MightyBands, home gym system

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Year End Seminar and What It Means To Be Technician Grade

Yesterday, our school had the 2012 year end seminar. Another great seminar and an intensive one. From my perspective, I find it very interesting/amazing how my Si-Fu adds another dimension to stuff we already know, only to further build on the existing skills we have.

The drills we did that day, on the surface, work on nothing particularly new - bong sao, tan sao, turning stance, etc. Nothing particularly new, right? We then worked on drills using wing chun tools, such as the butterfly knives as well. Again, nothing new.

So really what were the major points I took away from the 6 hour seminar? "just" two things:

1) determining the absolute limit of which you can rescue your structure and centre line by bringing your body behind/into a movement.

2) intensity in your training

As you read this, you're thinking, "ya we do that too". But as the writer of this post and participant of the seminar, I'm skeptical that you really do. And i don't care what lineage you're in either, by the way WT or not. Unfortunately, there just aren't words that can properly capture what we was taught that day in a way that filters out 'crap' wing chun.

Then again, i'm sure others say the same about what I do. Fair enough.

On a lighter note, many of the senior students got promoted to technician grades. Haha, suckers, they have no idea what's ahead of them ;)

I remember when i got my first technician grade. I really thought "FINALLY..i'm getting somewhere." The following Monday night class, all of a sudden my Si-Fu's punches/hits were harder, faster and the general energy was of a darker, more intense nature. I remember getting slammed into the wall quite fiercely..and by the way, this is normal for us students..but we got slammed harder that day. Expectations were higher, the intensity of the lessons were stronger...

I thought it was just me. but i don't think I was alone. My fellow colleagues were right beside me getting thrown around too. I remember the looks in their eyes that night..it was just different. and at that point forward, you can see how their attendance also started dropping too by the way...

NOW, let me make it clear it's not like my Si-Fu is one abusive f*cker or anything like that. It was just very apparent that once you hit technician grade, that is truly when you start to learn and realize that levels 1-12 was just preparing you so that you can really start to learn the stuff that matters when it comes to kicking butt.

It's uncomfortable..and that's the point. I think students, especially student levels 9-12 get into a level of comfort - the students below them are easy to handle and the students above them don't really challenge them too hard either because they don't train with the senior guys too often, or the senior guys go easy on them.

and it's that new uncomfortableness that shakes your little wing chun world and all of a sudden, things you thought that worked, don't work anymore. Moves you thought was going to save you, take too long to execute, your structure sucks again, your enemy is stronger and faster than you imagined before...and on top of that..you have the technical programs and drills to learn.  oh and Si-Fu's expectations are higher too.

i personally believe this has something to do with why over the years some senior students have left..yes life gets in the way. No doubt i'm in that camp too as attending classes regularly is difficult to foresee week to week. But then you got some people that just totally disappear. I think the realism of the drills and the scenarios and the lessons themselves takes away from the fun factor in some cases.. and that might also play a role in creating discomfort.

When the going gets tough... what would you do? do you get tough and get going? or do you just get going?

And let me just take a moment here to say that I'm not implying that the new technicians will start dropping out or that every class will be hell moving forwards. On the contrary! these group of guys i know are so dedicated and fond of the art, that I can only see them embracing this! They also know how to have fun and train seriously without letting ego get in the way. They are truly a great group of guys and I always learn something from them when I have the privilege of training with them.

I just wanted to share with you, my observations experience from having received my 1st technician grading.

At the end of the day, I'm sure we can agree that you only really begin to learn once you hit 1st technician.

Until then...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

X-factor....are you ready?

So you've been practicing martial arts some time now. You've either decided to do it for fun, as a hobby, for self-defense aspect and/or for its fitness and health benefits. Whatever the case, the martial art system touches on any of these topics..some focus in on a particular thing more than others..but they all look at those things:

  • health/fitness
  • fun/hobby
  • self-defense
  • confidence
but i think it's missing another element. An element so crucial and essential to martial arts but i think have dissipated given the society we live in..as well as it being diluted by time, economics, teacher's preference, etc.

And what is that element?

that element is handling fear. Fear is that natural instinct we all have that means survival. No fear = death...from an evolutionary standpoint.

Things have no doubt changed now that we live in the society we live in..we are, for the most part, safe. 

But fear is an essential element in the fight scenario - either fight or run....or freeze up. 

But it's interesting that karate classes, taekwondo, boxing, etc do not tackle this subject head on. it's almost assumed that we will be able to fight in the face fear. i don't think everyone will. i think some will run, some will freeze and some will give in...and some will fight.

But shouldn't our self-defense classes teach us how to handle fear? how to use it to your advantage? how to train your body to deal with the fear response?

What are your thoughts?

until then.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Your Wing Chun Evolution?

I know my wing chun is not to the point where it can evolve yet. You know what I mean? when you mastered something, you can re-invent it, perfect it, tweak it etc. I'm not there yet by no means. I'm still trying to figure out the basics.

One person i know who's good at it and has, in my opinion, evolved it would be my Sifu.  I don't know if what he's teaching now has been something that I've either ignored, not been able to comprehend till now, didn't realize till now, something that he's 'hidden' or something that he's stumbled upon recently...BUT

It feels like the wing tsun I was learning seemed a lot different back then than it does now.

