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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Self-Defense: Fighting Without Fighting

So I'm walking to my car, parked on the top floor of Station Square Metrotown. The area is fairly dead ever since SilverCity opened up. Traffic is primarily made up of people walking to and from FutureShop to Metropolis @ Metrotown.

Unfortunately, the walk way to FutureShop forks: one way towards FutureShop and the other towards the parking lot. It's even more dead than usual and dark outside. As I exit, there's a tunnel walkway that exits into the parking lot...

Ahead of me are two men leaning against the tunnel exit on both my right and left side. Many would describe these guys as shady, homeless but young fellows. In terms of size, one was around 6'2 and the other, I couldn't tell as he was hunched over and it was dark.

As I pass them, I keep my head high, eyes aware. There were bad vibes from the beginning. I hear one say to me:

"It's a nice parking lot, isn't it?"

I completely ignore him as it dawned on me that if I gave attention to the one guy, then my back would be vulnerable to the other guy.

I keep walking...

Then I hear one guy on my left start walking behind me. Slowing increasing his steps. The car lot is dark and no other people are around. I don't want him to know where I've parked, nor trap myself in between cars.

I keep walking...

And it's as if you can feel his presence creep up a little faster than it should. Right then and there, I turn around and stare at the guy.

He slows down. There's a good 20' or so between us. There he stands, 6'2, dirty blond hair, caucasian, dirty looking but confident.

I feel my heart starting to race, my hands and feet starting to tingle. "Here we go..." I thought to myself.

I'm too focused on the situation to even say anything, to do anything. I just stand there with my fists at my sides, back slightly hunched, and legs slightly bent, mentally ready to unleash hell. Hands ready to go, feet ready to go. (Sorry, no fancy Matrix kung fu stance here.)

Quickly, it hits me. "where is his friend???" I scan as quickly as I can and try to listen in case he's walking towards me. Luckily, his friend is behind him still by the walkway... so I'm not too worried about his pal.

Incredibly forced on my part, I assertively say "more trouble than it's worth." I could barely speak... This happens to me all the time. My focus is on the "what physical confrontation is going to happen", rather than on what clever words to say. In that zone, I don't talk...probably because I can't.

I just stand there, ready, for what felt like 2 minutes, but probably was more like 2 or 3 seconds.

He says "fuck whatever" and turns away.

As I leave, my knees and hands are shaky. It's an adrenaline rush that would be difficult to replicate in the training school, in the sparring session, in the cage. It's mentally draining and physically draining. Luckily, these effects happened after the whole incident and not during..

Until then.

What Would You Do?

Posted hot off the press on the Wing Tsjun International Facebook Page:

Hello all.
I would like to share a video of a fight aboard a NY subway with you and ask for your opinion on the subject of moral courage.
As you will see in the video a lady that tried to separate the two brawlers got injured. Unfortunately this is not the first time this year that people who are trying to help get in the middle of the action, get severely hurt or in the case of an elderly man in Germany this year even killed.
I had to experience a situation with my family also this year where I drove through a pretty rough neighborhood and all of the sudden I saw 20 (!!!) youngsters beat up two other kids. This incident took place maybe 20 meters away from my car and I had my wife and kids with me. I honked and yelled and then called the cops, waited in a distance until they were there (which of course made the gang run away) but it laft a bad taste in my mouth for quite a while about not having done more.
I would like to know your opinion on this whole thing.
How would you have reacted, what ideas, tips or remarks do you have on that subject?
How can we still encourage people to help despite stories like these?
Your help would be appreciated.

Please click here to get to the discussion board on the WTI-group page to write about this matter.

So here´s the video. It gets pretty nasty around 2.45 so you might not want to watch it if you easily get offended or affected by scenes like these.

So what is your response? what would you've done? how about in the more general situation, if you see someone in a violent encounter and needs help. What would you do?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I think I ate too much. Nope. Scratch that. I ate too much. It's great isn't it?

