Classical footwork and practical footwork...

geezer

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In my WC lineage (originally coming out of WT) we train footwork quite rigorously. Our YGKYM (also called "Character 2 Stance" and "IRAS" or "Internal Rotation Adduction Stance"), our stance-turning and forward "drag-step" are trained to the point of wearing out a lot of kung fu slippers, and leading some students to suspect that it is just a plot to sell more shoes. ;)

So, on one hand I continue the tradition (without selling shoes!) with my students, but have to say that there reaches a point in a student's development where they become reasonably proficient at the classical stances and steps, but find that in sparring a more ...flexible? interpretation of the footwork can be more practical.

Ultimately, the overriding objectives of getting an angle, good range, and advantageous position in the least amount of time are of more importance. I still believe in the value of a solid traditional foundation, but I equally believe that this is only a starting point. And I don't agree with the old "traditional" perspective that you need to hold back many many years to reveal this. That rigidity is why WC is commonly seen as impractical and even useless. Thoughts?
 

Danny T

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Geezer, I emphasize footwork a lot. Structure and the ability to move is of high importance. While stance is important, stance is fleeting. Stance is but a moment in time. Footwork or mobility is constant therefore needs to be efficient, effective, and stable. It doesn't take years to become so.
 

ShortBridge

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I emphasize footwork a lot too and my lineage is focused on movement even with beginners. We don't look like the very classical, linear Wing Chun that I see on-line commonly.

I do think that training those stances is important. I think that being able to move naturally and find those stances at the right moment, it equally important and to your question, yeah, maybe that is why people's training fails them under pressure. I don't know for certain that I always nail my ratio of how much to emphasize each thing perfectly, but I strive for natural and fluid footwork, grounding, and movement built around our stances.

On the other hand, when I see "wing chun people" dancing around like ring fighters, I think it has become something else entirely and for me the system doesn't hold up particularly well. Kung Fu is built from the ground up. I don't think that you can throw out the stances and have the hands still work the way that they are supposed to.

I'll enjoy this discussion until it get's trolled by the usual suspects, which I expect will be very soon. It's not that we aren't all still here, it's just that we are generally not free to discuss our system without it becoming an argument about things unrelated to it and that gets old.
 

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In my WC lineage (originally coming out of WT) we train footwork quite rigorously. Our YGKYM (also called "Character 2 Stance" and "IRAS" or "Internal Rotation Adduction Stance"), our stance-turning and forward "drag-step" are trained to the point of wearing out a lot of kung fu slippers, and leading some students to suspect that it is just a plot to sell more shoes. ;)

So, on one hand I continue the tradition (without selling shoes!) with my students, but have to say that there reaches a point in a student's development where they become reasonably proficient at the classical stances and steps, but find that in sparring a more ...flexible? interpretation of the footwork can be more practical.
I agree that footwork as to be trained non-stop. However, I feel that your discoveries might be thought of as somewhat lineage specific (the "drag-step", for example is not utilized in all groups).

Typically we view footwork, traveling, and mobility as movement that is trained consistently through-out the system. What is trained is what is used etc... So there is less confusion between application/action and drilling. WSL believed in this very much.

Ultimately, the overriding objectives of getting an angle, good range, and advantageous position in the least amount of time are of more importance. I still believe in the value of a solid traditional foundation, but I equally believe that this is only a starting point. And I don't agree with the old "traditional" perspective that you need to hold back many many years to reveal this.
I couldn't agree more with these points. Something else to consider, for what it's worth...

IMO, the idea of a "traditional foundation" can again be an interpretation when viewed through the lens of different lineages. The traditional foundation that some groups build from the beginning is the same foundation that is carried through-out the entire system; utilized in forms, drills and live, under pressure application. This is paramount in many circles.

Also, the old "traditional" perspective of holding information back is not prominent in all lineages. But as I have mentioned in the past; I feel being a native speaker, or having access to one, helps retain information often literally lost in translation.

That rigidity is why WC is commonly seen as impractical and even useless. Thoughts?
Exactly! So it is important to instill a sense of purpose to all aspects of training. Our training should always reflect the development and effectiveness of the Wing Chun system as a whole.
 

wckf92

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So are we discussing "stances" or "footwork" or both?

IMHO and IME, the stance and footwork training was heavily emphasized both early on, and throughout. And the classical is what the practical is founded on. ;)
 
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geezer

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So are we discussing "stances" or "footwork" or both?

I'm kinda thinkin' both, since at least in WT and it's offshoots, our stance directly influences our steps.

