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!
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 Strikes – Open 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.
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!
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!
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!
Elbow Strike Your Opponent
Today we talk about using elbow strikes effectively in Wing Chun!
An elbow strike can devastate your opponent but it does have a few weaknesses:
– You need to be extremely close ranged to land an elbow
– Your centerline is no longer facing your opponent
That being said, I never lead an attack with my elbows. I think the best way to use an elbow strike is when you follow it up from another strike. For example, I use Lop Sau to pull my opponent towards me, while disrupting their centerline, then I drive my elbow into them as I am pulling. I show two examples in this episode, let me know if they make sense.
Question for you: How do you train your elbow strikes? Do you need to learn Biu Tze first? Let me know in the comments!
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!
Wing Chun Moves – Taking a Step Forward
In boxing, a straight punch can cause a knockout especially if you’re Manny Pacquiao. The reason is because Manny is so fast with his attacks and the fact that when he throws a punch, two or three more follows. His style of punching resembles the chain punches in Wing Chun because the punches doesn’t stop.
Let’s go back to Wing Chun. Imagine getting chain punched and stepping backwards. What happens? You keep getting punched! By backing up from the oncoming attacks, it gives the attacker more room and space to continue their chain punching. But by simply taking a step forward into the chain punches can increase the chances of finding an opening in the attacker because they now have a limited amount of space to move in.
The movement of stepping forward is a very important concept in Wing Chun because by stepping forward into an opponent’s space, you close the distance. The problem with this concept is that many people, including me, naturally back up when being attacked to avoid being hit. Using the example of chain punching, this can be a problem, so by stepping into the opponent, it will change the momentum and rhythm of their attack. There’s still a possibility of receiving a few punches before successfully countering but that’s normal, everybody gets hit.
My friend Dave, who has a lot of experience competing and training in Muay Thai (Kickboxing), also mentions how moving forward works well in the ring since the opponent backs up creating space to be attacked. It’s funny because Dave says the reason he moves forward is because the gym he trains in is small so there’s no room to back up.
I found a Youtube clip of Manny Pacquiao. Watch closely, you’ll notice he usually steps in with his barrage of punches even when his opponent throws jabs to try to keep him out. He keeps pressure on them without backing off and then unloads his punches.
Top 10 Manny Pacquiao Knockouts
In theory, it seems very simple but psychologically it takes a lot of mental training. No one wants to get hit but acknowledging the fact that getting hit is part of learning can make it easier to accept. This doesn’t mean jumping into an opponent’s attack, be smart about it and start to understand when it’s the right time to step in.
Some attacks only do damage when the arm can fully extend, such as a punch or a chop to the throat, but by cutting the distance, they lose the power of a full strike because their distance is cut in half, so to create space…they actually need to step back to strike which gives you an opening to attack.
I haven’t always been active on my feet during Wing Chun class. For the first few years, I stayed mostly stationary and occasionally shifted or stepped back during drills or Chi Sao. Only in the past two years I started moving more on my feet by stepping in.
Today we talk about an intermediate technique: stepping in.
One of the main weaknesses of my step is that I would put a lot of emphasis on my forward stepping leg. All my weight would go there which made me lunge forward. It’s been a very hard habit to correct…until this past weekend during class when I noticed my Sifu stepping differently than I did. I stepped with the balls of the foot (the front part of the foot) but my Sifu stepped with the heels of the foot (back part of the foot). This changed how I approached stepping because once I tried it, it felt completely different from what I was originally doing.
This was an eye opener for me. One change in placement changed my entire movement and technique. One little change! I go into more details in this week’s episode but has this ever happen to you before? Where one little change improved your technique drastically? Tell me about it in the comments!
Keeping the Distance & Push/Pull Technique
Today I share some class notes about keeping the distance and the push/pull technique!
Keeping the distance is a fundamental of movement in Wing Chun. When an opponent steps into you, you keep the distance by taking the same distance stepping back. The idea is if the distance between you and you opponent remain the same, neither person will be able to strike the other. According to my Sifu, he says that Grandmaster Ip Chun is a master at keeping the distance and when he does close the distance, it’s to attack.
This leads to the next topic, pushing and pulling. If your opponent commits to their strike to attack and charges forward, you can take advantage of their momentum by controlling where they go with a pull. The same is applied when they try to pull you. Instead of resisting, use the energy they’re using for pulling and step into them knocking them with their own energy.