Before the official Xmas day, I had the opportunity to lead the class to provide a fun and stress-relieving class before we all hit the turkey, mashed potatoes and wine. I wouldn't call it boot-camp, but it was enough to work up a good sweat and I just love it when everyone gives it their all.

The class focused on pad work where they could just go all out. What I like to stress during these drills is how different our posture, footing and even punching delivery becomes when we actually have to hit, not only at a target, but through the target.

Without even taking it to the level of sparring, you can see how things fall apart just from hitting the pad (stance dissolves, you push yourself away from the target instead of hitting through it, head leans forward and down, the punching fist slips, etc). You'll even see many develop a version of tunnel vision, where they are so focussed on the pad, that they've forgotten everything else!

Again, this is simply just by incorporating the pad and not including an attacking partner or a sparring partner, just an in animate, nonthreatening pad.

It's amazing how much "power" an inanimate object has over us. As soon as the pad becomes the target, we quickly reveal where are training and skills need more work.

And when that's the case, how can you even begin thinking about sparring. It's as if you want to jump into open heart surgery, when you haven't learned the basics of the circulatory system.
It takes a while to get from circulatory system basics to open heart surgery. Same goes for kung fu and fighting, ironically.

I think my point was made and it was a great class. Everyone worked up a sweat (on their own) and I really enjoy seeing everyone giving it their all.

Until then.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Upcoming Class

I will be teaching class this coming up Wednesday! It should be good - we'll be working up a good sweat and just in time to make up for all those holiday dinners coming up. I would recommend bringing a towel, your shin pads and fist guards if you have them.

I may be bringing my video camera as well! Let's have some fun.

On a separate note: for those that haven't seen it. Here's a Donnie Yen movie where the fight scene incorporates MMA-style fighting into Hong Kong cinema fight choreography. Very interesting

Until then.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dan Inosanto vs. William Cheung

OK, well maybe not. Caught this video on one of the forums.

You know, this was obviously not a real fight, but somehow, i still managed to enjoy it. Goes to show that even a steady-paced, choreographed demo can still entertain ;) Especially when two big names are the ones performing.

Interestingly, the movements, in particular Inosanto's are very alive and flowing...very graceful to watch and you can tell there's something there.

Cheung was fun to watch too, although it would've been nice to see a little more wing chun knife fighting rather than just clashing with the sticks...

Here's another video of William Cheung's student doing the Siu Nim Tao. Very different (to me that is). it's a bit long, but the form gets started at 2:30 into the video.

And just for fun - here's a demonstration of wing chun training. A modification of the pushup. The teacher describes he had to train this way under Yip Man and even gives a quote as to how much it costs!

Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

Never miss another fight once you get dish tv with satellite tv antennas forcable tv satellite tv and do a satellite tv comparison shop at InternetLion.com!

Until then.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wooden Dummy

I was cruising on some of the wing chun forums and one guy asked, if he were to learn the wooden dummy form, how much of the wing chun curriculum would you learn from that? 60% 20%?

I wasn't too sure if he meant in terms of the movements found in the form vs. the movements that make up wing chun weapons...but I am more inclined to think he was thinking of actual learning, for example, applications or useful techniques.

Right off the bat, I'd say 0%. Anyone can learn the form! Anyone can mimic the moves and very well..but that does not correlate with any real wing chun in their fighting. Take actors - they can learn a sequence of moves with no previous training for 4 months and look great on the camera!

You can teach me to perform a facelift, step by step, but no way am I a surgeon or doctor!

To add, there are people who've been practicing wing chun for years, and learning the form and long pole etc and still can't punch. Yet others who've barely learned the dummy form can step and punch through their opponent no problem.

There is no correlation between wooden dummy form and real wing chun skill.

Yea, I realize the wooden dummy form is cool and to do it, looks pretty awesome. And I think that's why many, especially from other arts, like to learn it and incorporate the moves into their own teachings. But they've not learned any wing chun..just an empty "dance" with a wooden pole...yes..somehow, i've managed to compare the wooden dummy form to pole dancing.

