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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Obasi Saga Continues...Williams, Kwok and now...Boztepe?

How can I NOT talk about this?  My good friend and WT colleague has been keeping me in the loop on the Shawn Obasi wing chun sticky hands saga..

For those of you who are not in the know, Shawn Obasi is this wing chun fighter of which we were introduced to a couple years ago as he was the self proclaimed "Wing Chun man" who tried to enter an MMA competition... unsuccessfully and embarrassingly in my opinion. You can check out my original post about him here. What was interesting and cool at the time, however, was that he wanted to represent wing chun in the MMA world. Great! You can actually see my other post about him where he actually fought in some MMA type of competition.

So fast forward to now..

This guy's been on a "rampage" of sorts..crossing hands with vary well known wing chun teachers of which have master titles and are in all the kung fu magazines and just very well known and, for the most part, respected in the wing chun circles.

Obasi's first 'victim" is this guy, Sifu Randy Williams...he is very well known. I remember seeing articles about him and on the covers and spreads of Inside Kung Fu back in the day...plus all his videos and books advertisements, etc.

So Obasi rolls hands with Randy Williams. Now given the history of Randy Williams, you would think that he'd be able to dominate against a relative nobody like Obasi. Well, not so much. Check out the video here!

What a let down!! Randy Williams was getting worked. Both wing chun sticky hands sucked, but you can see that Obasi was able to get strikes in and overpower Randy Williams. Where's the wing chun principles of using the opponents force? of yielding? of being like water? of intercepting and angles and size doesn't matter, etc etc.  Any hits that Randy got in..were nothing..just touches. Let me say, however, both guys doing sticky hands sucked here but you can tell that Randy was a let down and just didn't bring his game that you would expect a Sifu of his calibre to be...

Maybe it's cuz Randy Williams isn't Chinese. You know, if you're Chinese, then you've gotta be amazing at kung fu.  You can't do any wrong, really.

So Obasi's next "meeting" is with Sifu Samuel Kwok.  This guy is also very well known in wing chun circles. You can read his bio here. The guy's teacher is Ip Chun, the son of the great Wing Chun master, Yip Man. damn!!! Sifu Kwok has been learning wing chun since the 70's - he must be amazing!! he's got many clips on youtube and i think he even did some collaboration with some brazillian jiu jitsu guys.

Check out the video of how the whole thing went down. 

Again, a rather dissapointing show from Sifu Kwok..and again you can see that Kwok can't dominate of which you'd expect a wing chun master of his calibre to be able to do.  You can see how they just stiffen up, keep distance and pretty much just get into girl fight of sorts.. you can see the pushing, the stiffness..all the juicy openings a grappler would love.

anyway things ended fairly quickly but you can get a sense that MASTER KWOK couldn't really do much. Seriosuly..it's so dissapointing.

I feel like i can bring the same game too if i rolled with Obasi...and i'm nobody!!

So now Obasi decides to roll with the wing tsun guy that everyone just loves to hate..Emin Boztepe. Of WT origins, Emin now has his own association under EBMAS.

Now I've actually crossed hands with Sifu Emin back in the day. I was just a puny student level 3 back then..so what do I know, right? But at the time and watching how he just tore everyone apart at the seminars..i thought this guy was the real deal.. Let me be upfront and say that i have no association with him or his organization. in fact, i think the guy's a jerk..but i can't question his skill...


so many people just hate on this guy. He's muscular..he's a bully..how could he be good at wing chun? He just does demos..and his partners don't REALLY try to hit him.  It's unreal how much people don't like this guy and think his wing chun is just absolute crap. I can't say i agree. In fact, here's my favorite chi sao clip of him. Just amazing!! But check out the comment threads..it just goes on and on how about how shitty he is..

People love to hate him..

So let's bring it back to Obasi.  Here he is doing sticky hands with Emin Boztepe.

My friends, OBASI IS JUST GETTING WORKED. He can't do a single thing and he just keeps getting hit. and guys, Emin's hits look like they're effortless and not painful..but that's what makes them SO FREAKING painful and you can tell by how Obasi is reacting each time.. every time Obasi moves, he moves in with hesitation and caution and that just let's Emin hit him even more.  You know why? because the hits received  actually have impact.  Obasi doesn't just gets slapped, he gets contact that you know has some boom behind and Emin's just holding back. There's is no pushing, no flailing of the arms..you can see who's dominating and who's not.

And Emin's not even Chinese!

And yes, some of you are going to say that Obasi's not really trying to hit. You know why? cuz he knows he can't get in and the harder he tries, the harder he himself gets hit. Obasi can feel this in his arms from his own sticky hands training..anyone who does sticky hands knows this - you can feel when you can't get in so you don't.  So as the drill goes on, poor Obasi and any partner on the receiving end really can't throw committed hits anymore because they know they'll just get whacked.

You can see the impact of fairly light hits when you watch Obasi's body move from the impact. this is how European WT wing chun trains (at least back in the day)..they don't just play tag.

to sum up...if you kind of use Obasi as the one constant in these 3 clips..you can see who's got skills and who doesn't. You can easily see who dominates and who doesn't. You don't need skillfull wing chun eyes to judge this.

