organization can reach me directly at byam@functionalwingtsun.com for further details. My fee is $250/hour.

Until then.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

15th Anniversary Seminar

Saturday morning I wake up to the melody of Rihanna playing on my radio. "Time to get up, Bri... You got a full day ahead of you."

Did I ever.

So to my "to-do" list that morning: Breakfast. Check. Pack a lunch. Check. Extra T-shirt for seminar. Check. Towel. Check. Fist protectors. Check. Shin pads. Check. Change of clothes. Check. Quick stretch routine. Check.

And like that, I was out and heading to Philip's Golden Monkey kwoon.

Seminar starts at 10am, ends at 4.30pm. Of course, it was pouring rain..and i think mixed with a bit of snow. Temperature gauge registered a measly 4 degrees in my car. Brrr... And here I was wondering how cold it'll be to train in his place...

How silly.

By the time I got there, the majority of the students were ready to go. Paid my fees and just started mingling. It was good to see German (Sifu of the Calgary club) and his wife Wanda. In addition to the familiar faces, were some visitors from the Island as well. Other than Anselm, the rest were new faces to me.

So off we go.

And as quickly as the seminar kicked off, did the temperature in the place rise! It was fairly crowded with a total of 30+ people punching each other - that only added to the dynamics of the training I thought.

So what did we do? Well, the best way to describe it is - the drills themselves were "basic" but how they're implemented was at the more advanced level. What does this mean? How could this be possible? maybe..it's just repackaged marketing jibberish! Well think of it this way - imagine Jane Smith auditioning for her 2nd time in Canadian Idol and next to her, you have Celine Dion or Mariah Carey. Ask them both to sing "do ray me fa so la te do" and you'll get two VERY different products. Both basic, but one is natural, instinctive and rich - the other, maybe not bad but perhaps missing flavour and soul..

So when it came to the drills, we worked on the different punches - double punches, hooking punch, lifting punch. More importantly, getting the whole body and weight behind the punches but within a WT context. Si-Fu discusses how much of this is like boxing and Mike, a former boxer, who I was training with also mentioned the same thing - it's like boxing!

And I have to agree.

To me, the body can only move in so many ways. We have two arms, two legs in a rather fixed proportions. To that, only certain ways can be used to fight. And to that, only certain attacks are more successful than others at fighting. The end result - it filters many attacks, leaving certain punches and kicks that are similar across all styles, across all cultures, across all environments.

Near the end of the seminar, the senior assistant instructors (Gary, Ciprian and myself) and Sifu German were asked to perform the Siu Nim Tao, then the Chum Kiu. 4 different representations, 4 different flavours - even though we all have the same instructor. Students were given the opportunity to ask us questions: what do these parts of the section mean, how is it applied, how often do you practice the form? etc.

Finally, the biu tze form was demonstrated by Sifu German and Ciprian. It was very cool to watch. I have to say it also looks exhausting. I think I caught Cirprian running out of gas by the end of it at one point actually! ;P Again, both had very different ways of moving. One more soft fluid, the other with more power.

The seminar ended with certificates for those that attended the seminar. And also a gift was presented to Si-Fu on his 15 years, bringing Wing Tsun to Vancouver. The gift was a thick, heavy leather and wool jacket with Wing Tsun embroidered on the chest. All he needs is a Wing Tsun Harley and he's set!

Si-Fu also took a moment to discuss what it means to be a Sifu. Describing that it may not necessarily be solely on skill (as skill can be relative), but also who has their own students, opened their own school, contributed their time and energy into the school, etc. All these factors together make a good Sifu.

And on that note...

He presents Sifu titles to Gary K. Ciprian C. and myself. What an honour. and of course, i'm SO going to let this get to my head. At that moment I made sure everyone called me Sifu and when I got home I did two things with my new found status:

1) Opened up my sacred chest of red t-shirts and pants and headbands and wristbands with spikes on them

2) Beat up my pregnant girlfriend because she refused to get an abortion and went to jail.

OK, I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.

No, I have to say I'm very honoured. I've been with Si-Fu's school for at least 10 years now and it's been quite a journey, getting through school, work, family and health-related issues..it's been quite a ride. I haven't always had the luxury to do private lessons all the time through the years nor afford classes (having to stop for a semester or two) but it just came down to persistence and just keeping at it.... I'm just a regular guy and somehow, I got here.

And then 5pm roles around. Just like that.

Seminar is done and we all say congrats and a group of us head out to dinner. Beer and wind down time with some good conversation. Always fun to see everyone outside the kung fu setting.

Oh and how could I forget. We also had a wonderful cake to celebrate the 15 years! The best cake I ever had. Seriously. I can't go back to T&T cakes anymore. It was just THAT good!

Thanks to Phillip for having us at his kung fu school! This time around, no one smashed any holes into the walls. Guess that's a good thing?

Until then.








Tuesday, November 17, 2009

15 years

Well this coming saturday is our school's 15th anniversary seminar! 15 years this school has been here and 15 years since my Si-Fu started up in Canada.

For a martial arts school - that's pretty impressive. Unless you're a mcdojo with trophies along the wall, its not easy for a school to stay open. Especially one that doesn't jump on the tae-bo, ninjitsu, shaolin MMA bandwagon. No sir. The guy sticks to old school European Wing Tsun.

I feel like I have to include "European" in there because, over the last 10 years of my exposure to wing chun in general, this has a very different flavour to it. This isn't your Chinese paddy-cake wing chun. Nor is it a bastardized trapping wanna be system. This is fully functional wing tsun that made wing tsun what it WAS (can't say if the WT of now is of the same calibre as it once was).

Anyway, I think us Vancouverites are incredibly fortunate to have Si-Fu for the last 15 years and I hope it'll be this way for the next 25 and longer.

Over the 15 years, his skill is what kept my faith in WT especially during the whole UFC and BJJ craze came about. Its one thing simply to believe but I gotta say its much easier when u can see it day in and day out. Also helps to see the bjj and mma guys come into our club and leave with bruised chests. ;)

Thanks Si-Fu. Check out school and seminar details at wingtsunkungfu.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Punching Productivity

Ok guys - i need your help. Besides just "knock-out" power, what measures would you use to determine a good punch?

Things that come to my mind are:

Speed (eg. punches/sec)
Power (eg. energy/sec)
Stamina (eg. continuous punching for 10 minutes)
Flexibility (eg. full range of motion in huen sao)

I'm only thinking of the punch itself, not really the context of it in a fighting scenario - so i'm intentionally ignoring ideas of timing, angle of the punch, etc. What are some objective measures in which we can track the progress of our own chain punches?

What else guys? could use your help.

Until then.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sport vs. Reality

What is the primary differentiating factor between sport and reality. Many MMA guys argue that it can't get any more real than cage fighting. It's a controlled environment, yes but it comes as close as it can to reality fighting and moreso than any drill or point sparring or whatever can ever get. The argument is that the guy in front of you is wanting to beat the absolute crap out of you, unlike a sport or a drill where a partner is that - a partner or simply "the other team."

But really, what defines the differentiating line between a real fight and cage fighting/sport fighting?

I mean, sure, MMA can get close to the real deal, but is it? i mean, sure you can put water and take it down to close to 0 deg C, but guess what? it's still not ice. It's not ice until you cross that below freezing point. And no matter how close you get to that point, unless you actually cross it, you're not there.

Anyway, looking at both cage fighting and the real street fight, what's the defining characteristic? Is it how mean the other guy is? not really, because in both scenarios, the guy can be very uncooperative and very resistant. Is it because the other guy knows jiu jitsu or that he's a huge guy, very muscular and crazy? again, you can have this in both scenarios too.

