‘Everything’ In Wing Chun
A very pleasant extreme
No matter what we train, we need to train an open mind to go with it, remain open to all possibilities even if at first they do not fit with your present thinking.
The more we understand how something works, the better we can make that thing work for us, and this is best achieved by seeing and experiencing, both ends of the spectrum.
On our recent holiday to Alaska, my family and I were lucky enough to be staying (for several days) in a log cabin by a lake, so peaceful, no phones, no signal, actually no electricity either, and at night, when we went to bed, my wife (being a creature of habit), pulled down the blinds AND drew the curtains, even though there was a signal light outside (apart from the amazing stars that is).
The point is that when I got in bed and blew out the lantern (yes, you read right), it wasn’t just dark, it was black, so black that you literally could not see your hand in front of your face, with zero difference to whether you eyelids were open or closed.
This was most definitely one far end of a spectrum, because by that same method of thinking, I remember giving seminars in Switzerland, going up a mountain and not being able to open my eyes due to the brightness, I’m sure you’ve all heard of snow blindness?
Staying with Alaska/Yukon for a moment and on one occasion, I found myself at a beautiful spot, collecting firewood when I paused and felt deafened by the silence, nothing, no bird song, no breeze, nothing, comparing that to the craziness of training year after year in Hong Kong, where the noise is intense and constant, again, different extremes of the spectrum.
Now this idea also of course goes for Chi Sau, it is important that we find our normal game but then see how much power and energy we can apply (without losing your control of the situation), as well as how relaxed and sensitive we can play in order to feel every slight interaction and intention of our partners arms.
This method should also and most definitely be applied to training the Forms, Chum Kiu is a great example of this.
Played once with absolute precision, focussing on relaxation and breathing, then playing it again as though it was a real fight, even if this throws you out of your stance (because what training looks like in class, and when it is used in the street, these two are very different).
After the second method, you may even find yourself out of breath and aching.
Having played the Form using, both ends of the spectrum like this, we then aim for what is correct, the precision of the first method but with the power of the second method, THIS is how we benefit from using both ends of the spectrum.
I will often say that balance is key to being good at Wing Chun, and by balance, I do not mean being able to stand on one leg!
I mean being able to consider many different things at the same time, and equally, such as footwork, hand positions, power used, and not overcommitting in distance travelled.
This may sound all well and good but how do we know what the centre of all this balance is, if we never take a look at what is all the way out to one end and all the way out to the other?
So never be blinkered in your training, thinking that you must only stay in the very realm of what your teacher told you.
People are different, your class mates are different, you opponent is most certainly different, so if your partner suddenly goes strong, you may wish to switch off or you may wish to match, so practice both sides, even if only so you know what is waiting or you, learn a different mindset, because having that choice, and the ability to have that choice, is vital.