Doing Our Wing Chun Form with Intent

Today we talk about focusing on our intent while we do our Wing Chun form!

What do I mean by intent? I’m referring to the things that goes through my mind when I’m doing the Wing Chun forms.

At the beginning, I focused on the movement.

Now, I focus on the intent and thinking about the application as I go through the form.

Let’s use an example. We’re going to use Fook Sau because we’re going to give Fook Sau some love this episode.

When I do Fook Sau during Sil Lim Tao, I…

– …focus on keeping my elbows in, towards my center, because the Fook Sau occupies the same space that a straight punch needs to strike through.

– …keep my fingers relaxed but still together because I don’t want to end up flexing my arms and creating more tension.

– …let my wrist rest because if I’m in contact with my opponent, I can rely on sensitivity.

Now going through the entire form, my mind is thinking about something different for each movement because each movement has a different purpose. I should no longer zone out and go through the motion. I mean I can but I rather be in the moment and focus on each part of the form.

Question: When you do your form, what goes through your mind? Let me know in the comments!

Modifying Our Wing Chun Forms

Today we talk about modifying our Wing Chun forms!

My Sifu says that the Wing Chun forms were created after the techniques were established as a way to memorize the techniques.

This year I’ve been working on adapting my Wing Chun to me.

Since I want to adapt Wing Chun to my personal capabilities, I’ve decided to modified some of my forms. These aren’t big modifications, just small things. Right now, it’s currently just adding forward steps, to close the distance, with each striking movement. I’m planning to share my modified forms so you can compare it to the traditional forms I learned.

But for the moment, the reason for this modification is based on several things.

I believe staying on our toes instead of being static is super beneficial and I learned this when I was doing Chi Sao in Central Park every weekend this past summer. It opened my eyes to how important footwork is. I don’t mean just Shifting but moving in, moving out, and retreating at different angles. For me, the best way I could think of to emphasize these things was by incorporating them into my current forms. By adding more footwork and stepping in to my forms, I also add it to my muscle memory.

I won’t be making big modifications to my forms because the movements I add need to make sense. But I’m keeping an open mind and I am thinking about the little details that I haven’t noticed before that you guys have. I also believe this wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t share my form, so I’m glad I did. Thank you for your feedback.

Keep in mind that these modifications are only for myself. I’m only starting with one little idea at a time. They focus on things that I need to work on. If you’re thinking about modifying your form, ask yourself, what do you want to improve in your Wing Chun?

Leave your answer in the comments below!

Foundation First, Strike Later

Today we talk about establishing our foundation before going into action.

I’ve been trying to drill this over and over in my head.

Establish my foundation, or my footing, first before striking.

Here are 3 reasons why it’s important to me:

1) It’s easy to get caught up using my arms first because it’s my instinct to clear what’s in front of me. I think that’s one of the disadvantages of such a close range martial arts because my brain is constantly screaming at me to step back and get away from all these close range strikes my opponent throws at me. So to counter my instincts, I would occasionally, sometimes, strike impulsively. And when I do, I lead with my arms and I end up putting my weight on the front of my leg which makes me lean my head in. This is bad because it makes me much more vulnerable to being hit in the head.

2) To follow up on leading with my arms first, if my legs aren’t rooted, I can’t put my entire body behind my strikes. So then the power of my strike is limited to the strength of my arms. But if my legs are ready and in position, it lets me generate more power.

3) Like striking, having a good foundation improves my defense as well. If i’m just using my arms to defend, chances are I’m relying on my muscles. So that Bong Sau I’m doing, is taxing my shoulder. That’s not a good thing. I want to make sure both my feet are planted so I can Shift with my Bong Sau.

Anyway, this is what I’m currently focusing on. This is my current mantra and it’s only 4 syllables: Feet First, Hands Second.

Question: What are you currently focused on in your Wing Chun training? Let me know in the comments.

How Long Does it Take to Master a Wing Chun Technique?

Today, we’re gonna talk about how long it takes to master a Wing Chun technique.

I think it was Malcolm Gladwell that said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill.

Now if we break it down to our techniques in Wing Chun, we have a lot of them, but let’s just focus on Tan Sau.

It takes me about 1 second to do Tan Sau. If I were to follow this maxim of 10,000 hours of practice, let’s break down how many times I need to do Tan Sau before I can master it.

There are 3600 seconds in an hour. Since we need to do it for 10,000 hours, that’s essentially 3600 x 10000 = 36,000,000. This means I need to do Tan Sau 36,000,000 times before I can master it. That’s only with one arm too!

The reason I bring this up is, even though it’s a large number, it’s definitely attainable. Actually, you can do Tan Sau non stop, without rest, and you can probably reach that number in a little over a year.

But the point is, I don’t think mastery should be the end goal. I can’t speak for you but for me, my goal is to continue learning, and never stopping, so I can keep expanding my Wing Chun.

Question: What is your ultimate goal in Wing Chun? Let me know in the comments.

Adapt Wing Chun to Your Height

Today we talk about how our height affects our Wing Chun.

Closing the distance is important in Wing Chun because that’s where we’re most comfortable and able to be effective. However, the amount of distance required to be closed varies from person to person because of our height and reach.

I realized this when my Sifu demonstrated a technique that involved stepping in. When I tried to do it, my version didn’t have the same impact that my Sifu’s did. I followed his movement, move for move, including how and where he stepped. That’s when I noticed that our stepping, even though our foot placement was the same, was different because he is taller than me. He can place his foot in front of the opponent’s feet to complete the move. But for me, I need to place my foot past and between my opponent’s feet to complete the move with the same effect as my Sifu’s.

As a shorter person, I have to really close the distance.

This means a lot more than just stepping in, it means stepping innNn to not only be able to reach my opponent with my strikes but also be able to generate power using the distance I have.

