An Inclusive Perspective on WC

geezer

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I'm starting this thread as a follow up on a comment I made on Ed Cruz's thread about "WC vs. Arm Wrestling". In my comment I reiterated a point I have made numerous times over the years about using a risk-benefit analysis rather than an authoritarian right vs. wrong criterion for evaluating the relative merit of Wing Chun techniques.

When first training in a school, of course you need to respect your instructors and do your best to build a solid foundation based on doing exactly what they teach, exactly as they teach it. But ultimately, as we progress to a more advanced level, we will encounter a variety of different interpretations of the art. Are we to continue to believe that whatever we were taught is the only correct and optimal WC for everybody? Is the "my sifu sez" perspective our sole lens through which we forever view the art?

Or does there come a stage when this authoritarian view replaced by a more flexible and inclusive perspective where we can honestly consider many approaches to our art, and examine each using something more akin to a risk-benefit analysis to understand the legitimate value of different methods to different individuals in different contexts?

Can we separate ourselves from our "politics" and openly and objectively try to judge what works and what doesn't, and maybe even admit it when some of our own ideas may be problematic, or when others also have effective approaches in a given situation? Can we ever admit that the scope of worthy WC/WT/VT is bigger than our own lineage or branch?
 

ShortBridge

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Your question is posted from a student perspective.

From a teacher's perspective, I expect and require students to learn my way when they come to me. That's what I have to teach, I've tried a lot of things, I've tested most of it. If someone asks to be my student, then they need to trust me and give my approach a chance. If they can't do that, they why chose to learn from me?

But at some point, as their sifu, I release them from that. I encourage them to question what we do and why and consider other perspectives and other approaches. My SiFu was the same way with me. I realize that not everyone is.
 

Danny T

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Beginner / lower intermediate level is about learning structure, center of gravity, elbow positioning, arm positioning, moving the body as a unit while maintaining elbow positioning. From there I believe the practitioner needs to learn to play, be innovative, experimenting, testing, and learning what works for that individual and why it works. One learns what to do and how to do first; then one learns the when and why through the playing. I give my intermediate level the freedom to experiment, to question what works for them and if it doesn't work (yet) why doesn't it work.

I don't believe in it's always done in a specific manner.
Let's take shifting for example: many teach to shift on the heels, some teach shifting on the center, others on the ball. Who's right? I say all are correct. It's a matter of "When" is one correct and the other are not. So those who say only shift on the heels and the center of gravity doesn't move. What happens when the other person has the advantage, they have the line and you can't shift and control it? What do you do? Get Hit or get taken off balance and taken down? No, you shift with a moving of the line to a different angle. In such an instance you must shift different or with a step. You learn to use what is best for you in the moment. A good WC person has both the mental flexibility and physical attributes to adjust as needed and not simply doing because Sifu Says!
 
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geezer

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So far, everybody is on the same page here. I also insist that my students learn what I have to teach, as I teach it, but I encourage questions and explain why de do what we do, at least up to their level of understanding. With advanced students, I will go beyond that and encourage broader experimentation and inquiry, and I admit that I don't have all the answers. Some things are learned by experience.

For example, I currently train under the guidance of my si-dai, who although junior in our lineage hence the title "si-dai" or "younger brother", has more skill and knowledge in our system and curriculum, and has trained with several branches of my lineage, here in the States, in Europe, and in Hong Kong. To his credit, he has a nearly photographic memory for forms, curriculum, and technique and has great natural aptitude.

Yet, in spite of his knowledge and skill, I do certain techniques differently than he teaches, by choice. Some things I still prefer to do as I was first taught them in the 1980s by our mutual sifu, even though since then my si-dai has made changes according to his experiences in the EWTO when in Europe. Other movements I have changed myself as they work best for me.

I typically do not discuss these deliberate adaptations with my si-dai/instructor since he is of the old authoritarian mindset and might feel insulted that I do not follow his instruction in every detail. Nor do I discuss the times I have met and worked with WC people from other branches and lineages.