Until then.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Weaknesses

With the recent "Sifu" titles announced, I'd thought it'd be nice to take a few minutes to not let being called a Sifu get to my head (for a change), and examine what I feel are things I need to work on.

1) Punching/striking power - I know I have more boom in me, but at this point, I feel like I can only exert 35% of what I can potentially dish out. I know there are plenty others out there who can hit harder than I can...it'd be nice to just close that gap a little more.

2) Commitment - When the other guy wants to tear your head off, it's really hard to go forward - to really just displace the attacker completely. Generally, it is more automatic to go forward enough to hit, but not forward enough to go THROUGH the attacker. What can I say, it's scary bridging that distance when the fists are flying.

3) Sinking - During the heated exchange, shoulders, elbows, arms, stance all tend to rise up. Again, this is a very automatic response and will be hard to train out..in particular as it's directly related with stress, tension and "fear" of the moment/of being hit.

4) Structure/Stance - I don't think I'm "heavy" or "rooted" enough in my stance. This needs improvement, but it gradually does get better as I keep at it.

5) Technical skills - the finer details of the chi-sao sections, in particular the instructor chi-sao sections, wooden dummy and biu tze form - applications and forms training included.

6) Incorporation of the Entire Body - it's one thing to practice it slowly, then it's another thing to speed it up, and it's another to use it during fighting. As stress levels rise, it seems less and less use of the entire body occurs..isolating just to the arms or legs, for example.

Obviously this list is not exhaustive, there are many more things that I need to work on, but just some things that came to mind. what about you? or are your skills top notch?

Until then.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Forest and The Trees

When given the opportunity to lead class, I generally like to work on basics - things like forward pressure, step and punch, chain punches and stance/core training. I don't really go into details, or sequential drills (strike A, then B, then C, etc) too often for two reasons:

1) We generally focus on detail-oriented drills for the majority of classes. These could be as simple as examining how to defend against a hooking punch - what can go wrong for us? where can it go wrong? Or another example would be the signature WT Chi-Sao sections...

2) I want everyone to realize what they have in them, what they can take home with them, or what they need to improve on. I want to answer the question, "If someone attacked you at this very moment, what can you do?" It's interesting - some people laugh to mask their nervousness, some tense up, and some can punch away no problem.

But there's something intrinsically interesting in all this basics training. You need the details, the time to explore all the facets of a movement, the what-if's. And that means, you also need to slow the exercises down, to pinpoint where things fall apart, at what point is your technique successful or failure.

When you get the details down, it only helps your basics training.

You can't have the basics without the details, and certainly you can't have the details without the basics. Can it get any more yin/yang than that??

It truly goes to show that you only really start to understand student level 1 when you reach technician grade 2.

As annoying as this is, there's something very kung fu about it.

Until then.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


For those that follow this blog on a regular basis, you'll notice that some of my posts have diverted from the wing tsun/martial arts topic and have actually delved into the realms of weight lifting, cardio, health, etc.

Aside from Wing Tsun, I enjoy the weight room and over the last year have found myself discovering the world of muscle building, resistance training, increasing metabolism and overall cardiovascular health. In addition my career is centered around the health, wellness and pharma/nutraceutical industry. So putting it altogether...

I'm currently in the works of a blog that will focus on the health, fitness and wellness side of things and of course, still continue with this blog. The new blog will focus on the supplement industry but without the need to sell you anything (unlike majority of blogs out there) and provide real insight from my own experiences within the industry. I'm hoping to give you more insight and knowledge so that you can use that next time you're walking down the pharmacy aisle.

To bring some fun to the entire ordeal, I'll also provide product reviews. RedBull, Monster Energy Drink, Acai pills, Fish oils, etc will be reviewed, documenting my experience with the product.

The new site will be launched soon but in the mean time, if you have anything you want me to add to it, please let me know.

The new site will be www.mightygrasshopper.com. I will let you know when it's officially a go!

Now let's train!

Until then.

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