What does Wing Chun need in the 21st Century?

Discussion in 'Wing Chun' started by geezer, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Because people see one thing and generalize it. People see a boxing or MMA match, and think if they get hit they'll be bloody and bruised. I've been hit many times, and while I've had a few bruises, most weren't noticeable (except to me) and rarely was there any blood.

    But people with no experience don't know that.
     
  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I find these conclusions from these kinds of drills questionable, John. It could mean the other guy isn't very good (so you don't need much skill). Or it could mean they aren't really trying - which happens a lot, in my experience, when there's a semi-cooperative drill like this.
     
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  3. Rat

    Rat Black Belt

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    The assumption is based on the bread and butter of boxing being for sport competition, the clubs that do actual boxing exist to put people into a boxing ring or teach them the skills of boxing, just because some do boxercise and not full on boxing doesn't mean they don't exist to teach boxing. Either the club does boxercise only or some people in a boxing club have no interest in the sport and basically just do boxercise.

    and has been echoed there is plenty to learn about fighting in the ring and thats the only really controlled space you can have a proper fight in without much risk to yourself, both legally and health wise. So i would expect a subset of person to either, need to pursue it as a job or want to pursue it properly pressure test their skills in that sport/rule set.


    Ultimately i would think it depends on the club and the atmosphere it has, not everyone in a combat sport is willing to waive the actual sport practice like with TMA and forms. But more people would at least give sparring a go if not go full on into the sport as thats integral in combat sport practice or at least enough people to not be brushed off, its like going to a football club and not playing any football and just doing the football practice before hand. Or not liking football for that matter.

    anyway, probably a argument for another thread at this point. This isnt what will help WC at all at this point.
     
  4. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Thanks for the reply, Gerry. Based on what I've gleaned from your many comments over the years, I get the impression that you've dealt with virtually the same issues with your NGA organization. And, judging from the many arts you've had some experience in (as listed in your profile) you have exactly that openness and curiosity that I sometimes find lacking with my Wing Chun organization leadership.

    I've seen the same thing in WC. Sometimes our almost obsessive perfectionism regarding details distracts combined with choreographed training drills prevents students from grasping the "big picture" and slows development of truly functional responses to the chaotic reality of working with a resisting partner. Now I am, in fact, a detail oriented guy and fully understand the value of teaching good form and structure. I'm not advocating a sloppy approach. Far from it. I believe good form yields superior function. What I object to is the almost ritualistic emphasis on form and detail to the point where it retards the development of functional skill and impedes productive experimentation.

    And finally, the secrecy about "advanced" material drives me nuts. I go off to seminars and learn stuff only to be told not to show it to anyone of lower rank, and never, never to people outside our association. These are complex, paired drills mind you, and since there's no longer anybody anywhere near my rank left in My organization in my entire state, I can never really practice, master, and utilize what I learn ...if I actually follow the rules ;).

    So unless WC people can get out of their lineage and stylistic "bubbles" to experiment openly with other groups and individuals, both inside and outside of WC, the future for the art is not bright.

    Speaking of which, look me up if you ever come to Arizona! :)
     
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  5. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    A simple question: why do you continue to belong to this organization?
     
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  6. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Well put. For a couple of years I rented space at a boxing gym like that. The owner/coach packed the place teaching "boxercise" to mostly women. He was in fact a very passionate and talented boxing coach. But his real lessons and sparring sessions were taught privately or to small groups "after hours" and on weekends. The "boxercise" classes paid the bills. In other words, pretty much like what "kiddy classes" are for some martial arts schools.

    Oh, and I found that coming into the gym evenings to teach as 20 or more fit young women were finishing their class was always aesthetically pleasing. :)
     
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  7. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Why? Mostly shared history. The guy that runs this organization has a very high level of skill. And, although more advanced than I, he is my si-dai (younger brother) in the same lineage, and we have a long history going back to the 1980s. Also, we both left a previous organization run by our original Chinese sifu when that situation became impossible. After that, for a few years he was very generous and supportive. Less so these days.

    As the years have gone by, it's almost like the old, untenable authoritarian attitudes and unworkable business model of our original Chinese sifu have resurfaced ...minus the corruption and dishonesty of those earlier days. My friend and instructor is a religious man and scrupulously honest. That makes a big difference. Also, I'm a loyal guy. I tend to stick by my friends, ...maybe too long.
     
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  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    You can stick by your friends and be loyal to the shared history and your teachers and training partners and still do what you need to do to satisfy your needs with training. And if your buddy can’t support you in that, then he ain’t your buddy.

