Wing Chun in decline: My quest for the historical model of Wing Chun

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Flying Crane

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Crane - Thanks for your thoughtful and honest response. Your advice is right on the mark.

Interesting fact - TBH I myself was never a "fighter". I first came to martial arts in my late teens with very unrealistic expectations based on reading books and magazines, and watching movies and TV. I had done some wrestling and enjoyed it, but didn't like getting punched. Looking back, how I expected to really fight without getting hit ...a lot ...is a mystery to me now. To a certain degree I guess I was "looking for magic" too.

My first experience in Asian martial arts was with a complicated "five-animal" system that purported to be "true Shaolin kung-fu" but was in fact just re-branded kempo seeking to ride the Bruce Lee inspired kung-fu craze of the mid 70s. The instructor also threw in a hodge-podge of new age and so-called "internal" exercises. Magic. And I was pretty well sucked into it. I did learn a few decent kicks, punches and combinations, but 90% of what we trained was pretty useless and far too complicated to assimilate and apply.

Then I moved back to Arizona and found Wing Chun, and eventually I ended up training with my old Sifu. Unlike the stuff I learned before, I found his Wing Chun (Wing Tsun) relatively simple and direct, and I could make it work pretty well against my friends who were training other systems like TKD and Kempo.

So I got some validation. As long as I worked against friends, I did pretty well. I did not seek out people who really fought hard like boxers and kickboxers. Remember, this was before MMA. Muay Thai was rare, and BJJ was unknown. But deep down, I knew my limitations and tried to be honest about them.

In later years, as I started teaching, I was upfront with students about my limitations. If I had younger students that wanted to go harder than we did, I had a good friend who coached MMA, and besides that, we were training at space sub-let at a boxing gym. The head coach was a real stand-up guy.

Anyway, It's been a long journey, after putting a lot of time into WC, I'd like to see it continue ...but both as traditional Southern Chinese Boxing and as a real, evolving fighting art, not phony baloney magical BS. Of course I don't expect most practitioners will be "fighters" any more than I was. Heck most people at MMA and boxing gyms are not hard core fighters. I would just like to see WC work to stay an authentic and effective art.
Most people who train martial arts have no interest in fighting, meaning they have no interest in being a competition champion or fighting in the local bar every weekend. Most reasonable folks would just like to get through life without engaging in violence. They appreciate the exercise and the mental engagement that it provides and the community, as well as having a distinct advantage in the unlikely event that someone tries to mug them or otherwise rough them up. And there is nothing wrong with that. And neither is this an admission that we only train to defeat the untrained, that little piece of nonsense that I am seeing bandied about lately.

By far, the majority of folks who train, meet this description. Ive been open about my own disinterest in fighting, both in watching it and participating. I feel no compulsion to justify it to anyone. Honestly, it feels less paranoid and more realistic and honest about the training.

If you still find value in it, keep doing it. What others think, those who want to cut it down, they dont matter.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Most people who train martial arts have no interest in fighting,
If you are not interest in fighting, it doesn't mean that you are not interest in testing your MA skill against others.

- If you play 100% defense, can someone take/knock you down?
- Can you door guarding skill work on your opponent?
- ...

In order to collect such data, you have to test your skill against others. Is that fight? I don't think so.
 

jayoliver00

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Most people who train martial arts have no interest in fighting, meaning they have no interest in being a competition champion or fighting in the local bar every weekend. Most reasonable folks would just like to get through life without engaging in violence. They appreciate the exercise and the mental engagement that it provides and the community, as well as having a distinct advantage in the unlikely event that someone tries to mug them or otherwise rough them up. And there is nothing wrong with that. And neither is this an admission that we only train to defeat the untrained, that little piece of nonsense that I am seeing bandied about lately.

By far, the majority of folks who train, meet this description. Ive been open about my own disinterest in fighting, both in watching it and participating. I feel no compulsion to justify it to anyone. Honestly, it feels less paranoid and more realistic and honest about the training.

