Some thoughts on Wing Chun

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by Enganyo, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Enganyo

    Enganyo New Member

    Hi folks, here's just some of my thoughts and experiences on Wing Chun Kung Fu and how it relates to my FMA training. I admit, I'm no authority on anything but my own shortcomings so please bear with me. :)

    Training History.
    I was in my mid-teens and getting into FMA after a few years in WTF TKD.
    Some my seniors in FMA had contact sensitivity skills as well as distance gauging skills. Their contact sensitivity skills came out in their hand and weapon counter attacks. Their backgrounds varied (all my classmates did) but the 'sensitive' folks had kung fu backgrounds.

    One senior, "EC", was an Wing Chun and Internal Arts guy and he found the training methods, (particularly fencing and FMA sword) helped boost his timing and understanding in his KF. I didn't have the sticking sensitivity skills that EC and others had but contact sensitivity wasn't a necessary skill in our style. However, I really couldn't understand what was going on in hubud/chi-sau/corridas/push hands type drills or how blade/stick fighters would escape or dominate weapon and grappling situations.

    I was told to try and apply the joint locks I learned in the Korean styles but a) I sucked at them and b) couldn't recognize by touch and/or sight how to insert them if I could. In addition, I was getting burned out on FMA and couldn't handle tournament stickfighting regimen. I give credit to all tournament fighters out there, padded or not, because it is an energetic and demanding sport.

    WC and EC
    One FMA weekend, I asked EC about WC which was no big deal because I asked everyone about their base style. He asks if I want to learn and I agree. I got to learn a new skill and EC gets to brush up on what he knows. From here on out, I have to tell you that 'informal' was the key word in my WC training. I've got NO formal rank in ANY WC group and EC never had a school or a name for his style but WC. I learned Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, Biu Gee, and the Wooden Dummy form, 1 hand Chi Sau and 2 hand Chi Sau. EC didn't learn the Pole and had been to 1 seminar on the Butterfly Swords.

    EC supplemented the WC he knew with all the common WC materials (AEWTO group, Chung, Ip Chun/S.Kwok group, J.W. Smith, R. Williams etc). I'd buy and share WC material that EC didn't have or know about, mostly J.A. Keating. We'd both analyze and try techniques out. Basically, I'm an apprentice to a more experienced craftsman and we've got no political leanings MA wise. We worked out in EC's garage, once a week for 2 hrs. and he doesn't teach for profit. I'm not taking WC now and I'm not sure if I'll ever approach it again.

    Technical stuff
    Forms. I sweated more doing any or all of the 3 basic forms than any of the TKD Poomse patterns even when I got the WC horse stance under control. I thought the classical horse/squat stance would have given me the stamina, wrong. I felt stretches in my pecs and shoulders that I never felt even though TKD had similar chambering positions. Application wise, I can't say I've really used any of the actual sequences in the forms that weren't drill seperately. I will say Biu Gee and the Dummy set had/has the most FMA crossover. When it comes to Biu Gee, I like the alternate title of "Emergency Hands"/Gup Gwai Sao form (ala R. Williams). The Ginger Fist and Kneeling elbows as being similar to Guntings and well, elbow strikes.

    The Dummy. I used it like K. Worden does and include weapon work on it. I've also used it work defenses against grabs, to simulate gun & knife hold up threats as a well as a resistance tool for knife taps and for kicking. For kicks, I taped up human size face on the dummy (it was unpadded) to help with finger strikes.

    The Wooden Ring. EC never used it so I bought J. Keating's tape on it. A good tool for imagining combinations and working weapons but I didn't get much from it in retrospect.

    Punching. I like boxing type blows more and I unfortunately I never used including or excluding punches unless I was against another WC person. I would revisit that particular aspect if I had a push knife as I actually liked the theory. EC was heavy on not doing the blast down the center approach and I couldn't do it to him anyway. But, I have done that on people who left centerline open until...that blew up in my face.

    Short story.
    I did a lop sau and chi sau cycle with a taller AEWTO gent with an FMA background. His height was important as his heart was at my face level, so not only not have heavy hands but I couldn't defend his closest punch. What did work was using Dummy footwork aka Triangle Footwork.
  2. Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you've had a good exposure to the art - even in an "informal" way - which is sometimes the best.

