Ip Man wing chun- some thoughts

Vajramusti

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Wing chun has spread IMO much too unevenly.Although Ip Man remains the central figure in the rise of wing chun-the movies are just movies.

The important thing in Ip Man's wing chun are the interlinked concepts that are not easy to learn properly
enough to be deeply embedded in one's movements.

The concepts are not techniques in themselves and the frequent lack of distinction between developmental training and application makes for a lot of confusion.

I don't want to go on and on-just touching on a classical point of view.
 

wckf92

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Good points.
It's funny how we all drink our own particular brand of cool-aid. Haha
If these forums have taught me anything... it's that there are MANY branches and lineages of Wing Chun, Weng Chun, VT, WT, etc etc and that we all think our concepts and their interpretations are the one and true.... blah blah blah...
On another point... you stated "the rise" of wing Chun. While this may be true on a cultural level...IMHO the overall art has and/or is diminishing through each generation. The farther we get away from the Yip Man's; Yuen Kay San's; etc the more of the systems' "details" are lost over time.
Oh well, perhaps it is to be expected...
 

wckf92

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One thing is for certain.... even amongst first gen students of Yip Man.... there are A LOT of interpretations of the combative aspects of WC. Some good.... some not. :D
 

geezer

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Wing chun has spread IMO much too unevenly...

I agree, Joy. Even what I consider "high quality" WC from the Yip Man lineage has diverged widely. For example, I consider your WC, and certainly Master Augustine Fong's WC to be high quality, and I equally respect what I've seen of some of the WSL branch, the TST branch, and of course my old Sifu's branch, as well as other branches. The best representatives of each these branches are indisputably skilled, yet they have interpreted core concepts very differently.

The important thing in Ip Man's wing chun are the interlinked concepts that are not easy to learn properly enough to be deeply embedded in one's movements.

Again I agree, although as I noted above some of the concepts are interpreted and applied very differently. This is expressed in such fundamentally basic things as the stance structure, stance-turning, and steps, as well as the energy and feel of the "seed" techniques: tan, bong, and fook. Unfortunately, the prevailing "I'm right and you're wrong" attitudes encountered everywhere, even on this forum, stifle any meaningful discussion that might uncover some common ground.

...If these forums have taught me anything... it's that there are MANY branches and lineages of Wing Chun, Weng Chun, VT, WT, etc etc and that we all think our concepts and their interpretations are the one and true.... blah blah blah...

Ain"t it the truth.

...IMHO the overall art has and/or is diminishing through each generation. The farther we get away from the Yip Man's; Yuen Kay San's; etc the more of the systems' "details" are lost over time...

I don't really think that is the problem. The important stuff in WC isn't about details and arcana, it's being able to understand and express the essence... the structures, movement and energy in a spontaneous and efficacious manner. If the core concepts are well understood, the details will emerge.

One thing is for certain.... even amongst first gen students of Yip Man.... there are A LOT of interpretations of the combative aspects of WC. Some good.... some not.

This, more than anything, is the downfall of WC. With no venue for testing what we do, or at least what the best representatives of each branch can do, everything ... the good, the bad, the practical and the fantasy stuff, all becomes equal... a mere opinion to argue over.

If we could test our art, perhaps we would have a more objective way to evaluate what works. And I suspect that we would find valuable, workable approaches within many of our divergent branches.
 

LFJ

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With no venue for testing what we do, or at least what the best representatives of each branch can do, everything ... the good, the bad, the practical and the fantasy stuff, all becomes equal... a mere opinion to argue over.

If we could test our art, perhaps we would have a more objective way to evaluate what works. And I suspect that we would find valuable, workable approaches within many of our divergent branches.

I don't follow you here. There are plenty of venues for testing what we do. How could there not be? It's a martial art like any other. Why can't you test it?

Some do, some don't. Most actually avoid it.
 

Phobius

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I don't follow you here. There are plenty of venues for testing what we do. How could there not be? It's a martial art like any other. Why can't you test it?

Some do, some don't. Most actually avoid it.

You can test your own skill but you cant compare with other martial arts or styles. Since you can not find two or more identical persons to study styles until they are considered masters on equal terms and then fight it out, simply because they are never the same and their experience and body type will put them apart.