If you still find value in it, keep doing it. What others think, those who want to cut it down, they dont matter.

Most people at an MMA gym are afraid to fight also. And it's mostly about fear, if not all about fear. Saying they're not "interested", is just an excuse....like, "I have work tomorrow and can't get a black eye" or "I worry about CTE", etc. I've heard them all. Dudes are just scared to get punched in the face hard.

But the 5-10% who do fight, is what makes gym more exciting and drive in the memberships. Most of the fans that buy the tickets are the family, friends and gym mates of those who fights. Then afterward, everyone goes to a restaurant/bar and watch the UFC; where they can see what they train be put into practice at the highest level. You don't have this in WC nor TMA's.
This is the main reason why WC and other TMA's are on the decline, you don't have representation for your style on the big stage. Google exposes everything nowadays & people aren't that easily impressed into signing memberships.

And MMA isn't the main money maker neither, it's Sports BJJ. Because most of the pure BJJ people are afraid to get hit in the face also, but it's a style that anyone can train up to 100% intensity => a lot more competition than MMA => an even bigger community of people; especially for children. I'm lucky to get 10 kids in my Muay Thai class each day (15 would be a big class), while the BJJ is 25-35 on average, charging $150/mo for 3 classes/wk on a 1yr contract.
 

Steve

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Most people who train martial arts have no interest in fighting, meaning they have no interest in being a competition champion or fighting in the local bar every weekend. Most reasonable folks would just like to get through life without engaging in violence. They appreciate the exercise and the mental engagement that it provides and the community, as well as having a distinct advantage in the unlikely event that someone tries to mug them or otherwise rough them up. And there is nothing wrong with that. And neither is this an admission that we only train to defeat the untrained, that little piece of nonsense that I am seeing bandied about lately.

By far, the majority of folks who train, meet this description. Ive been open about my own disinterest in fighting, both in watching it and participating. I feel no compulsion to justify it to anyone. Honestly, it feels less paranoid and more realistic and honest about the training.

If you still find value in it, keep doing it. What others think, those who want to cut it down, they dont matter.
I was with you until you started talking about "a distinct advantage" if someone tries to "rough them up." At best, you can play the odds and bank on never needing to find out. That, at least, is self aware.
 

Steve

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Unless it does. Different strokes for different folks.
I train BJJ so that I can learn to fly. I haven't flown yet, but I know that in the unlikely event I find myself falling off a cliff, I'll have a distinct advantage.

 
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Flying Crane

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Most people at an MMA gym are afraid to fight also. And it's mostly about fear, if not all about fear. Saying they're not "interested", is just an excuse....like, "I have work tomorrow and can't get a black eye" or "I worry about CTE", etc. I've heard them all. Dudes are just scared to get punched in the face hard.
Well no, you are wrong at least in many cases. For some, it could be fear. For others, simple disinterest. Being able to recognize subtlety and gray areas is important.

a little honesty in how you post can go a long way.
 

Hanzou

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And MMA isn't the main money maker neither, it's Sports BJJ. Because most of the pure BJJ people are afraid to get hit in the face also, but it's a style that anyone can train up to 100% intensity => a lot more competition than MMA => an even bigger community of people; especially for children. I'm lucky to get 10 kids in my Muay Thai class each day (15 would be a big class), while the BJJ is 25-35 on average, charging $150/mo for 3 classes/wk on a 1yr contract.

BJJ did a very good job of incorporating a surfer-like culture into the art, and part of its appeal is that it is very western culturally. You really don't have the level of rigidity that you find in other martial arts, and it's a much more open and laid back atmosphere. You call your teachers by their first names, you can wear bright and colorful training gear, you have a lot of silliness and goofing around, you have belts being tossed around based on skill instead of fees, etc. Thus, when you participate in BJJ you can also participate in the culture of the art. You combine effectiveness with a laid back, attractive culture, and yeah it's going to be popular and "cool".
 

jayoliver00

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I dunno. So do, some dont. Sparring to knockout is like not very smart. Leads to brain injury.