    After taking Karate as a kid I started WT in the UK 10 years or so ago and then went to train at Sifu Boztepe's gym in LA for 9 months. It as there that I had my first exposure to the FMA Via Latosa Escrima.

    When I started my current style (Bahad Zu'bu) my ingrained WT habits were a majot hinderance, more than a help. Having a supple upper body was good but my feet were very rigid. A couple of years down the line footwork is still a major problem for me as BZ requires fluidity of feet, to say the least :eek:

    However, I am seeing how unconciously some WT work fits some knife drills. The sensitivity skills gained through chi sau are great and I still use huen sau (circling wrist) to go from under the knife hand to the top if pressure is exerted downwards.

    The "forward pressure" concept is still very relevant too.

    However, this is a question I would pose to and Wing Chun practicioners from my basic knowledge (SLT, CK)

    Say somebody grabs your left hand. One hand is under your elbow, one hand is on your wrist. Your right hand is perfectly free. What do you do?

    (Allowing that you've been grabbed as "Don't get grabbed!" is by far the best solution there!)

    Just something that's been bothering me, especially if OP "Enganyo" was doing the grabbing ;)

  3. Enganyo

    Enganyo New Member

    Hi Simon, I'm still arranging some thoughts.
    One big problem for me was having a really rigid horse and generating the subtle hip torque in my punches. I also don't like a double Wu Sao as a De-escalation or fight posture but I'll take it over a Mun Sao with my fingers sticking out. EC would kick, backfist, or finger lock my hands if they guard was sticking out. I will say this, I wish I used the AEWTO fook sao & punch ending back when I was training.

    Re: Grab. Is this a 2 hand grab on the arm or like jeep sau grabs in CK and the Dummy? (1 hand palm up on elbow, rear hand palm down on wrist).

    My reaction really depends on the dynamics of the situation aka what's my opponent doing/trying to do?

    If he isn't trying to throw/imbalance or I can prevent it, I may hit with my free hand. Possibly follow up with the gang da sequence from the end of the forms (hit the face, scrape your trapped arm & hit).

    One thing WC gave me was an appreciation about the timeline of an attack (before, during, after) as my TKD/HKD training was a lot of 'he just grabbed you, now you do....". Where WC was 'he moves, hit him'.

    Some other FMA notes.
    I've reacted and used the bong sao both in a stable and yielding manner when doing FMA hand work. It comes out like a boxing cover or when arms clash/bridge. I've notice the low bong sao has more of a prevalence in FMA and some Korean weapon disarms and I had more time using that in FMA training than WC.

    One of my biggest problems with WC was how their were no examples of weapon defenses (hands vs. weapons) in popular media except for R. Williams books (the last volume). I posed the question to EC once about knife defense and honestly we were a little stumped. The 'answers' we had looked a lot like FMA (parry then strike or simultaneous parry & hit). I wished Lo Kam Man's Police Kung Fu was written a bit earlier. Not saying I liked the book per se, it really but rather I would've like to have had the source.

    "But da, but fook. But fook, but da" (don't hit without controlling) came up alot during FMA knifework and I'm more likely to use that in a weapons context. Empty hands I still think you can get away with out. EC liked those WC maxims and he told me not be addicted to sticking to every attack I encountered in addition to being centerline obsessed.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2009
  4. IMO any "Fight Posture" is bad.

    A friend of mine here in the Philippines holds a 4 second knockout over the (then) Karate Champion of the Philippines. Ref shouted fight, he went into a Karate stance and my friend round-housed in the head, knocking him out. The good fighters / systems I have seen look relaxed at all times. Wish I could!

    At Sifu Boztepe's Gym we were taught "Classical" and "Street Defense" WT. The street defense stuff was good, talking about witnesses and getting your guard up without telegraphing it etc. Instead of having that man sau out there turning it round so both palms are facing the opponent and then shouting at them "I don't want to fight you!" whilst positioning your hands so they would have to cross them to strike.

