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Sunday, November 29, 2009

EBMAS Canada

For those that aren't familiar - EBMAS is the "brand" of Wing Tsun taught by Emin Boztepe, who originally is from the Leung Ting/EWTO lineage. EBMAS stands for Emin Boztepe Martial Arts Systems. Here's a good demo (i thought) from some guys of EBMAS school. (It's a little long, but the ending i thought was pretty good..to put a nice slant to the seriousness of the demo. But great energy from the guys as it must've been incredibly tiring.) It's important to note that the Wing Tsun school I attend is not affiliated with EBMAS nor Emin Boztepe in any official way.

That said... EBMAS now has a club in Vancouver! If we can leave politics and history aside for a moment, I just wanted to extend my welcome of the EBMAS club, headed by Behzad Kahrim, to Vancouver and the wing chun community.

Although the departure of Sifu Emin from the WT organization was not in the best of spirits, hopefully we can put that behind us and share genuine Wing Tsun skills and discussion for the betterment of the art, rather than the business.

All the best to the new club!

Until then.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Future of the EWTO/IWTA

Ok Leung Ting has been sentenced to jail for beating up his girlfriend. Really classy guy. I don't know him personally and I've only been to two of his seminars. No doubt he's got skills, but my experience with him was only at a student/teacher level..and only for the few hours at that.

So what's the official position of the WT organization on this? What about all the schools that dawn the WT name and Leung Ting's face on websites, logos and advertisement?

Do you shun him away or do you say that the verdict is wrong and that he's the victim?

My guess is that many schools are going to shun him away, and that the WT organization WANTS to as well, but may fear that this will only divide the organization further (which it really has taken a beating over the last years).

Well, really it comes down to money. Will they make more money by shunning him away or by keeping him within the organization and just hope this will blow over? Answering that will determine what lies ahead for the "company".

Some business advice to the EWTO/IWTA - the latest trend is all about going RETRO. How about a back-to-the-80's/90's hardcore wing tsun training? build some amazing fighters that will compete in, dare I say it, the MMA lime light. Go back to its roots. Create a new Boztepe..a Boztepe that this generation can relate to. The formula was simple and I think the organization has lost sight of what made it what it was. People, especially WT guys and gals, are dying for some hardcore representation. Give them what they want and the organization can look to a brighter future.

Any business execs of the organization can reach me directly at byam@functionalwingtsun.com for further details. My fee is $250/hour.

Until then.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

15th Anniversary Seminar

Saturday morning I wake up to the melody of Rihanna playing on my radio. "Time to get up, Bri... You got a full day ahead of you."

Did I ever.

So to my "to-do" list that morning: Breakfast. Check. Pack a lunch. Check. Extra T-shirt for seminar. Check. Towel. Check. Fist protectors. Check. Shin pads. Check. Change of clothes. Check. Quick stretch routine. Check.

And like that, I was out and heading to Philip's Golden Monkey kwoon.

Seminar starts at 10am, ends at 4.30pm. Of course, it was pouring rain..and i think mixed with a bit of snow. Temperature gauge registered a measly 4 degrees in my car. Brrr... And here I was wondering how cold it'll be to train in his place...

How silly.

By the time I got there, the majority of the students were ready to go. Paid my fees and just started mingling. It was good to see German (Sifu of the Calgary club) and his wife Wanda. In addition to the familiar faces, were some visitors from the Island as well. Other than Anselm, the rest were new faces to me.

So off we go.

And as quickly as the seminar kicked off, did the temperature in the place rise! It was fairly crowded with a total of 30+ people punching each other - that only added to the dynamics of the training I thought.

So what did we do? Well, the best way to describe it is - the drills themselves were "basic" but how they're implemented was at the more advanced level. What does this mean? How could this be possible? maybe..it's just repackaged marketing jibberish! Well think of it this way - imagine Jane Smith auditioning for her 2nd time in Canadian Idol and next to her, you have Celine Dion or Mariah Carey. Ask them both to sing "do ray me fa so la te do" and you'll get two VERY different products. Both basic, but one is natural, instinctive and rich - the other, maybe not bad but perhaps missing flavour and soul..

