Sunday, June 29, 2014

Toughen Up Bitch!

Does this make you tougher? I was forwarded this youtube clip from a fellow WT colleague. Apparently it’s a lesson on making your students tougher – getting hit and hitting. Take a moment to watch this.

While the point of the drill is significant, I think this drill is more a waste of time and a bullying opportunity for the instructor rather than a teaching moment for the student. Yes there is some benefit to getting hit and to dolling out hits, but in the context of the drill, you only need a few minutes to get the idea.

If we’re here to toughen up the student there are plenty of more productive ways of doing this in my opinion. The definition of ‘tough’ is multi-layered as well and applies to more than just taking hits.

• Endurance challenge drills
• Intensity challenge drills
• Stress drills
• Circuit training

I’m not necessarily referring to weight-training or resistance training. It can also be used in the context of various wing chun drills as well. But the idea here is that it’s mentally and physically pushing the boundaries of the student’s comfort zone and just giving it his/her all.

Just receiving hits doesn't do any of this really and you can see the fairly slow pace/intensity of the drill..poor kid is just getting hit and that’s about all the value he’s getting out of it. I also think a good sparring session will be a great teacher here as well and also teaches the student how it feels to get hit and in a very unpredictable fashion.

It’s also high intensity and a test of endurance and stress – all at the same time. A few sparring sessions will teach you so much and very quickly. I really believe that, in the context of some wing chun schools, sparring is under-valued especially for students that have never done it before.

There are so many other ways to ‘toughen’ up and for some, it’s more mental than physical. What mental drills are ever taught or practiced? Many may wonder what this means.. Growing up, we suffer trauma as children – either getting bullied, parents being very abusive, injuries or accidents as kids, sickness, illness – all these factors have played into our belief systems, our confidence and our self-esteem which is expressed in our behaviours and possibly our lack of ‘toughness’.

Something to think about.

Until then.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Welcome to Kickboxing!

The other day I was invited to a friend’s kickboxing class. Thought, what the heck! I’ll give it a shot. He’s been doing it for about a year now and the class is a beginner’s class.

Format was pretty simple – Following 5 minutes of shadow boxing warm up, we had 1 hour of high intensity session of hitting the pads.

It was a great workout. And that was about it. A bit of background on me – I’ve done karate throughout my high school years and then dabbled in other Chinese martial arts until I found the current Wing Tsun school I’m at. For fun and fitness, I joined a boxing gym about 2 years ago and was with them for about a year.

My thoughts on the kickboxing class.

It was just OK. In particular, I was watching the caliber of the majority of students - which was not particularly impressive. When they punch, they just hit at the target – sometimes they punch themselves off balance, hands swinging everywhere, elbows high, unrooted, sloppy form, fatigued etc.

When I punch my combos, my partner couldn’t keep the pads up. When I kicked, he moved. I felt solid, I felt rooted. Combos included jab, cross, short hooks, long hooks, upper cuts and the left/right front kicks.

I think my partners were surprised at the speed, comfort and power of my hits..as I was the obvious newbie (no uniform) there.

Of course, I’m not here to bash kickboxing. I have great respect for the martial art and kick boxing produces fighters with absolutely powerful punches, kicks, stamina, etc.

My point here is that the majority of people that train, train casually and are ‘mediocre’ just like the rest of us in wing chun that train casually. It’s really not about the style that is better, but how much we train, how hard we train, how we train, our instruction, etc.

I feel we are very fortunate to have the detailed training that we do, that we focus on rootedness and structure, that we take the time to figure out form, technique and then add power, speed, reaction and creativity.

I don’t feel that, in this particular class, that the teachers emphasized this at all. It was just about leading drills and letting the students hit the pads. Yes, it could have been just this class, just this one time. I can also see how students may think they’re really good at kickboxing as they get to just hit the pads all the time.

But my point here is that students in other styles, in particular that train casually for fun, are not the lethal weapon that we may believe them to be just because of the style they train.

It’s not Muay Thai vs. Wing Chun. The assumption is that Muay Thai will win. But that’s not true. It’s him vs. you. Like you, he’s just an average joe, not a champion Thai boxer…

Would I go back? Nope. My heart’s in Wing Tsun.

Until then.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Perfection Is... a Waste of Time

There are two sides to every coin. The same can be said of our world...

At one point, we understood physics to be of physical objects - of which we could calculate distance, vectors, velocities, predict and estimate forces, pressure, where an object will land, etc. 

And then we realized that physical objects are not physical at all. They are, instead, manifestation of energy. They are protons, neutrons, quarks - unpredictable energy particles that can be in two places at once and behaves nothing like physical objects as we understood it.

What about our training?  We can work to death, down to the very detail of what wing chun action should be or what the drill should teach us, but then, we may lose sight of what it is we want to do at the end of the day - to knock the other guy out.

And it is on this note that perhaps, perfection is a waste of time.

Getting it right 60% of the time is better than attempting it that one time we get it 100% of the time.

On that note, do you believe that training to perfection is a waste of time? Do you think it's worth just getting in the ring and trying to fight where you're at, rather than waiting till you've trained chi-sao to such and such level?

Chi-sao is not fighting. Fighting is fighting. You don't need the perfect tan-sao to fight. Who's with me?

Until then.

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