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!

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.

Additional Notes

  • Striking/punching power should come from the leg on the same side
  • Punch and apply power at the last moment right at impact
  • 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?

    Name That Wing Chun Move!

    Today we talk about the names of our Wing Chun techniques.

    I’ve come to understand that techniques can have multiple names but ultimately, the technique is that technique in it’s form.

    I think the reason for different names are because of all the different lineages with different spellings. For non native and even native Cantonese speakers, like myself, the sounds and spelling can get lost. The way I write Wing Chun techniques in English is based on how I hear the words and I spell it the way I think it sounds.

    I don’t think the spelling is important. I also don’t think having to name a technique correctly is important either. There are often times where I forget a name of a technique BUT I know how to do it. So let’s say one day I forget what a Bong Sau is called, I may just end up calling it “The Obtuse Angle” or “The Left Chicken Wing”.

    All that matters is you and how you know it. Focus on what’s important, the technique.

    Question: What are some common “misspellings” that you see that are different from the way you’ve learned it?

    Continuous Striking in Wing Chun

    Today we talk about continuous striking in Wing Chun.

    Starting out as a beginner, I would focus on landing that one strike on my opponent then resetting. Over time, my Sifu told my class to do more than one. The reason is to adapt to the circumstance.

    For example, I do one strike and my opponent counters. I should have a second strike ready to follow up my first strike to disrupt my opponent’s counter strike.

    By training for continuous strikes, it teaches us to be aware of our options after our initial strike.

    If you have trouble getting to the next strike, here are 3 ways that can help you focus on your follow up strike.

    1. Can you change your current defending hand into an attack?

    2. Can you strike again with the same striking hand?

    3. Can you switch your attack from high to low (low to high)?

    When you can change your mentality to think about landing multiple strikes on an opponent, this lets you be steps ahead of them. It may take some practice to get used to this idea but I think it’s worth it.

    How many clean successful strikes can you land on your opponent?

    The ABCs of Wing Chun

    Today we talk about the ABCs of Wing Chun, “Always Be Counterstriking”!

    Here are 3 reasons why you need to counterstrike:

    1) You’re getting hit, you need to stop getting hit. Counterstrike to change your opponent’s mentality from being aggressive to being more defensive.

    2) If you don’t strike back it lets your opponent know they can keep attacking you. Take control of the momentum so that it’s in your favor, not their’s.

    3) Wing Chun’s defense is also the offense.

    Keep that in mind that next time you’re training with a partner. Let me know how it goes in the comments!

    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.

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

    Mentality of a Junior and Senior Student

    The thought process between junior and senior students are very different. When matched for training, a junior may use this chance to test their ability against their seniors. Meanwhile, a senior may not find practicing with juniors worthwhile because they’re not under pressure or learning something new.

    I talk about my experiences as a junior and senior student in Wing Chun and the thoughts that goes through my mind when practicing with different levels of students in my class.

    At your current level, do you find value in training with people more junior than you? More senior? Let me know in the comments!

    Drop Your Defenses and Take the Hit

    What?? Why would you do that?

    Of course, I only mean in a controlled environment such as in class or with a training partner.

    The reason for this type of training is to get into the habit of feeling a successful strike. As we’re training, we tend to lose sight of the objective for striking especially in Chi Sao when we go on the offensive and get into a routine of trying to land hits on our opponents without any real purpose other than trying to hit them.

    When I started Wing Chun, I was taught to defend my centerline with Tan Sau, Bong Sau, or any technique I was taught to best defend myself in the situation. Defense is definitely important in Wing Chun but that’s only half of it.

    Just as we’re drilled to defend, we should drill to know when we land a successful strike on an opponent. I believe it’s important, especially for people who are just starting Wing Chun, to train attacks and feel what a successful attack feels like so that we can develop good habits.

    How can we train successful striking?

    When you’re training with a partner, divide your drills so that one is striking and the other is taking the hits. Of course, don’t intentionally hurt your partner. If you’re striking, use light strikes to the chest or shoulders. Take turns switching roles with your training partner. After finishing your drills, resume normal training. Think of this striking drill as warming up and bettering your habits.

    Try it out the next time you’re training and let me know how it goes!