So what's the defining factor? Simply, the variables. in the cage fight, the variables are always controlled. There is always going to be a ref, your team one side and opponents team on the other. There is going to be a cage and just the two of you in there to fight. After that, the only variables are within the fighters' timing, luck, technique, etc.

But in the street fight, the variables fluctuate at every second. The moment before and after the present is never the same. There could be one opponent, two friends, a cage, a corner, a table, a child, a car, rain, mud - ANYTHING can happen. People can break up the fight, bystanders can attack you just for the heck of it.

On top of this are your techniques, timing, strength, reach, etc.

So it's a matter of minimizing the potential effects of the variables or maximizing the potential effects of your skills or vice versa. Let alone your opponent/s are trying to do the same.

Realistic self-defense, then, tries to incorporate these variables into the equation. While cage fighters ignore these variables. As such, the methods of training will differ and so will the end product.

It is not really fair to spar with an MMA guy as a test to see who's better or which system is more effective. To spar, you've controlled for the environment, for the variables and, if anything, now accommodate to his environment.

That said, to see if MMA is effective, then one must attack him while he's shopping for pickles in a crowded market. That would equal the playing field a bit.

Sure some will say, well how would the average wing chun guy fair to that test? probably not do so well. But then, there you have it - both WC and MMA don't work.

Until then.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shifting Your Feet

When it comes to discussions, one of the more popular (some say, it's been discussed to death) items is whether it's correct to shift your stance on the center of your feet, the balls of your feet or on the heels.

WT advocates the shifting on the center of your feet. WT also advocates shifting one foot at a time.

Other styles, recommend shifting both feet at the same time and/or either on the heels or the balls of your feet.

Much heated debate has come from such a topic, can you believe it? Insults, derogatory comments and pure anger have spewed on from this.

Who cares? it is your teacher that should guide you. What is important is whether it's functional or not. For myself, I was taught to shift from the center of my feet and that is how I would teach it. I am able to deliver strikes, step forward, shift weight etc etc with this foundation.

That said, once you get to a certain skill level, you can perform moves, maintain structure, etc on locked legs and on your heels and it'll still work! It all comes down to whether it's functional.

Sometimes to make it functional, you have deviate from what you know. Shift on your heels then. Shift on the balls of your feet then. Fine, it's ok! Of course, assuming you have the proper foundation down. That foundation is defined by your system, but your instructor. But hopefully, we all get to the same end product.

Until then.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hitting the bag part 2

Now to continuing of my last post...

Hitting the bag isn't just about hitting the bag as hard as you can. Sure it's fun and all, but it does provide some very key tidbits of information:

1) Fatigue - not just in your arms, shoulders, triceps, but also your abs, back and legs. You're muscles aren't just experiencing fatigue from performing the move, but from meeting resistance and yourself having to maintain structure and to implement force into the opposing target.

2) Changes in body dynamics - once you start hitting the target, your body moves differently. The muscles you call on to hit through that target are different than when doing it in chi-sao or on your own in a drill. When hitting something, you get fixated on the target and your body starts to move differently. Sometimes it's the exact wake-up call that your body needs and was probably to shy to call for when doing solo drills or chi-sao.

3) Things get sloppy - yep, your positioning gets sloppy, your stance gets sloppy, you over extend, your weight is on the front leg, your elbows go up, etc. This is a good thing - to realize how and where your sloppy form is coming in. Ain't it funny how it reveals itself just by hitting a non-moving target? Imagine hitting a live opponent. No wonder these wing chun guys on youtube are getting their asses wooped. If you can't hit a focus mitt without opening up, then how do you expect to do it against a live opponent?

4) Your body gets tense - the mitt is there for you to hit. So people hit the target. Problem is, they only do that. They forget to hit THROUGH the target. And then you tell the guy to hit through the target and the target becomes the end point and then their jaw clenches up when the hit, their fists get tight when the hit, their forearms get tense and their stance gets stiff and they lean into the target. Why? it's just an object to practice on. it's not the end of the world - it's ok if you don't hit it hard the first time. Just work on hitting through the target.

Once in a while, I like to give the guys a chance to work on pad hitting. it's best when they're senior or intermediate students. In my opinion, when it's too early, the student's have no awareness of the above situations and will have a harder time fixing those issues. Those that can hit hard aren't implementing wing chun mechanics - just karate with wing chun movements. Hitting the bag might seem easy to do, but you wanna do it with wing chun mechanics, structure etc. It was great to train this with the senior guys.

Until then.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hitting the bag

Well last week's class was fun! I was given the opportunity to work with the senior student - it was probably the first time that I can remember where it was just me and others around the same level. Usually there's a mix of beginners and intermediates, but not this time.

So I thought to myself, why not take advantage of this moment? I had about an hour and a half with these guys so I thought i'd make the most of it.

We started out with chi-sao - a continuation of last class, where we worked on basic poon sau, but turning up the intensity a few notches and focusing on good structure or "keeping the body behind it" at every moment. I find it enjoyable to work with each partner, constantly changing up so as to keep the students fresh and maintain the "go-go-go" intensity.

This was a primarily warm-up exercise and by the end of it, you could see how everyone's body was moving differently. Shoulders, abs, legs all moved with the basic rolling positioning. The engines were nicely revved.


I had us bring the pads out - both kicking pads and focus mitts. When it comes to hitting the pads, it's generally chain punches or straight line punches. Not tonight I thought. Let's get to hooking punches and uppercuts, in addition to chain punches. We were broken into groups of three, one would be hitting the mitts and the other two positioning the pads.

We even worked on kneeing the kicking pads. Great way to get out all that stress! rather than having to hold back for the sake of your partner on usual days :)

To end, we stretched out, then did some drill training - HIIT Style. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. We did 1 minute blasts followed by a 30-60 sec break. It was a great way to work up a sweat.

Finally, we worked on abs. Took a nicely weighted medicine ball and had us throw it as hard as we could to the partner's stomach. Lots of fun!

Boy was I sore though. A reminder of the fun.

Until then.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Strength vs Size

When it comes to fighting and practically everything else in this world - size matters. At least so it seems. The bigger the better. Case in point: Tanks are cool. Huge rock on engagement ring is cool. Big piece of steak for dinner - totally cool. Brock Lesnar - scary big and doing pretty well in the UFC.

But guess what? Just because you're big, doesn't necessarily mean you're strong. This concept is well known in the olympic lifting world. Here, where strength counts, these guys can lift massive amounts of weight but they aren't big guys nor do they look like your typical Mr. Universe. You see, when you lift weights for strength, the rep range for an exercise is tailored so that it maximizes your neural connection to lift strong rather than increase muscle size. When you lift for size, however, the rep range is different and it minimizes that neural connection but allows for increasing the muscle cells in your biceps, chest, etc.

So to us average wing tsun folk - what does this mean? Well it means not all is lost when you face that big muscular foe in front of you. It also means you don't need to rely only on speed, agility and timing..you can add strength to that list as well. In the WT world, however, i think this "strength" is more understood as "rootedness" and "structure". The rootedness and structure also translates to powerful, heavy attacks.

That "structure" or "rootedness" is really an example of how our wing tsun training establishes those neural connections so that we can be "strong" (felt that way by the attacker) from such an upright position. All that chi-sao, lat-sao under heavy pressures and light pressures are stimulating that neural connection..making us..well stronger. And because the training reflects the actions we use to fight, we are strong where it counts - punching, chops to the throat, neck grabs etc..but maybe not when bench pressing.