    Especially at your level and with your years of experience, there is NO REASON why you cannot go in your own direction and do what you need to do. When an organization simply becomes a tool to control others, whether by design or unintentionally, then the organization is toxic. I keep saying this: we all need to stand on our own feet and take control of our training for ourselves. If all we do is follow orders, then we have learned nothing but how to follow and do as we are told. Martial training should lead to useful tools that the individual can freely use in his own way. A toxic organization gets in the way. Becoming a student of a Sifu does not mean we live to obey for the rest of our lives. Eventually we need to go on our own.

    If a martial system is well designed, then it really is simply a form of physical education. It teaches you a method of moving effectively and efficiently and with power. It teaches a body of techniques that function within that methodology, and it teaches some strategies for applying and using those techniques. That is really all there is to it.

    But this is skeletal. It does not contain everything, because it can’t. That is where the individual needs to step up and stand on his own two feet and figure out what he can do with it. But the solutions are there if the methods are sound, as long as you feel you are free to apply the methods to fit whatever situation.

    If you earn a degree in chemistry and then go to work as a chemist, you cannot expect your job to mirror what is in your text books. Your text books teach you the theory and the methods, but your job has unique problems that you need to figure out how to solve. You apply your education and you think outside the box. And you graduate with your degree and you LEAVE THE COLLEGE so you can start your career.

    The martial arts are the same. The system, that which your teacher gives you, is the text book. But it Is up to you to take your education and DO SOMETHING with it. This is not an issue of the system being flawed, as long as the instruction has been good. It is an issue of the individual needing to take ownership of what you have learned and what you want to do with it. Your teacher may not be able to take you on that leg of the journey. You need to walk that yourself and likely find like-minded training partners and students of your own.

    You earned your degree years ago. Why are you still hanging around your old college campus?
     
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  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Some thoughts from this post, not necessarily in any specific order...

    I am a "tinkerer". I love to take a technique and examine bits and parts, try shifting slightly in one direction or another to see what works. Mostly, I don't think this level of tinkering is directly useful in fighting, but it does do two things. Firstly, it keeps me exploring, which keeps me training. Second, it does (eventually) yield some useful information about what makes a technique fail under certain circumstances. It's a slow method, and the marginal returns are small, but not non-existent. Anyway, my point is that beyond a point in a moderately traditional art, it's easily possible to spend too much time in this stuff, rather than trying to break stuff (meaning testing the skills against some resistance). I still think it's fun and beneficial...just not so much for fighting skill.

    I also have a problem with material that's held to a high rank, even when it's not a secret. I'll use the nunchaku techniques taught in the NGAA as a prime example. They are taught after shodan (usually 7-10 years of training), and required for nidan. Nidan is the last technical rank (the last one that requires a test, under most circumstances), so folks learn it enough to get to nidan, then have trouble finding someone to train it with. Nobody after nidan needs this for testing, and mostly nobody below shodan has been exposed to it, so there's a lack of people to train it. Which means there are folks out there having to teach it who haven't had a partner to train it with in quite a long time. That's a recipe for bad technique. I ended up tossing all of that out (though I still love tinkering with nunchaku, and might add some bits back in someday), and replaced it with stick and staff work I'm more competent at (none of which is in the NGAA curriculum), and which I introduce much earlier. I actually changed it so that there's currently no new curriculum left after BB (and no ranks, either). I also encourage exposing students to bits and pieces early, and just helping them understand what pieces are for their next test, and which aren't.

    Now for my big reveal: I seriously considered putting together something entirely new-ish, which nobody would recognize as NGA. I found it unnecessary. I like the traditional training methods, when they are paired with some that aren't so traditional (in my experience) to the art. With resistance, and not being a fanatic about things having to be "aiki" all the time, I find that my Aikido improved, and so did my fighting ability (as best we can assess it from good sparring). I wish I'd done more of that in my 30's.

    Absolutely, and if you ever wander out of the desert and find yourself out in NC, give a holler.
     
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  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a little bit of what Billy Blanks did with Tae Bo, from what I've heard from our name-dropping friend here on MT (I'm looking at you, @Buka), though he kept running both the exercise and the full MA classes at the same place. If I could work out a good set of exercise routines based on what I teach, I'd offer exercise classes, too. Seems like a good way to serve a second audience with what you know.
     
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  11. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    nameDropper.jpg

    Did I ever tell you about the time a Zen Master told me to "do the opposite of what I tell you" so I didn't?
     
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  12. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    So, for those of you who practice or follow Wing Chun, who are some of the instructors who you see doing it right or moving the art forward in a positive way? Going by their youtube contributions (since they live in other continents) I have been interested in the contributions of Alan Orr and Mark Philips.
     
