Taking off the Training Wheels
This blog is dedicated to Rini, Dan, Keiran, Martin, Steve, Craig, Ken, Jon, Haroon and Darren
For the past 2 1/2 years I have spent most of the class time rushing around trying to pass on what I know to as many students as I can. In fact for a two hour class Mark, Jon and I squeeze in almost a full 6 hours of teaching between us without much down time. It has occurred to me over the last week that actually we are getting some success. A good number of students have taken what we have given and have started to make wing chun their own. I am not saying that they have Nim lik, or that they are great fighters or chi sau kings, what I am saying is that the way they move and accept force into their bodies has changed and now they have the potential to be as good as they choose. Once the ideas of this type of wing chun infuses into your body, you have the tools to self analysis and improve by being honest with yourself.
There is no great secret to learning wing chun, it takes dedication and time spent practicing. Many people start training, come occasionally and give up see they see no progress. You have to work to find the skill for yourself and there is only so much spoon feeding that is good for you.
For the students above (and all of the rest) I say take the confidence to test and push yourself. Don't try to win all off the time, do less and let your ego slide. Pass on what you know as explaining to other helps clarify your own thoughts. If you do want to be good and you truely enjoy it, invest your time in training and it will really pay off. Wing chun has changed my life and it may have already changed yours. My hope is that Sung is a place we can all develop together as a community with a shared goal.
Some creatures are born fully developed and ready to function in the world; no need to learn how to move, no parents around to teach them survival strategies. Humans have a very long development period before we are independent which you would think would give us time to reach optimum capacity of use. No such luck.
We are the ultimate hackers. Nature may gave us a way to act optimally in our enviroment and yet we still use our brain capacity to cheat. Why fit into your environment when you can change it instead? Computer and machines mean we can sit hunched over our computers and everything is done for us, keeping us fresh to enjoy our leisure time. The problem is by avoiding using our bodies they become so messed up, unfit and tense that they cannot enjoy much physical activity when they get free time. Also our environment is so overdeveloped it is difficult to find natural open space. An under-used or misused body starts to feel a liability to disconnected brain.
You only have to witness the popularity of films like The Matrix and Terminator to show that in the back of our minds there is a fear that machines will one day take over. Once they obtain conciousness they will bypass their basic programming and destroy the environment which brought them into being. It is obvious that we are projecting our own subconcious knowledge of our development and behaviour onto them.
With our eyes at the front of our bodies we are always orientated in one direction, but this should not be a problem as nature designed us this way with a delicate balancing mechanism to keep us upright. However with computers, screens and tools we are constantly pulled forward and down, which strains our backs, necks and shoulders. From which part of your body do you hold the weight of your arms? Most of us pull them over the front of our bodies so we literally carry their weight all day long. If you look at a skeleton you can see that the entire mechanism of the arms and shoulders should be hung from the back of the body. There is natural support there to keep you up with no need to tense your neck and shoulders to hold onto your arms. The hacks we have developed to avoid work (computers, tools, phones etc) have contributed to a distortion of our muscular system and therefore natural movement. By using the wrong muscle groups at the front of our body we are disconnected from our natural power. What if you can reconnect to what is optimal, to remove all the tension in your arms, chest and lower back which is trying to hold you up for no reason? You might not be such a knuckledragger then.
The forms and standing practice of wing chun are a window into a different way of movement. But you really need someone experienced in teaching this method otherwise it is just another hack which will have further unintended consequences. You simply cannot do an effortless bong sau if you are expending considerable energy holding up your arm before you have even made contact with someone else. Even when they do a tan sau most people cannot unclasp their fingers enough to open their hand; that tension is going right up the arm into the neck. You really need to go back to basics first. The work we do at Sung is about how to reconnect back to optimal movement. Chi sau is our method to test this; if it creates power with little effort we know it is working.
Good Wing Chun is not about arm movement, that is the tip of the iceberg. The power is much further back, connected to the whole frame of the body and directed by the subconcious brain. No need for complicated techniques or talk of chi. Just reconnecting to your birthright is difficult enough.
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