Let me be clear, I do value his instruction, and pay well for it. But I after many decades in this art, I have the right ...heck, the responsibility to think for myself, and I encourage my advanced students to do the same. And. unlike my WC instructors, I encourage them to share and discuss their findings with me.
 
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Danny T

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Aren't we instructing, then guiding, then mentoring individuals to be individuals? I don't want clones of me or to be a cookie cutter instructor. We aren't slaves to the system or to any particular person or method of doing. Find out what works best for you. I apply many techniques differently than my instructor. He often has have me and other senior students show how we apply the same technique differently or in different situations. "Oh that's good, that's good! Show that again." Other times "uhh...I wouldn't do it that way but I can see why you do it like that." Now when he is teaching we stay on the system and how he teaches it. But he gives everyone the freedom to experiment and is constantly saying "It's not what I can do. You have to be able to do for yourself. You have to find a way to make it work for you. My way may never work for you. Train to find your way."
 

wayfaring

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Okay. Risk benefit. Of what exactly?


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Gerry Seymour

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Admit it, @geezer, you knew I'd eventually weigh in on an interesting thread in the WC forum. :p

I do think everyone is posting a very similar view, and I'm not entirely sure why it isn't the most common view I've run into in MA in general, at least in the US that I've seen, and that's mostly in JMA. My theory with JMA is that so many GI's came back during the post-WWII period with a solid foundation, but never having reached the point where their instructor in Japan transitioned to that "think for yourself" level of training. Is there a similar parallel in CMA (particularly in WC) somehow?

As @Danny T said, I don't want clones. Those I've seen who tried to be clones were, by the nature of the learning process, less than the instructor they imitated. Usually those instructors had made changes to their approach to better fit their body, metal attitudes, and the kinds of students they attracted. Failing to make similar adjustments for themselves and their students, the clones couldn't deliver at the same level. I think it's entirely possible for a student of mine to be better than me at almost any area. Heck, I hope for it. But they won't get there by trying to replicate me.
 

Cynik75

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There are two main problems with WC:
- practitioners are too focused on structure, techniques etc, and are not focused on the goals
- lack of practical testing

MT, BOXING,BJJ, JUDO, etc are focused on goals and main strategy. For example BJJ goal is: defeat your opponent, strategy is: by submitting him on the ground. HOWEVER YOU LIKE (excluding sport competition rules). Milions of sparrings and fights let to separate good stuff from the wrong stuff and let to establish right principles, techniques and training methodology. But if somebody creates new technique and proves it's value nobody will tell him "it's not bjj - your left leg is 2 inches to far and right arm is 1 inch too close". If it fis in goals and main strategy that's ok. Rather everone will try adapt those technique into his arsenal or to find good defence/counter. And everyone accepts that different persons can use different tactics and techniques to win. Practice shows which tools are the best in a given strategy.
 

Xue Sheng

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There are two main problems with WC:
- practitioners are too focused on structure, techniques etc, and are not focused on the goals
- lack of practical testing

MT, BOXING,BJJ, JUDO, etc are focused on goals and main strategy. For example BJJ goal is: defeat your opponent, strategy is: by submitting him on the ground. HOWEVER YOU LIKE (excluding sport competition rules). Milions of sparrings and fights let to separate good stuff from the wrong stuff and let to establish right principles, techniques and training methodology. But if somebody creates new technique and proves it's value nobody will tell him "it's not bjj - your left leg is 2 inches to far and right arm is 1 inch too close". If it fis in goals and main strategy that's ok. Rather everone will try adapt those technique into his arsenal or to find good defence/counter. And everyone accepts that different persons can use different tactics and techniques to win. Practice shows which tools are the best in a given strategy.

That is a change of what the topic is by the way, just wanted to point that out before the flames begin
 

Xue Sheng

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Funny how a good Wing Chun discussion can pull be back in for a bit

I'm starting this thread as a follow up on a comment I made on Ed Cruz's thread about "WC vs. Arm Wrestling". In my comment I reiterated a point I have made numerous times over the years about using a risk-benefit analysis rather than an authoritarian right vs. wrong criterion for evaluating the relative merit of Wing Chun techniques.