Mechanically, techniques, skills, stance, forms etc..that's all the same. it's constant throughout the years but the vision, the final product has seemed to change.

It went from "wing chun"..to now...in a sense, boxing with an eastern flare, founded in the roots of wing chun, it's training, skills and principles.

Was this always there? Or a discovery only made recently and now being taught?

But what about you? for those of you who's been with the same instructor for 5 or more years, have you noticed the instruction to have evolved over the years? How did it do so? Why do you think this happened?


Did it stay the same? Has it been consistent all this time?

Until then.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Don't Be Given Out 'Em Secrets! ;)

Well, I was forwarded this clip a few days ago. It's a wing chun guy versus a karate guy and while it's not particularly anything new within wing chun circles, I still found the whole confrontation entertaining.

It's amazing how there are misconceptions about wing chun..in particular that we are a close combat fighting system. While it may seem like that on the surface, it's really no closer than say punching or elbowing or kicking..a person's gotta hit and that's all that matters.

Sure we don't reach (or don't want to), but it's not like we have to operate in that "trapping range" (bleah, i hate that term).

I have to admit though, I love it when others have these misconceptions. People have asked me many times to demonstrate the practicality of wing chun thinknig that we have to trap or chi-sao or what have you, and that look in their eyes when i clock them square on the nose right off the bat is priceless. That is wing tsun - sorry to disappoint you ;)

I don't care if these other guys think their art is smarter or more effective, I let them think whatever they want and that assumption is an easy weakness we can take advantage of.

So while I'm happy to see the wing chun guy enlighten the karate guy, i'm also saddened that he did too.

So anyone else share my feelings?

Until then

Sunday, October 21, 2012

In The Zone

Are you familiar with the expression "in the zone"?  It's usually used in sports where an athlete, in essence, is so focused on the task at hand and executes it so well that he or she can really do no wrong.  Everything you attempt works, everything you do succeeds..and nothing can set you off those tracks.

It's also used in weight training where you psych yourself up and constantly remind yourself of what your goal is so that all you need to think about is pushing that weight.

Nothing else matters.

People around you, the variables that surround - none of that matters or enters the equation. It's just you and the objective. And when you're in the zone...things go your way.

So how can you replicate this effect in your wing chun training?

Thinking back at what my Si-Fu describes back in the days of his wing tsun training, where you train hours upon hours in a row, on the same exercises and drills..where things just become a blur..you don't think about the movements, the techniques.. it's just a mesh of whatever is in front of you.

Whatever pain you were feeling numbs.

Whatever aspect of time you had, dissipates.

It's just you and the drill..in the present now.

Is that the zone? How do you elicit this into training, if at all? or are we so focused on the details that we don't really allow ourselves to?

I'm curious to know what your thoughts are.

Until then.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Karate Experience

So some of you may know that before my Wing Tsun days, I spent a number of years practicing Shito-Ryu karate. It was my first real, committed, take-it-seriously, exposure to martial arts and it was great. I started in high school and I was a fat kid. I always loved martial arts and wanted to one day kick ass and it was Karate that was able to work with my limitations and over time, i got better and better at it.

But obviously I left. Why?

First off, the karate dojo was awesome - the people were amazing. I loved the structure, the traditionalism of the school, much of the moves, katas and drills were expressed in Japanese and the head sensai's trained and competed in Japan..and in turn, built great students that really established the reputation of the school.

Till this day, the dojo is still there and thriving and i always have a place in my heart for that school.

As my training progressed, i watched the senior students, i watched the quality of their skills and I watched the instructors skills..and i looked at how they fought and really wondered, will this work in a real street fight scenario?

I figured nothing's stopping from earning a black belt as long as I stay the course, learn the katas and do the tests and attend class. But at the same time, you saw people who probably couldn't do anything in a real fight (although great with katas, drills and weapons) and it was something I struggled with.

I ended up leaving because i graduated high school and had to figure out my education plans thereafter.

Before finding the current wing tsun school, i actually tried a variety of other kung fu styles - shaolin, choy lee fut. it was fine. To be honest, it was really not that different from karate - just the nature of the moves. but you still did the warm ups, drills, forms, etc..but again, the same reservations i had about karate was also there in these kung fu clubs. One thing i didn't like about some of the the kung fu clubs, though, was the lack of structure that my karate club had.

I actually visited my old Karate club again..thinking that maybe i just gotta get back into and train with a different mentality.

Of course, I never returned once I found the current school I'm at.

But the point of my post is not to say or imply that wing chun is better than karate.

The reason for my post is simply a result of me seeing this karate clip on one of the facebook updates..and it just jogged my memory of my karate days and thought i'd share my experience with you.

You can see how, although the punches can knock someone out, there's a lot pulling of the punches (as shown in the first scene of the video), tagging punches and just all the bad habits of what can be developed through point sparring...full contact or not.  there is no finishing off the opponent, or really looking to hit..it's about getting the point (but again, i stress, these punches and kicks still hurt!).

But at the same time, the habits formed depend on a ref going in to stop the fight.

In the street fight or free fight scenario, I've seen the punch pulling and ki-yai occur and it's weird to see. Ya you hit him, but the opponent's still standing there..while the karate guy steps back after the reverse punch makes contact and you can see him retract his punch to his waist..

It kind of looks dumb...no wait..it does look dumb.

