For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a huge admiration for Bruce Lee. And, like most of you reading this, Bruce Lee (either directly or indirectly) influenced your decision to take up the martial arts.
My interest (some might call it an obsession) to learn and understand the history, teachers and science behind the the numerous and varied martial disciplines helped to create the teacher/sifu I am today (and why I, with the help of my colleagues, put together The Combative Corner). Now on Twitter: [click]
The Fighter without Wing Chun
I have not formally trained with a Sifu, but have been very fortunate to train and be taught by teachers (not all however) that understood the importance of stance, positioning, attack-as-defense, trapping, and (perhaps the most important concept) the protection of the centerline. Before I go into this article, I want to make one thing absolutely clear:
- I have no personal devotion to Wing Chun and I am not trying to “sell” you on any particular system of martial art. I am, however, very interested in opening people’s mind and ideas to a system that, in my opinion, has tremendous merit.
I’ve walked into many classes and dojos over the years, and what I’ve observed is almost laughable. Beginner’s classes aside, the emphasis in most classes I’ve seen involve either the tireless (and tiresome) movements of solo form, or the partner drills of pad work and “compliant” application of technique. While it’s certainly easier for owners/instructors to fill a class’ time-frame with endless drills, room should be made to incorporate the “deeper” aspects of the artform. How do we learn to deal with pressure? How are we able to evolve as a martial artist if our training falls around kick paddles and re-breakable boards?
It has been my experience that the martial artists whom excel to greater heights in the arena of self-protection are those that either have or have had training in Wing Chun (sometimes seen spelled, Ving Tsun). This is because the proper Wing Chun Sifu will teach the student to overcome force with positioning & body rotation, rather than meeting it head-on.
Many classes will employ a training exercise known as “Chi Sau” (or Chi Sao) that teaches the student to develop a responsive reflex, along with proper position/angle/body mechanics, how to take advantage of short/medium/long distance, correct use of speed/strength/energy between you and your opponent and helps to develop a higher level of sensitivity. It is the last concept that, through the course of one’s personal martial trek, is oft-times the most neglected. Science has proven that the hand is quicker than the eye. The martial artist must therefore, learn, through diligent practice, to reach a point where the body, not the eyes, sees.
There are many systems of martial arts to study, and it is a joy to see so many people experimenting and searching for the one (or several) that appeals to them. The serious martial artist, the one concerned with their effectiveness in a life-or-death situation should examine and re-examine those methods (whatever they may be) that will produce results. The fighter with Wing Chun (in my opinion), the foundation of Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, is one easily feared. Test yourself against one of their skilled practitioners and you will see why.
-Coach Michael Joyce, ChenCenter