Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Impressions: Wing Chun on Fight Quest

So by now, you've had a chance to take a look at the clips on my previous post regarding Fight Quest feature wing tsun.  Now, if you want to get into specifics, the lineage shown to represent wing chun/tsun was the Leung Ting lineage - which is the lineage I study (Haenel -> Kernspecht -> Leung Ting).  Is this fair? is this representative of wing "chun"? Maybe yes, maybe no. But to the rest of the world, it's all the same. Of course, you can leave that to our wing chun circles and politics to battle it out on the keyboards...

First off, I thought the hosts were really good and giving an objective view of what the system is trying to do - crash/blast/overwhelm the attacker within seconds. 

Second, I give credit to the hosts for really trying their hand at WT - it is not easy to learn in days, let alone months/years - I don't mean that on a commitment/philosphical/art level, but simply of the physical demand and initial awkwardness of the mechanics found in the system (weight on the back leg, chain punches, etc). 

Third, the hosts did a great job trying to stay within the confines of the WT style and explain the ideas behind the kung fu style.

Finally, they showed a lot of respect to the teachers, students and to the system. 

Now, to the opinions from the Grasshopper himself

WOW - I was really dissapointed with the sparring sessions - incredibly dissapointed and actually a little shocked that Leung Ting would let such results represent his lineage on the DISCOVERY CHANNEL.  The hosts were, within days, able to hold their own and even get incredibly good shots in that, sure weren't WT punches, but who cares? The point of the, or any, self-defense system is to handle any type of punches, not just chain punches!

What are the chances we are gonna run into a skilled MMA guy on the street? Yea, not good. Now what are the chances were are gonna run into a WT guy on the street? EVEN SMALLER! So, I can't say I was impressed when i kept seeing the right cross and jabs get through.  And on top, you know those punches had something behind them (you can tell by how the head jerked back pretty good when it was hit), while the chain punches just "looked" like a flurry of hysterical rabbit punches....

One part I started to like was when the instructor said to the guy "Come hit me."  I thought he was going to unleash hell. No, not so much. I'm sure those punches sting, but they were pretty much "I got you" punches.  WT is about breaking the opponents structure, occupying the opponents limbs or blasting through the opponent - none of that was demonstrated....

EVEN BETTER...none of that was demonstrated in the weeeeaaaakk ass demo that the school gave at the beginning of the show.  There was absolutely no "umph" in the hits, just "tag - i got you" type of touches. This goes for both the student and the teacher that gave the demo. 

WEAK SAUCE all the way. Dismal display.

Maybe your skills are really good, but at least make it LOOK good!  It's TV for crying outloud. And you just know the camera man was trying REALLY hard to make it look exciting with the tight camera shots in too.

I don't know - what's with ALL the chain punches? Is Leung Ting trying to hide other punches? It just seemed that was all they got. Sure, in the flurry of the fight, chances are the chain punch will prevail as the weapon of choice, but make em count.  Maybe throw in an elbow?

I can sit here and critcize all day...sadly. The point I want to stress is that it seemed pretty evident, at the end of the day, that if the hosts really wanted to go in and hit the guys for a knockout, instead of focussing on trying to chain punch, you know they would've.  

And getting a knock out, or knocked out, is the measuring stick, isn't it?

I dunno, maybe the sparring "wing chun warriors" were student level 2...

Until then.



Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wing Chun on the Discovery Channel

Wing Tsun is covered on the now canceled show Fight Quest - starring the Leung Ting system  and Grandmaster Leung Ting is there to teach. Maybe you can pick up some long pole secrets? ;)

You can find the clips here:





What are your thoughts? Mine will be in the next post.

Until then.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

WT Depression Part 2

In my last post, I looked at factors that may play a negative mental role of our training. Interestingly, those factors listed were primarily external. Now let's take a moment to examine the internal factors that may inhibit our own training.   The primary factor

1) Drive - you've got to WANT it. It's not the size of the dog in the fight. It's the size of the fight in the dog - as they say.

2) Determination - you've got to make sure you get what you want.  The end result is all that matters. If you don't get the end result, you've had nothing to show for it. And the "fear" of that happening, keeps your eyes on target. 