The opponent is still there, standing ..and sure, maybe he's hurt a bit, but he's recovering every moment that he's not being attacked...and the karate guy...after a second..realizes, shit, it's not over.

And there in lies the rub of my experience with Karate.

Until then.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wing Chun For Kids

So guys, what do you think about wing chun being taught to children?

This topic's been debated within wing chun circles, some say yes as it teaches them discipline, confidence, etc and others say no as the awkward stance may inhibit proper growth, others think the deep wing chun concepts and theories are lost on children.

What's your take?

Personally, I don't think I would send my kids to learn wing tsun at an early age. Instead, I'd send them to karate, or wushu or BJJ or something where kids can just run around, learn some cool moves, get a great workout and release pent up energy. Also, those arts would be great to help them with their lower body flexibility, strength, and physical stamina of which some times, wing chun ignores or doesn't emphasize so much.

Once they hit mid to late teens, then i'd be all for them learning wing chun. With their foundation in other martial arts, wing chun would make a lot of sense to them and their previous experience would only add to their growth.

So what are your thoughts? what's been your experience?

Until then.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sparring Session With Ex-Pro Boxer

Well guys, some of you may know that I've been incorporating workouts at the local boxing gym here. It's been a lot of fun and always good to meet new people there. One of the guys I've had the pleasure of meeting turns out to be an ex-pro boxer. Really friendly guy and he asked me if I'd be interested in a sparring session.

How could I turn that down?

So how did it go? it was pretty fun. Here are my observations:

1) the sparring session is not free fighting. At the end of the day, it's just another tool that's available to the fighter to add different variables to their drills/skills. It should also be seen as such by both parties so that everyone benefits.

2) No egos in the ring. The guy's really cool and we weren't out to kill each other. Sure there's that nervous tension, but that's healthy and I really like that sparring can easily bring that out of you, of which drills may not..or at least, takes a lot of imagination to.

3) It's freaking exhausting. This is one of the major things I noticed. I'd like to consider myself to be fairly fit, have decent stamina, my cardio is pretty good..and yet, i was drained by round 2..and at the end of round 1.  it really goes to show you the value of sparring, how it reveals things that need improvement right away..and that cardiovascular training is so important.  YES you could hope to subdue your opponent in 15 seconds..but why not raise the bar a bit higher and aim for conditioning so that you can last 20 seconds? 30 seconds? etc.

4) Wing tsun go forward approach works. Guys, let me make it clear, i was boxing. It was not a wing tsun vs. boxing match..it was boxer vs. boxer.  But things like always attacking when the way is clear, or when the centre line is open really gave me a lot of hits to the opponent's head.  When he would expect other boxers to cover up, I would hit with jabs and rights.

5) It was fun!! that's also one of the best parts of the whole thing. It was fun - we both had a good time.

6) The sparring session and the lessons from it adds a different perspective/dimension to your regular training drills, either bag work, shadow boxing, etc.

I look forward to the next session.

Until then.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wing Chun and Weight Training – the BIG DETAIL That Everyone’s Missing

I think there’s a big misconception when it comes to weight training and wing chun. Right now the two common schools of thought out there are that weight training can help wing chun or that weight training can hurt your wing chun:

1)      Some people are looking to get faster, increase their punching power, better their short range power through resistance or weight training…or

2)      Others feel that weight training stiffens you up, reduces your flexibility and makes you bigger and hence, clumsier when it comes to fighting.

I think there’s one huge detail that people are ignoring:

If you want to get good at wing chun, then practice wing chun.

If you want to get stronger or get that superhero body look, then for sure, weight training is the way to go.

Weight training will only help with wing chun to the extent that your wing chun is good. If your skills are crap, then your weight training isn’t going to help you no matter how much you can bench press.

With this in mind, you really have to figure out what your goals are:

1)      Do you want to get stronger?
2)      Do you want to punch harder?
3)      Do you want to gain size and look better?
4)      Do you want a stronger core?
5)      Do you want to get faster?
6)      Do you want better wing chun skills?

Each goal determines a specific path and workout program. But weight training won’t, at the end of the day, be the key element of making your wing chun better. Ultimately, if you want to be good at wing chun, you’re going to have to practice wing chun. There are too many complex neural connections, structural positions and muscle groups used that can’t be developed or stimulated through weight or resistance training whether you use dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands or bodyweight.

This said, however, once your wing chun gets good, then the added core strength and muscles from weight training will help. But it doesn’t go the other way around. You can’t expect that weight training leads to better wing chun. Only better wing chun leads to better wing chun. If your wing chun sucks, then no amount of weight training will ever help your wing chun skills.  On the flip side, if your wing chun is amazing, then weight training won’t ruin that.

The take home message is this:

If you want to incorporate weight training into your workout plan, go for it. Just be sure that you’re working out with the proper goal in mind. If you want to get stronger, be sure to lift to get stronger. If you want to get bigger, then be sure to lift weights to increase size. If you want to burn fat, you’re going to follow a plan to maximize fat burn.  BUT if you plan on working out for the primary purpose of improving your wing chun, you’re wasting your time.  Also I would recommend, if you can, that you train in wing chun first for at least a year or two before going into resistance training.  That way your wing chun skills will be decently developed in which will can actually reap some benefit from resistance training. 

Until then.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Do You Throw Punches or DO YOU HIT?

