Knowing Vs. KNOWING: How I Developed Self-Confidence In Sparring

 

Anyone can look like a badass on the mitts or bag. Sparring is the real test to see where your confidence level is at; testing yourself against another person is what martial arts training is all about.

 

“It’s a procedure. Like rebuilding a carburetor has a procedure. You know, when you rebuild a carburetor, the first thing you do is you take the carburetor off the manifold? Supposing you skip the first step, and while you’re replacing one of the jets, you accidentally drop the jet, it goes down the carburetor, rolls along the manifold, and goes into the head. You’re fucked. You just learned the hard way that you gotta remove the carburetor first, right? So that’s all that happened to me today. I learned the hard way. Actually, it was a good learning experience for me. “

-Joe Pesci, My Cousin Vinny

One thing that I have come to learn is that you can know something intellectually by research, by reading and by observation but when you experience it; when you feel what it’s like, then and only then do you truly KNOW something.

For example, you can offer sincere and heartfelt condolences to a friend who has lost a loved one but unless you have experienced that pain and sadness you truly do not KNOW what that is like.  Now that’s not your fault and it does not in any way take away from your kind words of comfort to your grieving friend; it’s just the way shit works in life.

The story I want to share with you is about how all of my experiences in martial arts culminated to bring about a transformative experience in my own Wing Chun and self-defense training, and that’s what life is all about: evolution and transformation of one’s consciousness.  I hope you find it useful. Here goes: Continue reading

Wing Chun’s TOP SECRET Weapon: Applying The Discerning Mindset to Self-Defense, Fighting and Combat Sports

Performing the first form, Siu Nim Tau, at one of countless Chinese New Year performances. This form is where the mindset of Wing Chun is first cultivated and later sharpened.

One of the most the most underrated benefits of Wing Chun lies in the mindset and mentality it develops in you; in my opinion, a discerning mindset is the one that will carry you farthest in life, not just in your martial arts, self defense or combat sports training. 

Think of the following scenario:

Imagine walking to your car from the local supermarket and suddenly realizing you absent-mindedly put a Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cup from the dollar rack in your pocket while you were walking through the store, fully intending to pay for it. Honest mistake, right? You walk back in, explain what happened, laugh at your scatter-mindedness with the clerk, flip them a buck and go on about your day.  Easy fix.

Now suppose that you are driving home in a blizzard when you realize this. Continue reading

…And The “Why’s” Have It! Reverse Engineering Wing Chun Skill for Self-Defense and Fighting

Know WHY you are training and don’t lie to yourself. Believe me – nothing good comes from doing that.

In the pantheon of Wing Chun training, the “how-to” aspect occupies far too much of the time.

Now obviously in order to improve at something you first have to learn how to do something, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  What I am talking about is the fixation on “how-to” skill at the expense of the other aspects of training that are more important in the furtherance of your ultimate goal of combat effectiveness and efficiency and practicality in self-defense; aspects that force you to venture out past what you are comfortable with.

These can be mental, emotional or even psychological aspects of training or they can be a next level of physical aspects such as sparring or full-contact training, scenario self-defense work or even chi sau with a new partner whose motions perplex you.

One universal example of this is Continue reading

Want To Make Your Wing Chun Skills Practical and Usable? It’s As Easy As 1-2-3

A gift from my student and good friend whom I will call “Jim,” since he has requested to be kept off social media. This was taken at a tournament back in the 1970’s or early 80’s and is of him and his partner performing a two-man kata (sequence). The inscription rings most true for anyone who engages in a lifelong study of the arts. Thank you, sir!

One of the biggest diseases in martial arts today which undermines the ability to make one’s skills functional, practical and usable for purposes of self-defense and protection on the street is the issue of rank, belts, titles or whatever else you want to call it.  I have lost count of the times I have seen a soccer mom tote young A.D.D / A.D.H.D / whatever other bullshit acronym-of-the-month-afflicted Timmy into the school I was training in to inquire about lessons and within 5 minutes ask the question, “How long will it take him to get his black belt?”

The problem I have with that is the word “get.”

“Get” a black belt?   If you want one just go buy a friggin’ belt to put on the shelf next to his lacrosse, soccer and baseball trophies.  Shit, I’ll just give you one if that makes you happy.  Sorry honey, if Timmy really wants to “get” one, Timmy is gonna have to work his ass off to EARN one.

Continue reading

Forms, Fighting and Self-Defense…What Is Wing Chun’s “Secret Ingredient” to Effectiveness?

Wing Chun is about self preservation. Anything else is gravy.