Since you can validate your own skill, this in no way rules out that other styles dont work just as well. There is no supreme style and if we want to be as close to Ip Man as possible we should not study what he taught but rather follow his masters teaching.

And then comes the problem, they would not teach us same way they taught Ip Man so even then we would be different.

Most styles I believe to be equal, just personalized.
 

LFJ

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I remember someone on another forum telling how they had people put headgear on and face a line up of people throwing serious round punches at them and they needed to use taan-da as the defense. It failed each time, for each person.

Then we have literally hundreds of people from certain not-to-be-named lineages who reached high ranks and honestly felt they were pretty skilled with what they had been taught... within chi-sau / gwo-sau practice with other classmates. But they found when they went to free sparring, suddenly none of the techniques worked anymore.

These examples make it pretty clear that certain ideas don't work, especially because there are no counterexamples that they do work. But there are still people who avoid heavy free sparring and believe in their techniques that work in drills and imagine they'll be able to use them for real.

And then comes the problem, they would not teach us same way they taught Ip Man so even then we would be different.

What makes you believe they would teach differently? What makes you think YM taught differently? Why could it not be that YM taught in the same way and people either got it or didn't depending on their own intelligence and natural ability? I think this is an excuse some people use to justify why there are so many variations of "Yip Man Wing Chun". I think many people just didn't learn the whole system properly, or at all.

The only thing I see about YM having taught differently, is that his approach to fighting evolved over the years and therefore his training system, but I highly doubt he would preserve less effective methods and teach them separately to different people. That would be terribly difficult to do. A major shift in thinking really alters your fighting behaviors that would be difficult to revert. It would be even more difficult to maintain many contradictory ideas and teach them as different systems. But people will believe all kinds of things.
 

Phobius

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I remember someone on another forum telling how they had people put headgear on and face a line up of people throwing serious round punches at them and they needed to use taan-da as the defense. It failed each time, for each person.

This is so sad, things like this show something that worries me a bit. WC is about concepts and not techniques. Also the mentioned event is like asking people to defend against incoming kicks their head by knocking down their opponents using mind or kinetic ability only (or Qi if you like).

What we need to make sure here though is never to say our own style is the one true style that teaches people how to fight, all other styles fail. That marketing bull is saddening. Something I find funny however are the styles that say "we removed this technique from our repertoire and now our style finally works in fighting in difference to all others", as if a fighting martial artist wont learn through experience when something does not work for him and remove it despite what he/her was taught.

The only thing I see about YM having taught differently, is that his approach to fighting evolved over the years and therefore his training system, but I highly doubt he would preserve less effective methods and teach them separately to different people. That would be terribly difficult to do. A major shift in thinking really alters your fighting behaviors that would be difficult to revert. It would be even more difficult to maintain many contradictory ideas and teach them as different systems. But people will believe all kinds of things.

I think this should be obvious to any martial artist. If two people attend the same training and do the same practises and techniques, they will both pick up different things simply because he/she keeps what works more than what doesnt. People pick up the purpose of training differently and also has different goals and interests.

A good teacher always try to adapt his teaching to the mentality of his class and students. As soon as you get set in a locked pattern the teaching normally seem to degrade. This goes for regular education, I find no point in thinking same does not apply in this matter.

Besides, you should always make sure your teacher/sifu is interested in evolving. If he/her gets stuck in their own path then what possibility will you have to validate what you are being taught? After all you learn nothing else.
 

wckf92

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The important stuff in WC isn't about details and arcana, it's being able to understand and express the essence... the structures, movement and energy in a spontaneous and efficacious manner. If the core concepts are well understood, the details will emerge.

Ok, gotta agree with you there...essence is a much better word. :)
However isn't the problem still there? The issue of defining, learning, interpreting and expressing what one perceives to be the 'essence' of Wing Chun?
 

LFJ

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WC is about concepts and not techniques.

Yeaaah, people say this all the time, but it seems to me they confuse concepts with principles, and then techniques from the forms become their theoretical fighting tactics. So they say they are concept based, but still use techniques in 1:1 application ideas, like taan-da against a given attack.