Over the last few months, I’ve really started to understand and ‘feel’ the difference in my own body between just punching vs. really hitting.

While on the surface, the two could be seen as practically the same thing –I’m finding that physiologically, and psychologically, they are very different.

First of all, let’s clear up what I mean when I say hitting vs. punching.

“ Punching”… “kicking” or “kneeing” – however you want to call it – is just that..the action of throwing a punch or a kick or a knee, etc.  This is what we fighters are training to do and to do it with efficiency, power, and proper technique.  The wing chun practitioner throws 1000 chain punches per second. The karateka punches the makiwara with superior focus. The MMA fighter throws powerful knee strikes into the heavy pads.  It is just that..the act of hitting a target whether it be a bag, post or air, etc.

“Hitting”, on the other hand – is similar in action to the above, but I see it with a twist, albeit, a significant one. That is, performing any of the actions above, but with the intention of hurting, maiming, or knocking the daylights out of the opponent. In addition, what really changes the dynamic, is the awareness of possibly getting hit yourself and being prepared for that as you are trying to hit your opponent.

With this in mind, comes some interesting factors that further compounds their distinctions:
From a psychological perspective, just throwing a punch is less mentally straining than trying to throw a punch with the intention of hitting your opponent to hurt them or knock them out.  The end goals are different, the variables are different and the resulting outcomes are different. 

Just the goal of yourself having to HIT your opponent, not just punch your opponent, induces an automatic response of mental investment that your hit must land ..and land with significance. Your mind must work with your nervous system to ensure this happens. And it will work hard in doing so.

There are no real repercussions when you throw a punch against the wall bag. But there is an urgency, when hitting your opponent, to hit on target and to hit hard enough. There are no repercussions to throw a punch that your body is capable of handling against a heavy bag (eg. absorbing impact, clean and crisp technique), but there are repercussions when you intend to hit your opponent beyond what your own body can handle (eg. you fracture your wrist because the impact was too hard, you bounce back because the impact was too strong, you fall forward because you committed too much).  Your mind has to work hard to ensure you hit fast and hard, yet don’t over commit or hit too lightly. 

When hitting matters, there is a mental pressure or presence that just screws with your body. Think of it this way – making a free throw shot in the 1st quarter of a pre-season game vs. making a free throw shot with 1 second left in double overtime, game 7 of the NBA championship on home court. The pressure toys with your mind, which toys with your body.

Also, your mind also has to work to compensate for counter hits, or to be able to absorb hits as you are hitting.  This doesn’t happen so much when you’re just punching, kneeing or kicking a target.
Really, your brain is working in thousands of directions and all at the same time…just imagine how taxing this is already on your body..just from the mind/neural connection standpoint alone..

Which leads to…

…its effect on the body. Because the mind is processing so many variables at the same time, it triggers a multitude of effects on the body. Adrenaline, blood sugar, muscle tension are all affected.  The end result: your body moves incredibly different when you’re hitting compared to when you’re just punching.   Efficiency is lost, muscles fatigue quickly, technique gets sloppy, muscle groups get tense and stiff.

I’m not even talking about fighting guys. I’m only talking about hitting..as in punching with the intention of hurting someone.

So, the question now, do you train to punch or do you train to hit?

Really think about this for a moment.  When you’re doing the drills, are you trying to hit, or are you just trying to punch or are you just trying to tap your opponent? Are you ready to be hit yourself? Do you have it in you to hit?

Not that this means you have to hit your partner, but I think respecting this differentiation and training with the intention of hitting is VERY different from that of just punching or kicking..or elbowing or whatever the drill calls for.

It’s also one thing to HIT a bag..hard with all you got, vs. hitting a live target..hard with all you got…and where the target can hit you back.  The latter variable really taxes your mind, which taxes your body.
With the proper mindset, of course (you’ll need proper instruction and guidance, and the right partner) you can really put yourself in a state where you’re training to hit and..guess what? You’ll be exhausted very quickly.  You’ll notice your body has to be constantly connected between the upper and lower half, properly rooted at ALL times so that you can hit hard and that you can defend when needed (but not too stiff that you can’t move about), you’ll notice that pretty much every muscle in your body is being used to some significant degree..even though we train to be as relaxed as possible.

 (In terms of relaxation…I personally don’t think it means that you’re relaxed everywhere. It just means that you’re most efficient at using ONLY the muscles necessary that that particular time requires. )

I think this is why many martial artists get incredibly sloppy when they actually have to fight, by the way. 

They haven’t been training to hit all this time. They’ve only trained at punching, kicking, blocking, or performing drill A, B, C, chi sao, etc. Even sparring won’t help you that much if you don’t put your mind and intention into it.

When training in this fashion, I’ve really felt it from a physical standpoint. My entire body is fatigued, especially the sheath of my chest and abs right after the drill is completed…my legs and my upper back are typically sore the next morning.  From a mental standpoint, it’s difficult to keep this type of training up during each class. You’ve really got to let your imagination run wild and also requires a patient and cooperative partner. You have to psyche yourself up into a specific mindset that you’re training to hit your opponent.  

That, in itself, is quite exhausting..especially after a long day at work or an interrupted sleep the night before.

