Archive for May, 2010

Everybody Wing Chun Tonight

Posted in Kungfu, Martial Arts, Styles with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2010 by Combative Corner

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

Roundtable Discussion 001: Knowledge

Posted in Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2010 by Combative Corner

In regards to the martial arts –

“What do you know NOW that you wish you knew THEN?”

VAUGHN :  This question had me scratching my head for a couple of hours but I finally came up with an answer. It’s not so much what I wish I knew, but what I wish I had and that’s confidence. I wish I had the confidence in my martial arts abilities. That is the one thing that has grown by leaps and bounds since I was younger. No matter how well I did in class or how often my instructor told me how much I was improving I always had that little seed of doubt in the back of my head. I couldn’t help wondering, “Will this stuff really work?” “What if the bully tries to hit me, could I really defend myself?” I was even hesitant to compete in tournaments when I was younger because I was afraid that I wouldn’t do well. Now after years of participating in what I’m sure have been hundreds of classes, test, sparring matches, and self defense drills I now have a good idea of how I will react in a real confrontation. Like my current instructor says I’ve finally developed that switch that I can turn on when I need to. I’m not saying that I can easily dispatch an army of crazed ninja without a scratch, but I’m pretty sure that I can hold my own.”

KUO :  “Every technique works, and every technique doesn’t work.” One of my buddies and I had this discussion one day when we were reminiscing on our training journeys and discussing the martial arts flame wars we see arise in discussions. We came to the conclusion that there is no such thing as an ultimate move or unbeatable technique. Sometimes person A can use a technique on person B, but fails to use it on person C. Yet, person B can’t do the technique on person A, but has no trouble using it on person C. If the movement were the only factor, then the the technique should work universally.

There are several factors determining whether a technique will actually work: the physical ability to execute the movements, understanding of the interplay of forces, timing, distance, and most importantly, the ability to recognize the conditions (in real-time) that allow the technique to work. The success of the technique depends on conditions and understanding.”

DAVIS :  “I began Brazilian (Gracie) Jiu-Jitsu without much prior knowledge of the style and therefore without my previous Hapkido based goals in mind. I was hooked; Jiu-Jitsu just spoke to me, as they say. Its training required me to be an athlete, a scientist, and an inventor all at the same time. I realized, then, that there are innumerable styles of martial arts and any one of them with proper instruction and dedication will lead the practitioner to be an effective fighter. This left the only variable in the martial arts to be me and my only criteria for choosing a style to be how much I enjoyed the training. In my mind I still wanted to be that same style of fighter I was working towards in Hapkido but with Jiu-Jitsu I saw that I could be just as effective a fighter while enjoying my training more than previously. This newfound attitude positively expressed itself not only in my demeanor while training but also in the rate of my learning because I simply wanted to train more. I found myself going to class four or five days a week in Jiu-Jitsu rather than the two classes a week schedule I previously maintained in Hapkido. Today I consider myself in love with Jiu-Jitsu and, as is the true nature of love, it is something I must work at relentlessly to maintain but do not feel overly burdened by my efforts. This love, based purely on the fun and enjoyment of training, is that which I wish I had known of when I first began the martial arts. Now that all the emotional stuff has been said; drop the ego, the preconceived ideas, and the expectations; find the style that fits you, not that you want to fit you; and go have some fun.”

JOYCE :  “Like many of us, ‘What I knew then’ wasn’t very much.  All I knew was that I was in love with the combative sciences – from shaolin monks breaking walnuts on a student’s head, watching a boxer find the reserves to stagger back to his feet, dig in deep and come up with the victory, to the old shadow boxer performing ‘step back & repulse monkey.’  Therapists sometimes talk of a stifling love – of loving something so intensely that it’s unhealthy, harmful, or deadly.  When I came into the martial arts, I wanted to ‘climb the ladder’ and succeed beyond my instructor’s belief.  The problem came when I’d be standing knee-deep in a waterfall doing one-inch punches against the granite, or purposely falling onto my upper back only to try my hardest to spring back like a ninja.  I had an unbelievable amount of get-up-and-go attitude, but was too ambitious for my own good.  Once I went to college, got my degree in sport science, later became a licensed massage therapists, read stacks of books on proper exercise training, (not-to-mention gotten older & wiser) did I understand where I went wrong and why my body continued to hurt more year-after-year.  Nowadays, I listen closely to professionals and I am in no rush to out-perform anyone.  My happiness comes from my personal expression of what I’ve learned and as a coach, the thought of my students learning to joyfully express themselves.”

Nothing.  Growth in knowledge and wisdom is possible from not knowing.  The beauty of life is in not knowing.



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The Combative Corner Crew

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