Is It Ok To Not Sit Back? (Part 1)
Both of Ip Man’s sons using the weight shift method
My Sifu (Ip Chun) and his brother (RIP) Ip Ching
This issue is something I have come across so many times, not so much the question but the concern that comes with it, because not everyone seems to be able to master the turning stance.
“So how important is Cheun Mar?”
I recently wrote in a blog that if I had to pick just three moves from Wing Chun they would have to be Tan, Punches and Cheun Mar, and the reason for this is simple, the Tan would cover the principle behind most blocks, the punches could mainly represent the favoured attack/counter attack, and the turning stance would cover the principles behind all our footwork.
You notice I said principles of all our footwork.
Ip Man said:
“Anyone can add on to a system, the idea is to try to take away while still keeping it pure”
It is this very idea which I am always striving to do, not to take techniques or positions away as such, but more to simplify the understanding of them, and subsequently the teaching of them.
Wing Chun is designed to work in harmony with your natural body reactions, therefore why not embrace this idea.
My principle when teaching Wing Chun is simple:
‘If it’s not comfortable, it’s not right’
To give an insight to my simplicity of understanding Wing Chun, I took away all the different names for kicks, such as:
Double, aggressive, passive, lifting, stopping, snapping, pushing etc. and reduced this to just two:
Front kick or Side kick
The same idea could be used for the arms by taking away all of the names and just thinking:
‘Is the arm tucked in – Or is it elevated?’
Tucked in covering:
Punches – side palms – tan – jut – defensive biu – jum – high garn and so on
Bong – lan – deflected biu – fak sau, straight palm – pak – gum – low garn and so on
So what about turning stance then?
Some people turn on their heels, some on their toes,
Some people sit back when they turn, some stay centred,
So what is right and what is wrong?
The first thing we need to do is to try to avoid asking what is right or wrong, just because something is different should not make us argue over it.
I will justify my way of turning, BUT, if you simply cannot do that, then you need to change it, to make YOUR Wing Chun work for YOU, not the other way around.
Before we get to the do’s and don’t’s…
You may not know this but the way that Ip Man used to teach Cheun Mar (in the eyes of most Westerners anyway), would now be considered quite drawn out, by this I mean that a student would be required to learn Siu Lim Tau, training only this for one year!
Their second year of their training would be spent studying the Chum Kiu and everything connected with it..
Only after two years would you then be considered ready to learn Cheun Mar
It was in 1969 that Ip Man decide to change this approach by, still teaching the Siu Lim Tau for one year but then teaching the Turning Punch, and to use the second year of Chum Kiu studies as a way of perfecting this technique.
Therefore when I was a kid, people were still training for two years before getting this right, not centuries ago, still in my lifetime, so for this reason, using my personal method of teaching of course, I am trying to make this easier to learn, by simplifying.
Let’s start by looking at the extremes within the stance, when we say to shift the weight (so there is 70% on the back leg and 30% on the front), we must remember that this is the maximum, sitting your weight further to the back leg will not make you better but worse.
Just because you can do something does not mean that you should.
The 70/30 level of weight transference simply means that there is now the ability for you to kick with the front foot without telegraphing your intention to your opponent.
In reality however it is much more likely that you would use more of a 60/40 weight distribution, meaning that you are only 10% away from your kicking ability (70/30) and 10% away from an evenly balanced stance (50/50) should the situation involve a tussle.
“So does this mean that we should all just train 60/40 then?”
Always training at the extreme means that you are pushing yourself, therefore making the reality so much easier, using the ‘Train hard, fight easy’ method.
Training easy in a class situation is far too risky, this is the reason why if you want kick knee height comfortably, always practice kicks at waist height, just as a Karateka would try to achieve the splits in order to make head height kicks achievable.
Remember, only train at this maximum level if you can, (if you simply cannot do it, then you should make YOUR Wing Chun work for YOU, not the other way around).
This will be addressed in Part 2