(And for those that aren’t aware, I work out quite regularly - 6 days a week. You can see my workout plan as to what I did over the summer months and you can also see my before and after pics here. Just in case anyone’s thinking I’m some ‘mouse potato’ ;p)

And yet, the drills don’t have to be complex. They don’t have to be fast. They don’t have to painful for the participants.

If you’ve been practicing wing chun or any martial art for a while, and you still aren’t training this way most of the time, you’re pretty much wasting your time. 

It is funny though. This is something my instructor has been trying to instill in us since day one. I’m only starting to appreciate and understand it now…YEARS later.

Until then. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

There Ain`t No Weight Classes in the Street, Yo

..so as the title says..

What would you do?? Go straight in and chain punch the hell out of the guy? Running side kick a la Bruce Lee?

check the clip here and let me know what you would do!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Defining Results

How do you define the results you're looking for from wing chun training? How do you track your progress?

Also, I ask this to your teacher or your school's teaching system, or its philosophy. I'm curious to know if their definition or expectations fit yours.

Some schools teach for the purpose of self-defense. For others, it's about the work-out, while some schools may choose to provide students with health benefits or shed light to the more eclectic side of kung fu/martial arts.  Some just want trophies and competitive recognition, and others want to kick ass.

What do you want?

How do you know you're getting exactly that?

Sure you may be progressing fairly well in class, but are you progressing, ultimately in the direction you WANT to go? are you progressing at the proper rate - maybe it's too fast? maybe not fast enough.

How does your instructor help you achieve this? How do you make him/her accountable if at all?

It's interesting...i think with the mindset of the kwoon, or dojo, or training hall, much respect is given to the master and rightfully so. At the same time, it is a business..and that school is selling a product. Are you getting a product that you're happy with?

As the consumer, there is some level of expectation that we can command of our kung fu school. Do we encourage this is a healthy, professional and respectful way? or do we just sit idly by and see what awaits next class?

Does the instructor really assess their students to see what they want and tailor their instruction to that? Perhaps this isn't realistic.

Just some food for thought.

Until then.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Full Contact Wing Tsun: Remarks

Got some good feedback from you guys from my last post "Full Contact Wing Tsun"

One commenter made some great points:

  • Is the WT person who's winning actually good or just fighting against someone not as good?
  • Where did the footwork, that we spend countless hours of practice on, go under free-fighting stress?
  • Is wing tsun footwork too counter-intuitive to work?
I want to spend a few moments on each one.

First point - is the WT person actually good or just up against someone who's not so good? 

Well, that's the problem with videos. You just don't know. there's no context to anything except what's captured here. We are all judging a book by its cover. 

Also interesting, we tend to question the participants in this video with skepticism. I wonder if it was two really buff MMA guys going at it, if people would even bother questioning and just assume the guy who's winning has better "skill"?

How do you know how one's good anyway? Look at the Boztepe and Cheung fight. Both are amazing wing chun guys...but look at that video and you tell me, how would you perceive these guys to be based solely on the video?

Second Point - where did the footwork go?

WT footwork isn't, in my opinion, supposed to look like WT. It's only supposed to be functional. Hence, "functional wing tsun". Things like knee pressure, 0/100 weighting, hips forward, etc, help to create the function you need when you fight and can react in a way that's different from the conventional stance. Maybe their footwork does suck, but it's incredibly difficult to do 0/100 stepping when the other guy is falling or running backwards. 

The footwork only has to be function in that moment in time when it needs to be, when the distance is right, when the attack is right, when the defense is right.  it exists for only a fraction of a second. 

what really matters is you win the fight.  it's functional.

Third point - is WT footwork too counter-intuitive?

I don't think so. Practice it enough and stepping any other way feels counter-intuitive. same with chain punching, same with bong sao, etc.  you can see this all the time ....where the WT guy ONLY resorts to chain punches or ONLY resorts to bong sao defense.  For those doing wing chun, try throwing a hook. it'll feel incredibly awkward to you..especially with any power behind it. 

Yes the mechanics are counter-intuitive, but we train it so much that it will become normal. When it's normal, then the next stage is to train it OUT of your body so that the function remains, but you have freedom to attack in anyway the situation allows.  I think this is where many people don't get far enough in their training - to TRAIN IT OUT of their body - and then they apply their WT within the confines of how it should look..only to fail.

 Anyway, what are your thoughts? always love the comments! keeps me thinking and it's a great place to share ideas!

Until then...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Full Contact Wing Tsun

Here's a clip that one of my readers left me through the comments. i thought the fights get better as the video progresses, so be sure to watch it throughout. what do you guys think?

Here's the video!

Until then...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Crazy Wing Chun Dream!

Well, I had an interesting dream last night..and it was actually wing chun related. Mind you I dream frequently and it's almost always ridiculously vivid resulting in some days where I'm drained completely as if I actually lived out my dream. On a side note, it's awesome when it involves playboy playmate twins..but i'll keep those to myself.

So what did I dream last night?

It was a wing tsun demonstration in a Chinese restaurant put on my "the" WT organization (my school doesn't belong to one, but it was set up this way in my dream) and the people giving the demo consisted of those in my class and other schools in the organization. We were all involved in the demonstration and the restaurant was filled with over 300 people eager to see what we were all about.

Things started to take a turn for the worst when one of the guys giving a demo was being harassed by the audience.   He was being heckled and almost embarrassed. On top of that, he was being mocked for having a lousy 'inch punch'..or that he was doing it wrong.