When first training in a school, of course you need to respect your instructors and do your best to build a solid foundation based on doing exactly what they teach, exactly as they teach it. But ultimately, as we progress to a more advanced level, we will encounter a variety of different interpretations of the art. Are we to continue to believe that whatever we were taught is the only correct and optimal WC for everybody? Is the "my sifu sez" perspective our sole lens through which we forever view the art?

First train, follow shifu, that is why you are there

Or does there come a stage when this authoritarian view replaced by a more flexible and inclusive perspective where we can honestly consider many approaches to our art, and examine each using something more akin to a risk-benefit analysis to understand the legitimate value of different methods to different individuals in different contexts?

There should be, but like with so many things, that depends on the indivudual

I
Can we separate ourselves from our "politics" and openly and objectively try to judge what works and what doesn't, and maybe even admit it when some of our own ideas may be problematic, or when others also have effective approaches in a given situation? Can we ever admit that the scope of worthy WC/WT/VT is bigger than our own lineage or branch?

Why thems fighten' words :D

Again, we should, but some can and some cannot.

I have trained in 2 slightly different Wing Chun lineages, but only Siu Nim Tau and some Chi Sau. Based purely on the teachers; One, much closer to the Ip Family seemed a little more political, the other a couple generations removed seemed a bit less political. But amongst the less political teachers students, there were some politics
 

Xue Sheng

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Aren't we instructing, then guiding, then mentoring individuals to be individuals? I don't want clones of me or to be a cookie cutter instructor. We aren't slaves to the system or to any particular person or method of doing. Find out what works best for you. I apply many techniques differently than my instructor. He often has have me and other senior students show how we apply the same technique differently or in different situations. "Oh that's good, that's good! Show that again." Other times "uhh...I wouldn't do it that way but I can see why you do it like that." Now when he is teaching we stay on the system and how he teaches it. But he gives everyone the freedom to experiment and is constantly saying "It's not what I can do. You have to be able to do for yourself. You have to find a way to make it work for you. My way may never work for you. Train to find your way."

From the perspective of my Yang Taijiquan Shifu.... "no two people are alike, no two bodies are alike, why would someone be expected to do anything in Taijiquan exactly like someone else. Same can be said to Wing Chun, or any MA for that matter
 

Flying Crane

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Something to remember: none of this stuff has one single authority, whose rule is law.

And: there is no single correct, with all else being incorrect.
 

APL76

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For me I think it depends on what you mean and within what timeframe you are talking. I also see the deficiencies in most of the wing chun that is floating around a bit different to most people judging by various forum comments that I read (mostly on facebook).

For years I would expect a person I teach to do their best to do it exactly as I tell them with none of their own interpretation of anything. Once they have it all however, THEN its up to them to do it how it fits them personally.

I see learning and teaching wing chun as a quite detailed and interlocking process in which a person has to go through a number of stages: eg. Foundations (including principles), learn all the components, learn to simply DO all those components (including learning to combine them), learn then how to USE those components (including how to combine them), and this last one is really where I see a lot of sparring being useful.

I see part of this being because of the way wing chun is divided up in the different forms. Unless you know it all, from opening Yi Ji Kim Yeung Ma all the way through the knife form, you cant really have an overall picture and understand the context of a lot of it, and if you dont have adequate foundations to actually drive it all you wont actually be able to use some (or most) of it. I think without this it can lead to the old keep whats good and discard whats useless ending up actually meaning I cant actually do this stuff, so its useless where it should actually be I dont have the knowledge, understanding or training to actually be able to do this stuff so I should have trained harder and learned better.

For me until a person has that decent foundation, understanding of the principles, adequate enough training to actually use the stuff and at least enough of an overview of the system as a whole to understand it, they aught to be doing it exactly as I tell them. Once they have all of that, then its up to them to make it their own.
 
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geezer

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...For years I would expect a person I teach to do their best to do it exactly as I tell them with none of their own interpretation of anything. ... Unless you know it all, from opening Yi Ji Kim Yeung Ma all the way through the knife form, you cant really have an overall picture and understand the context of a lot of it, and if you dont have adequate foundations to actually drive it all you wont actually be able to use some (or most) of it. Once they have all of that, then its up to them to make it their own.