Anyway these are my quick thoughts. Share yours!

Until then.

**EDIT March 3 2013**

Tons of comments and emails coming in on this one and I just felt it would be easier to add here than respond to each person individually. A lot of people are bringing up the **CONTEXT** of which the 'meetings' are taking place... in particular:

The meetings (guys, no way i can say fight, because it's just chi-sao..and if they all wanted to prove who's best, they should just fight) between Sam Kwok and Randy Williams are more aggressive..more like a "winner" must be determined..while the clip with Emin seemed more co-operative, more like Emin was showing Obasi a drill.

Yes, I also noticed the different tone of the Emin clip versus the other two. But here's the thing:

If the Randy Williams one was more of a "revenge match", and Randy has skills, Randy Williams shouldn't have held back. In fact, if he held back and still got whacked with Obasi's fak saos and got pushed around..what's the point of that??  Why can't he turn it up to Obasi's level and just neutralize things? On top of this, my own observation is that his chi-sao skills just aren't there.  Here's a clip of Randy Williams with some other guy..this time smaller and slower..and Randy is able to do the moves, but you can tell it's pretty much the same stuff that he tried with Obasi but just couldn't get it through.  I really like the part when a black belt walks in and doesn't even pay attention to the girl fight.

As for the Emin clip and how it's cooperative. Yes, i think it was too. Here's the kicker - Obasi is hesitant on all his moves, way more than before in his other clips..and he keeps distance. All stuff you do when you REALIZE you can't get in and don't want to get hit.  This was the point I tried to make above in my post...Obasi can sense through sticky hand reflexes (or just knows) that he can't get through and that Emin's hits HURT.   (i'm probably over-analyzing now...there are points in the clip where Obasi tries to hit, but he can't. Emin just shuts them down so subtly that you can barely notice it even happens..which is what good skills should do). Dominance was already established right from the get go from a purely chi-sao perspective..something that could not be done in the other meetings.

The other thing you can't fake is the Obasi grunts! haha awesome. Obasi grunts so differently when training with Emin compared to Randy Williams or Sam Kwok. This is obviously a reflexive habit of his..and it's a good measure of something he can't control..it's purely instinctual and coincides with stress.  Emin's hits are not mean or aggressive..they are just the nature of his hits. I have been to Sifu Emin's seminars and what Emin did was nothing special for Obasi or anyone..it's just how he trains/teaches his students.  And this is how we train and SHOULD train..and it's just part of the EWTO original way of training (i don't know if they do this still?). No slappity slaps..no rabbit punches.  This is normal..at least in my class.

You can tell the difference between this type of crap chi-sao (chasing hands, things getting stuck, no real hardcore hits, both partners just standing there exchanging hits) and this type of superb chi-sao (flow, effortless, determined hits, the losing partner's structure is clearly disrupted, while winning partner is relaxed and upright)

And guys, at the end of the day, you can just tell who's able to dominate and who's not. I can show the 3 obasi clips to a 6 year old and they can determine who "won" or who didn't win in each. I'm sorry, but the Sam Kwok and Randy Williams ones are just not great. These guys are supposed to be AMAZING. I pretty sure if I were to roll with Obasi it'll look like that type of crap chi-sao too..But if i was amazing, i should be able to turn it up a notch to as to neutralize or control him just like i could with my students. And if i was EVEN more amazing, i'd be able to hit him convincingly instead of posting my "explanations" on a website..

Where's the beef? as they say.

We need to show wing chun..not explain wing chun. This is why so many other martial artists just laugh at this kung fu style and I don't blame them.


Pablo said...

Hey Brian!
Just wanted to share my thoughts. I think that you're dismissing an important aspect when it comes to comparing these three videos: namely, the mindset, resistance offered and general outlook of Obasi during each chi-sao session.
I don't know if you're familiar with the background of the Randy Williams fight, but supposedly (according to Obasi himself), Randy Williams had rolled hands with Obasi's teacher and behaved in a disrespectful manner. So Obasi really wanted to take a form of "revenge" in the name of his teacher. Randy himself wasn't aware of this when they rolled hands, so the "intensity" of Obasi probably came as a surprise. He probably expected a friendly session.

The chi-sao with Kwok actually happened on the same day, and before he fought Randy. Apparently, Obasi had a leg injury and he wasn't sure he was in a state to "fight" Randy. So when Kwok offered to roll hands with interested visitors, he accepted, to test himself out. Clearly, Obasis is a lot more respectful here and less "pressing" then in his session with Randy. He has admitted as much in a youtube confession. So it's a factor to take into consideration. I also don't think Kwok saw this all that "competitively" and that all in all, he probably didn't over-do it. I personally feel Kwok flowed quite nicely, but I think a short video like that is a bit hard to judge from.

