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!

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!

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?

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Hit When Training

Today we talk about getting hit during training.

When I was a beginner, during Chi Sao, any time I got hit, I would freeze and stop.

I also thought getting hit meant I sucked because if I was getting better, I wouldn’t get hit. I’m supposed to be untouchable. At least that’s what I thought.

Over time I realized that It happens to everyone including other students who are more senior than me. Now, I don’t think getting hit is a bad thing.

Here are 3 things you can focus on when getting hit:

1) Why did I get hit?
– It was probably because I had an opening or gap somewhere.
– I need to figure out where it is and what what was supposed to be there.

2) Am I overreacting?
– When I try to block the strike, am I using both my arms efficiently or am I committing both arms to defend against one strike?
– I need calm down and remember that I have two arms.

3) Should I stop?
– Do I need to block this anymore or is it too late? If it already happened and I was hit, I can’t change that but I can move forward and work on changing the momentum.
– Changing my mentality from ‘getting hit means stop’, to ‘getting hit means keep going until I can no longer land a clean strike’.

When you get hit during training, don’t take it personally. Everyone is there to learn. Understand that getting hit is part of the training and part of the learning process.

Question
What goes through your mind when you get hit during training?

The 3 Elbows of Wing Chun

Today we talk about the 3 types of elbow strikes in Wing Chun.

You can see all 3 elbow strikes used in the Biu Tze form.

They may look subtly the same but each elbow does something different.

Keep in mind that elbows should only be used close range and not from a far because elbows have shorter reach than a punch so you lose half the distance.

The 3 elbow strikes in Wing Chun

1. Pinning Elbow – It is used to pin my opponent. It’s done by bringing my elbow up, around and over my opponent, then onto their chest. It’s essentially an elbow strike to the chest. The key thing is to neutralize my opponent’s two arms and strike.

2. Striking Elbow – This starts off similar like the Pinning Elbow but instead of just going around the opponent, my elbow goes straight for the strike. This should be done while inside my opponent’s space.

3. Blocking Elbow – Is done from the outside for blocking strikes or striking behind my opponent’s head in an intimate range.

These are the 3 elbow strikes. I plan to talk about how they’re used in Biu Tze form. So stay tuned for the next episode!

How often do you use elbows in Wing Chun? Let me know in the comments!

Drilling Forward and Rooting

Today I share a drill with you that helped me focus on rooting myself and driving my energy forward!

This drill requires a partner! So grab your training partner if you want to try it out.

Now decide who will be defending and who will be attacking.

The person defending will need to create a box on the ground. That box is where they need to stay in. The goal of the defender is to hold their ground and stay in the box. If they move outside the box, they lose! Here are a few exceptions:
– You can step forward but only to strike
– You can only take, at most, one step back or else you lose

The goal of the person attacking is to move the defender out of their box. This can include grabbing, pushing, baiting, or any other method that can lure or move the defender out.

One tip for this game is to avoid pushing because it ends up turning into a battle of who’s stronger. The goal of the game is to work on both persons’ techniques!

This is a very fun drill so give it a try and let me know how it goes!

This is How I Lop Sau

Today we talk about how I grab with my Lop Sau so if you’re doing it differently, I hope I can introduce a new idea you can try out!

I’ve been told the best point to grab is at someone’s wrist level but going into Lop Sau doesn’t always guarantee that. The wrist is a harder target to grab but I can grab higher and slide my hand down to my opponent’s wrist.

I’ve been taught to grab with my thumb closed but I never use full strength when I grab. The reason why is that it makes it very vulnerable for me to get locked and a simple Tan Sau from my opponent can essentially control my arm that I grabbed them with. So when I grab, I always only use enough to contain the opponent and this allows me to quickly let go if my opponent does try to lock me.

So this is how I go about grabbing when I Lop Sau. How about you?

Let’s Talk About The Different Types of Lop Sau

Today we talk about all the various types of Lop Sau, the pulling hand!

Lap Sau is one of my favorite techniques because it’s one of the best ways I can disrupt an opponent.

I know 3 variations of Lop Sau.

1) Inside-Out Lop Sau – This was the first Lop Sau I learned. I start from the inside of an opponent’s space and then drive my arms outside to Lop them towards the same side my arm pulled them with but away from my body. For example, if I grab with my left arm, I pull them towards my left hip and away from me.

2) Inside Lop Sau – This version is more stealthy and pulls the opponent’s opposite arm I use to Lop. For example, my right pulls my opponent’s left when they’re both on the same side.

3) Elbow Pinning Lop Sau – This one is a mix between an elbow and a grab. It’s done by grabbing the same side arm I’m using then bringing my elbow over to pin my opponent’s chest while pulling my opponent towards me but away from my body. For example, my right grabs my opponent’s right, then I simultaneously bring my elbow up and over to pin my opponent as I am pulling my opponent towards me and away from my body.

These are the 3 versions of Lop Sau I know. How many do you know and which is your favorite? And lastly, if you can name these better, please leave all your suggestions in the comments! Cheers!

Practice With or Without a Wing Chun Dummy

Today we talk about using the Wing Chun dummy for practice!

A Wing Chun dummy is great to have…but it’s not necessary for Wing Chun training. Since I do have one, I use it to practice.

Most of my practice that I do on the dummy is theoretical, meaning I have an idea of how I want to strike or block an opponent but since I’m only practicing on a dummy, I am only preparing myself to practice on a real person the next time I go to class or meet up with my Wing Chun friends.

The great thing about this type of preparation is that everything I want to theorize on the dummy can also be done without one by doing it in the air on my own. Practicing solo using my imagination is just as good as practicing on a Wing Chun dummy. It also doesn’t require much space, I just need enough space to move backwards, forwards, and side to side and have enough space for my arms to be full extended sideways.

How do you practice on a Wing Chun dummy or in the air? Let me know!