How many years of training would you say is typically necessary befor a reasonably dedicated student to reach a level where, as you put it, they can "actually be able to use some (or most) of it"?

...I ask in part because in my lineage, it may take decades to get the entire system. I still haven't learned the entire Bart Cham Dao form, and being of modest resources, may never get it, at least as taught in my lineage! On the other hand, I feel that I can make good use of what I do know ...or I'd have left the system long ago!
 

APL76

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How many years of training would you say is typically necessary befor a reasonably dedicated student to reach a level where, as you put it, they can "actually be able to use some (or most) of it"?

...I ask in part because in my lineage, it may take decades to get the entire system. I still haven't learned the entire Bart Cham Dao form, and being of modest resources, may never get it, at least as taught in my lineage! On the other hand, I feel that I can make good use of what I do know ...or I'd have left the system long ago!

Always depends on the student of course, however, in the YM style I teach...色色...I don't know, maybe, training 3 days a week in class and another day or two at home (and assuming the training is effective) I think I might be able to start teaching a student the knives by 6 or 7 to maybe 10 years in, I'd lean more to the 10 year mark probably; to have it all completed to a standard that I would call acceptable (in terms of what I have to teach) 10-15 years. It took me about 12 but for much of that I did a heap of Guangzhou style foundation training).

In the Guangzhou style, in which I haven't learned it all myself yet, I think the timeframe is different but what happens with Guangzhou style is that it starts off excruciatingly slow but almost exponentially speeds up once the foundations start setting in. Hard to say without having gotten there myself, and there is an enormous amount of that I haven't learned yet too so currently I do EXACTLY what my Sifu tells me, or at least to the best of my ability. But when one is recovering from long term chronic pain and degenerative spinal disease it tends to put a dent in your training, hopefully I can be a bit more informative in a few years time.

What I have noticed however is something interesting. I start off teaching YM style to my students, and those that show a good amount of dedication, I start teaching Guangzhou style once they have a good amount of the YM style out of the way. They are still learning YM style, but mostly they end up training in mostly Guangzhou style. They go through the YM style about two thirds to three quarters faster once they start doing a lot of Guangzhou style foundation training. This is why I have ended up putting so much emphasis on foundation training in my own school; my Sifu didn't do it unless you were his private student and learning Guangzhou style, I have tried to adapt the same idea for the YM style in the class. This has led to me having to reduce my estimates of how long I should be teaching people at each stage.
 

drop bear

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How many years of training would you say is typically necessary befor a reasonably dedicated student to reach a level where, as you put it, they can "actually be able to use some (or most) of it"?

...I ask in part because in my lineage, it may take decades to get the entire system. I still haven't learned the entire Bart Cham Dao form, and being of modest resources, may never get it, at least as taught in my lineage! On the other hand, I feel that I can make good use of what I do know ...or I'd have left the system long ago!

How would you prevent people putting their own flavor on the art?

Even if you controlled the move list people would still have their favorites.
 

APL76

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How would you prevent people putting their own flavor on the art?

Even if you controlled the move list people would still have their favorites.

People will naturally do things as their body and intellect can do it. But If I tell them something like "don't try to slip punches, just keep everything in alignment and do [lets say] tan da" I would expect them to do it. It doesn't mean that one can't slip punches, hell, I have watched my sifu duck under a round house kick to the head, so that kinda stuff is all there, it just means that as far as I'm concerned they need to work on more important things at that point in time.

You can't put your own flavour on the art if you can't even do the art in the first place.
 

wayfaring

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Who are you quoting? Or replying to?

The original post which proposed a risk benefit analysis of I guess Wing Chun. The fact you are asking this illustrates that this conversation currently kind of has nothing to do with the original post? Im still trying to figure out what people are trying to measure. All I hear is not trying to make cookie cutters of something or other and whether people learned all of the knife form that some say many top masters never learned from Yip Man anyway as a foundation for talking about measuring some intangible thing.


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