I’d Rather Beg Forgiveness Than Ask For Permission: Chi Sau, Self Defense and the Street:

Getting it in with my Sifu and very good friend, Philip Ng. Phil taught me what REAL chi sau is all about (hint: it’s not just sticking to your opponent’s hands!)

What do we get drummed into our heads growing up?

The importance of being “nice.”

That word drives me crazy.  In fact, the two words I dislike the most are nice and unique.  Why?  They don’t mean anything.  Seriously, what does nice really mean?  The absence of something bad.  Think about it-what carries more weight, hearing someone say that so-and-so is a “nice guy” or that he is a “good man.”

The same goes for the word “unique.” If everyone is “unique” then by pure philosophical reasoning no one is.

Continue reading

Little Things = Big Things: The RIGHT Way To Train Your Chi Sau Skills For Self Defense and the Street

I always say that the best and quickest way to get better at Wing Chun in the only way that counts- personal protection and combat skill-is to keep the end goal (again, personal protection and combat skill) in the back of your brain while concentrating fully on whatever task you are working on.

I train Wing Chun for fighting skill and to be able to use it in a street situation should I ever need to.  However, that does not mean that my training deviates away from structure and technique work.  Not at all.

What it means to Wing Chun folks is simple: if you plan to ever use your Wing Chun in the street or in a combat sport, you need to familiarize yourself with functionalizing your skills, not abandoning them in favor of thai kicks and right hooks.

Functionalized Wing Chun training is more conceptual in nature and crosses any lineage lines, so it can be easily integrated with any other form of training or left alone can be developed in devastating fashion. Continue reading

ALL SALES FINAL! Training Secrets to More Effective Chi Sau, Sparring and Self-Defense

Just a little reminder: there are no “fakes” or “feints” in Wing Chun.  Either you are “selling” your opponent on why your attack will hit him or he is “selling” you on why it won’t. We stay the course in Wing Chun-and that’s how we get shit done.

I was watching one one of my favorite movies the other night, Boiler Room.

Having zero to do with martial arts or fighting, it tells the story of a persuasive young entrepreneur named Seth who drops out of college and begins running a casino out of his house.  In an effort to please his father, a respected Circuit Court Judge with whom he has a strained relationship already, Seth shuts his casino down and begins working at an investment firm named J.T. Marlin.  After an uber-aggressive interview by Ben Affleck (doing his best Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross) and surrounded in a culture of pure excess and greed, he soon becomes a standout broker, closing sales and rapidly rising up the ranks.

The problem?  J.T. Marlin is a “chop shop” brokerage firm; a front designed to screw people out of their money by using hard-line and very aggressive sales while simultaneously probing for weaknesses and signs of hesitation.

As I watched this for the 982nd time I couldn’t help but be reminded of the similarities between this movie and our end goal of Wing Chun fighting skill both in chi sau and self defense.  In both cases, Continue reading

Chi Sau “Challenge Matches?” Please….

On the right, engaging in an applied close-quarters self defense drill utilizing the Wing Chun concept of forward pressure and  centerline dominance.  Drills are just that-DRILLS. Chi Sau is a drill, not a fight.  Always keep that in mind.

We all know people who have gone through a little bit of martial arts training at some point in their lives, which is precisely the reason that as I get older, less and less people know that I train.   I choose to keep both my involvement in Wing Chun and my close-quarters self-defense training to myself.  I’m not hiding anything, nor am I actively keeping it from anyone-I just choose not to bring it up unless asked directly. 

Now part of this is the maturation process that comes with not seeking anyone’s approval the way we do when we are young, but the other part is much more selfish. 

The main motivation for my choosing not to yap about my self-defense and Wing Chun training is for the simple reason that one of three reactions almost always presents itself: Continue reading

What Effective Chi Sau Practice Looks Like

Continuing with more of my instructor Keith dispensing both wisdom and sarcasm in our back lot chi sau session on a hot July night, pay attention to his observations on forward pressure and attack, why you shouldn’t use bong sau unless necessary and the need to be forever vigilant against reaching or flaring your elbows out.

Specifically, every attack should be to your opponent’s centerline.  This can be done either by Continue reading

Structure and Pressure: What Chi Sau Is All About!

Check out the above clip of myself and one of my instructors rolling in the gravel back lot behind the school I used to teach at on the far south side of Chicago.

Keith, a former national champion in Ving Tsun and sanshou (Chinese full-contact kickboxing) at the time worked not too far from the school I taught at.  He would occasionally drop by after work on his way back to the city and observe my class, jump in and Continue reading

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A WORD OF WARNING: I tend to speak and write how I think, so some of what I say may come across as insensitive, rough around the edges and maybe even a bit arrogant. If sarcasm, political incorrectness and occasional "naughty words" offend you, you may want to move on - but if you're serious about making your Wing Chun WORK, then fill out the fields above and let's get started!