    In my youth I got these applications round the wrong way and did a classical one when there was no witnesses and a few of us were jumped under a bridge late at night (this was before going to train at Sifu Boztepes) and then a not-so-classical one when confronted with someone I perceived as a threat to myself and others. I knocked him down so fast people thought that I initiated the fight :( It is hard to say "Well, I told him to "Go away" (shall we say!) and he took a step which landed inside my "magnetic" (side-kick) zone so it was on! :(

    Lesson learnt there.

    I am actually using a modified "Bong Sau" lately here when the guy with the knife changes sides. I like monitoring it with my elbow / forearm leaving the hands free. I also got in a "Biu Sau" at my last training session too when my partner tried to trap me.

    I was told the weapons stuff come from the butterfly knives. However, the knives seems to be a closely guarded secret and it's difficult to establish who knows the forms as passed dowm from GM Yip Man. I think this is why a lot of FMA is "bolted on" to Wing Chun to cover this defficiency.

    Regarding my question I think you are exactly right that it depends on the dynamics of the situation. Yes, like the CK Section for the hands position. It's dangerous as the hand undernath is "hidden"...

    A WT / C? principle is:

    "If the way is clear go forward!"

    So following that (and I think most people if you tried it on them) are going to move that right hand to punch you.

    Problem is if the grab is an "Enganyo" (bait) you're in real trouble as the other guy is waiting for your response. The hand under the elbow will more-than-likely be able to strike your body as soon as you move your right hand.

    So for me that's a problem I have right now. I think "Great, the way is clear!" only to find out that I've been set up and my instructor wants me to try and hit him.

    Having said that a lot of the time "It's the man and not the system" so I will ask some visiting WC instructors their take as soon as I get the chance.

    Thanks again for the thread.

  5. Enganyo

    Enganyo New Member

    Here's some quick thoughts.

    Re: Bong Sau vs. Knife. The knife or deep attack like a boxer's cross makes you really appreciate backing up your bong sau with wu sau.

    Occasionally, I've also had to use kwan sao (tan/low bong) in FMA as well, some can also get away with using a hard bong sau to jam up a weapon bearing limb (drive under the armpit) on a tall guy. I won't do it with a WC horse.

    The grab situation does underlie that idea about not being committed to any move/having no fakes. I don't really believe that any more, but that's something I'll try to expand on later.

    Chi Sau and kicks I have done single and double hand chi sau, hubud, and some Tai Chi push hands. I get more flexibility/training options with hubud as there's less technical details (stance dropping, precise hand/elbow placement) than the others. Also folks from other styles had an easier time getting hubud's rhythm and set up quicker. I also like that I can add weapons to hubud. I learned Chi Sau first and I believe that the drill and exposure to sinawalli helped me pick up hubud quicker.

    Things I didn't do.
    Blindfolded/eyes closed chi sau (looked away once in awhile)
    Multiple man chi sau ala Augustine Fong (just me and EC)
    Chi gerk (only did once, I didn't press for it, neither did EC),
    Chi sau or forms on 1 leg (don't know if I missed out).

    Trapping. EC warned me about being addicted to sticking to people, so we did less on compound trapping. I also sucked at remembering the traps even after multiple exposures (both class review and looking over materials), so I defaulted to either lop sau or FMA triangulating. I also suck at compound Espada y Daga weapon disarms. EC was patient with me on that, I'm sorry I couldn't do better on that end.
  6. Enganyo

    Enganyo New Member

    Re: Biu Gee and WC weapons issue. I’m familiar with that and we can talk about that in PM if you like (I don’t want to step out of line when it comes to other people’s rank and school rules). Not a big secret though, as weapons training changes/improves your hand skills and just about every MA agrees with this.