3) Tolerance - you've got to be able to get through the boring, tedious aspects of training. Whatever that may be for you - SNT training, certain section of chi-sao, footwork. Can you tolerate those repetitive, not so fun drills for the entire class? week? month?

4) Sweat - sometimes you plateau. Sometimes you feel that you've got the drive, the determination and put in the time, but you just can't get over that hump. Well, guess what? TRAIN HARDER. Taking your body to a level you've never experienced may exactly what you need to experience to give you that TASTE OF SUCCESS.

Ahh - that taste of success....that's what tells you you're on the right track. It's like sinking a 3-pointer after a cold streak. It fires you up and gets you going. Success is a major motivator.

But all this questioning, introspection, etc could hinder us from our training, from seeing that TRAINING is exactly what we need and not stroking the keyboard or even thinking too much. 

WE TRAIN.
and let the others do the thinking.

And through training, somehow, that will answer all our questions. 

Until then.




Tuesday, February 10, 2009

WT Depression

I think, for some, there comes a lull point in one's training where you find yourself dragging your heels to group class.  Your punches don't get through while your defense falls apart just a little bit too easily.  Hits hurt more than usual and class slooowws down to a crawl. Your partner becomes your worst enemy and your instructor's words just appear to be repetitive and, as passionate as it is, uninspiring.  At this point, you know you're depressed – WT style.

 

Exercises become a chore and lessons become a lecture.  It can be a dark time in one's training.

 

Here are 5 major factors that contribute to this:

 

1)       A lack of measurable success – getting hit over and over again isn't fun. Neither is not being able to hit. When the person you train with is too good or your instructor just doesn't let you experience the taste of success, it intrinsically tells us that we are failing.  To this, the problem is fueled by an egotistical partner or instructor who won't allow themselves to be hit and, therefore, feeds the victim's own increasing lack of self-esteem.   Wing chun training is even a better candidate for such problems because there is so much hands-on partner training involved. There is not the same focus on hitting "imaginary" opponents or focus mitts.

 

2)       Information overload – the instructor repeatedly points out the lack of foot work, the lack of flexibility, the proper hand positions, the techniques of the drill, the ultimate goal of the exercise, etc, etc.  It is sometimes too much. We are overwhelmed by it all that we cannot focus on any one aspect of the training exercise.  There is no foundation or perspective for which an "overloaded" person can grasp onto to advance his skills, knowledge in a positive and successful direction.

 

3)       Environmental tedium – you train with the same people every class, especially since they're at your level. You see the same faces week in and week out.  Not only that, you train in the same room with the same instructor for all those months and/or years.  It can get boring. Not only that, it can perpetuate the first 2 above points if you come across the same uncooperative instructor or partners at every session.

 

4)       Lack of long term goal – a year after training, it's possible to forget why you even started training in the first place.  You're caught up in learning how a tan sao works, or how the stance should be trained, that you forgot you wanted to learn this system of self defense to protect yourself.  Is this goal being met? Perhaps it is, but can you see how it's being met? Perhaps not. Time to take a moment and see why wanted to join in the first place – is it for fitness, for fun, to meet people? Are you reaching this goal?  It's very likely that in the midst of learning how to punch, we've forgotten what initially drove us to this art – that goal is gone and with it, goes our passion and desire to learn.

 

5)       Lack of challenge – sometimes when you're too good at what you do, you feel that your training partner or instructor cannot provide you with enough of a challenge to keep things stimulating.  Things are set into cruise control and boredom sets in.

 

So based on this what are some possible solutions?

 

1)       Outline measurable goals – I want to be able to throw 1000 chain punches or I want my tan sao to work better or I want to be able to punch harder. Let your instructor and your colleagues in so that they can help you. Mind you, you'll need to the right training partner. If your partner is not cooperative, look for a new one. No need to cut ties, but just know who to depend on when you're looking to train a specific aspect of your wing tsun. Also give yourself a time line – 4 months, 1 year, 16 weeks? Like any goal, make sure it's reachable and set a time limit.

