Out of my many resources I have amassed over the last 20+ years which I refer back to often to feed my brain and my subconscious as I constantly seek to refine my training in Wing Chun to be as combat effective, practical and efficient as possible is a nondescript little book I purchased online as an e-book a few years ago, the author of which has forgotten more about real life-or-death fighting than 99% of the population will ever know.
It’s no secret that I am a fan and student of various methods of close-quarter combat training as they make the perfect complement both in theory and application to my lineage (WSL) of Wing Chun/Ving Tsun as well as any other system of Wing Chun out there. Out of the mountain of material out there, one book resonated with me-I appreciated its’ simple nature, its’ streamlined curriculum and the plain and nonchalant, matter-of-fact nature in which it was presented. I for one believe that the only reason someone would have a 27 DVD set on “Simple Self Defense” is to pull an Arthur Murray or Fred Astaire Dance Studio move – create more to have more to sell more. Now that’s not a bad thing and in fact is a damn fine business plan – for dancing.
When it comes to learning how to take someone out and make them go to sleep before they try to pull the same shit on me, give me “quick and to the point” over “conceptual and roundabout” any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Rank chasers and technique collectors be warned, your martial arts A.D.D may kick in right about…NOW.
Who Is This Guy? A Bad-Ass, That’s Who.
For those of you who may not know who he is, the author of the book I referenced earlier is John Kary. John is the founder of the American Combatives System of Self-Defense and a retired U.S. Marine who, while serving in Vietnam, was blinded in a firefight yet who still managed to successfully protect himself and in the process disptach (i.e. KILL) several North Vietnamese soldiers bare-handed, earning himself the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Make no mistake-this guy knows real fighting, and as for what he has to say…well, as Jesus so often said to His well intentioned but occasionally bone-headed disciples,“anyone with two good ears had better listen!”
6 Little Ideas = 600% More Effective Training
A core pillar of what John teaches and has promoted is what he calls his 6 Principles of Combat. These are pure GOLD to anyone interested in making his or her Wing Chun training functional, practical and effective for not only self defense and personal protection but also combat sports and chi sau training as well. And it all starts with…
Principle #1: Develop an OFFENSIVE Mindset
Your mentality, when faced with an attacker or someone wishing to do you harm, MUST be “I will hurt THEM” rather than “I will defend MYSELF.” By taking this stance, your attitude shifts from one of “Please don’t hurt me!” to “How F***ing DARE YOU ATTACK ME?!?” In doing so, you rob your body of fear, and replace it with righteous indignation.
One of the most famous (and applicable for our purposes) quotes regarding mindset and mentality in combat has its’ roots immediately following the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Navy forces in Pearl Harbor, launching the U.S. into World War II.
According to legend once Japanese Imperial Naval Marshall General Isoroku Yamamoto had been notified of the attack’s successful completion, rather than having the reaction his subordinates had expected he uttered the words, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
Now whether or not he actually said those words is irrelevant; what is important is that is exactly what happened.
After two years of neutrality from the World War, once America was thrust into it, that attack galvanized a nation for the next 4 and a half years until the war’s completion. Americans from all walks of life, ages and ability levels recycled, bought war bonds, pitched in patrolling streets, rationed resources and so on until the war’s end.
When you adopt the mentality of the awakened giant filled with that “terrible resolve,” your mind and body will galvanize into one unit; fear will not have a say in how your body performs. Your mindset will drive the ship, and it will steer towards your opponent’s most vulnerable points with cold and dispassionate efficiency.
Your Wing Chun tools will then be able to do damage, not so much due to technique in and of itself but rather due to the mentality and feeling behind the technique. However, when normal motion is replaced by powerful purpose and intense emotion, the direct, simple and efficient nature of Wing Chun is exponentially increased. In this sense the old adage, “He can because he thinks he can” actually, is true.