I tried to come to help out in his demo, but the audience, turns out was from other martial art schools looking for a fight. The whole restaurant broke into a brawl and all around me was pandemonium. Think of Enter the Dragon. I look to my right and left and my classmates where getting beat up, and only a handful could really handle themselves.

I came across at least 4 attackers and I was able to hold my own. I ended up throwing one head first into the ground (what wing tsun sao is that?) and that killed him.

 It was just insanity. The fights lasted only seconds, but each was incredibly intense. It was all about survival and getting out of there. People were bloody, beat down by chairs, yelling, crying. it was a massacre on both sides. It didn't matter what techniques you used..it was about just making it out ok and using what you know at that moment in time to make it happen. It was about self-defense at its essence. Not technique, stance, etc. it was about awareness, body positioning, thinking about where the exist are..stuff like that.

In the stress of it all, I was looking for people I recognized and tried to avoid the crazed mob looking for blood.  I ended up seeing one and together we were able to watch each other's back as we made our way out only to be surrounded again by another mob..

Only to then be woken by my alarm.

It was just a dream...whooo

Until then..

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Things i Find Annoying About Wing Chun!!!!

Here it is folks, probably one of the more controversial posts on wing chun....IN THE WORLD.

Okay, maybe not.

Before I get into it, let me make it clear that I've been practicing wing tsun since 1998 (I think) and have been taking a slow and steady approach. I'm not what you would define as a hardcore wing chun enthusiast - I don't have the latest videos, books, weapons, and posters. I practice wing tsun because I find it fun, stimulating and a great form of exercise..and of course, for it's self defense aspect of it but overall, I would say this is a great hobby of mine and one I'm proud of.

Now to my topic: this is not a post about the politics of wing chun or the youtube comments and forum wars. It's just seeing the collective style of wing chun (not a particular school, lineage, style, etc) from an outsider's perspective with a touch of my own experience.

Things i find annoying about wing chun:

  • The legend or origins of wing chun. The story goes..the style of wing chun was created by a woman who was a nun from the Shaolin monastery who created an efficient fighting style, blah blah blah. I think the story is so stupid and there's no evidence for it (say the scholars).  It's just so silly in so many ways. It amazes me that so many actually believe it.
  • We are head hunting chain punchers. This is all we have in our arsenal apparently. And then those that say we have more, end up throwing head hunting chain punches in a free fight scenario.. in all the online clips.
  • We talk way too much. Some instructors talk way too much during seminars, classes, about the geometry, angles, how it's like chess, how practical it is, etc. Yes, i know it's great but i can't do it yet, please let the students train it. 
  • We demonstrate way too much. While demonstrations are good, some times the teachers get an ego trip doing it and the lesson is lost..instead the students just keep watching the teacher do demos for the entire class.
  • We write too much.The wing chun academics can write pages and pages of why 100/0 stance weighting is better than 0/100 stance weighting.  How about training? 
  • It takes a really long time to learn. Sure you can apply chain punches quite quickly. But to really learn it will take a long time to practice and develop. If you're not training at least 5 times a week with fighting intensity, it's just a hobby and you can't kick true ass.
  • All we have are demonstrations. I find this so annoying. Show me someone who can really kick ass with wing chun and post the fight on youtube please. I know you exist, but please do it soon. I'm sick of all the demos against cooperative partners. 
  • We aren't good looking. Have you ever seen a kyokushin demo? How about capoeira? the students all look to be in amazing shape. Wing chun, however, is a class of either scrawny or overweight people.  And, where are the women?
There you go. Of course I'm totally generalizing in a tongue and cheek manner but you and I both know there's truth to all of this.

So what do YOU find annoying about wing chun?

Until then

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Body Behind The Punch

Easter Long Weekend - my Si-Fu held a technician-only seminar, lasting from 10am-4.30pm. Awesome times...albeit a bit hung-over that morning from a night out with clients (counts as work, right?).

In every seminar, it seems that there seems to be only a handful of themes..maybe one or two, but a hundred details in every theme. Always the case, isn't it?

I'm sure you're familiar with saying "get your body behind the punch"...the general idea is to get the weight of your body into your punch, rather than solely relying on just your triceps, shoulders and chest to do the punching.

But the take home message i got from this seminar extends upon this theme and is about getting the body behind every move, whether it's a punch, step, defense, redirect, etc.

This makes things a lot more difficult, requires a new way of moving, of letting loose, of letting go our most natural forms of movement, out of comfort zone.

Getting the body behind every attack, every step forward, every turn, every defense means the whole body has to be able move more freely and quicker than your arms can. Think about that. think about how fast that incoming punch is, how fast your arms have to react just to make contact, and somehow your shoulder, back, hips and legs have to follow.

It's not easy. But when applied, it's more successful than the fastest punch, the fastest block.

Getting the body behind every move also means you have to commit. Your body has to commit to the move, not just the arms. You have to commit to the move, whether that be distance, or just going with the attack or defense that ...at that instant...feels right..even though a better option may exist. there is no time for hesitation. Better to commit to the plan B, then to hesitate with plan A.

The concepts such as the "falling step" or "rising step" can be...relatively easy to understand. Drop the weight into the punch (eg. think of a right cross). Raise or lift yourself into the punch (eg. think of an uppercut). Got it.