Another thing, I'm thinking that the freer, more flexible use of stepping I'm advocating is probably influenced by my long involvement in Latosa Escrima. Escrima does a lot of offlining. You have to, since it's really dumb to stand right in front of somebody who has a big heavy stick. So we angle offline and, most often, forward. Althought our stance is different than WC, the steps and angles are pretty much what you see in the dummy form and in the bart cham dao. The difference is you learn to use them in a hurry. Even if your footwork isn't perfect.

That's what I didn't see in the curriculum of my lineage of WC.

...Then again, I'm pretty isolated these days. My instructor is in Austin. Most of my old kung fu brothers around here in Phoenix (those in the association I belong to) have moved away or stopped training years ago. And what with WC/WT/VT politics, those few others still in my old sifu's association won't talk to me ...ever since I broke away back in '07. In religious cults, I think they call it "shunning"?

So now you know why I hang out here. ;)
 
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wckf92

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I'm kinda thinkin' both, since, at least in WT and it's offshoots, our stance directly influences our steps.

Another thing, I'm thinking that the freer, more flexible use of stepping I'm advocating is probably influenced by my long involvement in Latosa Escrima. Escrima does a lot of offlining. You have to, since it's really dumb to stand right in front of somebody who has a big heavy stick. So we angle offline and, most often, forward. Althought our stance is different than WC, the steps and angles are pretty much what you see in the dummy form and in the bart cham dao. The difference is you learn to use them in a hurry. Even if your footwork isn't perfect.

That's what I didn't see in the curriculum of my lineage of WC.

So, by the above info...can I assume you learned the knives and its associated footwork etc? Because, when you mention "offlining", and quick footwork...by the time one reaches the weapons the footwork should be very "free" and "get off the X"

IMHO and IME, when one learns the stances and footwork of WC, and does not blindly accept these baseline ideas as written in stone, then one has all the footwork one needs. As someone already mentioned: these are but snapshots in time and transitioning structures as one deals with the problem/assault/attack. A truly dynamic set of variables, yet all contained within the syllabus.
 
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geezer

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So, by the above info...can I assume you learned the knives and its associated footwork etc? .

I learned about half the knife form many years ago, but wasn't very proficient at it. Then my si-dai and training partner moved out of state and I stopped practicing it ...since I had no correction available and I really didn't want to ingrain bad habits. I was exposed to the BCD form footwork though. I got the general concepts, but can't remember how to do it properly!

Other than that, if I were ever to need to defend myself with weapons, I feel that my escrima provides a more practical approach. So few in WC/WT learn the Bart Cham Dao form to begin with, and fewer still ever engage in any kind of practical training, so aside from adapting the steps to empty hands work, its pretty useless. And why should a student have to wait decades and pay a small fortune to learn some steps?

IMHO and IME, when one learns the stances and footwork of WC, and does not blindly accept these baseline ideas as written in stone, then one has all the footwork one needs. .

Yeah that's pretty much my thinking on the matter. I know others who disagree though and get almost OCD about doing things exactly the "right" way. I'm more about concepts and functionality these days. I'm tired of forms and training sets that are taught like magical formulas..
 

DanT

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In my WC lineage (originally coming out of WT) we train footwork quite rigorously. Our YGKYM (also called "Character 2 Stance" and "IRAS" or "Internal Rotation Adduction Stance"), our stance-turning and forward "drag-step" are trained to the point of wearing out a lot of kung fu slippers, and leading some students to suspect that it is just a plot to sell more shoes. ;)

So, on one hand I continue the tradition (without selling shoes!) with my students, but have to say that there reaches a point in a student's development where they become reasonably proficient at the classical stances and steps, but find that in sparring a more ...flexible? interpretation of the footwork can be more practical.

Ultimately, the overriding objectives of getting an angle, good range, and advantageous position in the least amount of time are of more importance. I still believe in the value of a solid traditional foundation, but I equally believe that this is only a starting point. And I don't agree with the old "traditional" perspective that you need to hold back many many years to reveal this. That rigidity is why WC is commonly seen as impractical and even useless. Thoughts?
Unlike other traditional styles, Wing Chuns footwork (especially when limited to the forms) is principle based. This means that the forms serve to teach basic hand techniques and footwork patterns, but in application, the practical use is unlimited. They way I was taught, Ving Tsun principles for footwork are:

- keep the weight evenly distributed
- pick up the feet rather then drag them
- maintain your posture while moving

Quite a stark contrast from Wing Tsun which emphasizes:

- 90/10 distribution
- dragging the back leg

There are advantages and disadvantages to both, the key point is understanding the underlying principles and applying them in dynamic situations. To move I step where I need to. I step according to the principles above.
 