That said, because we are so "strong"...us WT'ers are susceptible to being "stiff"..it's not the conventional stiffness that most newbies suffer from when learning WT. Instead, we're caught flat footed many a times and this might get us in trouble. That's where footwork comes back into your training scheme...

Things sure come full circle doesn't it? First stiff, then weak, then strong again, then stiff, then mobile, etc etc.

Until then.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Demos

One of the things that wing chun gets a bad rap for is its excessive use of demonstrations. Wing Tsun, in particular, has a plethora of demos you can watch - just youtube it. Some are really good, some are mediocre and some are..well..not so great.

I think it's easy for student to get caught in the confusion that your demonstration is a reflection of skill. The guy you're hitting is co-operating with you, so don't be fooled in thinking that because your opponent flops over that a real-life attacker will do the same.

THAT SAID, I do believe that demonstrations do have its place as a training tool for the wing tsun student. The rush of adrenaline, that tingling feeling in your finger tips...these are all physiological reactions that can somewhat simulate the fight environment. What this allows for is more freedom of expression of YOUR wing tsun under those edgy/nervous conditions, while still being controlled with a relatively co-operative partner. This can also reveal where you fall behind on...perhaps too stiff, perhaps your own attacks bounce off the opponent, you slip on to the floor - anything can happen. But how do you react after? ..especially with an audience, a camera or two?

Also important, demonstrations should show the FUN of learning wing tsun. you don't always have to be a bad ass. The audience knows this is just a demo, not a fight. So i say have some fun with that, keep them entertained. But hey, there's nothing wrong with bad-ass demos either.

One thing though - no slow poke demos. Those are boring and really don't elicit excitement, nor is it believable to the audience that the moves work. i'd rather see a guy blast through his attacker with simple chain punches then some snail-paced complicated elbow and finger striking sequence.

If you've never participated in one, I say try it. If you spar all the time, your body gets used to that environment and the adrenaline/nervousness rush decreases. Through yourself into a demo environment with a huge audience, and it gets that fire going again.

But of course, skill in demonstrations does not necessarily translate to skill on the street.

Until then.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This and That

You can find here a guy using BJJ in the street scenario. Nice work! Who says it's only good for the cage?

Here's a good read on 1929 Hangzhou tournament.

and finally...bully is a taught a lesson here. Things get exciting at 2:13. note that i'm not about watching scraps happen or kids beating each other up, but to see how a fight unfolds, how fast it can happen what that means for us wing tsun students.

Enjoy, until then.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Weakest Link

Pretty unrelated to wing chun, I came across this article regarding chin ups. Now the article gets pretty involved, but I think the first part makes some interesting points. In particular...

...that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. From there, it discusses the idea of grip strength and how that will help you better utilize the other muscles to perform more chin ups. The author stresses that grip strength is a weak point for many and it does hinder the ability to use your other muscles.

Same can be said about our wing chun. If your weakest link is your stance or your wedging force, then you can probably forget about all the fancy pak-da, bong-da, combinations. If you can't even step and punch, forget about all those technician chi-sao sections.

It's easy for ourselves, as students, to get caught up in learning the "cool stuff" and there's a lot to gain from that "cool stuff" but if you don't have the boring stuff down, the cool stuff isn't gonna work.

The same philosophy can be applied to conditioning. I've blogged about this before: Don't just train your muscles but also let your wrists, joints, etc. get used to the increased punching power. If you have strong back, chest, shoulders and tricep muscles but weak wrists..guess what? you'll probably throw so much into your punch that risk injuring your wrist.

Until then.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fight Quest: The Answer...but not really

Well, seems that there's a position on the Wing Chun Fight Quest episode from within the Leung Ting Organization. I think with the blogs and forum posts out there, it's about time they do have a position. Here's my blog post if you haven't read it.

You can find the post here. Unfortunately, it doesn't really answer anything..at least not yet. I look forward to their response.

One thing I found interesting, from the Sifu Richter's blog: "You honestly have no idea what a debacle this was..."

No shit - you don't say?! All you gotta do is watch the episode...unfortunately.

Until then.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Head Hunters

WCK fighters are pressure fighters. Our strategy is fairly simple - full on offensive attack with a flurry of punches, surprising the attacker and either knocking the guy out or over whelming him to the point where you can then leave the situation.

To do this, the student learns the wing chun signature punch - the chain punch. The training emphasizes power generated from the elbow, chest and stance. it also stresses the importance of attacking the same target over and over again. Great for training, but that is what it's for - training.

This type of attack leads to the concept of head hunting - always attacking for the head of the opponent. It's very apparent when you watch two wing tsun fightings go at each other or even when a wing chun fighter goes against a non-wing chun fighter.

The wing tsun fighter aims for the head. But what about every where else? what about the ribs? the stomach? the kidneys? these are all legitimate targets and it seems that the WC/WT/VT curriculum can easily sway off this course, albeit, unintentional in many cases.

It's hard to deviate from the chain punching architecture to aim for ribs, face, then abs, then back to the head...it's not only physically demanding, but the rhythm is disrupted making it more of a conscious strategy.

So to that, I saw train to aim for other targets, Take the time to see what other body parts are exposed. I don't see why you can't follow WC principles (offensive, non-stop attacks) while aiming for various targets and not just chain punching.

Until then.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Si-Fu's Blog

Would like to direct you here. Very detailed, certainly aimed at the wing chun student.

until then.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another Great Open House

Well we had another open house last night. Great class. But i'm not gonna tell about how cool it was to see all the new comers and all the fun people had, etc etc. No. Not here.

What I want to talk about is the "trainer team". As always, Sifu puts a lot of time, effort and energy into his students. I'm sure he puts in more than he gets out as many students have come and gone...newbies, intermediates and advanced students. Many have a change in career goals, or have a family, or simply want to take their hobbies into another direction. He puts in the time to build each person individually and, unfortunately, that person leaves. Of course, the connection is always there and the influence he's had on them will never be forgotten, but still...as a teacher, i think there's something to be said to see his/her own student make the finish line.

So came last night's open house. And there it was, incredibly apparent, that over the last few years, a good group of us guys make up a core of advanced/senior students - dubbed the "Trainer Team". I think this core is essential to every successful school. It's not required, but it does say something.

Now, it's up to the trainer team to take our own skills to the next level as the team, itself, represents the school.

But you can see it - the senior students were able to provide supplementary instruction to the new guys, to provide different scenarios for Sifu's explanations and to give variety of perspective with a common goal.

I'm really happy to see this. Can't wait for the team to get bigger and badder.

Until then.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Who Fears Wing Chun?

Found this the other day. I'm sure it'll stir up some thought. What are yours?


Until then.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mind-Muscle Connection

If you haven’t read my Si-Fu’s latest blog post dated September 7, 2009, you can find it here. The post is on target. The only way to get better at Wing Tsun is to practice Wing Tsun. It’s a pretty a obvious statement and applies to anything else, yet surprisingly, you do see many that rationalize the approach of practicing X will make them better at Y.

Now let me clarify that I’m not referring to methods of supplementing your training – what I’m referring to are the methods that (for whatever reason) rely on abandoning wing tsun training, for the purpose of excelling one’s wing tsun training.

I’ve seen this everywhere. At work: people don’t talk to the boss about a raise, instead the stay silent and work harder. I’m sorry, if you want a raise, then go to the boss and get one. Dating life: you can mentally prepare on how to approach the girl at the bar all you want, but buddy, you gotta step up and JUST APPROACH the girl. Dieting: people simply limit their caloric intake (eg. order diet pop with their big mac) – how about sweating it in the gym, eating well and cardio training?