But applying this to the odd nature of wing tsun movements such as bong sao, kao sao, tan sao is something else. And..since the body is behind each of these "odd" moves, it almost contorts your body to move in the most uncomfortable ways. But applied correctly, you would move in the most fluid of ways...it has to be, otherwise the body can't follow the move you want to perform if it's not fluid.

this is not for beginners. Beginners must focus on arm positions, stance training, stepping. Once this is mastered, the next step is getting the body to move behind these arm positions, behind the stance turns, behind the steps. This is where your body starts putting the mechanics together to apply these moves successfully...

we're not even talking about fighting.

we're still talking about getting the basics down so it's practical.

If your body isn't moving (eg. legs, spine, knees, hips, abs, etc) during your wing chun drills...none of your stuff works....and if it does, your partner is being too nice.

Until then.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Technique First, Power Later

It's been said time and time again, technique first, power comes later. I'm constantly reminded in class that training timing, positioning, angles, and proper structure/stance is key before we can think about delivering power into our hits.

When you train with a lot of strength and "power" in the hits, the training not only becomes ridiculously sloppy, but the lessons taught in the drill are gone, egos flair up, chance of injury increases and, ultimately, proper power delivery won't happen.

Well, I was reminded again this morning about this as the boxing trainer happen to see me working on the punch bag.

He told me not to even worry about punching hard. Just work on technique. i was dropping my hands too much. He showed me the pace and power of which I should train. The take home lesson, just work at a steady pace, work on repetition and proper weight transfer and technique. The bag shouldn't move that much.

Point taken...again.

Until then.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Training On Your Own

Over the last week or so, I've been battling some kind of mild flu..that's managed to knock me down on my butt and had to stay at home a couple days.

I've been quite weak, stopped all exercise and couldn't eat much..just liquids and some light carbs. anything more than that would set me in a daze of nausea ...not fun.

But as I slowwwlly recovered..I was becoming quite restless and decided to get on my feet and start some wing tsun training to get my body going again. It was not exhaustive by any means as I was easily winded..but...i still found it to be quite a learning experience.

What did I do?

Obviously, form training - siu nim tao.

Foot work - my Sifu emphasizes this so much, so i started incorporating this.

I looked back at the teachings from my last class and there was a huge emphasis on keeping the elbows and hands low and heavy.

To exercise this, I actually ended up "chi-saoing" the air..closing my eyes and imagine my partner before me..and both of us working on chi-sao drills, but with the emphasis of me keeping my elbows low. The exercise was relatively slow. It was quite an interesting drill. Keeping my eyes closed during this visualization exercise, I started going through the motions and really feeling how my body is reacting.

The drill was actually very intense, not only physically, but also mentally.

I found much value in this drill and I want you to try it.

In your own training space, close your eyes and imagine you're at your kwoon practicing chi-sao with a partner of your choice. Imagine the partner throwing an attack..any attack and now you have to react..but, using the power of imagination, slow things down like into bullet time and react with your whole body. Do this for 15 minutes.

Tell me what you think!

Until then.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Boxer vs. Wing Chun Guy

This clip was forwarded to me last week or so. it's a boxer versus a wing chun guy.

What are your thoughts on this?

There are so many things one could say and so many interpretations of what should have or could have happened....especially in terms of either the boxer or wing chun fighter's skill level..or lack thereof if that's what you see.

What do I see?

i see a lot of space for both fighters to move back.

There's a lot of room to retreat, to circle, to side-step. All annoying to the wing chun fighter who likes to get in close.

Of course, there are tactics to help minimize the attacker moving away, but at the same time, that's very very difficult to make happen especially at someone at my average skill level.

At one point, I thought the wing chun guy could've had a chance if only he committed fully and since the boxer was going quite easy (hands down, didn't really take wing chun guy too seriously). If the WC guy just ran right through him once, I think that would've set the tone.

Anyway, what are your thoughts?

Until then.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hard Hits Soft, Soft Hits Hard.

Are you familiar with the saying, "hard hit soft, soft hits hard"?

In the context of wing chun, it means that one would hit hard parts of the body like the skull or face, with the palm strike rather than using your fist. And when hitting softer parts of the body, say the neck or kidneys, to use your fists rather than an open hand strike.

So what's are some differences between a palm strikes and using your fists?

Striking with the palm offers some outright advantages - first, you're not as likely to break your wrist or hand. You can also hit quite hard with the palm since you don't have to worry about breaking the tiny bones in your fist and wrist. You also don't have to worry about spraining your wrist as much.

There are some disadvantages - your fingers are exposed. The fingers can be jammed, caught in your own shirt sleeve (or your opponents) or seen as a target by your opponent. It takes considerable skill to learn how to deliver power through palm strikes and a certain level of finesse to deliver palm strikes, versus just crashing through with your fists. You also lose some distance in reach. Perhaps in the context of wing chun, this won't matter as you're supposed to be quite close to the opponent, but it's just a physical reality that the reach is shorter with a palm strike compared to a punch.

What would you prefer to use? At my skill level, I wouldn't feel comfortable using my palms as weapons, although I wish I could. In the heat of battle, with the adrenaline rush, using your fists would be quite 'natural' and more instinctive. That said, ideally, if I could produce amazing results with open hand striking - that'd be the way to go.

