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.

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