Back to Wing Tsun – the post mentions that wing tsun uses certain muscles that only wing tsun can develop. This is very true. There is no exercise in the gym, or a focus mitt, or a striking dummy that can replicate the stimulus required to develop these muscles. With all exercises, a mind-muscle connection must be developed. The Wing Tsun-related muscles must be connected to the mind but can only be done so with wing tsun-specific exercises.

(Think about it. The exercise in the gym rely on a push/pull mechanism, and away from your centre-line. There’s nothing there that provides a push/pull or even a compress/decompress action ALONG the centre-line. Yes, some exercises can replicate the actions, but nothing provides the perfect stimulus to trigger the appropriate muscle reaction.)

But once the connection is made, supplementary exercises may help in increasing the load or capacity of that connection (think squat exercises for stance training). But, again, only the wing tsun-specific exercises can target this mind-muscle connection and stimulate it over and over again. When it comes to self-defense, reflexes, reactions, etc. this is what matters – you need that stimulus to maintain the proper firing of the wing tsun specific muscles.

(Back to the squat exercise example, you are pushing up against a downward force. While in wing tsun, you’re “pushing up” against a force directed at you perpendicular to that replicated in the squat exercise)

So sure, if you want to practice BJJ to get a better idea of how to use wing tsun, that’s fine. But don’t expect to get a wing tsun punch by practicing BJJ. If you want to be able to fight, then you will probably get the gear on and spar. But if you want to be able to fight with your wing tsun, you still gotta practice wing tsun.

Until then.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MMA vs Wing Tsun Kung Fu

I’m sure many of you have seen this clip already. It’s a great video clip and I think it should be a wake up call for many us that train in the martial arts – especially those that do not incorporate the mentality of really fighting against a resisting or attacking opponent.

First off, let me say whoever this WT guy was – he has balls. Mad props for him to go out there, try his thing against a MMA fighter and on camera…and wearing the WT shirt. I don’t know what he was trying to prove, maybe to be the next Emin Boztepe and propel the art back into the lime light? But this guy is a student level, according to the colour of shirt. And i gotta give him credit too - he's text book WT. You can tell, stance, the intention of the front kick... But text book is only theory...

I wonder how he feels now – is he going to stick with WT or try his hand at the typical muay thai/bjj combo?

Some have mentioned that his loss was a result of him not knowing or ever experiencing a real hit. It’s a common criticism of wing tsun/chun/aikido/hapkido/etc as many of the arts train simulated hitting, or stopping the hit or simply tapping the opponent and counting that as a hit. But it’s pretty evident in the clip, that taking a hit has nothing to do with this. He ate a perfectly executed one-two punch combination. It’s that simple.

So what can we learn from this? For starters, let’s remove the technical aspects of tan sao, bong sao, weighting of his stance, knee pressure, etc. None of that EVEN started, before the fight was over – the missing element is even more basic than this. It also has nothing to do with whether he’s strong, fast, short or tall, whether he’s got a punch or a fast kick, etc. Again, these factors didn’t even play into the fight.

What was missing was aggressiveness – that killer instinct – that commitment to the cause. I’ve posted about this before – training with that killer instinct, that unadulterated thirst to destroy the guy in front of you – none of this was there. I believe the WT fighter lives and dies by this commitment. We are pressure fighters, if we do not pressure, we are not fighting our way. We go in and don’t care what happens, and if we get taken down, so what? At least we have no regrets, I say.

But as you can see, that thirst to hit was never there. instead he was waiting. He sat there, waiting…as if waiting to tan-sao punch or something. Unfortunately, I can see why – he’s a product of the training. Many of the drills encourages being reactive, rather than pro-active. The training drills are required to be performed in this format to instill the wide array of reflexes, but it always comes down to the basics. If you can’t step and punch, there’s no chance in hell you’ll be able to rely on your cool reflex/sticky hand skills.

Another element that is possibly missing is sparring with skilled and resistant fighters. WT is an amazing system, but it’s easy to get caught up in the comfort zone of predictable attacks, cooperative partners and a lazy instructor that wants to show off all the cool moves without challenge. Over time, a false sense of security of skills develops and next is a false expectations of how dangerous or fast a wide circling punch can be (especially since WT teaches that the shortest point between 2 points is a straight line – but it’s not necessarily the fastest!).

But this can easily be trained – sparring with or even drilling with a partner that can throw a good punch – preferably someone who does not go to your training school. Just drilling intensely will demonstrate how dangerous a resisting opponent can be, let alone sparring altogether. The intensity of the punch - the speed and power - can then gradually increase and this allows the WT practitioner to adjust his structure, timing, strength, response accordingly.

You can’t expect that training with your regular class partners is going to make a fighter out of you. Chances are he’s just some guy working his nine-to-five, has kids, trains 3-5 hours/week and probably just had dinner before coming to class. How can you expect to go from that to a MMA fighter?

I don’t care how good your chi-sao is. If you can’t step and punch, if you can’t close the distance with step and punch, there’s no chance of you being able to use your chi-sao skills.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Change the Variables, Change the Fight

You change the variables, you change the fight. Let's look at the UFC as an example. Back in the day there were only two rules - no eye gouging and no biting (and i think no kicking with shoes on. Everything else was fair game.

There was also no time limit and you moved onto the next round to fight the next winner that same day.

Both the time and multiple fights/day were huge variables to the UFC fight. It was all about stamina. The fights were measured by knock-out or tap out. Nothing else. You could be bashing the guy's head in, drawing blodd, but if for some reason he didn't tap out or wasn't knocked out, the fight never stopped. And as time went on, the guy would punch himself silly and the lactic acid would build until he couldn't punch no more.

Hence the Gracie fighter - it was perfect for this setting. He could rest in the clinch and not take that much punishment. He didn't rely on punches so he wouldn't punch himself out, nor would he be punched either. He could also move onto the next round relatively ok.

Ahh, but then they realized they weren't getting enough money and could not go nationwide, unless more rules were in place. So they added gloves, then no hitting to the back of the head, then a time limit, then rounds, then one fight per night. It allowed for more excitement, allowed for the guys to fight as hard as they could in the limited time, not having to worry as much about saving up gas for the next bout.

We saw, from this, that strikers were able to win the fights again.

Oh how the variables changed the fight.

Then as UFC grew in popularity, so did the competition. Fighters grew into their own styles, what is now called MMA...as opposed to "mixed martial arts". The fighters have become atheletes, taking it to the next level of science, training and nutrition.

And now gone are the purists - even the Gracies aren't on the card. Instead, it's this hybrid blend of thai boxing and "ground game".

It' really interesting to see how the variables change the fight. Add a cement floor. Maybe some tables? How about The element of open space to fight, or no space to fight? How about the psychological aspect? Remove the weight classes and see how fighters adapt to fighting someone faster, smaller, or bigger they they are (oh I forgot to mention that there used to be no weight classes). Weight classes, although may be rationalized as being safer for the fighter, remove the elemental concept of disadvantage and the ability to overcome this with technique, strategy or compensatory physical attributes.

Would be really cool to see. MMA is the measuring stick, it seems, for many martial artists. But the measuring stick is only as good as the conditions it's set in. Change the conditions, change the outcome.

