Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Foot Loose

So last night's class we worked on applying certain sections of the siu nim tao off of chi-sao. More to this, it was emphasized on relaxing but heavy pressure and without resorting to any other attacks other than the one specified by the particular SNT section.  This means, you gotta rely on forward pressure, strong stance, mobile footwork, relaxation and sticking energy.

But another emphasis was highlighted last night - the use of the feet, ankles, knees to really drive home the emphasis of all the points mentioned above. I'm not talking about simply bending the knees or facing the feet in the proper direction - i'm talking about keeping those joints fluid so that every turn of the ankle, every twitch of the toes all combine to the forward pressure, the stronger stance, to the more powerful attack.  

In essence, to me, it seems it has much to do with keeping away from being "flat footed" yet not having to bounce around the opponent and may, to outsiders, appear "flat footed".  Really it's the complete opposite, your lower limbs are mobile, flexible and adaptable - just like your arms. 

Hard to describe on here without sounding obvious and generic (much like almost everything we try to describe, unfortunately). But think about this - you're in the moment, the attacker is really going to strangle you and you have a split second to go forward and meet him head on. You know that moment when you make contact with the limbs, and yet your toes raise up just a little bit on contact? that moment is being caught "flat-footed". The training last night is all about taking that away. Instead of raising your toes, the contact with the opponents force digs your feet deeper into the ground, giving you better grip to really unleash a powerful blow.

Being flat-footed is our problem, not the attackers, regardless of how hard the attack is. But in order to solve this problem, our ankles, knees, toes, hips must be aware and ready to make micro-movements in order to tackle the amazing pressure from the attacker.  

This is not easy to do.  Perhaps it's easier to get caught flat footed, toes raise, stance breaks and you fall onto the ground and resort to BJJ. Maybe that's why the popularity? Save that for next time..

Until then.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Flexibility

In our curriculum, much attention is paid to the stretching of our tendons, ligaments and muscles. In the Siu Nim Tao form, there is an emphasis on really stretching the limbs out, while holding the shoulder in or during the huen sao (circling hand) motions.  In our system, much time and effort in stressing this importance as the instructor encourages the student to really take the time to almost exagerate the movements - creating a physiological-conditioning purpose for these movements, rather than just practical fighting application or, in some cases, just going through the motions. 

However, little attention is paid to the lower half of the body - the legs and feet. Such conditioning should also be applied. Although there may not be an official form, it would be recommended to spend 10 minutes every other night on applying the same principles and goals to the legs - stretching the legs out, performing slow ankle rotations, and locking the knees.  

The kicking leg can be viewed (depending on the situation) as an extended man sao - making contact with the opponent as he closes in.  You cannot afford to meet his attack with stiff arms, so why meet his attack with stiff legs? 

Don't neglect stretching the legs. You can start with standard stretches that you do in karate class or gym class but spend a good 10-15 minutes stretching your legs WT style. 

Until next time. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Committment

It's no surprise, in almost any instance of a WT demo posted on YouTube, you get someone (usually by the fourth post, latest) where someone says it's crap and that MMA is the most effective form of self-defense.   Of course, stated with swear words and insults.  If the posts are active enough, then you eventually get the Boztepe vs. Cheung argument ("Where's the wing chun in that fight?", they say. "Good question", I say.).  

In any event, I stay out of this stuff. I don't post on these boards but I'm guilty of having read the postings.  I would watch these clips over and over again.  I would also watch the clips where they have amateur wing tsun/chun guys vs the MMA guy.  Some observations:

1) In WT clips, the WT practitioner assumes the attacker fully commits his attacks.

2) In MMA clips, the MMA practitioner works off of an attacker that doesn't throw fully committed punches/kicks (sure they may be powerful or still hurt). 

In the first scenario, the assumption is that the attacker will take a full step from a safe distance to an attacking distance.

While, in the second scenario, the attacker will take tiny steps to close the distance enough to REACH at the target with his attack.  This could also be used to create a reaction so that a take down can follow. 

If my observations are correct, then the question then becomes, which scenario is more common in a self-defense situation?  

Which one are you training for?  Why not train for the other scenario as well? 

In my experience, in a sparring scenario or a controlled fighting scenario, the latter situation is common. While in the street brawl scenario, the first situation is more accurate.  For whatever reason, the hunger of really wanting to "kill" the guy on the street leads to a more heavy, more committed, more emotional type of attack.  Although possible, crossing paths against a more controlled fighter - maintaining distance, jabs, feints, etc may be less common as factors of emotional control, sensibility and security are required. And this type of person may not be likely to get into a fight anyway.

Of course, this is complete generalization. And with the popularity of MMA, it's quite possible to run into some young guys who's taken a few classes under their belt who are ready to mix it up on the street.  Mix in some alcohol, adrenaline, and some drugs and you have yourself quite a monster. A monster who is commited at tearing your head apart, at tackling you down with brute strenght - in other words, fully commited.

Are you ready?

Until then.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Punching Power

I came across a friendly discussion with a friend of mine regarding speed and power.  He felt, speed = power.  Faster you are, the more powerful the punch. I'm sure we all know that this isn't entirely accurate.   The common understanding is that force = mass x acceleration or power = energy per sec. In both formulas, speed or timing are factors. Decrease the time, increase the power. OR increase the energy, increase the power. 