In most lineages of Wing Chun, taan-da is a representative technique, often done (theoretically) as a round punch defense, or at least it's a technique taught in their system; i.e. "When he does this, I can taan-da. It's a spread and hit concept" they say. They'll cling to the idea of it representing some concept or other, but it's still dealing in 1:1 applications.

What I mean by confusing concepts with principles, is that when people talk about being concept based they often mean things like economy of motion, chasing center of mass and not limbs, centerline theory, etc.. But these are all principles that make up the overall fighting strategy.

Concepts are the tactics used to carry out that strategy in combat in adherence to those principles, such as tactical footwork, angling, and striking methods that sweep and clear the centerline with the elbow, should anything be in the way, while chasing and striking to the target. (Taan and fuk shapes in the forms and partner drills are preliminary training positions for these punches/strikes).

These concepts/tactics function under the principles of the system to make the strategy work. If you are confused at any point (applying taan and fuk as literal hand techniques to be used in fighting), it ceases to function properly and loses effectiveness.

Principles = Strategy
Concepts = Tactics

Taan-da = Technique

See the difference?
 

wckf92

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Yeaaah, people say this all the time, but it seems to me they confuse concepts with principles, and then techniques from the forms become their theoretical fighting tactics. So they say they are concept based, but still use techniques in 1:1 application ideas, like taan-da against a given attack.

In most lineages of Wing Chun, taan-da is a representative technique, often done (theoretically) as a round punch defense, or at least it's a technique taught in their system; i.e. "When he does this, I can taan-da. It's a spread and hit concept" they say. They'll cling to the idea of it representing some concept or other, but it's still dealing in 1:1 applications.

What I mean by confusing concepts with principles, is that when people talk about being concept based they often mean things like economy of motion, chasing center of mass and not limbs, centerline theory, etc.. But these are all principles that make up the overall fighting strategy.

Concepts are the tactics used to carry out that strategy in combat in adherence to those principles, such as tactical footwork, angling, and striking methods that sweep and clear the centerline with the elbow, should anything be in the way, while chasing and striking to the target. (Taan and fuk shapes in the forms and partner drills are preliminary training positions for these punches/strikes).

These concepts/tactics function under the principles of the system to make the strategy work. If you are confused at any point (applying taan and fuk as literal hand techniques to be used in fighting), it ceases to function properly and loses effectiveness.

Principles = Strategy
Concepts = Tactics

Taan-da = Technique

See the difference?

So you are saying that in your VT the tan da would be (in your above list example) in the concepts category(?)
 

LFJ

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So you are saying that in your VT the tan da would be (in your above list example) in the concepts category(?)

No, not at all. It's not even used in my VT.

You see, it's in the technique category, and we aren't technique based.
 

wckf92

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No, not at all. It's not even used in my VT.

You see, it's in the technique category, and we aren't technique based.

You're saying you never use the 'shape'; just the idea embedded in the elbow energy of Tan while striking? Correct?
 

LFJ

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Something I find funny however are the styles that say "we removed this technique from our repertoire and now our style finally works in fighting in difference to all others", as if a fighting martial artist wont learn through experience when something does not work for him and remove it despite what he/her was taught.

I don't think it was just that YM removed certain techniques and that's what makes his approach better. It was an entire shift in fighting strategy, and he adapted the system to match and develop a fighter in that way.

A good teacher always try to adapt his teaching to the mentality of his class and students.

Sure. The VT system I think YM developed is very simple and effective the way it is. Different teaching methods can be adapted to the individual to correct their errors and suit their natural abilities. But the overall fighting strategy and tactics should not change, especially not to the degree of creating vastly different types of fighters, which different Wing Chun systems certainly do.
 

wckf92

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Let me be clear... when I strike, depending on what happens to it while en route... a certain idea from the forms may come into play during the exchange. For example, my strike could sail right through an opening and hit its target. If it encounters any obstruction(s) while en route my arm will naturally and spontaneously adopt the appropriate energy (i.e. elbow energy/pressure) to deal with the obstacle. This may be tan elbow energy; fook elbow energy; jum elbow energy; etc...
 

LFJ

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You're saying you never use the 'shape'; just the idea embedded in the elbow energy of Tan while striking? Correct?

Correct.

It's to train and develop a tactical striking concept, not a technique against a given attack.
 