Until then.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

WT - The Workout

Well I had the wonderful opportunity to run last Monday's class. I had the green light from my Si-Fu weeks prior so we were able to give ample heads up to the students. There were two themes for the night:

Part 1: Physical Conditioning and the "Revelation" of Strength

Part 2: The Magnetic Zone and Introduction of the "Uncooperative Partner"

Part 1 introduces the concepts of physical fitness into the WT curriculum. Standard warm up exercises included stretching, pushups (standard and explosive), situps and core training, and cardiovascular (jumping jacks, burpees, squats). In conventional martial arts, much emphasis is placed on physical conditioniong (anywhere between 30-60 minutes in a 1.5-2hr class session). In our school, however, the entire 3 hours is devoted to the Wing Tsun/Self-defense aspect. Physical conditioning is expected to be trained outside of class, if desired.

We then went onto various pad hitting. I wanted the students to hit the pads hard while maintaining the best form possible and minimizing risk of injury. Here, my point was simply to expose them to the automatic use of strength when hitting through a target. It exposes how tense one can get, how the stance goes away, how it becomes sloppy, how the fist slips off the target, how the body may bounce back, etc. Pad hitting (much like the wooden dummy) becomes the teacher and exposes areas for improvement.

Part 2 reviewed the concept of the "magnetic zone". This concept defines when the WT fighter must close the gap, getting to his opponents as quickly, as safely and as offensively as possible. As always, I encourage multiple partner switching as the magnetic zone would differ for each partner.

We then introduced the concept of the un-cooperative partner. In conventional martial arts and in wing chun, the partner is fairly cooperative. Even when the attacker throws a hard or fast attack, there's a mutual allowance for the partner to "do his drill". Considering that for 99% of us, being thrown a completely resisting opponent is a bit much of a jump in difficulty, why not bridge this gap a little bit?

We broke it down and let the partner resist in certain ways to see how the WT fighter would react. For example, when the partner covered up, would the WT fighter keep punching the arms or look for other targets? would he freeze as well and not know what to do? Would he break distance or would he close distance? etc.

Overall it was a good night. Flew by like that.

Until then.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Are you fit for kung fu?

My Si-Fu has given me the opportunity to run class Monday night. It will deviate from the normal format of chi-sao, self-defense application and take a more fitness slant: creating a fitness foundation for the students, making them sweat and get those muscles moving on a cardiovascular level.

The goal here is simply to provide the class an intense workout with a WT perspective. In formats like these, you don't neccessarily learn a lot of new techniques or cool moves, but it focuses on the one or two things you can do and turns it up a notch.

I've done similar classes before and it's a blend of WT with workouts i've had to do in previous kung fu and karate classes, as well as some things I've picked up on own fitness journey.

With all the many technical details involved in wing tsun, chi-sao, drills, etc., sometimes it's hard to work up a sweat. Well guess what folks, it's sweatin' time.

Until then.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Step 1

Wing Tsun and other kung fu styles, for that matter, when placed in a free-fight situation looks incredibly “static” or “stiff” in nature. Probably because it is. What do I mean by static? Well, beyond the fancy hand positions and low, one-legged stances, there’s just something so “un-Mohammed Ali”…it’s like they fight in postures..while the typical western boxer does not fight in posture and instead fights freely, naturally…as if they do what they want to do. While, the kung fu fighter, on the other hand seems restricted or bound to the hand positions, the body positions, of their teacher’s word.

“Head up, back straight, punches down the centre-line, weight on the back leg!”.

All inducive of a static fighter, don’t you think?

While for western boxing…

“Chin down, shoulders rolled, put your weight into it!”

They are like polar opposites!

How did we go from that…to that!? We are all human at the end of the day. We are all bound by the biological and physical natures of this world, and yet the fighting schemes are so different. You’d think we’d all converge to a certain way of moving the body…the best way…in order to fight, that capitalizes on the advantages of the human body and minimizes the disadvantages.

This is probably why many go running to the muay thai, boxing, MMA style of fighting. It’s natural, intuitive and mobile. While the wing chun fighter pictured in your mind is this guy trying to hop on one leg and rabbit punch you to death.

But guess what? The styles do converge…eventually. The problem is that most people don’t get that far to see that being the case. Wing tsun should be applied on a mobile sense, adding weight to the punch, become natural and smooth. It doesn’t even look like wing tsun anymore (..whatever it’s supposed to look like).

Many are stuck in the realm of chi-sao. Can’t blame them. There’s lots to explore there and it’s a lot of fun. But that’s just one side of the dice. And when they only see one side, they only play one side. But it makes sense. The realm of chi-sao favours the game of punches down the centre-line, keeping the back straight, and with rather “dead” legs. It’s meant to teach one stage of fighting, expand on certain ideas. But eventually, we have to take what we need to get out of chi-sao and toss it into the fighting context. There, things must adjust to the new variables. The stance has to be mobile, punches better be powerful to KNOCK OUT the opponent (not tap the guy on the chest), the whole body has to be able to move towards the opponent, evade attacks, take advantage of openings – I’m not even talking about “trapping” (egh..i hate that word.).

If you can’t get in, how can you even think of applying your “crazy chi-sao skills”. The chi-sao realm sucks us wing tsun practitioners in and we forget that in order to even THINK about using any of your cool chi-sao moves (if at all), you need to know how to bridge (aka, getting to your opponent).

It’s like an art in itself. Not as fun as chi-sao though. But it’s step 1.

Until then.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ideal vs Actual Fighting

There are two camps out there. One camp feels that their wing chun/tsun will shine when it's needed - it will reflect what they learn and train during their chi-sao sessions. They will be able to escape grabs, trap and hit the opponent.

The other camp, however, feels differently. They feel that although wing chun is a good foundation, what is taught in chi-sao isn't expressed much when under the context of a real fight/full contact match. You can see much of this on Youtube where the wing chun guy gets taken to the ground and is then helpless for the remainder of the bout. Or...getting knocked out by a right cross (Whatever happened to the "shortest distance between two points is a straight line?").

In my own experience and training, for myself, i would say the latter is more reflective of reality. In many of our drills, our partners keep their arms out which are vulnerable for further manipulation, but when fighting against an unwilling opponent, it's very rare that they keep their arms out and available.

It's quite possible for those that are much more skilled than me to make their wing chun work and apply "trapping" and such by the way.

I would have to say that chi-sao, sections, drills etc give us ideas, drill tactile reflexes into our arms, increase stress and develop structure and striking power from an upright, natural position. But it does not reflect the flight scenario, rather provides the foundation for a good punch.

You can see in many full contact fights, fighters rely on a handful of moves. Same is going to happen to the wing chun fighter, in my opinion. That being, the kick, step and punch. Which means your punch better have boom. Your structure better be there to provide the boom and the foundation to stay planted on the ground.

Sensitivity will help your punch get to where it needs to go and to provide tactile defense (eg. creating space, knowing when you're in trouble, taking advantage of space/distance). It will also get rid of some of the thinking ("just rush in" and let the reflexes take over).

So my response to all those youtube clips...these guys don't REALLY have boom in their punches, nor, in my opinion, have they trained simple step and punch against resisting partners.

Until then.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vids for you

Hi Gang,

just some vids i came across, thought they were interesting..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TajusIENTs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-kw1KBU2ps&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6Vy6-vvoBY

Enjoy!

Until then.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Break the Neck!

So I came across this video the other day. It was quite entertaining. It’s a self-defense-for-women instructional video that teaches you how to “break the neck”. Are you kidding me? Are you joking? Obviously not. You can tell by her serious intonation and her numerous repetitions that breaking the neck is a worth while option.

It is incredibly scary to think that there are people taking this video seriously and truly believe that they can break the neck of their assailant….let alone learning from a clip on youtube. This is incredibly unrealistic and very irresponsible of the person teaching this “solution”. It would only put the defender in harms way even more so.

