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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Maintaining That Wing Chun Mojo

I have to admit, although I’ve been practicing WT for a quite a while, there are those moments where the energy is not there - breaks, lags, gaps, etc through the years. Obviously the length of time I’ve been ‘involved’ in wing tsun doesn’t reflect the hours I could’ve been practicing wing tsun.

There are times in class when I have all the energy in the world, and other times when it’s just SO difficult, where I feel drained even before I start training.  This takes its toll on the training itself, the drills are sluggish, my performance lacks, I get frustrated, and getting hit hurts just a little more than usual.

It’s interesting to see the types of students in class.

There are those that absorb wing tsun so quickly and immerse themselves into the programs, train like crazy, learn everything and anything..only to leave. They love the art, but I can’t help think that they’ve burned themselves out and that excitement and drive eventually dissipates.

 Others take a slow and steady approach.  Their development is very gradual, but consistent.  It means that it’s less likely that they’ll burn out from training, but at the same time, they could be at risk of stalling.

Then others seem to be unphased by anything. They just keep truckin’, keep training and keep progressing, although don’t immerse themselves into everything wing chun. They don’t burn out like the first group, but progress much more quickly than the second group.

How do you guys keep that passion, that drive, alive? Wing tsun draws us in by its simplicity, but could that simplicity also make for a bland and repetitive menu?

Maybe it’s just the way we choose to train – a matter of perspective, a matter of psyching yourself up.

Or perhaps how we train?

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of a coaching approach, rather than the typical Si-Fu, student classroom approach.  For example, teacher sees your footwork is weak, so over the next 4 weeks, your ‘coach’ has you do a specific program designed to improve your footwork using a combination of drills, exercises, chi-sao, etc but all with that one goal in mind.  Then after that, move onto a different weakness, say punching alignment and then coach you through that.

Although not particularly different from what schools teach already, I’m thinking of a more structured, individualized, athletic, measurable, goal oriented strategy, which might help provide those’ mini-victories’ that could really motivate someone like myself.

This is an approach I take throughout the year when it comes to the gym…months 1-4, work on strength, months 5-8, increase cardio and cut down on body fat, month 9, take break, active rests, etc.

But back to my original question – how do you keep your motivation and passion strong? What works for you?

Until then.


Pablo said...

I think your coaching approach has definite potential! Sometimes I feel that Wing Tsun has progressed to much from a development of natural useful techniques to a too formal"curriculum" which doesn't allow students to "discover" the strengths of WT while being guided by a teacher.

About what drives me: after understanding, it's teaching. I have some friends who have started WT through me, and one female friend in particular with whom I often train outside of class. She has an incredible drive, and seeing her progress in such a great way, following in my "footsteps", is incredibly rewarding.

Gary said...

or you can look at it like brushing your teeth,, want to keep them healthy, make a commitment and a habit,, want to get good at wing tsun, go to class/train,, regular. no need to think about it, its just priorities.
personally I expect plateaus, ups/downs etc, and mostly ignore them. cause though the ups motivate, the downs will make you quit,, sooner or later.. better to just do it. enjoy when you can.

Unknown said...

Brian, you have touched upon an age old question. How do you maintain your passion, your motivation for something, in our case WingTsun Kung Fu.
Sifu Ralph dedicated a chapter in his book The Reality of Self-Defense on this topic. In addition he has given us so many inspirational talks in classes and in emails.
Motivation to me is a very personal thing. In most cases, a teacher, a coach, a personal trainer, training partners, etc. will not motivate you unless you have already decided you want to do something with passion, and highly motivated to succeed.
I will use my personal experience in my WingTsun training.
Classes in the old days were 3hrs long twice a week. The first summer I started training, there were only maybe 3 to 4 students in class. Those of you who have trained with me will know that I was the "Iron Man" of those days, I hardly ever missed a class. Yes, there were days I felt lazy, days I wanted to make excuses not to go to class, etc, etc. But I was self motivated to put aside all excuses and just hop into my car and drive to class. After the class was finished,I was always so glad I went. We all have these moments, but only 'You' can motivate yourself to train.
Brian, you mentioned burnout as a possible reason. Again this is a very personal thing.
In addition to training twice a week for a total of 6hrs class time. I also have class notes for every single class I have ever attended. This is over a 10 year period. I made notes in class and then made proper notes at home on my computer for a permanent record. I did this each and every class! I also trained with others outside of class. Thank you to Joe Kuh and Rob Spratt in particular! I also trained on my own doing forms, footwork, punching, etc. I also bought and read all the WingTsun books and videos available. Back in those days we also had Sifu Emin and Sijo Leung Ting coming to Vancouver for seminars. I attended all of those. Sifu Ralph also had many special classes and theory classes for the instructor group, which I attended. Basically I was immersed in WingTsun 7 days a week. I managed to do this without getting burn out for many, many years. This in addition to a full time job, a married life, and other hobbies such as tennis. I actually gave up my tennis and other interests for many many years to immerse myself in WingTsun.
There are no doubt many others who were even more passionate and motivated than myself in their pursue of WingTsun. How did they do it? They 'Wanted To'!!
Now from an instructor, coach, or personal trainer's point of view. The ideal student is one that is already self motivated. Then you can tailor your teaching method, program, structure of classes, difficulty, etc to that student to motivate him/her even more.
As mentioned by Pablo in another post, teaching is also what motivates me these days. It is such a reward when one of your students reaches that "light bulb" moment, where he/she finally understands a concept, can finally feel a movement, can finally make sections functional.
There are many ways to stay motivated. Don't get stuck in your training. WingTsun has such a great toolbox for learning through all its chi sau and lat sau programs. As Sifu Ralph has said many times, look beyond the skeleton of the programs. Come up with your own ways of training those programs Be innovative, look outside the box. Find your own expression of WingTsun. Do not be robotic in what you have been taught, don't regurgitate programs.
In closing, it will be very difficult to motivate someone who is not already self motivated.

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