Every time you look up anything re: Wing Chun on the internet, you can find anything from what the forms are to what uniforms are used by each lineage to where the big toe from Person A’s lineage rests in the second pivot of the third form compared to  Person  B’s lineage, and so on…

By now I’m sure it comes as no secret or surprise that I think the overwhelming majority of stuff floating around out there online regarding Wing Chun as a system of self defense and personal combat is a pile of sh*t.

My answer to the question I see so much of, “is Wing Chun effective in a real fight?” is YES – with a caveat. Continue reading

“That’s the Chicago Way!” Are You Ready, Willing and PREPARED to Use Your Wing Chun on the Street?

 

I’ll keep this short, sweet and to the point today.  Here’s a little clip from one of my favorite films, The Untouchables.

I was thinking about this scene the other day.  Being from the Chicago area I’ve always liked this scene but what makes this stick out in my head is the mentality that the seasoned cop Malone imparts to the determined but hesitant and somewhat naive Eliot Ness as to the way things work and what must be done in order to achieve his goal.  Much the same way when discussing martial arts training for any semblance of self defense or personal protection, the reality of any encounter must be honestly addressed, and this must be reflected in the way techniques, concepts and principles are not modified per se, but rather adapted to fit any situation. Continue reading

Never Miss a Day of Training Ever Again

Pumped up and ready to kick ass. Times like these are energizing and empowering, but the reality is that not every training session will line up as sweetly as this one did. We have to be prepared to train even when circumstances are not ideal.  That’s how shit gets done.

It is a fact that the human brain cannot distinguish between a real experience and a vividly imagined one.  If you have ever awoken in the middle of the night from a horrible nightmare to find yourself soaked in sweat or clenching your fists or moving around at all, you have just experienced the mind’s (and therefore the body’s) reaction to just such an event.

Top level coaches and practitioners in all disciplines, athletic an non-athletic, all share one training method:   Continue reading

Wing Chun Training for Simple, Effective and Practical Self Defense: The EMOTIONAL Aspect

 

Listen to your intuition about certain places, people or things: it’s there to serve you, not get in your way or f*** you over!

The Emotional realm of any self defense encounter is where people are most often attacked first, many times without knowing it.

This manifests itself in the “gut feeling” one gets when in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar environment. Many times you’ll hear someone say, “I just have a bad feeling about this place” or words to that effect. This should be your first indicator to increase your awareness, for a bad situation will beget an emotion.

Often times you will feel a certain emotion before you formulate a clear thought about why a person, place or situation is cause for concern.

To experience the power of emotion, I invite you to try this simple exercise: ask a training partner, close friend, sibling, spouse, etc. to get right in your face, eye-to-eye, and hurl insults at you, screaming and staring intently into your eyes like a Drill Instructor. Even though you know in your mind this person is your friend and will never cause you harm, you will feel uncomfortable, your heart rate will increase, you will get fluttery. Continue reading

Wing Chun Training for Simple, Effective and Practical Self Defense: The PSYCHOLOGICAL Aspect

 

wing chun sparring full contact
Confronting the demons of fear and inadequacy head-on. Nothing is better for eliminating hesitation in taking action than gearing up and GETTING HIT!  More people should get smacked around in training a bit more-it would do them a world of good.

How many times have you practiced a certain skill but were unable to grasp it? The harder you tried, the harder it was to perform this skill, until finally you just didn’t care anymore, and then – BAM!  You performed the aforementioned skill flawlessly and with ease.

It seems that I had to re-learn this idea every time I learned a new skill in Wing Chun:  poon sau rolling, stepping, pak sau entries, keeping the wu sau hand up while moving in.  I could go on listing them but any more and I’d probably start weeping,  but you get the point.  Self defense has no room for ego or feelings of doubt or fear, yet self-defense training often involves extensive work in dealing with those topics.

The good news is that once I adopted the mentality of “I’m going to come in here, focus on each drill I’m doing at that moment, put the work in, and f**k it, I’ll get it when I get it,”  things became easier for me and my skills started to improve.

How does this work? Continue reading

The ONLY Way to Approach Your Wing Chun Training For Any Self Defense Situation

Who says a knee to the face isn’t ever a “Wing Chun” move? Idjits, that’s who. If the opportunity presents & it’s simple, direct and efficient then help yourself.  Closest weapon to closest target, right?  Any “critics” can choke on it.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good quote, and whenever I happen upon one that really resonates with me and passes my stringent criteria for some really cool stuff Master Po would say to a young Grasshopper I copy it down in a little journal I have that I use for on-the-spot motivation and reinforcement in my noggin.

One such great quote I read re: all things self defense goes like this:

A tornado haze of windmill violence… brutal defeats refined; simple dominates complicated.

Let’s break this one down bit by  bit. 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!