Also interesting, is that she’s so focused on breaking the neck that she never even teaches you how to get out of the bear hug. Notice how the bear hug was not even properly applied! Focus on step 1, before step 2, I say.

Could I break the neck? Probably not, but then again, I wouldn’t really consider that an option.

Until then.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Martial Arts Rant on Craigslist Posting

My comments to follow next posting. In the mean time, enjoy. What are your thoughts?

Thanks to Gary K for sending this to me.

Until then.

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My qualifications for writing all this are: 8 year wrestler, former corporal in the marines, football (fullback) my whole life, martial arts for 3 years, 6 years of studying exercise science, and currently a personal trainer on a military base. I also take kickboxing classes 4 days a week, but i dont spar. Back in the day when i was a fighter, people faught for what it was and they showed respect, nowadays people fight in anger, for brutality and violent entertainment, fight for pride, fame, money. I know how fighters think, because I used to be one. Years ago if someone told me all this, I too woulda laughed and called them ignorant and stupid (which doesnt show much "respect" lol), but then I came to reality and realized I was only fighting for fame, pride, anger, to beat someone's ass. And I think its time most fighters realize that.

These sports are nothing but pure violence, and instructors try to brainwash you into thinking otherwise. Instructors try to say its about scoring points and about "finding out your strengths and weaknesses which leads to self-discovery", when its really not (ya cuz u need to beat up someone to discover yourself, lol). But you need to ask yourself, "whats the point of me kicking him in the head?" etc. I signed up to serve my country, to defend against people attacking my country. But what on earth did the guy/girl standing in front of u in the ring/cage/mat, do to you, to cause you to beat them up? Would u beat up a random person on the streets? Of course not, they did nothing to you! So why do it to them?

The other night, there was UFC 100, where Lesnar beat Mir. Lesnar flicked off the crowd and practically bullied Mir after...and I for one thank him for it, because he showed over one million viewers just what the sport is all about. Many people say "oh look, over one million watched it! thats alot!".....no its not. One million people IN THE WORLD (not states)...compared to 50 million who watch the super bowl (and super bowl is american, mma is done all over the world). One million is nothing. Boxing has been around since the early 1900s (probably earlier), and still only has a million viewers.

First of all, let me explain to you the science behind "fighting": Knockouts, occur when there is "trauma" to the brain stem, usually by a sharp rotation of the head. So thats why you see many fighters aiming for the chin, it causes a quick rotation which leads to a trauma of the stem, if a person drops, it hits the nose, if they flinch back it hits the neck, if they move sideways it hits the jawline. Jaw and cheek: There is a nerve in that area of your face that runs directly up to your brain and when your face is struck hard it causes the brain to shut down. A hit to the facial area will cause lack of balance, focus, and disorientation. Now, this sport claims to teach focus and balance, by doing things to make you LOSE focus and balance??? Lol, makes no sense. Fighters will also watch their opponent when they are breathing IN, and hit them in the gut area as theyre breathing in, causes them to lose breathe and be knocked out. Some fighters will repeatedly hit their opponent in the head, because it causes a concussion. Often you see a fighter kicking an opponent on the side of the head, because it causes a quick rotation which traumatizes the brain stem. Many times they go after the temple, because its softer, and easier way to apply trauma. Sometimes you see a knee to the ribcage area, it practically pierces the lungs, causing a direct trauma and losing breathe. Choking, a fighter will choke you because it cuts off the trachea, and cuts off blood flow to the brain, thus making you become unconscious. Arm breaks, leg breaks, etc: In submitting, grappling, etc...theyll grab your arm or leg/foot and keep pulling. If the fighter doesnt tap out, youre supposed to simply break the arm by pulling it as much as you can, tearing the ligaments. All of this, sounds SO SAFE doesnt it???

All of this, can lead to paralysis or death. If there was no referee to stop the chin pounding and all that, the person WOULD die. Regardless of whether or not there is a ref, its still inhumane and flat out disgusting. Some instructors try to tell their students that beating someone within an inch of their life and then STOP, so they dont die, is respectful...because youre respectful enough not to kill them. ..............Seriously, were these people born yesterday? Mostly, fighters make hits to the head (the control center of the body), the area most likely to cause trauma, death, paralysis, etc. In most sports, head hits are banned (football, hockey, etc)...thats why they wear pads. Yet these sports, they go for the head. Oh oh oh, almost forgot: Instructors will defend all this by saying "well thats why we use gloves"....lol no, the truth is...gloves are worse, because it allows you to hit HARDER. Gloves arent that soft, it still hurts like hell. Some instructors will defend all this brain stem trauma by saying they dont allow hits on the back of the head for safety reasons, lol...thats a lie. They dont allow hits to the back of the head because its too easy. Fans want to see a long fight, not a 10 second pounding. If you're allowed to hit in the back of the head, the fight will be over in a minute. Think about it...if they didnt allow you to hit to the back of the head because of safety reasons, they wouldnt allow you to hit someone in a way where it traumatizes the brain stem, or cuts off blood flow (choke). Didnt think about that, did you?

If anyone tells you nobody's ever died in these sports, theyre lying. Look it up online, people HAVE died and ruined their lives from it. Unfortunately people these days believe everything they hear. Remember the first time you got drunk? You didnt do it alone, you were with friends, they gave u a drink and kept pushing u to drink more, but u said nooooo. Then they 'peer pressured' you into it, and now you LOVE it. Same with fighting....anyone with a brain who watches it is gonna say "umm, whats the point of his brutality?"....but after awhile of your "friends" pushing you into it, you're gonna fall in love. People will do anything as long as their with friends and having fun. Basically, people need to start thinking for themselves, stop being fake, use common sense, stop listening to friends who u wont see in 20 years anyway. I cant count how many people I know with PhDs and Masters degrees who are doing shit jobs now because of the decisions they made when they were young, im sure they LOVE those 'friends' of theirs now! I mean, dont you have anything better to do with your life than beat someone up???

Soon, New York will vote on whether or not to legalize mma in their state. Obviously many fans are writing and saying how safe it is, but many reps and state senators are calling it brutal, mindless...but regardless, it may just become legalized (and in my opinion, it will be). Here's why: Money. I have several buddies working on capitol hill who speak with people about all sorts of issues, and i myself know a governor and a few representatives. The ONLY reason these sports are legalized is simply: Money. It brings the state a lot of money (and people), and a state like New York who is currently losing lots of money, will get lots of money from it. But rest assured, most congressmen, senators, state senators, assemblymen, delegates, etc, ARE opposed to the sports. Yes, people get hurt in all sports, but only in combat sports, do people get hurt PURPOSELY. There was a poll that went around in new york, and 67% of residents said they didnt want these sports legalized, and over half the legislature said the same, BUT...they said it would bring money to the state. That'll be a huge shame, putting money over brutality. But im not worried....because there are so many whiny parents out there who wont let their kids watch porn or Rated R movies, and the moment they see this stuff mainstreamed on channel 4, theyll complain. And who knows, it may get banned all over. But do know people, the ONLY reason its legalized in many states, is because of the money it brings in. Out of the 37 states its legalized in, 31 of the governors, think the sport is brutal, barbaric, and violent. The government tries to make laws against abuse, violence, bullying....why on EARTH would they allow this stuff then?? Money. The only reason it seems like many people enjoy these sports, is because you never hear from the people who are opposed to it. I guarantee if people went to the polls in every state and voted on election day to ban or not ban it, itd get banned in at least 40 states. I guarantee ufc and all those sports have deals with television stations to promote their stuff. So many commercials and shows lately have been showing boxing gloves, or a fighter, etc....and as we all know, this nation IS controlled by the media.