Your accusation that it is all about fear. That was a calculated poke.

But I was right, and you just admitted it. You fear brain injuries, and that's just 1 of the fears.
 

Flying Crane

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But I was right, and you just admitted it. You fear brain injuries, and that's just 1 of the fears.
Jeezuz. No, I am smart enough to avoid brain injuries.

how about this: you tell yourself whatever you need to, to feel good about yourself.
 

geezer

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I dunno. So do, some dont. Sparring to knockout is like not very smart. Leads to brain injury.

Your accusation that it is all about fear. That was a calculated poke.

But I was right, and you just admitted it. You fear brain injuries, and that's just 1 of the fears.
Yeah, you could look at it that way. I don't want to take hard shots either. I'm getting older. I turned 66 last month. I get injured a lot more easily than I used to, and it takes me a long time to heal and sometimes I don't heal right if at all.

So, I get what Crane is saying. It's not the fear of somebody whose never been hit, or whose always been risk-averse and afraid of physicality. It's more like common sense. We all know what happens to boxers who hang in the game too long. It's not pretty.

So, maybe you call that "fear". I think of it more like "common sense". I'd like to go as hard as I did 20 years ago, when I was forty-ish but frankly, that would be stupid!
 

jayoliver00

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Yeah, you could look at it that way. I don't want to take hard shots either. I'm getting older. I turned 66 last month. I get injured a lot more easily than I used to, and it takes me a long time to heal and sometimes I don't heal right if at all.

So, I get what Crane is saying. It's not the fear of somebody whose never been hit, or whose always been risk-averse and afraid of physicality. It's more like common sense. We all know what happens to boxers who hang in the game too long. It's not pretty.

So, maybe you call that "fear". I think of it more like "common sense". I'd like to go as hard as I did 20 years ago, when I was forty-ish but frankly, that would be stupid!

I'm glad that you agree it's fear; especially if didn't even spar hard when you were young. And by sparring hard, I mean full power to the head & body.
 

jayoliver00

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Jeezuz. No, I am smart enough to avoid brain injuries.

how about this: you tell yourself whatever you need to, to feel good about yourself.

I guess that's why it's called, Martial Arts; not Larping Arts.

Don't feel bad, you just train at a lower level, that is all.
 

Hanzou

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I'll just say that part of the reason I stuck with BJJ and never returned to striking arts is because I'm getting older and old sports injuries are constantly flaring up (especially one of my knees).

I had a good buddy of mine in his 50s who wanted to relive his glory days and took up muay thai kickboxing. He was doing fine until he got the bright idea to do an amateur fight. He ended up shattering one of his shins, and severely hurting his ribs. He was on crutches for weeks. After he recovered, he never went back to the MT gym.

I'm not quite as old as that guy, but the idea of getting socked in the face isn't appealing to me. I can understand why some people avoid it, and I can understand why some people prefer martial arts where hard sparring and competition simply isn't present.

Obviously you have to train hard, but you have to train smart too, or you won't be training very long. I think I'm at the stage now where I just do the Jitz to stay in shape and maintain flexibility. I'm not trying to be the king of the mat, or tap out those young punks who come in off the street. These days, I let the kids take out the trash.
 

Snark

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I guess that's why it's called, Martial Arts; not Larping Arts.

Don't feel bad, you just train at a lower level, that is all.
Every time I see the word larping rolled out I am always curious as to what it means to the person who uses it. I (and I may be wrong) assume the person who uses it perceives the following meaning:
TMA: larping
Bjj/MMA: not larping
Bjj/MMA practitioner with no amateur or professional fight record: not larping
Bjj/MMA practitioner who has not officially competed with people outside their own school: not larping
Bjj/MMA practitioner who has never been in an engagement or fight outside their club: not larping
Bjj/MMA practitioner who doesn't work in security or in an occupation involving the use of their skills: not larping.

If that's the case, it's a little bit difficult to not read it and chuckle at the irony.
 
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