Thursday, 28 February 2013


Practicing confidence in the face of adversity is what enables Wing Chun to bleed into other aspects of our lives. 
Confidence is a practical facet capable of aiding us in difficult circumstances. 
Circumstances which may not be ‘fight’ oriented. 
Confidence helps us to achieve things out of the ordinary. 
It helps us to solve problems, sometimes things that may seem insurmountable. 

Fighting and fight training, is problem solving. 
We should train mindfully to improve speed, power, stability, precision and adaptation.
We must deal in the moment to solve a problem immediately or risk injury, and we must be innately confident and attuned to feeling to succeed. 
The more I practice this, the calmer and more experienced I have become. 

When we are calm and experienced we develop self assurance and the ability to relax. 
The ability to relax enhances the capacity for sensitivity and focused attention. 
Focused attention supplements our intentions. 
Intention (for me) is resolute, clarified, decided, and concentrated to a point. I like to operate within clearly defined goals, once decided; I do my best to 'will' it through.

A focused mind is a powerful weapon all on its own - arguably the most dangerous weapon you possess. When run in conjunction with sharp eyes and a sensitive body we are developing awareness, confidence and adaptation - three very fight specific qualities, three qualities transferable to a variety of situations in life. 

In the conformity of the Kwoon it is easy to forget the reality of violence. 
Fighting is crazy - it’s like water bursting out of a sieve. It can be unpredictable and it can be unforgiving. 
Emotional state is a big deal. Composure in fighting is everything. 
Letting emotion spring from our grip is not advisable, so it is natural then that training to acknowledge and accept a variety of feelings without attaching to them should factor on our list of priorities. 
Undirected/uncontrolled emotion destroys our ability to co-ordinate the limbs to engage in two tasks at once. Pain steals from our focus. Pain steals from our patience, and pain steals from our awareness. Fear makes us tight, shock makes us tight, anger makes us swing, and anger can make us erratic. 

In Wing Chun we are seeking to obtain control of two points. 
A Tan Da is a basic representation of two hands working simultaneously but independently of one another to take charge of two points. 
Now think about one man strangling another with both hands, this is a basic representation of two hands taking hold of one point in a rather desperate assault – a reaction we may ascribe to a painful, fearful, or angry state. 
Although pain may develop into a constant, anger is attachment to the past, and fear to what might come. If you attach to fear and anger, you detach from feeling. To detach from feeling is to detach from the immediate.You are no longer focused on the actual.
Tan Da applied to a moving object requires control and precision. 
Conversely, gripping the throat with both hands is designated to rage and fear, or plain inexperience. 
It is ‘out of control’.

Sigung Wong, Tan Da (Courtesy Sifu Peterson)
For functional deployment of Wing Chun as a dynamic assault system, it is calm that supports the ability to co-ordinate two actions to two targets in a single beat (Tan Da). 
The head quarters (director), is the mind. 
You need a cool head, relaxation, and focus to produce Wing Chun or you will only be capable of doing one thing at a time – one thing at a time is not Wing Chun.

The mind dictates choice, and the mind dictates the movement of the human body. 
Fighting is a battle of minds; the body is only a puppet to the mind in question. 
Will is the common denominator in victory. 
Break a man’s will and the requirement to break his bones becomes obsolete. 
Concerted effort, focus to the target and experience is what wins fights. A degree of contempt is useful too.
The condition of the body is secondary (within reason)

Sifu Gary Lam often says “when it is time to change – you must change” 
Whether we are hitting an obstacle in life or encountering resistance in a fight we can utilise feeling to connect with the immediate and direct change. 
To adjust energy is to adjust circumstance.

Wing Chun is the development of sense. To sense is to be aware – it plugs us into the moment – the now – the only time we have direct control over. 
How often are we told as children to make sensible choices? 
In being ‘sensible’ the implication is that we should know inherently how to conduct behaviour. 
How often are we doing this confidently in the literal sense
Violence is behaviour. Training in Wing Chun we are practicing violence. 
How often is it a feeling practice? How often does it become a thinking practice? 

How often do we talk about having or trusting our gut feeling? 
If we learnt to trust that feeling and use it to catalyse action, we might more readily gravitate toward it and allow intuition to feed impulse. 
If we can develop Wing Chun as a blueprint for movement to fortify impulse, the body structure allows us to operate instinctively at close range, with a heightened degree of success.

Intuition from feeling surpasses rationality. Based on language, there was a time when we were much more comfortable with trusting feeling. But most people are conditioned to rationalise, it’s like hitting the pause button every time you do something. 
Sensing and the use of feeling is embedded in our language through the cultural experience of our ancestors to guide future successes and failures, yet today we are distinctly Vulcan in our modern disposition. 
Thought without feeling or experience, is fantasy.   
More often than not we could find ourselves dealing in ‘nonsense’.

There is no time to think in fighting – you are doing it. It is easy to talk about replacing the habit of thought with feeling but easier said than done. However, so much is at stake in real time combat, the practice of fighting is a perfect platform to force the habit of feeling into operation.