Is that not enough? Try this, i read in an article: In July, the chairman of the new york state athletic commission was removed as chairman (he was very much opposed to mma). Two days later, the governor (fight fan) announced that a person whom is a vocal proponent of MMA would chair the commission. Hmm.......are you thinking what im thinking? I withheld names for privacy purposes. Not to mention even the dean of sportswriters, and the heads of boxing organizations are opposed to MMA. A few representatives who voted against MMA, received threats....wow, that doesnt show much "respect" or "discipline" does it? Some fight fans will say the violence rate dropped when MMA was legalized, but let me explain why. Because beforehand, people were fighting on the streets where cops could arrest them. Now, those people are fighting inside (and for sport), so cops cant arrest them, lol. So actually, the violence rate is on the rise...you just dont see it!

Have you ever looked up in a dictionary what "martial arts" means? It means "art of war". Hmmm, art of war? Why is "art of war" being taught to people who arent in war, or to 5 year olds? These people think they are warriors...well thats funny, because warriors go to war, so why arent you people in Iraq? And warriors are supposed to kill and fight, not display respect, discipline, self-control and all those other words that fighters use (and cant define lol). Didnt think about that, did ya?

Over and over again, people in these sports talk about how safe it is, how its MUCH safer than gymnastics, soccer, hockey, etc. Compare the amount of blood spilt in martial arts, to soccer. Compare the amount of people passed out in MMA, to gymnastics. NOW which is worse? What fight fans dont realize is, the long term effects of this stuff.

If soccer, football, hockey, etc has more injuries, perhaps its because soccer/football/hockey players compete on a WEEKLY basis for HOURS. Whereas in MMA and all those violent sports, they compete every month or every few months for 5-15 minutes.

So martial arts teach balance, focus, concentration, coordination, body conditioning (along with every other sport lol). So how come some fighters get winded and knocked out in minutes, yet football and soccer players can go for hours and still be topnotch. How come Brock Lesnar went out for football and couldnt even make the practice squad for the Vikings? Try being a Tour De France cyclist, see if you can cycle for 8 hours up and down mountains. I dare you, fighters.

Martial arts isnt about fighting? So why did Chuck Lidell say in an NBC interview, "we wouldnt be doing this stuff if we didnt have issues".

Many times, martial art people try to say, "its about self defense. If someone came in your home and tried to attack your mother, would u just sit there?"....uhh, what on EARTH does some criminal intruding in my house and attacking my mother, have to do with me getting in a cage with some random guy who did NOTHING to me?

Why do people enjoy martial arts so much? Because they enjoy violent entertainment. What, do you REALLY think the fans watch it for any other reason? You wonder why you never hear the crowd cheering when the fighters are standing and staring, yet when one guy is on the floor pounding the other one repeatedly, the whooole crowd cheers as the top of their lungs. Because thats what they want, to see a pounding. And when a guy gets knocked out, everyone cheers. Now in most other sports, everyone is in silence and wondering if the guy is okay if he passes out.

What exactly is the benefit of martial arts? Tell me how this "discipline, mental toughness, coordination, balance"...is useful in your life? Please someone tell me, because whenever I ask, I dont get an answer...and actually a few times Ive been kicked out of gyms when I started asking. What, are they hiding something? People these days are not capable of being disciplined. BUT, studies have shown that video games can improve mentality, coordinaton, focus. So can fish oil! So can ANY other sport, lol.

Martial Arts is a foreign "sport". The people who enjoy these sports the most, are usually....yes, country people, rednecks, southerners, people who live in the midwest, hicks. Now correct me if im wrong, but dont THOSE people in particular, despise foreigners? So why on EARTH would they like "martial arts" then, seeing as how its a foreign "sport"? They hate soccer, hockey, etc. They like martial arts because they enjoy watching brutality and violence.

Some say they take it to give themselves control so they don’t bully, and that’s sad (and a lie). I had perfect control before I took mma. Im sorry to tell you all this, but you CANT TEACH RESPECT, you CANT TEACH DISCIPLINE. The military cant even discipline their soldiers, and since kindergarten we were all taught to respect, and years later we are bullies, at war, showing hatred. You.Cant.Teach.Respect.Or.Discipline, OR self-control, coordination, etc. You just CANT.

This makes me laugh. Ive heard of some "arts" that say you have to fight, or beat, or knock out a certain amount of people to advance to the next stage. Umm, please tell me none of you are dumb enough to believe that? So maybe thats why some fighters parade around the cage (or ring) after knocking out someone, because they seriously think its advancing them to a next level or stage of their 'art'. Wow, ive never heard of so much ignorance before. You think its sane, humane, justified to knock someone out for ANY reason???

Ive read articles, ive spoken to trainers, instructors, and the consensus is…martial arts, boxing, kickboxing are WORTHLESS on the streets. So why teach this stuff if theyre WORTHLESS in the streets? See, if youre on the streets, youre “off guard”. You don’t know if someone is gonna attack you, so if you get attacked, youre “off guard”, and you lose. Studies have shown that these simple “self defense” classes that last an hour, are MUCH more useful than combat sports. Plus, most people on the streets, arent TRAINED. Cage fights are worse than high school fights because you actually know HOW to knock someone out.

Some instructors try to say that fighting is human nature, that even animals do it.....well wow, its surely not MY nature, lol. Ive been in this world for a looooong time, and never once needed to "fight". So I have no idea what nature they are talking about, lol. They compare it to the days of Jesus, or the Gladiators in Rome, where people killed each other...and thats sick. Do you REALLY think God approves of two people fighting for no reason whatsoever?

You want to know why the people who do it, enjoy mma and all those sports? Because their people who love fighting. So they view this as a way of fighting legally, committing assault and getting away with it. In order to make it legal, these instructors CANT say its about fighting and bloodshed, they HAVE TO say its about confidence, control, etc...otherwise itd be banned in a heartbeat, lol. And since these instructors and lovers KNOW that people believe everything they hear, they go after the younger people mostly, but hey, adults can be dumb too. And then when girls come in, the instructors try to make them think we live in a violent world where self defense is a MUST, when its not (i know tons of women who've never been attacked).

Not to mention, almost every medical association alive, speaks AGAINST the sport. Almost every doctor, speaks AGAINST the sport. I wonder why. Id rather trust a doctor than some bloodshed loving guy. And those docs who do speak FOR it, are usually the younger ones who are still drunks and living the "party life". And girls being a part of combat sports disgusts me. Go ahead and learn, but compete? Thats not lady-like. Girls say they want a man, well men want a WOMAN. No "MAN" wants to date a girl who fights (unless its for sex).

I first took a big stand against it when I was walking through the Holocaust museum with a girlfriend. I told her I cant believe people would do such things to each other (the holocaust), and she told me im no different, that I beat people up, inflict pain, promote violence on people who never wronged me. At first I laughed and tried to explain to her what the sport was about and how its much different than murder OBVIOUSLY, but as I kept going through, I realized she had a point, what IS the point to fighting someone??? A guy friend of mine who is a state champion wrestler and anti-martial art guy, told me to look back 8 years ago when this country was attacked, do we really need more violence? 8 years ago 3000 people were killed, and in Iraq more than 4000 soldiers are killed (whether its an inside job or not, murder is still murder), then we come home and beat each other up for sport.....how is that necessary, justified, humane? He has a point. Most of all, if it teaches "respect", why are you HITTING the person? lol, do i NEED to say more? If you respect someone, you dont fight them!! DUHHHHH

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gong Fu in MMA

Hi folks,

thought it's time for a lighter post today...