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.
Close the Distance
Today we talk about closing the distance, stepping in, and what it means to land a full strike on your opponent.
What’s the difference between a strike that lands with a fully extended arm versus a strike that lands before the arm is full extended?
The immediate difference is in power. If my striking arm is already fully extended, I am at the limit of my range and power. The only way I can think of to correct this is by closing the distance which gives my striking arm more range to strike with more power, making my attack more effective.
The way I practice closing the distance is by stepping in. I go over the drill I do to practice. The basic steps are:
1) Start from Wing Chun stance
2) Step forward with one leg while keeping the weight on the back leg
3) Return to Wing Chun stance
4) Lead with alternate leg then repeat
Once you get used to the movement, you want to practice this with a strike. Now, my Sifu says that our striking hand should be the same side as our back leg when we do this stepping drill.
Let me know if you’re already stepping in, how you go about it, and if you find it effective in the comments below!
Also, I go over my current progress of my 30 Day Practice Wing Chun Challenge at the end of the video. If you’re interested in participating in my challenge, learn more about it here!
Defend & Advance
Today I discuss a little idea about how to defend and advance in Wing Chun!
I commonly move forward to strike and backward to defend. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m stuck in this forward/backward mentality loop. In my mind I feel like I’m making progress but I’m just essentially taking one step forward but two steps back. To change this, I had to change my mentality.
I was introduced to the idea of retreating at an angle. The slightest shift in angle can change everything. If I were defending, I just disrupted my opponent’s momentum and created an opportunity. I can use this opportunity in many ways: I can strike, close the distance, or switch my role with my opponent to become the one on the offense.
A lot of opportunities can come from this little idea. What’s your take on it? Let me know in the comments!
Hold Your Ground
Today we talk about holding your ground and I share a drill you can use with your partner to practice!
In class we went over a drill that was really fun that works your fight or flight response. This was the first time I’ve done this drill in class so it took a while to get used. It was hard to not back up or step to the side but once I got used to it, it became very interesting.
When I was defending and holding my ground, I realized my opponent could only throw the same type of strikes and this made it easier and easier to block and deflect.
When I was on the offensive, I also realized how quickly my attacks were limited to just a few strikes. At such a close distance, without space to step in on, there was not enough momentum to generate any power in my strikes. So even at such a close range, my strikes were essentially useless. This was definitely a very interesting insight.
If you want to practice this drill, grab a partner! There are two roles, one defender and one attacker.
1) Defender: Defend without stepping back but you can shift. Also, don’t try to push your attacker back, keep the distance close.
2) Attacker: Attack and close the distance. Do not step back when there’s no more room to generate power for your strikes.
Switch roles after two minutes.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes in the comments!
Don’t step into your opponent’s fist
This week we talk about stepping in, lunging forward, and closing the distance.
A bad habit of mine is leading with my upper body (usually my head) as I close the distance and step forward. If my opponent throws a strike towards my face, I’m in trouble. Since I’m already in motion, there’s no way for me to stop once I’m committed.
So what’s the best way to deal with this bad habit? Let’s go back to our Wing Chun stance. In my Wing Chun stance I lean back slightly and this is also the proper structure I should maintain while I step into my opponent’s space.
To train this, I have to drill myself to step in and out towards a target while maintaining my structure without leaning in. Once I get that down, I include the arms.
It’s definitely a work in progress for me but I think it’s definitely worth working on.
P.S. Here’s the fight I was referring to in this week’s video:
Side Stepping in Wing Chun
Today we talk about side stepping in Wing Chun and in the Dummy Form.
Yesterday in class I focused on the applications of section 6 of the Wing Chun Dummy Form. I focused on stepping to the side. In my original step, I place all my weight on the front leg and lead with my head first. That’s a bad habit and my Sifu helped me realize that. He demonstrated how he does it by keeping the weight on the back leg and NOT leading with the head leaning in, haha. Since it’s a bad habit of mine, it will take time for me to adjust and correct it. I hope you can learn from my mistake and correct your bad habits early.
These Class Notes episodes will be more for my own review but if you find it useful, please let me know. But if you don’t find it useful, please let me know how it can be better. Feedback is always appreciated and I read everyone of them!
Lastly, did you find this episode helpful for you? Do you have the same bad habit I had? Let me know!