 

2)       When you have 15 things you need to work on for one exercise (eg, stance, head is up, tan sao, punch, stomach is slightly flexed, etc etc), I don't care which one you choose, but just pick one and focus on perfecting that move. Once you're comfortable with that, add the next factor. Kinda like playing drums on Rockband! And if this means getting hit more, take the time to let your partner know what you're doing and that he/she should do this or that to help you. Your partner is there for YOU, use the time. Just be ready to return the favour when it's his time to do the drill.  You can slow things down for yourself, but speed it up for your partner if he/she is looking for more of a challenge or is comfortable with the drill. Adapt to each other. 

 

3)       Organize for class to be held somewhere else – beach class perhaps? This is where seminars are handy too as it brings in new students and possibly new instructors into the mix.  Mix up the student grades or integrate "unorthodox" training into the wing chun class – focus mitts, weapons, a video camera, or prepare for a demo for a celebratory event.

 

4)       Take a moment and reflect on why you wanted to learn wing chun. For some, this might even mean taking a short break from it altogether.  Sometimes it's just a good five minutes of introspection (ahh, I remember getting beat up as a kid!) and the fire comes roaring back in… If you realize that your goal was never met, see if it can be and make an effort for it. For example, let's say I wanted to meet new people but realize I keep training with the same 2 guys. Well, during break or after class, make an effort to talk to someone different in class. Grab a beer maybe?

 

5)       This is for the cocky asses  ;)  My advice, go walk into a free fighting club and take a stab at some sparring sessions. If you're really cocky, video tape it and post the outcome (good or bad) on youtube.  You may do very well or not as well as you hoped, but regardless, will definitely teach you a thing or two to bring back to your school and into your training.

 

Well there you have it. 

 

Until then.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ip Man Movie

So I've finally had the pleasure of watching this movie, starring one of the best, Donnie Yen.   

This was your typical war-time, japanese-invasion, go-chinese kung fu-pride-go! type of movie. The story line was also typical and so was acting. Although I gotta give credit to Donnie Yen - I thought he did a great job and he lost a lot of weight for the role!

The bad-guy Japenese general..was apparently...played by....DAVID BLAINE.  Well not really, but I thought think they look a like. Here's a pic of David Blaine. Here's a pic of Hiroyuki Ikeuchi.

That aside. 

I was looking, like all other wing chun enthousiasts, at the fight choreography. I've seen Prodigal Son (choreographed by Sammo Hung) and Wing Chun (starring Michelle Yeoh). Both I did not enjoy in terms of fighting. 

As for Ip Man..

I thought it was spectacularly put together and stunning to watch! It's incredibly refreshing to see "our" wing tsun/chun art on the screen! Even the other kung fu styles vs kung fu styles was very well choreographed. In terms of the "chunning," it was able to capture power and speed, and relativly convincing, in probably one of the most difficult martial art style to portray on camera. 

I mean, sure you can pick at things here and there, but I enjoyed the ride.  It did not favour just the chain punch. It had elbows, neck grabs, knee pressure application, palm strikes, side kicks, circling kicks and other unorthdox moves - but what works is wing chun, right?  There was also mobility in its application (fighting 10 black belts at once) and you can see how Donnie incorporates his body into the moves (that may not be "wing chun") to bring the scene alive and emotional - but it's natural and you know he's having fun and just letting it flow. 

Yes they portrayed him as practically invincible..but same with Jet Li in Fearless or Once Upon a Time in China - the idea of immaculate and indestructible kung fu skills is nothing new. 

Portraying wing chun on screen as respectable, powerful (great sound!), and convincing is a feat in itself, especially with the demand of Asian cinema audiences (they want to the see the entire fight scene, not just close up shots and multitude of cut scenes - a la Steven Seagal), and I would say the movie pulls it off nicely. 

Of course, the dramatic over/cheesy acting common in Chinese cinema is something else altogether and yes, you get your fair share of that. Not my cup of tea, but I'm not here for the tea.

I was here for the steak and potatoes and I'd say the movie delivered.

Until then.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Partner Training

Class training is an opportunity for everyone to learn.  The atmosphere and people should foster an environment of helping each other's progress, at the individual's pace, while increasing the difficulty gradually.  At the same time, partners are to train to reach a mutual goal - that goal being determined by the intent of the drill. 