I came across this in one of the forums. Definitely gave me a good chuckle...

http://forum.kungfumagazine.com/forum/showthread.php?t=54723

Until then,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Progression

Then things got blurry when I went from student levels 8-12. The concepts, chi-sao drills, etc weren’t as defined as the previous materials. I didn’t learn in a linear fashion anymore. Instead, things varied quite a bit. The different pak-da, tan-da, bong-da (as per student levels 7, 8, 9) were introduced but mixed in with other things like emphasized mobility (eg. cross-step, side stepping, etc) to adjust for the incoming force. Mobility was introduced here.

Levels 10-12 got even more blurry. But I noticed, as soon as I hit level 12, things turned up a notch. Hits felt harder and being the “dummy” end of Sifu’s explanation in class felt different – more intense. I thought it was just me, but then I noticed how those were recently promoted with me started to dwindle. It seemed like, to me, that student level 12 was a defining moment for many. It seemed that getting to level 12 is good enough - the equivalent of a “black belt”…more a high degree “brown belt”.

I remember, at level 9 or 10, I felt that I would be REALLY good by level 12 and that by the time I hit 1st technician grade, I would have all the tools I needed. WRONG. There’s so much more – and I’m not just saying that at a philosophical level. There really is so much more, technically, skillfully and physically.

Do you remember in grade school math, when the teacher said that you can’t subtract a big number from a smaller number (eg. 3-7 = ?) but could only go the other way (eg. 7-3 = 4). Do you remember the moment when the teachers told you that was not true and instead 3-7 = -4? How about in chemistry when a reaction 2H + O -> H2O. We were told that this reaction is one way for the longest time. Then the teacher says that it’s not true and in reality, all reactions go back and forth, but one reaction nets more product than the other. So really it looks like 2H + O <-> H2O.

Of course, teachers had to do this to properly educate us. To provide us information in stages in order to understand the concept, only to remove it so that you can use this foundation to understand the next one?

The same, I’ve realized, occurs with WT once you get into the technician grades. So ya, LOTS to do, lots to re-train and lots to incorporate into my arms and legs. Although there is structure to the curriculum, it was loosely applied in my case. (Most likely due to my fluctuating attendance throughout the years.) Do chi-sao sections here, do some forms training here, some partner training, concept A, punching B, etc.

THEN, to top it off. The concept of “boxing” has really hit me as of late – Chinese boxing. Wing Tsun is Chinese boxing, as my instructor says. And when he said that, I couldn’t agree more. To sum up as “Chinese boxing” conceptualized WT into something more than drills and chi-sao. So simple but hard to pull off. This concept frees one of the rigid boundaries set by all the previous years of training. Of course, the irony is that all those years of WT training is absolutely needed.

So this is my next step – to evolve my wing tsun into the expression of its true form: boxing. It sure feels awkward. I know my Wing tsun still has lots more room to progress. Once I get this whole boxing thing down, then somehow, I’ll have to transform it so that it reflects me – so that it becomes natural, automatic and full of Grasshopper 2.0 flavour.

One step at a time…

Until then.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cons of Full Contact Fighting

In my last post, I discussed some of the benefits of full-contact sparring. My personal view is that, when it comes to the street environment, full-contact fighting is simply part of an arsenal to add to your training routine, but not the determining factor for realistic self-defense. I understand, and agree that with full-contact fighting, the adrenaline rush is something that might get you incredibly close to the “real thing”. It’s a great test to see how you’d react to the nature of that adrenaline rush, to the tensing of muscles and to the stress.

But there are some drawbacks.

1) Full-contact sparring creates habits – squaring the opponent up, for example, either with distance control or jabs may work strategically in the ring, but the street fight may not start off so fare and square, nor would there necessarily be much space to do so. Chances are someone has already been hit, or perhaps cornered into people or into a walls, tables, etc.

2) Squaring up takes away from that initial burst of energy and that opportunity to attack. Full-contact fighting in the ring is controlled and highly strategic. There is more time allowed for decision making and it is not too often where the person would throw a barrage of attacks at the start of the fight. However, in the street fight, chances are that punches are thrown before a fight even starts! There’s no time for strategy, only reaction.

3) Over time, as you get used to full contact fighting in the ring, the adrenaline dump wears off. Of course, there is still the rush, but the territory becomes familiar and your body becomes more efficient at handling that situation. The street fight presents a different environment and the different stimulus would provide an extra boost of stress that your body is not used to..or better said…that your mind knows it should be used to, but your body reacts otherwise.

4) Hits, as sloppy as they may be, are 100% committed. However, in the case of full-contact fighting, there is room to throw feint punches and kicks to measure distance, to force a reaction, etc. In the case of the street fight, the guy just wants to hit you and will do what it takes to do so.

5) The guy attacking you doesn’t know nor care about martial arts. Chances are you small you’re going to fight a skilled MMA guy or Thai boxer. Most of these guys are incredibly nice guys! It’s the jerks that cause the fights. It’s very rare that such “jerks” have the determination, drive, and discipline to learn such a complicated art like thai boxing or MMA.

Now of course, there are exceptions to every rule. You may end up fighting some MMA guy in a situation where you have lots of room to roam around and there’s a mutual start to the fight. Like I said above, full contact sparring definitely has a significant role in one’s training, but it’s not everything. Drills training, in my opinion, can be tweaked up a few notches to present quite an intense sense of street fight (think, 2-3 second fight). The hard part is finding the right people to train in such a way. And it’s not easy. It’s exhausting both physically AND mentally. It’s also hard to find a partner who’s willing to take hits, know how to throw a good un-wing chun punch, and let their ego’s go.

I have to give credit to the full-contact fighters. They are able to take hits and not give a damn. But us wing tsun/chun guys aren’t like that at all. It’s kind of annoying. Boxers don’t care if something doesn’t work, they just go back to the drawing board and train harder. I think we can learn something here.

Until then.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pros of Full Contact

To many in the wing tsun/chun circles, full contact sparring is either not encouraged, not needed, not realistic or not practiced. Instructors have their reasons, many advocating that it deviates from the realistic nature of the street fight. Others take a different approach and feel that it may be too dangerous to apply in the sparring situation. Whatever the case may be, I think there are some benefits to exposing one’s self to the adrenaline rush of a full-contact fight/sparring experience.

1) There’s just something intrinsically primal, and well, REAL about your opponent throwing a punch, kick, elbow or tackle at full power. This is hard for your partner to replicate in class. Many of the punches thrown in the drills are half-assed or “too nice” as to always make the drill work.

2) Exposes weaknesses in conditioning – full contact fighting brings out quite the adrenaline rush and, with it, exhaustion. It shows us how much is really in our gas tank and gives us some perspective as to how much we have in a street fight.

3) Spontaneity – the attacks coming at you are completely unknown. Unlike the drill setting where an attack is pre-determined, the free fight scenario carries an element of surprise and a refreshing experience of not knowing what’s going to happen next.

4) You get to hit hard back! Now it’s your turn to unleash your powerful punches…no need to worry about pulling your hits back like that in a drill.

5) You learn pretty quickly how much more “boom” in your punches you’ll need.

6) Against a grappler, you can see how effective take downs can be….or ineffective. You will also learn how the ground game is very different when facing someone who is skilled in the art of ground fighting.

7) It’s not as bad as you might think it is. You won’t be facing an Iron Mike in the ring…but most likely someone of similar skillset or experience as you have. Like you, they don’t know what the next hit is going to be. Things are relatively controlled and safety comes first.

Something to add to your training repertoire I would say. Next post, the cons of sparring.

Until then.

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