I also have to work harder to make sure my technique is solid because I have to fully commit when stepping in because I’m entering my opponent’s space. If my technique is bad, and my defense fails, I’m essentially going in to my opponent’s space unprepared and ready to fail. Does that make sense?

So, if you have trouble understanding why some of your strikes or techniques aren’t as effective, it may be solved by finding the perfect range between you and your opponent. Think about your distance the next time you’re training with your partner.

Question: Are you tall or short? And do you notice the range difference between your’s and your opponent’s? Let me know in the comments.

Practice With Full Power Against Your Opponent

Today we’re going to go over safe practices with your training partner.

Practicing safely is important, especially in a class environment. When it comes to contact drills, where we attack our opponents, it’s important to remember that the goal is to practice what we learn and to NOT intentionally hurt our training partner.

Accidents do happen so I want to share 3 things that I’ve learned in class to practice striking my opponent safely.

1) Attack the Shoulders (or anywhere below the neck) – The reason for this is because even a full blow to the shoulder doesn’t cause as much damage as it would to the face or the throat. The shoulders are also lined up to the height of the face so it helps with practicing how high to strike.

2) Strike Past Your Opponent – This follows up on attacking the shoulders. If my striking arm can shoot past my opponent’s shoulders, it indicates a face shot because that means I was able to get inside my opponent’s space. If my opponent disagrees, I put my hand behind their neck to clinch them in to let them know that I, indeed, have control.

3) Use Open Hand StrikesOpen hand strikes are great because it doesn’t bruise my opponent that easy and it’s also easier to recover from, in my opinion.

These are my 3 ways to strike safely.

As we get used to striking safely and controlling our strikes, we should work towards striking our opponent’s center because a full palm to the chest is equivalent to any strike to our opponent’s face.

Ultimately, the goal is to practice safe striking so that you don’t end up hurting your opponent by accident.

Question: What are some ways you go about practicing safely when you’re training with a partner? Let me know in the comments!

Strength vs Technique. Which matters more?

Today I want to discuss about strength and having good technique. I want to share my thoughts on it and I would like to know yours.

Everyone has the potential to get physically stronger, which makes gaining strength a possibility.

Everyone has the potential to acquire and refine their techniques, which makes honing techniques a possibility.

The difficulty is in understanding the limitations of the two.

I believe that I can become physically stronger than I was a year ago but there is always going to be someone who will be stronger than me.

The same can be said about refining my techniques. If my technique becomes flawless but I don’t learn to apply strength behind them, they may not be effective when I need to use them.

The idea now is to understand how to balance using strength and techniques together without relying on just one of the two.

I think balance comes from investing time into strength training and practicing the techniques with the same focus of strength training by applying strength where it counts.

This can also be said about strength training and that it should be done with the same precision as practicing techniques by using good form to complete each exercise.

Does this make sense to you? Let me know in the comments.

Question: Which is more important to you? Strength or having good technique? Or, do you agree with me and believe both are equally important? Let me know in the comments!

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Using Uppercuts in Wing Chun

Today we talk about uppercuts in Wing Chun!

I’ve been playing around with the uppercut motion in Chi Sao. It resembles a scooping motion.

Most of the strikes I’ve learned in Wing Chun are straight or come from an angle. What’s strange is why there aren’t many uses of upper cuts. If you know why, please let me know in the comments!

For me, the only uppercut I can recall in Wing Chun is in the Biu Tze form.

Wing Chun is for close range and I feel uppercuts can benefit so much in such a close range.

So, I thought of 3 ways I can use the uppercut in Wing Chun.

Please keep in mind that these are just ideas I’m playing with.

1) Below Strike – It is used directly as a strike where it’s below eye level. The strike can attack along my opponent’s centerline, from the stomach to the sternum to the chest to the throat or to the chin.

2) Close & Low Opener – It is not a strike but as an opener to get in my opponent’s space.

3) Open for Business – It is to use the Close & Low Opener then attack with a straight strike. This is more when I’m pinned in and I need to find a way into my opponent’s space to counter attack.

What do you guys think of these ideas? Let me know in the comments!

As always with any new ideas, please try them out to see if they work. If it doesn’t, try to figure out why. Let me know how it works for you.

Question: Do you use the uppercut motion in your Wing Chun?

Look at My Eyes When I Chi Sao With You

Eye contact is hard.

Try making eye contact with strangers on the streets. My initial reaction is to look away.

It’s hard to maintain eye contact because it’s usually for people I’m close with: friends, family, colleagues.

In Wing Chun class though, it’s even more difficult because during drills or Chi Sao, my opponent is literally a feet away. It feels uncomfortable to maintain eye contact at such a close range. So instead, I would stare at my opponent’s hands. I would also stare everywhere else except my opponent’s face and eye area. And I wasn’t the only one, other people in my class would look to the side of me or past me (because they were taller than me).

I think it’s important to work past this because I believe we can see a person’s intent through their eyes. Also by focusing on the face area of my opponent, I have the peripheral view of their body so when they’re about to do something, I can see it coming.

Let me explain. I think that the farther the movement is from the brain, the easier it is to spot it, if you’re looking.

For instance, let’s use a straight punch. If you look at my punch, you can see the movement from my neck first because I start tensing, then my shoulder raises, my biceps flexes, my elbow extends, then finally my fist.

The hands are the last thing that moves when a strike comes.

If I’m spending my time just staring at my opponent’s hands, I am already too late and my opponent has already thrown the punch. All I can do is avoid it by blocking, shifting, or deflecting. I think that’s where the term “chasing hands” comes from.

Let me know if you think eye contact is important for you.

Question: What do you pay attention to when you’re doing Chi Sao?