Don’t Force Progress



An online student of mine once contacted me regarding a shoulder pain when training Bong Sau and connected this to an ‘Elongated rotator cuff’.


Now, any concern and especially pain, needs to be addressed as pain is our body’s way of saying that something may be wrong.


In simple terms we are all built slightly differently and what is comfortable for one person is not always the same for another.


In short,

If it is not comfortable, do not do it.


One reason for this could be that you may be trying to lift your elbow too high, if this is the case, do not worry, as with the turning stance you will be moving out of the way too.


A question I put to this person was:

Does it hurt if your elbow only reaches shoulder height and did it always hurt?

Also has it changed since you’ve added more speed and power?


Not being there in front of a student is obviously difficult for me to see what they are doing, therefore I would always suggest that you check with your doctor before starting your training to make sure that it is safe for you to do so.

In saying that, it may well be that your muscles are just adjusting and all you need to do is keep an eye on it.


The issue here turned out to be that he was practicing 100 Bong’s at a time, and practicing 100 of anything (before you are comfortable with it) is always a risky thing.

Slow and steady is the way forward with most training.


Again though in general I would recommend that you check with your doctor before any training should you have ANY concerns.


A slight rest from training Bongs did the world of good and he was on top form again in no time, so as I said:

Slow and Steady

(as it should be with anything)


“If it’s not comfortable, it’s not right”


Avoid forcing anything and let things arrive through gentle encouragement.


For example:

Lets say you were not very supple and you decided to train trying to get your head to reach your knees (with legs locked of course) then some may say to just force it.

But what happens the moment you relax again?

You move away from that position.


Same in Chi Sau, forcing the elbows in for double Fook Saus (as in the using of a Chi Sau ring perhaps), what happens the moment you relax your arms?

The elbows move out again.


So any FORCED positions are short term positions.


One of the most powerful stories Master Ip Chun ever told me was:

Think of your Wing Chun like growing a beautiful flower, you plant the seed give the soil food, sunshine and water, but you are still just looking at soil.

The next day again, you give the seed food, sunshine and water, but still you are just looking at soil.

It is at this point that many students leave Wing Chun because they do not see immediate benefits, only soil.

After a while you begin to see a shoot growing out of the ground, this is exciting, but it is also slow, and you are eager.

Each day you give the young flower food, sunshine and water, but in order to make it grow faster you give it a pull.

Again, every day you give food, sunshine and water, but again in order to make it grow faster you give the shoot a little pull.

The outcome of this will only serve to see the flower die.

So give the flower food, sunshine and water, but also time, and eventually you will enjoy all the beauty it has to offer.


So again I say:

Do Not Force Progress. 

Allow it to develop with you and it will be there forever.

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