    Re: Maxims. I gotta admit those WC maxims got pretty deep and when translated into English any variation seems like a cool idea. Some others that stuck with me besides “But da but fook”

    “Victory goes over the bridge” (I admit, I never could apply the opposite just in general)
    “Follow what retreats”/loy lau hoi sung, Good all around rule.
    “Biu Gee never leaves the clan” or “Biu Gee never goes out the door.”
    “Bong Sau but ting lao/Bong sau doesn’t stay” (I like it as a reminder)

    Thinking about your grab situation more, I was taught to see it as a stalemate and a way to train your patience. In WC terms, the But Da/But Fook idea or in this case “Don’t be so greedy to hit” and you’ll see Ip Chun work a fook sau or bong sau if he’s pinned at times rather than try to break out and hit. In sword work, I like the fencing term of ‘bind’, if you’re in a bind and you get too anxious you might get a thrust for your impatience.

    That ‘stunned’ feeling I suppose is normal because we’re trying to work within the moves of the style, school rules, and good timing practice. In other words, trying to get the skill because I’m sure you can jump speed by throwing the hardest strike or throw at your partner.

    You’d ‘win’ the drill but you’d lose more and get:
    The bully reputation and some mental issues that will screw up your training.
    The habit of ditching your skills and get an off sense of timing (you think you have great technique but you don’t realize your partner wasn’t feeding you the same energy you gave him).

    Theories and applications
    Cool thing about WC was the multiple possible applications of each of the moves. Looking back, I think I should have at least picked a favorite application or 2 and worked it hard.

    Ex. Tan Da.
    Version 1: Deflect and hit from the outside (yielding Tan/hard driving hit to the face)
    #2 Structure attack (Charging horse/“Poison” Tan where fingers drive into the face/hit to the face) defender is driving into attacker’s shoulder area and uprooting him.
    #3 Soft style (Using a slightly circular triangle step or Dummy footwork. A very soft Tan Sao/spade palm to kidney). There is another variation of #3 but it breaks WC rules and it’s more of an Internal arts technique.

    These were all cool and while I get to be neutral, I don’t have any real depth or insight into which is really effective for me. If I were committed to going back to training WC or any previous art, this would be something I’d work on. With weapons in particular, depending on the context I don’t like “you could theoretically do this move. Let’s see as I’ve never tried it before out of the form”.

    Just to get it out of the way. I believe in WC being the name of a training hall in the Shaolin Temple but I do think the Ng Mui/Yim Wing Chun story has its place as a TRAINING reminder to work on skill and being sensitive. At one point, I really believed in ‘effortless’ fighting but never gave real thought about it in terms of technique. In WC, I found out my definition of ‘effortless’ was flaccid, limp, and no power while EC’s was ‘sensitive, relaxed/not tense, good timing and hit hard.” He pointed it out to me in practice, where I was basically posing a move.
  7. yomitche

    yomitche New Member

    One problem I have had as a Balintawak player with a "significant" background in WC is I tend to stick more than most people are used to. In palakaw, if one sticks too much, the other party will never catch up and will risk getting hit or have to used body mechanics to correct breakdown.

    Just a quick observation. Sorry I don't have time to post more right now...
  8. Enganyo

    Enganyo New Member

    Yomitche, a former classmate with a Balintawak background showed me some Corridas material. He also liked to call the Sun Fist the Ruffle Punch and like to drop low and groin slap people who tried to do Chi Sau with him.
  9. geezer

    geezer Member

    In your discussion of your training partner's WC background, you never mention who he learned his chi-sau from... or what lineage, ...or in a more general sense, what approach? I understand that some folks would rather not mention names, and some gifted martial artists pick up a bit here and there and then put it together. It just that WC/WT/VT etc. can be practiced in very different ways. Forms can be learned, to a degree, from books and videos, but chi-sau must be learned by feel. I'm just curious if he mentioned anything about the person or persons that he learned his chi-sau from. There are so many approaches...
  10. Enganyo

    Enganyo New Member

    Hi Geezer, with the regards to the approach, it was to match partner's energy (stay neutral) unless I felt a leak then possibly take the centerline. EC would occasionally have a driving energy to get me to sink my horse in the goat stance, which I never felt I'd get the hang of. I was just glad to do chi sau in the regular horse.

    I agree that chi sau has to be felt and I personally wouldn't teach that and WC in general to anyone. I also don't like the idea of learning WC from book or video, unless you've honestly got a good background and are using the media as a supplement or are the type to see if a move works/doesn't work for you or in general.

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