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geezer

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...the key point is understanding the underlying principles and applying them in dynamic situations. To move I step where I need to..

This (see the edited version above) is what WT and other WC/VT lineages can all agree on!

BTW Danny, which lineage of WC/VT did you train?
 

DanT

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This (see the edited version above) is what WT and other WC/VT lineages can all agree on!

BTW Danny, which lineage of WC/VT did you train?
My sifu studied under Wong Shun Leung, a student of Moy Yat, and Chu Shon Tin. I have also studied under a different lineage when I was much younger.
 
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geezer

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uh...is this a multiple choice test? ...Ok then I'll pick ...wait a minute, wait a minute...

Ok, I pick number 1. Austin Ving Tsun.

...Jeff Webb, the head instructor, is my old si-dai (younger kung fu brother) from when we studied with Leung Ting back in the '80s. He was just a kid back then! Later, I took some time off while he, on the other hand, decided to make kung fu his life's profession. Now he's better than me, so I train with him. :)
 

isshinryuronin

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I'm surprised that, being a traditional Okinawan stylist, I agree with most of the above posts from WC practitioners. ShortBridge's views generally mirror my own. I also agree with DannyT's comment that "stances are but a moment in time."
However, it's important to consider what is happening in that moment. Is a strike being landed? Is the opponent being seized or about to be taken down? In these cases, footwork factors of distance, angle, and position management have already been settled. To execute the "power moves" in the examples I listed, a strong stance, most likely one that would be described as "classical," would be required. Classical does not necessarily equate to old fashioned or ineffective (perhaps in some styles, certain stances may).

A style's stances should be practical for specific purposes. Sometimes, if a style's stances do not seem practical, it may be that the purpose of that stance has been lost or not recognized or appreciated for the advantages they may impart.
 
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geezer

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A style's stances should be practical for specific purposes. Sometimes, if a style's stances do not seem practical, it may be that the purpose of that stance has been lost or not recognized or appreciated for the advantages they may impart.

Every way or doing things from general posture and stances, to the fine details of hand positioning on each technique will have advantages and disadvantages ...and these will vary depending upon the individual and the context.

Accordingly, as different instructors look at the cost to benefit ratio of each method, they will draw different conclusions based on their experience. That is a natural part of each system's evolution, and one reason why systems split and diverge into different sub-systems.

My old sifu's branch of Wing Chun was characterized, in part by a particular approach to weighting stances and steps that distinguished his style from other highly respected lineages, such as those studied by Danny T.
While I understand the rationale and advantages of my sifu's footwork, I am not him. I don't share his unique abilities and skills, so the cost to benefit ratio of his method doesn't work out so well for me. Accordingly, I have made adaptations.
 

APL76

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Can I ask what you actually see as classical footwork and what you see practical footwork as? I understand that classical footwork is essentially seen as what is in the forms- could be using it as a carbon copy lifted straight from the form; I wouldn't do it like that myself but I guess you could. But I don't really know what you are seeing as practical footwork.

I guess I don't really get why there seems to be a distinction, the classical footwork is practical as far as I understand it.
 

Danny T

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Every way or doing things from general posture and stances, to the fine details of hand positioning on each technique will have advantages and disadvantages ...and these will vary depending upon the individual and the context.

Accordingly, I have made adaptations.
^^^^^This!!!
It isn't about what the different leaders of the lineages can or could do. It is about what the individual can do. We all have different abilities and skills. And if you live long enough those abilities and skills will change...the individual should use the system to be proficient for themselves not someone else. Don't be a slave to the system or to a particular style or movement or structure use and adapt them for you.
 

wckf92

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If we view @geezer 's question through the lens of the hands...the same thing occurs. I mean, take pak sau for example, does your pak sau look exactly like it is in the forms when applied in a dynamic environment? I think not. As I've said before: the forms are just baseline letters in an alphabet. As your 1st grade teacher says "learn your letters". :)
This pic is how we all started out in life...learning our baseline letter geometry, yet I'd bet none of us write like this today as adults. We have "messy" handwriting skills, or write in cursive, or whatever...but it's all still made from those baseline letters from our youth.
abc.jpg



Same goes for stances, footwork, footwork patterns, etc!
 

Buka

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Once my students get past that green rookie stage, I teach them all the stances I know, all the footwork I know, and let them figure out what works best for them through trial and error while fighting and doing self defense drills.

Seems to work okay.
 
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