MightyBands, home gym system

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Your Own Enemy

The chain punch is probably one of the most distinguishing offensive weapon that defines wing chun. It’s all about trading the one hit knock-out for rapid fire attacks that over whelm the senses of the attacker. To some, that’s a drawback, to others, this is the advantage. Either case, there is something that is usually over-looked:

Lactic acid buildup. Because chain punches are fired at such a fast rate, it can be seen as an anaerobic attack. Unlike your typical 1-2 combo, it’s also much more difficult to time the breathing with chain punches to minimize the anaerobic effect. What does this all mean? Well, your muscles get sore, tense and motion is restricted – pretty much countering every concept that defines wing chun. When the lactic acid builds up, you can feel your muscles swell. The problem then becomes the inability to relax, so your range of motion decreases. Arms get stiff, and your chain punches turn more into rabbit punches. Not what we want.

There is no real “cure” for lactic acid buildup. Especially, during a scuffle. Conditioning can help. Generally, you increase your muscle’s threshold via conditioning (endurance training), to lactic acid buildup. But, depending on how long the scuffle is, eventually lactic acid will build up. Especially, again, since wing chun favours the chain punch.

The other aspect, with respect to conditioning, is that in a street fight, the adrenaline rush is on a grander scale (in my opinion) than, say a sparring match or, at least in a controlled setting. Especially, say in a surprise attack scenario. Adrenaline becomes your enemy. Yes, it will help you move faster, stronger and feel less pain, but it will also increase the lactic acid build up as well. Let alone, take your body to a different level of exhaustion. Yes, conditioning may play role in minimizing this, but the adrenaline reaction is something that is hard to mimic, in particular a street fight scenario.

What does this mean? It means our window of opportunity is small even for well conditioned folks. It means that we don’t want fights to last that long. It means, we should get the heck out of that situation as fast as we can. It also means that conditioning is something we can’t ignore – it must be trained at the endurance level and at a stress-exposure level.

Many argue that sparring or tournament/cage fighting is the closest thing you can do safely to replicate this. I think that generally, this is true. But after a certain number of fights in this setting, some do become acclimated to the setting and the environment should be changed.

For those that can’t or don’t spar or cage fight, you’ll have to find ways to replicate stress-exposure. I’m sorry, but performing lap-sao punch fast is not going to do much for you.

Although it may take practice and a creative imagination, you can replicate stress conditions through the mind. Picture an attacker with a knife. Picture your worst enemy before you. Etc etc. It’s mentally exhausting, but you’ll find yourself shaking, roaring to go. You’ll also realize that you might get your ass whipped even more easily, but that’s ok – now you know…and now you know what you need to do.

Until then.

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