The Best Way Up the Mountain
The best and most effective way to functionalize your Wing Chun skill set for personal defense and combat is through scenario-based training drills employing Wing Chun techniques against an uncooperative opponent in mock set-ups. Wanna know how to do this? There are several excellent, adrenal stress response scenario-based which offer classes to anyone interested. They are, however, expensive and often require extensive travel. Fortunately, you can duplicate the general framework of each of these classes within your Wing Chun training by following these few simple steps:
- Invest in Protective Gear. Full body suits such as the Macho REDMAN Instructor’s Suit are very valuable tools for this kinda thing but are easily over $1,500 putting them out of range for a lot of folks who could use the training (although if you are serious about reality-based training, there is only one such suit that I personally recommend; I have used it and know firsthand that its’ value is priceless in this kind of training). You can piece the essentials together by picking up a quality motorcycle helmet (which from personal experience let me just say works one hell of a lot better than any face helmet or mask from any of these full body suits I have ever used) and a durable groin protector-just be aware that motorcycle helmets are not designed for self-defense training and the groin protectors are not designed to withstand full power shots to the balls, so train accordingly. I have found that quality motorcycle helmets offer the opportunity to launch full-power strikes to an opponent that a mask of headgear cannot withstand; it is my personal preference and NOT what the headgear is designed for. Keep this in mind when making your decision to use this piece of equipment. When doing defense scenarios I often wear a Shock Doctor Groin Protector with Compression Shorts under my clothes and a Title Boxing Deluxe Groin Protector over them for double protection. Try it out-but again remember that even the 2 of these together are NOT designed to withstand full-power groin shots; save that for the full-body suits. I have done all the guesswork for y’all as to what is good and what isn’t; check out my review on the best gear to use for this kid of training HERE.
- Employ Visualization in Forms Training. When training your forms, employ visualization of various scenarios in which you will have to do some very nasty things to an attacker; eye rakes, throat chops, gouging, kicking their shins, squeezing their balls and so on. Conjure up a scenario in your head that touches a nerve deep down, that makes you a little white hot with rage. Now keep that intensity while you perform your forms with full control over tempo, relaxation and structure. It may seem at first when trying this out like you are holding the gas pedal down while stopped at a red light but in reality it is training your mind to control the body not allow it to over-commit to any attack. This type of training is hard at first but after a short time the sense of urgency is replaced by a more calm, relaxed-ready state which is difficult to rattle. That’s the whole point.
- Strengthen Your Self-Image. Remember-no one has the right to attack you. No one. If they try, avoid them or remove yourself from harm’s way. If they continue, make them sorry. You have the power to do just that. Sadly, too many of us carry around unnecessary bullshit baggage in our heads about failing at this or that, not being good enough at this or that, and so on. We tend to let a shortcoming or weakness in one area determine our scope of view of ourselves, which all too often leads to devaluing ourselves…which is just what a scum bag attacker is hoping for.
Strengthen your self image as you would a muscle group by using weights or a pull-up bar. 1920’s strongman Charles Atlas’ ads were famous in the back of comic cooks for depicting a weak scrawny kid getting humiliated at the beach by a bigger bully (which is where the proverbial “getting sand kicked in your face” line originated from), going home and ordering Charles Atlas’ Bodybuilding Course, returning to the beach a short time later and kicking the shit out of the bully.
What Atlas was selling wasn’t just exercise techniques but an idea-“no one picks on a strong man!” Obviously it worked for him, he made a hell of a lot of money and was one of the few businesses to not only survive but thrive after the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent fallout which resulted in kicking off what is now known as the Great Depression. Why? He sold an IDEA.
Updated for today, the concept is the same-self image is key and once you believe you are worth fighting for, you start to develop an OFFENSIVE Mindset.
If someone attacks you, the time for negotiation and diplomacy has passed. ACTION is required and action requires an OFFENSIVE mindset. Smash this shitbag so hard and fast that the next potential attacker will feel it. Be prepared and should anything ever happen your attacker will have an “oh, shit” moment because he will know that by encroaching on your personal space with the intent to do you harm all he really did, just like Yamamoto, was to awaken a sleeping giant.
Train Smart, Stay Safe