So what would you use?

Until then.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Go All Out or Do You?

It has been said many times, that if you're going to fight, you have to go ALL OUT. You have commit to each punch, to each strike, to knock your opponent down.

You can't enter a fight half-heartedly, otherwise, you might as well use that burst of adrenaline and run the hell out of there.

In the movies, the kung fu teacher or main character would demonstrate a level of skill where he or she can fight with half their attention or commitment so as to not hurt who they are fighting.

In some action movies, the main character would even try to do his best to spare his enemy's life, until that one point where he must kill them.

In reality, we don't have the luxury of going half-way. You have to fight with 100%.

But what does a 100% mean?

Does that mean you hit with all you've got?

Do you hit before the attacker really makes a move?

Does that mean you hit the groin and throat as hard as you can?

Do you punch the guy as hard as you can in the neck?

Is it all of these?

What is that 100%? what is enough? ..and in the case of pleading self-defense, is going all out considered, legally, too much?

Fight dirty and fight hard...but the consequences of that could be quite severe...either you going through the legal system..or you putting yourself in harms way. so what do you do? how much is 100%?

Until then.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Knife Fight and MMA

I was forwarded this very interesting article from a WT colleague of mine. The article can be found here. It essentially breaks down the positives and negatives of fighting in the ring/octagon/sparring vs. self defense. He uses a good example of a popular MMA fighter, defending himself in a street fight only to realize that the attacker pulls a knife out and slashes him up.

Notably, he talks about how, in the street, you just never know what your attacker may pull out from his bag of tricks, ahem, a knife for example. The ring doesn't teach you how to isolate and secure the weapons at play, or be aware of potential attacks, the adrenaline rush of a street fight vs. a ring fight, the list goes on and on.

All his points are valid and I encourage you to read it.

In my wing tsun class (and pretty much all other wing chun classes - at least that's how they market themselves), we emphasize the street fight scenario. It's not about the knock out, it's about getting out of the situation. It's about fighting without fighting. It's about awareness.

But taking the example of story in the article above, even in wing chun classes, there's very little emphasis on dealing with attackers that MAY pull out a knife. Dealing with the sucker punch, dealing with a cut up bottle, with a surprise attacker, and the list goes on and on.

As much as we like to think we do...we don't.

There's just to much to learn in class. We have chi-sao, our forms training, stance training, footwork, and then elements within each ot those - drills, chi-sao sections, endurance training, chain punching...

When you step back, only a mere fraction of your training touches on "what if the attacker had a knife"?

a mere fraction.

that's because i'm still working on my stance. I'm still working on fixing up my bong sao.

there's just too much to learn it seems.

So yes, while wing chun positions itself as street self defense...i ask, is it really?

Until then.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Combo Hitting

In my last post, I talked about the idea of chain hitting. I would like to extend on that a bit further. Whether it's training wing chun or even observing others at the boxing gym, it seems that the first hit is always the hardest and then the second or even the third hit is substantially weaker.

Why is that always the case.

Or, another common scenario is the one-two hit, where the second hit is the hardest, but the first hit doesn't really do much.

In wing chun training, it seems this also happens. Yes we learn to chain punch or chain hit, but the first hit always seems the hardest and the hits following up are much weaker. The hits all come in a one beat count - one - one - one - one..each hit being fairly strong/powerful.

But if you extend that power to a two beat count - onetwo - onetwo -onetwo...or even a three beat count onetwothreee - onetwothree...

I would expect the hits to be quite weak after the first hit and...even if the subsequent hits are strong, the person hitting will tire quite quickly. Why? This is quite normal as we practice in our drills, it's always the first hit that we emphasize, in which the drill resets. so it's always the first hit at a one beat count.

As an experiment, i want you to try it. Hit a heavy bag as hard as you can...try for different combinations and see what you discover. See if your one beat count hits harder than your three beat counts.

Now try to discover what it takes to really throw powerful hits, three times in a row or four times in a row.

Until then.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Idea of Chain Punches

Chain punches are almost a radical way of fighting. the method of the throwing the punches is quite different from conventional styles of combat and goes against the natural feel of what a punch may seem to be or should be.

It's the primary (and some feel it's the only) weapon in wing chun and drills, either partner drills, or solo drills require a lot of chain punches being thrown. Once you're past that initial learning curve, chain punches do feel quite natural and can be quite powerful.

Looking at the concept of chain punching, is the idea of chain hitting. Combining non stop attacks from all weapons - punches, kicks, elbows, knees in a continuous flurry. It may not look like chain punches anymore..and may not even contain chain punches. the concept is functional and that's what matters.

But have you tried this before? Have you tried training this way? It certainly wakes your body up - and also tells you how your body is quite limited to chain punching, i might add. It's a crude awakening. And it's also freaking exhausting, draining your energy reserves quite fast.

You gotta make each hit count - no rabbit punches here - it's incredibly difficult to do. Most people would only be able to throw 1, 2, MAYBE 3 punches max at full blast, and after that they're outta steam...or the punches/hits thereafter are pretty much harmless.

If you don't know what I mean, I think you should try it. Try to chain "hit" not just chain punch and at full capacity - make it count. Do this for 30 seconds and see where you're at on the stamina level.

The answer may surprise you.

Until then.

Popular Posts