It seems in our wing tsnu training, we strive to increase our speed. This is a way to substitute for our lack of mass, per se, yet still generate a killer punch. We work on it day in and day out to relax our punches, stretch our muscles and tendons/ligaments to achieve the time of relaxation needed for a powerful punch.

So, once you can generate that kind of power, can your body handle it? Can you fist handle the physical impact, especially at the new found force?  Maybe you get that one good shot to the chin, only to shatter your fist exactly at the same time, simply because the force was too great? 

At the same time, force is going to be distributed rather unevenly. The contours of the human face/body is not flat and so the power generated would be diffused inefficiently, let alone hold the potential for damaging your fist, wrist, fingers, etc depending how your attack lands. 

So how do you ensure that your limbs can handle the crushing impact of the force you generated? Devote hours to conditioning? Hope for the best? Utilize the fist for soft targets, and the palm for harder targets?

Will continue...

Until then.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Muscle Building Program Finally DONE!

So as I've mentioned in my previous post, I am participating in a 16 week muscle building program as a means to just gain back the weight and muscle that I've lost in the first half of 2008 due to the stresses of a new job, moving, renovations, etc.  

The program that I followed can be found here, under "How to build muscle in 16 weeks or less".  I was limited by a few things:

1) Equipment: I do not have access to heavy weight plates, nor a barbell. So I just used whatever was available at the gym in my apartment: dumbbells (50 lbs max) and a universal gym that allowed me to perform chest presses and flies (the dumbbells did not challenge me enough).  I found that the bent-over rows were also getting too easy in the middle of the program so I had to change it up by slowing down the movements even more and even having to go to a higher rep count (which is something that you don't really want to do in a muscle building routine). 

2) Wing Tsun Kung Fu training: this isn't a limitation but this was something I had to keep in mind. That meant, stretching post workout and Siu Nim Tao forms practice to keep the joints limber and muscles relaxed. 

3) Diet: I had to consume more than I was used to. The best part was that I got to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I wasn't eating that much to begin with, so I just let my appetite roam free. I think the goal is to get about 3000 calories a day. I don't think I hit that high (but close), nor did I watch what I was eating. I know it's stressed in the program to eat good foods. I just ate whatever. 

4) Cardio: Because I didn't hit the 3000 calorie target, I did not do any cardio training as I thought that my take away from my energy stores. I was not concerned about fat gain anyway.

5) Rest: I rested as much as I could and tried to get good sleep. There were times when I couldn't sleep well for weeks and I could feel that my body could not lift as much. Just had to tough it through, and in some cases rearrange my workout for the following day to allow for catch-up sleep. 

No major injuries to slow me down (thank you God). Did have to extend the program a few weeks because I got sick a few times so I did not workout on those days (working out adds stress to the immune system which will only prolong your sick time). 

Ok, the pictures - click here for the pix - there are four pictures: 

1) Week1
2) Week 8 (half way)
3) Week 16 (no flash)
4) Week 16 (w/ flash)

I tried to keep the lighting and environment (with exception of the fourth pic) the same throughout. I know many, when taking pictures, exagerate results by using overhead lighting or something, so i wanted to minimize this variable.  Unfortunately, the colour of the pictures are simply a result of the crappy camera itself (SONY!).  I did not tan either ;) 

Future plans - time to shed the flab in prep for the summer. Will keep you posted!

Until then.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Search for Expression

In my last post I touched on the subject of translating your skills to the free-fighting scenario.  I want to bring more attention to this.  I want to know how you express your wing tsun. The question is:

 What does your WT look like when you’re actually using it?

 The answer will vary and it will depend on your training level.  I think when you’re a beginner (student levels 1-12), your WT will look like “text-book” WT – weight on the back leg, chain punches, standard tan sao, bong sao, etc.  But when you’re REALLY using it, it looks like crap and will probably resort to brawling.

 At an intermediate stage (technician level 1-3), your WT could also be “text book” WT. But hopefully a little lighter on the feet and a little bit more liberal in your delivery.  And when you’re REALLY using it, it looks like crap and is a messy mix of brawling with chain punches

 

At an expert stage (technician level 4 and greater) your WT could be “text-book” WT and it works. And when you’re REALLY using it, it could look like anything you want and it still works.

 Now of course, the designation of the grade is just to give us some idea. You can be at student level 10 and have amazing skills while a technician grade could be less than stellar.   This is not the point.

 The point is how are you expressing your WT when you intentionally want to use it?  The next question is, how do you train this? How is this developed? Now the reluctant answer is: You train your heart out in the drills, in chi-sao, in lat-sao, etc, so that your body is just so accustomed to the moves and conditioned that things “just work”.

 Why am I reluctant to say this? Simply because I suspect that this isn’t enough.  Maybe this is where faith kicks in. I mean, it worked for the development of knee pressure, of chain punches….

 

But will it work when it comes down to actually fighting? The skeptics say no and the proponents say yes. Both are biased, so both are unreliable. I guess it’s up to me.

 I’m continuing the search for my own WT functional expression. What does my WT look like? It’s yet to be determined. I can tell you that both text book WT and “brawling” WT is not my thing. Neither feels natural at all, the former being too restrictive and the latter too risky.

 It’s like finding an engagement ring. You know what you’re looking for, but can’t describe it. But once you see it, you just know.  Same goes with WT -I know what I’m looking for, but I don’t know what steps to take to find it. Anyone able to help?  

 Until then.

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