Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wing Tsun Philosophy: A FIST IS A FIST!


What kind of philosophy is that? Where is the esoteric wisdom? Where are the flowery words? What's the meaning of this?

Wing Tsun philosophy is a fighting philosophy. As such, it had better deal with reality - and a fist in your face (or very quickly coming at it) is the ultimate reality you'd better learn to contend with in Wing Tsun, or else all of your training is a waste of time.

In light of that, this simple statement - a fist is a fist - takes on new meaning. Forget about all of the flowery BS. Focus on reality, not ephemeral concepts.

SO, what'is the first reality you encounter in WT?

It's you.

You, your arms, your legs, the rest of your body, your mind, your breathing, your physical and mental strengths and limitations, and how it all relates to every other part - and, finally, how it all works together.

Learning to deal with all of that is the first stage of your development in WT - and that is what the first form of Wing Tsun, Siu Nim Tau, is there for.

At the Siu Nim Tau stage of your training, you become acquainted with and then learn to face - yourself.


It's you, my friend, with all of your inner tensions, imbalances, your breathing and thinking habits, and the limitations of your perception of yourself.

Your instructor is telling you to do something you are unfamiliar with, you feel goofy as hell doing it, and then, on top of all that, he keps telling you that you're doing it wrong and "corrects" you in ways that you can't even figure out the difference between "wrong" and "correct" at first.

Welcome to the whacky world of Wing Tsun. At this stage, it's all about you, these weird new movements, arm, and leg positions you are learning, and how to let them slowly, through endless repetitions it seems, become a part of you. Rule No. 1: you must become what you do.

But there is more.

Unless you are Jim Carey in the movie "Liar Liar" as he is "kicking his own ass" as he puts it during the famous bathroom scene, you must learn to deal with an opponent, as well. So, while you are learning to battle yourself, you are introduced to all of the things an attacker can do to you as you try to assimilate these new movements you have just learned.

After you learn to execute the defensive arm movements solo, you find out that they are not really movements you do. They are movements your attacker is making you do by virtue of the power, position, and angle of his attacks. You learn that (almost) all of the defensive movements in WT are really nothing than frustrated attacks. That's why the Wing Tsun motto goes,

"When the way is free, punch (or kick, knee, elbow, or whatever). If something (an arm of leg of your attacker) interferes with your attack - stick to it with your own arm or leg. If he forces your arm or leg to retreat or bend - yield. If he suddenly retracts his attacking limb to launch a second attack - follow him while continuing to stick to him. Finally, as the way is free again - attack!"

Attack, stick, yield, follow - and attack again.

Of course, "attack" isn't first among these for no reason. It is always the first thing you do when you are threatened. If it isn't, you will always draw the shorter straw in the game. Your opponent wil always get the jump on you and he will have eall the leisure in the world to regoup and attack again and again, unless you give him something to worry about - and that is your attack. The squence above can be cut short at any stage. If at any moment the way is freed again, attack! It makes no difference whether that hapens while you "stick", "yield", or "follow". Whenever the way is free, attack!

In a fight, all of this happens in split seconds, without time to think. That's why you need to repeat, repeat, repeat, until not only the movement but the response to an attacking stimulus becomes automatic. There are endless variations of this scenario, and each variation has its own natural response. In fact, each variation has several possible responses, and by repetition you train your body, your nervous system, and your mind how to deal with them instantly, without hesitation, and without second-guessing. That phase and process of your training is called "Chi Sau", or "Clinging Arms".

In time (not too much time, but it does take some), you will find out that it becomes harder and harder to fake you out. You no longer care if an attack is real or fake. You respond to it the same way - by attacking yourself, and in such a way that your attack intercepts and neutralizes your opponent's attack.

At this stage, you become what your opponent does. Your opponent's attacks and your defenses and counters become one. Without his attack, there would be no response, and the way in which he attacks determines your response. There is no time for mistakes. There is no time for thinking. There is no time for deceiving yourself about how much you know or how dangerous you are - or even about how much your attacker knows and how dangerous he is. You learn to see things how they really are, not how you would like them to be or how you fear they might be. In other words:


A fist is a fist!

This is the ultimate reality in any fighting art - and Wing Tsun teaches you how to confront and become one with this reality like no other art does.

That is the philosophy of Wing Tsun.

Alex Wallenwein