So when it came to the drills, we worked on the different punches - double punches, hooking punch, lifting punch. More importantly, getting the whole body and weight behind the punches but within a WT context. Si-Fu discusses how much of this is like boxing and Mike, a former boxer, who I was training with also mentioned the same thing - it's like boxing!

And I have to agree.

To me, the body can only move in so many ways. We have two arms, two legs in a rather fixed proportions. To that, only certain ways can be used to fight. And to that, only certain attacks are more successful than others at fighting. The end result - it filters many attacks, leaving certain punches and kicks that are similar across all styles, across all cultures, across all environments.

Near the end of the seminar, the senior assistant instructors (Gary, Ciprian and myself) and Sifu German were asked to perform the Siu Nim Tao, then the Chum Kiu. 4 different representations, 4 different flavours - even though we all have the same instructor. Students were given the opportunity to ask us questions: what do these parts of the section mean, how is it applied, how often do you practice the form? etc.

Finally, the biu tze form was demonstrated by Sifu German and Ciprian. It was very cool to watch. I have to say it also looks exhausting. I think I caught Cirprian running out of gas by the end of it at one point actually! ;P Again, both had very different ways of moving. One more soft fluid, the other with more power.

The seminar ended with certificates for those that attended the seminar. And also a gift was presented to Si-Fu on his 15 years, bringing Wing Tsun to Vancouver. The gift was a thick, heavy leather and wool jacket with Wing Tsun embroidered on the chest. All he needs is a Wing Tsun Harley and he's set!

Si-Fu also took a moment to discuss what it means to be a Sifu. Describing that it may not necessarily be solely on skill (as skill can be relative), but also who has their own students, opened their own school, contributed their time and energy into the school, etc. All these factors together make a good Sifu.

And on that note...

He presents Sifu titles to Gary K. Ciprian C. and myself. What an honour. and of course, i'm SO going to let this get to my head. At that moment I made sure everyone called me Sifu and when I got home I did two things with my new found status:

1) Opened up my sacred chest of red t-shirts and pants and headbands and wristbands with spikes on them

2) Beat up my pregnant girlfriend because she refused to get an abortion and went to jail.

OK, I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.

No, I have to say I'm very honoured. I've been with Si-Fu's school for at least 10 years now and it's been quite a journey, getting through school, work, family and health-related issues..it's been quite a ride. I haven't always had the luxury to do private lessons all the time through the years nor afford classes (having to stop for a semester or two) but it just came down to persistence and just keeping at it.... I'm just a regular guy and somehow, I got here.

And then 5pm roles around. Just like that.

Seminar is done and we all say congrats and a group of us head out to dinner. Beer and wind down time with some good conversation. Always fun to see everyone outside the kung fu setting.

Oh and how could I forget. We also had a wonderful cake to celebrate the 15 years! The best cake I ever had. Seriously. I can't go back to T&T cakes anymore. It was just THAT good!

Thanks to Phillip for having us at his kung fu school! This time around, no one smashed any holes into the walls. Guess that's a good thing?

Until then.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

15 years

Well this coming saturday is our school's 15th anniversary seminar! 15 years this school has been here and 15 years since my Si-Fu started up in Canada.

For a martial arts school - that's pretty impressive. Unless you're a mcdojo with trophies along the wall, its not easy for a school to stay open. Especially one that doesn't jump on the tae-bo, ninjitsu, shaolin MMA bandwagon. No sir. The guy sticks to old school European Wing Tsun.

I feel like I have to include "European" in there because, over the last 10 years of my exposure to wing chun in general, this has a very different flavour to it. This isn't your Chinese paddy-cake wing chun. Nor is it a bastardized trapping wanna be system. This is fully functional wing tsun that made wing tsun what it WAS (can't say if the WT of now is of the same calibre as it once was).

Anyway, I think us Vancouverites are incredibly fortunate to have Si-Fu for the last 15 years and I hope it'll be this way for the next 25 and longer.

