For those of you who may not already know but there has been an exchange struck between myself and blogger CTK from the martial arts site Dark Wing Chun. After being initially approached by him, we have decided to embark on a cultural exchange – martial arts style. The first Q&A was done by him with me and is now shown on his website. If you can check it out before continuing on to this.
Below are the Wing Chun questions that I’ve asked of him. Since starting Aikido, I’ve been visiting classes of other martial arts just for the hell of it. Through the years I’ve been on the look out on what things to do to intensify and persue my martial aspirations. For some reason Wing Chun has been on my mental “shelf” for a while and although I’m sticking to Aikido for the time being, I’ve stayed curious about Wing Chun.
Before I present you the interview, I’d like to take this time to thank him for his time to answer my questions. This will not be the last interview between our two respective arts, so stay tuned! So without further ado, here is Wing Chun by CTK, Enjoy!
*Edit: CTK is a Wing Chun instructor from Canada. When he’s not adding more experience to his almost two decade long Wing Chun career and blogging, he is busy running his acupuncture business.
1. What is Wing Chun to you?
Wing Chun is a collection of theories and principles that can be applied to solving a problem: how to survive a violent encounter. Wing Chun, to me, is not a collection of techniques but a system, or rather, a signpost. The first form, Siu Nim Tao, is often translated as ‘Little Idea.’Very much like, “Here’s a little idea on what Wing Chun is about.” Very playful and open – and I think it’s important to not lose sight of this.
2. What got you started in Wing Chun?
I probably got started in Wing Chun because it was a type of Kung-Fu. Previous to my Wing Chun training, I went to a Karate/Kung-Fu mish-mash school. I left due to bad business practices and cult-like behavior. Shortly after I left, it closed due to these problems. I was then in search for another Kung-Fu school. I tried Shaolin Animal Kung-Fu and Chen Tai Chi. They didn’t feel quite right. I then went to a Traditional Wing Chun (of the William Cheung variety) school for 1.5 years before finding my Sifu. I just loved it. As many people have said before me, it just felt no-nonsense.
3. I’ve heard that Chi Sao is meant to build sensitivity in the hands and arms. Is this true? If so how does it do that?
Yes and no. To clear the air, when the sh*t hits the fan, a lot of sensitivity goes out the window. That isn’t to say that it won’t work at all, but it will be a little uglier than what is commonly seen between two patty-cake Chi Sau practitioners. The key is forward pressure and a constant honing of it. Between the rolling in the Chi Sau, there is a press towards each opponent’s Centre of Mass (COM). Each press asks, “Are you there? Are you on target? Are you issuing force from your legs, through your body, through your arms towards my COM?” How Chi Sau develops sensitivity is simply: when the opponent deviates from the forward pressure, as long as the other practitioner has forward pressure, as well as stance, facing and proper elbow position, they will almost ‘leak’ through the hole and be able to strike.
4. What’s with the weird stance that you guys have when doing the solo hand movements? To the untrained eye it doesn’t look natural, or is it?
I think two things. First, what started out as simply being told to stand with the knees bent has turned into some dogma. When I play forms, drills or Chi Sau, I keep my feet pretty much parallel with each other and squat down – to paint a picture, close to how a wrestler would keep their bodyweight down. What this does is loads the legs, allows me to issue force, improves mobility and the stance is easily adaptable for striking and defending a takedown. Secondly, when issuing force towards, say, the opponent’s sternum area in the Chi Sau, the feet tend to point in the direction they’re headed. I think this is why we see the feet pointing forward to create a triangle – and again, it became dogma. The lean is bad practice. Many practitioners point their toes, tuck their tailbone too far under their spine and lean backwards. Perhaps they’ve never seen how boxers issue force through punching, but I don’t think it’s by leaning the whole body (including the head – which is supposed to lead a lot of motions) away from the point of contact.
Simply, for me, it’s gotta work.