In regards to the Boztepe fragment, I think it's pretty clear that Obasi was a lot less "competitive" in that situation and a lot more respectful. As far as I can tell, this happened at a seminar by Boztepe where Obasi was eager to learn from and train with him. Obviously this will make him a bit more compliant.
All of this isn't to say that Boztepe wasn't doing extremely well and his chi-sao isn't very impressive (it is). I've met him in real life too, he rolled hands with my own teacher, and my teacher said he hadn't ever experienced anything like it.

I simply think that context matters more than you seem to take into account here. It's not really "fair" to compare these 3 videos as if they happened in similar circumstances, since the mindset behind the point of comparison was significantly different every time.

Were you aware of the backstory behind the Randy Williams fight? I'd like to hear your thoughts on what I posted. Please know that I don't mean any disrespect with this.

Anonymous said...


Here is the clip between Obasi's teacher Joeseph Ng and Randy Williams

Pablo said...

I've seen it yes. Though at a later point Sifu Fernandez (the WingTchunDo Sifu) posted something about having received a private message from Randy Williams which placed matters in a different light than it seems from the videos and Obasi's statement. I'm not sure what to make of it myself.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the background information. Randy Willams, Samuel Kwok and Shawn Obasi are all "public personalities" in the Wing Chun world. They each represent their "brand"/"product" from which they make their living off of. It seems to me from the clips, Randy Williams, Joseph Ng and Obasi were all attending some kind of public martial arts function. Wouldn't they all try to represent the best of their brand at this event? There is nothing gained by showing medicrity. To me, i just see guys wrestling with each other in those clips. I do not see clear domination such as the case of Si Sook Emin Boztepe doing to Shawn Obasi.

Arguably, Emin was giving a seminar and Obasi was the demo dummy.

I have also never met Samuel Kwok and Randy Williams, but do they ever allow their students get hits on them? Most martial arts teachers do not and are not happy when their students are able to slip in a hit. If these teachers are that open minded, then I would be inclined to believe they could "play nice". Otherwise I am not convinced completely they were holding back.


Brian said...

Pablo, great feedback - thank you! been getting lots so had to add to my post. Everyone is open to their own opinions, interpretations, etc. I Enjoy reading everyone's emails, comments, points of view etc. Happy training!

Pablo said...

After your revised post, I'll say that though I agree with you for the most part and on the Randy video, I still think you're underestimating Kwok a bit. Obasi himself was exceedingly positive about this chi-sao himself afterwards, said he was truly impressed by the man's sensitivity. Which isn't to say that Boztepe's isn't still better, I just think that a lot of things in chi-sao can be quite subtle and not necessarily come out as apparent on video.
In any case: great post and food for thought. I encourage you to post more, I always enjoy these conversations! How's the punching workout coming?

Pablo said...

There's something else I'd like to add. About the "type" of hits, how they're "solid", and not rabbit punches: I feel this is somewhere in which the EWTO has gone askew a bit. Quite often when I have the feeling that, even with some higher ups within the EWTO (though I'm not saying it's a general rule), their hits don't look like they have that much oomph potential behind them. I agree with you that Emin definitely has that going for him.
Adding to this, I think that a problem when training with your own teacher is that, in a lot of cases, WT teachers don't really like getting hit. And especially not "hard". I know there are exceptions, that your sifu is one of the few who has no qualms with both hitting hard and receiving hard punches. But too often it seems the ego of the teacher gets in the way. They get angry when you hit them a bit too hard, then the student starts holding back and is afraid to give it his all... and eventually this leads to a lack of development of the forward intent and oomph of the student.

In that context, I recommend these videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lywYh_AyF0k (about learning to deal with impact and hitting)
and this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wET0Purf-6Y (about things some teachers do in terms of ego).

What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...


Obasi getting "worked" by the same "Sifu" that William's "disrespected"

This just shows that Obasi is totally compliant with whoever is his Sifu of the month. BTW - William's was also training Obasi for the last few years. William's did not know Obasi was mad at him, and at the time of that "match" was under the impression Obasi was still his friend and student. Listen closely to the words being exchanged between them in the clip you have linked to.

Benny said...



Anonymous said...

Also watch the Clip w. Obasi and Philipp Bayer (Germany, 60 years old), who dominates Obasi completely (could hit him any moment hard). In my opinion (did Wing Chun/Wing Tsun for several years in the 80-90s) todays commercial Wing Chun is 90% crap and this includes very famous exponents (salesmen really). There are VERY few real good exponents who did learn properly and are really able to use the skills like they sould be used. The majority nowadays are People like Kwok, Williams, Obasi and the like.

Anonymous said...

Dude, there is one simple fact you are ignoring !! Obasi is much bigger and heavier than Sam Kwok and Randy Williams but he is not bigger and heavier than Emin Boztepe ! This is also the reason that Boztepe threw William Cheung on the floor so easily back in the day he is much bigger and heavier than him. So when someone has some skill in the same art as you and is bigger and heavier than you expect to lose. Its only against an untrained aggressor who doesn't know the tricks of wing chun or jiu jitsu that it works - that's the point secret trained techniques that outsiders didn't know.

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