Over the 15 years, his skill is what kept my faith in WT especially during the whole UFC and BJJ craze came about. Its one thing simply to believe but I gotta say its much easier when u can see it day in and day out. Also helps to see the bjj and mma guys come into our club and leave with bruised chests. ;)

Thanks Si-Fu. Check out school and seminar details at wingtsunkungfu.com

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Punching Productivity

Ok guys - i need your help. Besides just "knock-out" power, what measures would you use to determine a good punch?

Things that come to my mind are:

Speed (eg. punches/sec)
Power (eg. energy/sec)
Stamina (eg. continuous punching for 10 minutes)
Flexibility (eg. full range of motion in huen sao)

I'm only thinking of the punch itself, not really the context of it in a fighting scenario - so i'm intentionally ignoring ideas of timing, angle of the punch, etc. What are some objective measures in which we can track the progress of our own chain punches?

What else guys? could use your help.

Until then.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sport vs. Reality

What is the primary differentiating factor between sport and reality. Many MMA guys argue that it can't get any more real than cage fighting. It's a controlled environment, yes but it comes as close as it can to reality fighting and moreso than any drill or point sparring or whatever can ever get. The argument is that the guy in front of you is wanting to beat the absolute crap out of you, unlike a sport or a drill where a partner is that - a partner or simply "the other team."

But really, what defines the differentiating line between a real fight and cage fighting/sport fighting?

I mean, sure, MMA can get close to the real deal, but is it? i mean, sure you can put water and take it down to close to 0 deg C, but guess what? it's still not ice. It's not ice until you cross that below freezing point. And no matter how close you get to that point, unless you actually cross it, you're not there.

Anyway, looking at both cage fighting and the real street fight, what's the defining characteristic? Is it how mean the other guy is? not really, because in both scenarios, the guy can be very uncooperative and very resistant. Is it because the other guy knows jiu jitsu or that he's a huge guy, very muscular and crazy? again, you can have this in both scenarios too.

So what's the defining factor? Simply, the variables. in the cage fight, the variables are always controlled. There is always going to be a ref, your team one side and opponents team on the other. There is going to be a cage and just the two of you in there to fight. After that, the only variables are within the fighters' timing, luck, technique, etc.

But in the street fight, the variables fluctuate at every second. The moment before and after the present is never the same. There could be one opponent, two friends, a cage, a corner, a table, a child, a car, rain, mud - ANYTHING can happen. People can break up the fight, bystanders can attack you just for the heck of it.

On top of this are your techniques, timing, strength, reach, etc.

So it's a matter of minimizing the potential effects of the variables or maximizing the potential effects of your skills or vice versa. Let alone your opponent/s are trying to do the same.

Realistic self-defense, then, tries to incorporate these variables into the equation. While cage fighters ignore these variables. As such, the methods of training will differ and so will the end product.

It is not really fair to spar with an MMA guy as a test to see who's better or which system is more effective. To spar, you've controlled for the environment, for the variables and, if anything, now accommodate to his environment.

That said, to see if MMA is effective, then one must attack him while he's shopping for pickles in a crowded market. That would equal the playing field a bit.

Sure some will say, well how would the average wing chun guy fair to that test? probably not do so well. But then, there you have it - both WC and MMA don't work.

Until then.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shifting Your Feet

When it comes to discussions, one of the more popular (some say, it's been discussed to death) items is whether it's correct to shift your stance on the center of your feet, the balls of your feet or on the heels.

WT advocates the shifting on the center of your feet. WT also advocates shifting one foot at a time.

Other styles, recommend shifting both feet at the same time and/or either on the heels or the balls of your feet.

Much heated debate has come from such a topic, can you believe it? Insults, derogatory comments and pure anger have spewed on from this.

Who cares? it is your teacher that should guide you. What is important is whether it's functional or not. For myself, I was taught to shift from the center of my feet and that is how I would teach it. I am able to deliver strikes, step forward, shift weight etc etc with this foundation.

That said, once you get to a certain skill level, you can perform moves, maintain structure, etc on locked legs and on your heels and it'll still work! It all comes down to whether it's functional.

Sometimes to make it functional, you have deviate from what you know. Shift on your heels then. Shift on the balls of your feet then. Fine, it's ok! Of course, assuming you have the proper foundation down. That foundation is defined by your system, but your instructor. But hopefully, we all get to the same end product.

Until then.

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