A New Year, A New Approach?


Personally I’m not one for resolutions

Perhaps just to stop making promises I cannot keep?  🙂


Well here we are again, another year, for so many people a time filled with goals and ambitions for the future, well for the lucky ones of us that is.


I am so glad to be back with the living, so to speak, after having a rotten festive period, being down with Covid since mid December up until the start of this week.

On Tuesday I attended my first class at my school in Leeds and on Thursday ran the first livestream class at WingChun.Online for weeks, and I must say it was SO good to be back, even though the Tuesday session did take the wind out of me a little.


The main thing here is that, ‘What does not kill us, makes us stronger‘, oh and I am only using that as a phrase, not trying to be literal (being used in the same sentence as the Covid virus, please accept my apologies if I offended anyone who has suffered to such a degree).

What I am saying is that I am trying to turn the break from training into something positive, and in this case I did so by taking a fresh view to what is deemed as acceptable or even expected as, ‘Proper use of Wing Chun’.


This came to light for me as soon as my class started, when I noticed a couple of our more recent members, throwing attacks and using footwork, in a, let’s say, unconventional manner, or, not as Wing Chun should be.

However, this was causing some of my seniors an issue, that I admit, I found very interesting.


Over the last 32 years running my class, I have had countless people ask me if I would teach them privately, well yes of course I will, but when they say that they do not wish to attend classes as well, therefore only ever training with me, I flatly refuse, no matter what the fee offered.

There is a simple reason for this, and that is that, if I were the only attacker, partner or reference you were to have, then everything you see would be perfect (sorry for sounding big-headed but hear me out), as perfect attacks and perfect Chi Sau positions is NOT what you need to learn to deal with, what you need to be able to handle is the utter crap that can be launched from anywhere and nowhere, just like in the street.

Otherwise what we see is someone great in class, with a massive false sense of security, finished off with zero idea of reality.


This is something I sometimes see in my own classes but for a different reason, and it is this which I would like to address first…


Have you ever tried to play really well in Chi Sau against someone who is far below your abilities, and yet they still seem to be getting in and causing you no end of trouble?

Perhaps this could even be playing a game of pool against someone who has never played before, but for some reason, you can not seem to pot a single ball against them?

Maybe trying to sing along to a song while someone else is also singing but they are out of tune, therefore making you out of tune too?


Now there can be a couple of reasons for this, maybe not taking the lead, instead deciding to follow suit and being as bad as they are?

Not being able to focus on what YOU need to do rather than being distracted?  (Now we start to see the Wing Chun connections, and why I have taught Siu Lim Tau to snooker players, golfers and even boxers to name a few).


Or in most cases, it is the fact that you are trying to keep to the rules when your partner is not.


This is why I say that basics are essential and MUST be fully understood, however, by that same token we must also know when to relax them in order to make YOUR Wing Chun work for YOU, otherwise those basics which we valued so much, will only serve to be a weight on your shoulders.


Let’s say you are playing Chi Sau with perfect hand positions and your partner lifts his Ding Sau (vertical bridge on arm) and taps you on the head?

Or from his Fook Sau, lifts out his elbow and gives a hook punch?

Maybe even from his Tan (or Fook Sau), suddenly drops for a low blow?

All of these could be considered as ‘A bit naughty‘ or, ‘Not how we do things‘, perhaps explaining to them that ‘They are leaving themselves open when doing such attacks‘.

Whatever you say about this, the truth is that they got in, and this can leave you with a dilemma, thinking that either you are no good or that Wing Chun simply doesn’t work, but it is not until we take a step back and remember what I said earlier:


Or in most cases, it is the fact that you are trying to keep to the rules when your partner is not.


So what should we have done?

Relax the basics, go with the flow and address the defence, and sometimes a crappy attack requires a crappy block, THIS is what I mean by allowing yourself to relax the basics rather than having them as a weight on your back.

When in Bong Sau and the attack comes over the top for the head tap, simply allow your Bong to extend into a Biu, guiding the strike away, not too far of course, otherwise you may find the thing coming all the way round and back in as an upper-cut!


Never do anything you cannot recover from!


If you have a good Tan and a hook punch is arched around it, just move your Tan out to the side laterally, NOT a conventional Tan, but that was not a conventional turning punch now was it?

The same is to be said for the low blow too, simple follow the attacking hand down with yours, perhaps moving to the shape of a Low Garn, but the thing we need to understand in each of these examples is that you are sticking to there hands, this is exactly what Chi Sau means, so go where they go, until such time as a gap presents itself for you to take the advantage, obviously while still keeping yourself safe.


Again I say:

Never do anything you cannot recover from!


In Part 2 of this blog I would like to give some further examples of attack and defence and offer a different view point to both sides of the issue.


Thank you for reading.


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