Mephisto

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This, more than anything, is the downfall of WC. With no venue for testing what we do, or at least what the best representatives of each branch can do, everything ... the good, the bad, the practical and the fantasy stuff, all becomes equal... a mere opinion to argue over.

If we could test our art, perhaps we would have a more objective way to evaluate what works. And I suspect that we would find valuable, workable approaches within many of our divergent branches.
I think your point is dead on here. Fighting will solve the issues and descerpencies from lineage to lineage. If you can make it work against a resisting opponent authenticity or differences don't matter. Look at another striking based style, boxing. You never hear boxers label one another as inauthentic, sure they'll criticize each other but that's usually an individual criticism. Boxers realize that different body types move and apply the art differently, a lanky long range fighter knows a stocky short fighter will not apply the art in the same manner, he doesn't say infighting and close range tactics are ineffective or inauthentic. I was even having a discussion the other day about some successful boxers that seem to be sloppy in their approach of certain strategies and techniques, but if they are successful who can criticize them? Imo opinion WC could take a lesson or two and follow in the footsteps of boxing. WC can be tested, there may be done techniques that you have to leave out (eye gouges, ect.) but much of the system can be tested and applied to a resisting partner. I'd recommend finding a ruleset that develops the proncipals of WC and discriminates against non WC guys.you could test WC in a boxing ruleset but boxing has been adapted and developed to take full advantage of those rules, so perhaps a unique ruleset would be in order.
 

LFJ

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Let me be clear... when I strike, depending on what happens to it while en route... a certain idea from the forms may come into play during the exchange. For example, my strike could sail right through an opening and hit its target. If it encounters any obstruction(s) while en route my arm will naturally and spontaneously adopt the appropriate energy (i.e. elbow energy/pressure) to deal with the obstacle. This may be tan elbow energy; fook elbow energy; jum elbow energy; etc...

Okay, but I think there is no time for that. The different elbow energies are there no matter what to intersect the line while striking. IF something is in the way, the elbow will mindlessly work to clear the line as you continue to strike. But it's not dependant on what the opponent does, as that takes a conscious moment to change your energy midway, and there's simply no time for that.

Some people tell me they will extend a taan-sau and if nothing is there, it will automatically turn into a punch. But that requires thinking time to change your hand shape and energy. It means your mind was not in the punch from the start. That often means you will create a delay, a hesitation, and then reaction and loss of speed and power. If you're going to punch, it should be a punch from the start with built-in defensive functions by use of the elbow. But always punch to punch. Don't anticipate or worse search for limb connection. Just punch to target.
 

wckf92

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Okay, but I think there is no time for that. The different elbow energies are there no matter what to intersect the line while striking. IF something is in the way, the elbow will mindlessly work to clear the line as you continue to strike. But it's not dependant on what the opponent does, as that takes a conscious moment to change your energy midway, and there's simply no time for that.

Some people tell me they will extend a taan-sau and if nothing is there, it will automatically turn into a punch. But that requires thinking time to change your hand shape and energy. It means your mind was not in the punch from the start. That often means you will create a delay, a hesitation, and then reaction and loss of speed and power. If you're going to punch, it should be a punch from the start with built-in defensive functions by use of the elbow. But always punch to punch. Don't anticipate or worse search for limb connection. Just punch to target.

Yes, agreed. Apparently I can't type well or get my meaning across. Must have drank too much last night. :hungover:
 

Mephisto

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You can test your own skill but you cant compare with other martial arts or styles. Since you can not find two or more identical persons to study styles until they are considered masters on equal terms and then fight it out, simply because they are never the same and their experience and body type will put them apart.

Since you can validate your own skill, this in no way rules out that other styles dont work just as well. There is no supreme style and if we want to be as close to Ip Man as possible we should not study what he taught but rather follow his masters teaching.

And then comes the problem, they would not teach us same way they taught Ip Man so even then we would be different.

Most styles I believe to be equal, just personalized.
I gotta disagree. You can compare styles, you can examine general trends among fighters and see what is and isn't typically successful. But that doesn't concern Geezer's point. Testing through sparring can be done, it's not about proving what style of chun is best is about developing the style and applying it to a resisting opponents. Different people will need to apply the art differently. After a generation or so of wing chun competition you'll likely have a number of valid approaches that are effective.
 

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