What I've noticed that in some cases, the partner may not (intentionally or not) follow the intent of a drill.  This is either due to an ego issue (doesn't want to get hit), an insecurity issue (if I get hit, then I'm "losing"), or a selfish issue (hitting me doesn't help ME in anyway). 

This is rather annoying. 

I make an effort to cater a difficulty level to my partner. Some partners are faster, stronger and better than me so I try my best to keep up.  In some cases where I'm faster, stronger or better than my partner, I tone it down to let him/her figure the drill out, recommending particular suggestions, but at the end of the day, letting him/her play with the drill so that some kind of discovery can made.

As such, I would expect the same. BUT MAN, some people ignore the drill so that they can focus on aspects that they want to focus on regardless of who's turn it is to practice the drill - deviating from the drill to such an extent that the partner doesn't really get to experiment nor absorb the lesson/intent of the drill. 

It leads to two things - the person doesn't get to the specific aspect of the drill and now both partners are not following any prescribed set. At this point, why not just spar? 

BECAUSE, the class is an opportunity to learn - to help each other learn and to bring each other one notch higher than when we walked into the school 3 hours earlier. 

Of course some recommend, during these times, to remind the partner "hey, could you please slow it down a little or just give me such-and-such attack so I can work on this?"

What happens? 2 things: 

1) He/she does and you are working as partners again OR
2) He/she runs off to another partner that feeds their ego/selfish/insecurity issues

We should take the time to analyze ourselves and ask, "How am i helping my fellow colleague?" "Am i making it too hard, or too easy?" "Is s/he struggling ? Am I? Why?" And then adjust accordingly. 

I see regular group class as a study group - drills, chi-sao is like the students explaining the concepts to each other, helping each other memorize the notes, etc.  Then there are quizzes - where it's each person to themselves but not so serious. This is like those aggressive drills during seminars, or during grade testing. Finally, there are exams - anything goes and let's see what you know! - this is pretty much the free fighting/sparring scenario. 

Each part has its purpose but mixing them up renders them useless. Can you imagine the one student that doesn't want to share his notes during a study group, in fear of him scoring lower on the exams? This is not conducive to progress.  And is practically a complete waste of time. 

Let's extend this thinking to partner training.

Until then.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Self-Defense

Let's stray away from wing chun for a moment and talk about self-defense...

Self-defense is protecing yourself.  Timing nor conditions are defined and many assume that self-defense is during combat, when in fact, it can be applied prior to physical combat.

That means self-defense takes all forms - body language, awareness of the environment, exerting the right energy, common sense and self-control/discipline.

1) Body language - keep the head up, shoulders relaxed but not hunched over, chest is not inflated, nor collapsed but neutral.   It sends the signal "You do your thing, I do mine. I'm not threatened by anyone, nor should you be threatened by me."  In an unfamiliar environment, we may resort to body language that protects us - we act shy, or possibly edgy.  When you act shy, those that prey take advantage. When you act edgy, those that are looking for trouble, look at you as an opportunity...

2) Awareness of the environment - This does not only apply to "dark alleys" or "a club for gangsters", but simply checking blind corners in the parkade, listening to the surroundings when in an extremely quiet environment, keeping your keys ready at hand..or perhaps your bear spray, rather than in your pocket.  People that pass by you on in the dead of night...when they walk towards you, know to maintain distance..even when no apparent threat exists. Just to be safe. 


3) Exerting the right energy - calm and assertive. You're confident but not cocky, nor threatening. You're not intrusive nor aggressive but relaxed and assertive - you stand your ground while letting others stand theres - a sense of mutual understanding is evoked without saying a word.  Whether you're at the bar, or even during an argument...you can exert this energy which does not give the aggressor reason to attack (he does not see you as a target, nor as an enemy).

4) Common sense - When you see a drunk guy trying to cause trouble, use your common sense and stay out of his way. Go have your own fun.  Wanna walk through that dark alley? That depends on the alley, doesn't it? 

5) Self-control and discipline - when one "disrespects you", you still have a choice. Walk away or confront. When one pushes your buttons - what is that line where you move into physical solutions? What is your tipping point? Is it reasonable? Is it worth getting into a confrontation to ruin your weekend, night or even career? 


Remember, self-defense is not just physical. It also requires the use of your brain.  May come in more handy than any bong sao in the world..

Until then.

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