Using feeling to solve the problem of staying alive and/or risking serious injury requires split second adaptability. 
Find a different human problem that carries equivalent risk in equivalent time frame. 
Instant death is pretty much a worst case scenario! 

When we develop consciousness to cope in this manner, when dealing with problems of less severity, and with increased time to deal, we can become more competent in coping independently and in helping ourselves instinctively. This is improving the human condition. This is putting people back in touch with themselves. Self assurance and confidence is freedom. This is the merit of Wing Chun. 

It is the mind’s connection to feeling (relationship to energy) that carries the propensity to develop automatic body functions in the context of martial skill. Empathic connection to the actual develops heightened awareness.

Physical creates experience. Experience promotes calm. Calm aids focus and choice. Focus and choice open for strategy and response. Strategy and response supplement the physical. Physical creates new experience. This is cyclic upgrade. This is all inside Siu Nim Tao.

We have to keep a cool head to employ Wing Chun in the way that was intended. 
Without it our practical output will degenerate to that of standard fighting practices. Not the design – not the ‘little idea’. 
Feeling promotes insight, adaptation, control, and calm. There is no feeling in just hitting... except my knuckles on your chin. 

When fighting, you have to be like a president. His actions are not outwardly erratic. 
He (should be) calm, methodical, calculated, and astute in his decision making. 
Wing Chun calls for this character and rewards those with such composure.

This demeanour is essential for a high probability of success when facing a larger opponent, a stronger opponent, and more than one opponent for obvious reasons.
A big man can afford to make mistakes. A small man may not. 
If we are big or small, if we fight one man - or many, to use Wing Chun efficiently, the mind must remain calm and attuned to its environment.

Wing Chun is grounded and direct for a reason. 
Rotational punches and kicks are so committed they can only exist singularly – one punch/kick to one beat. If we fail to connect with a shot powered by rotational force we forfeit facing, stability (hence power), balance and timing. 
We need that for immediate deployment of singular or simultaneous following actions. 
You cannot remain in striking distance and fight effectively without these things.

When we employ rotational force to punch and kick it is virtually impossible to co-ordinate two actions simultaneously. 
Try throwing a Thai kick and simultaneous punch. Try throwing a Hook alongside a functional Tan. When we use rotational force whilst angry/crazy/scared – we degenerate further.

This is why in combination with straight lines and a grounded base, Wing Chun attempts to operate with a calm mind to support dualistic deployment - two hands operating separate tasks so control of the center can be administered to shortcut fighting and engineer rapid destruction.

You cannot be ‘out of your mind’ and use Wing Chun. In collecting the center, you have to be pretty ‘single minded’. And that focused mind must be capable of deploying more than one physical motion at a time in accordance to the pressure received. 

The purpose and process of Siu Nim Tao and Chi Sau in building feeling and calm is invaluable.
To develop calm, you must have confidence. To develop confidence you must carry experience. Therefore, if you wish to embody and exemplify Wing Chun whilst exchanging blows, the syllabus you follow and the instruction you receive is paramount in achieving success.

What we focus and train from our teacher, together with our individual experience of fighting will influence both our Wing Chun intellect (depth), and physicality (output/choice of tool/mode of deployment). 
The relationship between heart and brain will (we hope) contribute to an upgrade in instinctive ability via feeling.

There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in Wing Chun. The forms (should) form the basis of our choices and movement. We all pretty much learn and practice the same forms. 
We definitely do not share the same interpretation and understanding of what we are training to embody, and we definitely do not share the same power and output, or potential in combat. 
The transmission from one generation to the next, from school to school in Wing Chun can be like the difference between night and day.
In the pursuit of proficiency in fighting, the Gary Lam Wing Chun system produces concrete results and is something you should explore at least once

As martial advocates we should typify respect for the value of life in being capable of neutralising life threatening behaviour. 
Wing Chun comes from Shaolin. Indirectly – as a Wing Chun practitioner, you still represent temple teachings – respect Wing Chun, do your best to understand and explore it, and try to replace an empty mind with an open one to the benefit of your fighting and the life that you lead.

If you are in receipt of a little idea – better to do something with it than do nothing at all!

When assessing a school of Martial Arts, it is important to deduce: 
Which method resembles combat? 
Which is geared to cope with violent barrage? 
Which method has a gage on the ferociousness of real time fighting? 
Which teacher is producing confidence and skill? 

Sifu Gary Lam

Sigung Wong Shun Leung is often quoted as saying “You can always replace money, but you cannot replace time”

Sifu Gary, Sisuk Gung Hawkins, Me

Training should be fun, interesting and worthwhile. Wing Chun Kung Fu is packed full of fun interesting practical methods for self improvement. 
You should train for yourself, for the improvement and enhancement of you. Don't sell yourself short.
You owe it to yourself to accomplish something great!
Make every effort to cultivate yourself and maximise your potential. 
If you are not entirely satisfied with the answers you are provided, don't be afraid to seek a little deeper in finding them out. You're running out of time!

Good luck

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Article from 2006: Wing Chun Illustrated - Proximity.