Most wing chun schools in the UK will spend a large proportion of time drilling movements as part of their syllabus. Endless drilling of laap sau or pak sau... This does train muscle memory, but the skill is only usable in real life when an opponent uses similar techniques which you have trained. An unpredicted movement might be fatal. Our wing chun is not concerned with muscle memory, we focus on awareness of our minds, bodies, muscles, bones etc so we can maintain a state of relaxation whatever the situation requires.
Wing chun was traditionally a rich man's art. It was passed on by a teacher to a lone student or a small group, who would have enough money to fund the Sifu's lifestyle. When wing chun emerged from China in about 1950, Yip Man had become poor and was forced to teach and adapt his style to teaching a large group. His method evolved as the art moved West and led to the drilled movements we see today. Put simply the only way to teach a large group is the show them a few techniques and let them get on with it as is done with most Karate schools etc.
We want to take the training method back closer to its origins, hence why we have 3 instructors to give more hands on tactile teaching. This allows us to explain, demonstrate and set up students in a one to one situation so they can experience something that cannot really be put into words.
The methods we have developed to gain awareness and practice in class are there to:
1. Help you understands the movements from the forms.
2. Give you a feeling as to how little effort is needed to produce significant power.
3. Increase awareness of the tension in your body and how it impedes power.
4. Help you understand that it is not necessarily the shape of your hand it is the state of your body structure that dictates the success of a technique.
5. Experience how tension/relaxation affects your partner.
6. Remove the competition element which comes in during chi sau.
With these tools we hope you can use them to refine your Sil Lim Tao practice at home and to introduce them into your chi sau in class. There is a place for drilled movements in all martial arts, but the goal must be to be able to defend and strike from any position, and we believe our method sets out a systematic approach to developing that ability.
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