  13. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    What is Geezer doing to move his training in a direction that he feels is appropriate and necessary? Never mind what anyone else is doing. You can’t assume or look to other people to do what you feel needs to be done. Their needs are not your needs.

    So what is Geezer doing about it?
     
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  14. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Griping.:rage:

    ...isn't that enough?
     
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  15. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    OK, seriously now, I didn't intend for this thread to be about me. It's supposed to be about where we'd like to see the art go from here on forward. Who is moving it in a positive direction, and so forth.

    Maybe it would be better if we broke it down into separate sub-topics each leading to a thread focused on that subject. Things like, say, how do you try to inject realism and resistance into your training?

    Or, how do you approach sparring? What about WC's overall vulnerability against grappling and ground-fighting? Is it better to teach an abbreviated "anti-grappling" curriculum, or send your students to a good BJJ coach or other grappling instructor? ...or some kind of combination of both? .

    ..and importantly, not starting these discussions from a critical, MMA fanboy perspective, but from a WC perspective-- i.e. addressing what is best for our art. Like ShortBridge said earlier, we know that some of the usual suspects will probably show up and try to derail the thread and just try to trash WC and TMAs in general. Well, I can handle that if we can balance out the discussion with positive, constructive input.

    And at the least it beats a dormant and dying forum, right?
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  16. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I know, but sometimes we need to find the answers ourselves. Looking for someone else to show us the way isn’t always an option.

    How long have you been training Wing Chun? Over 50 years? You ought to have the experience and the skills and the knowledge to find the answers within there. It’s ok to look at what others are doing, as examples and ideas. But you need to create your own solutions. If you cannot do that after more than 50 years, I need to ask why that is? Why do you doubt your capabilities?
     
  17. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Trying to learn how to swim without getting your body wet is impossible. I truly don't know how can anybody be able to learn MA without getting hit.
     
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  18. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    When you meet a

    - boxer, you ask him to throw 20 punches at you and see if you can block all his punches.
    - wrestler, you ask him to try to take you down for 1 minute and see if you can remain standing.

    Since you will only play defense, I'm sure any stranger will love to help you to test your skill.

    If you and I will meet someday, I'm pretty sure that you don't mind to help me to test my defense skill.

    Better than that, if I tell you that if you

    - can punch me within 20 punches, I'll pay you $20.
    - can't punch me within 20 punches, I'll only pay you $10,

    will you try very hard to punch me?

    There is always a way to simulate the game as close to the real fight as possible.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
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  19. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Q: What does MA system X need in the 21 century?
    A: The MA system X need a realistic method to develop the combat skill.

    In the CMA history, there were twice that CMA masters tried to change the CMA to meet the military need.

    - General Yue Fei in Song dynasty.
    - General Ma Lian in 20 century.

    Both tried to eliminate forms and worked only on fighting skill (since soldiers won't have time to train MA form).

    IMO, there is always a better way to develop the combat skill.
     
  20. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    No... not so very long as that! Maybe a combined total of 24 or 25 years.

    I started WC in 1979, when WC was this super secret fighting system from behind the "Bamboo Curtain". I changed lineages in 1980 and trained sort of sporadically for about 12 years, stopping all martial arts training in the early 90s, even my escrima which I've always loved.

    So I pretty much missed UFC 1 and the whole revolution caused by BJJ and MMA, coming back to re-start escrima first, and then WC in late 2007...the same year I joined MartialTalk. :) ...Anyway learning about BJJ, MMA and the inefficiencies and vulnerabilities they exposed in our traditional, and overly compliant training methods was one thing I had to contend with. And, after the brief surge in interest associated with the Yip Man movies, recruiting students became tougher every year. I believe people look at TMA differently. There's less respect now. It's more like something for kids.

    At about the same time ...say around 2011 my kung fu brother who ran the local club, moved out of state and later "retired". So I took over the local group and was forced back into a "sifu" role. Well, being an assistant instructor is great. But being a sifu is a pain. You have to keep the school running, and it's a lot harder to just find time to learn, to cross-train, and to do your own thing.

    Again, it's been a lonely journey and altogether another dozen years have passed since I returned to the study of WC. I still enjoy doing WC, but now again I find myself questioning just how important it is to me to do all it takes to keep my lineage alive here in AZ. I'd be glad to pass the baton, so to speak, but all the students in the area that made instructor level (either under me or my predecessor) have dropped out. So it's still on me. At 64 I'm way past the age where this is physically easy, and life is short, ya know...
     

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