Today we talk about Lop Sau also known as “The Pulling Hand”.
Lop Sau is a fundamental technique in Wing Chun but is only notable in the Wing Chun dummy form, more specifically, section 1 and section 6 of the form. The problem is that Lop Sau isn’t fully expressed in the dummy form because the dummy is stationary and the dummy’s arms aren’t fully mobile for pulling. In the video, I show what a good Lop Sau looks like based on how my school teaches it.
A good Lop Sau consists of pulling the opponent’s arm down to waist level and keeping it away from my body (at least 2-3 fist sizes away). The reason for this is to completely disrupt my opponent’s center and to prevent them from charging and taking me down.
If you’ve already learned Lop Sau, do you do it the same way I do? If not, give it a try the next time you practice and let me know how it goes in the comments!
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?
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.
Note: Always Lop Sau with elbow in and always Tan Sau to block before grabbing.
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!
Keep Your Arms Close and Your Opponents Closer
Today we talk about keeping your arms close and your opponents closer.
A fully extended arm makes it easier to be grabbed and pulled. This was something my Sifu mentioned after he watched the video of me doing Chi Sao with my friend Marc (episode #069). He noticed that my arms were almost fully extended. From my perspective, I thought I was keeping Marc out but from my Sifu’s perspective, I was giving Marc my arm to be grabbed. I should have kept my arms at 135 angle, so that my arms were closer to me, which makes it more difficult for my opponent to grab and pull it.
Also, when I lose contact with my opponent, especially during Chi Sao, I need to quickly reestablish the connection. Even if I keep my guard hands up, I need to close the distance and maintain connection with my opponent. Without the connection, I’m not in range to do anything.
I think Wing Chun is only effective within a certain distance between an opponent. Once I’m out of range, it makes anything I do ineffective.
So as a reminder, keep your arms close and your opponents closer! 🙂
Pak Sau is only about deflecting a strike away from my centerline but I need a follow up or else I lose momentum. I create the momentum for myself by closing the distance and disrupting my opponent’s centerline by stepping in on them and using the Pak Sau to move their body away from me. Now if they want to try to resist, that’s not a problem because if I initiated my step correctly, they’re in a bad position. Now if they choose to step back, then they are adding to my momentum allowing me more options to follow up with.
This may not always be the case when I use Pak Sau but the key principles that I try to always remember is to disrupt my opponent. And for me, stepping in usually does that 🙂
When doing the Pak Sau drill, keep punch arm straight and do not retrieve or bend the arm to strike. Step in and use Pak Sau to clear the center
Pak and/or Block opponent’s forearm (close to where the arm bends), not the wrist
I talk about how I had to add on to my Pak Sau to make it effective for me but how about you? Do you have to change the way you do the technique to make it effective for you? It doesn’t have to be Pak Sau, it could be any other technique. If so, let me know in the comments!
My biggest challenge in re-learning the form is getting back into the horse stance because my body is not used to it. The horse stance is the complete opposite of the traditional Wing Chun stance. The Wing Chun stance is where your toes are pointed inwards, hip sticking forward, and chest sunk in. The horse stance is toes pointing forwards, hip sticking out, and chest out. Opposites, am I right?
On the occasion where I do manage to maintain my horse stance, I can only hold my stance for at most 20 seconds before my legs give out and I have to stand up again.
My only solution I’ve come up so far is to tough it out and work through the pain, 1 second at a time.
This is where you can help. If you’ve experienced this and successfully overcame these challenges, please share your tips with me and everyone else who may be going through this. Any suggestion is appreciated!
Getting Into The 6.5 Long Pole Horse and Cat Stance
Today I show you my current progress in my horse and cat stance training for the 6.5 Long Pole Form.
It is hard but I have been working on my horse and cat stance. I only see a small amount of progress from last week. Since then, I’ve been keeping these three key things in mind when I’m working on my stances. These three things are:
1) Switch between stances when my leg start to burn.
2) Try to stay the same level when switching between my stances.
In this video I maintain my stance for a little under a minute. I am still working on it and doing my best to keep adding a second to my time.
My short term goal is to reach two minutes before burning out. My long term goal is five minutes. It seems like a short time but for me it still seems really far ahead of what I am capable of right now. But this won’t stop me, I have a goal and I am going to keep training towards it!