Complement Your Wing Chun Training

Today we talk about complementing your current Wing Chun training!

When I first started Wing Chun, I had trouble with two things:

1) Understanding how to control my movements
2) How to exert my power

From my experience, learning Wing Chun was the first time I had to use my body to do multiple things at once. I had to Block, Strike, and Shift. It sounds simple to say and even simple to do now but it was a struggle and it hurt my brain trying to figure it all out.

I realized I was trying to do each movement chronologically like Tan Sau, Punch, Shift. I figured out how to batch my movements together instead and I did this by taking a step back to look at the common movements between them all.

What I noticed was the direction I was moving. So I knew that if I was doing a left hand Tan Sau, I would probably be Shifting towards my left. I connected those together and all I had to do now is Punch. So now I knew that whichever way I was Shifting, I was blocking with the arm of that direction and knew that my free arm was for Striking.

After this discovery, I started practicing all my other techniques that required multiple movements the same way by batching the actions together. I would practice the movements on my own at home and just repeating them over and over again until it became muscle memory.

Now, for exerting power, this is something I’m still working on it. When I say power, I don’t mean just the strength of my strikes but also the force when I step in and my stability when rooting.

I used to step in and end up collapsing into my opponent where they don’t budge and when they return the strike and step in to me, I get knocked off balance, whether I Shifted or not.

The best thing that has helped me so far has been strength training. I follow the Stronglifts 5×5 program, you can Google it for more information, and what I think helped me the most are Squats and Deadlifts. Both of these exercises are heavy lifts but they work out my entire body and most importantly, my core.

I believe my core is what helps me generate my power to stay grounded and also add strength behind my strikes. I’m sure that there are other ways to go about it but this is the way that has worked for me.

These were the two things I learned to overcome and I continue to work on them.

That being said, I can’t assume that we learn the same way. For some people, everything may come naturally, and for others, we have to work for it. I’ve shared what has helped me, so tell me about your experience!

Question: Is there anything you do to complement your Wing Chun training? If so, what is it? Let me know in the comments!

Remember Any Wing Chun Technique

Today we talk about remembering any Wing Chun technique we learned.

This past class, we were reviewing old techniques and I had a bit of trouble remembering them.

Some of the movement seemed familiar but I haven’t really practiced these specific techniques in a while.

So I decided to step away for a moment to grab my phone. Then I typed in the technique name in my Notes app on my iPhone. There it was, I found my detailed notes I took from over a year ago.

It was all there in detail because there were 9 techniques that we were reviewing in class that day.

It was amazing that my notes held up even after a year.

One thing that helped was making notes of any short hand I used. For example I use the acronym RH for Rolling Hand and ReH for Resting Hand. ORH for Opponent’s Rolling Hand and OReH for Opponent’s Resting Hand. This is especially important for hand placements and what I’m doing with my arms.

Another thing was that I wrote them in detail so once I read my notes, things just started coming back to me because I used words I’m familiar with.

Lastly, using keywords in my notes helped because if I forgot a techniques name, I could still search for it based on keywords that are relevant to it.

The point is, I was really happy to quickly reference the notes I took about the techniques I learned over a year ago. I’m currently using the Apple Notes app that comes with the iPhone because I can easily type between the phone and my computer. Another good alternative is Evernote.

The reason I prefer writing my Wing Chun notes in an app instead of a notebook is because it makes it much easier for me to look things up.

Question: What’s your preferred method for remembering your Wing Chun techniques? Let me know in the comments.

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!

Follow me on Instagram!