Why do YOU train?
That’s a damn good question.
There are literally as many reasons why someone begins their martial art journey as there are grains of sand on a beach. All are valid, and all are equally important as they are what spurns someone into action; into taking that first step. However….the funny thing is, there is only ONE right answer to the question of why someone continues to train, and more specifically as it relates to you and I, why we train in Wing Chun.
We train Wing Chun to be able to simply, directly and efficiently F**K someone up who tries to harm us in the most barbaric yet surgically precise way possible. Period. No striving to gain enlightenment, no seeking to attain at-one-ness with a dewdrop on a leaf, none of that shit.
We train to fight; to be able to be ruthless and barbaric so that we can walk calmly and with quiet confidence. We train to fight so that we hopefully never have to – but are prepared to unleash the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse if the need arises.
I will admit it gives me a bit of a chuckle when I hear or read comments like these:
“I train Wing Chun for the spiritual component.”
There was a time not too long ago when my first thought after hearing something like this went along the lines of “um…WHAT spiritual component?”
For a long time I would rattle off some pithy, pseudo-clever comment like,“how’s this for a spiritual aspect of training: the last time I checked dead people can’t go to church. Let’s just say I love God but I’m not in a hurry to arrange a meeting just yet-in fact, if push comes to shove I’d be more than happy to have some thug shit bag sit in for me.”
As I have matured so has my view on this subject. Now while I do subscribe to the notion that I tend to learn and grow spiritually when I’m, you know, ALIVE, I have come to realize that there is a spiritual component to training but that it can only come about after one makes the decision to not pursue or focus on the spiritual component of training and instead make the decision to understand what the human mind in capable of and what is required from it in a situation like this.
Sounds like I’m double talking but I’m not. I’ve learned that a true spiritual aspect of training tends to show up when the focus is on the real and the practical, not on cultivating some saffron robe wearing “peaceful warrior” bullshit.
“I train martial arts for the self confidence benefits. I’m not interested in fighting or hurting someone.”
To those who ascribe to this way of thinking, let me just say that I can empathize with your not wanting to hurt anyone. That shows you are human and we as humans have an innate desire not to harm our own species. This has been traced back through centuries of conflict and is deeply tied into all aspects of mental training for combat, which Lt. Col. Dave Grossman does a masterful job at explaining in his fantastic book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill In War and Society, which I highly suggest anyone interested in the mental aspect of how the act harming another human being is resisted and bypassed-in other words, anyone who trains Wing Chun for self defense-pick up (click HERE for a detailed and honest review of this book and other similar resources which fall in line with the Wing Chun way of thinking, and why I know they should be on your bookshelf).
To those peaceful folks out there, I have a few honest questions for you. These aren’t meant as “digs” or insults but rather as thought provokers:
- Are you confident in your ability to handle yourself if you need to?
- Are you willing to be punched, kicked, clawed, cut or worse to protect yourself, your life or the well being of those around you should some shitbag try to take that from you?
- Do you train realistically, that is to say, does your training address pressure and intensity in a non-cooperative environment as well as technique and form?
If not, I have some news for you. Your confidence is about as rock-solid as a 5th grader’s tennis ball and Styrofoam science fair project of the solar system.
“I train for peace of mind.”
Good answer! My personal favorite and you’re getting warmer. However, the fact is true peace of mind comes from knowing you can carry yourself confidently because you know you have the ability to endure pain, think clearly in the midst of chaos and if need be, channel truly hellish intentions into purposefully directed action against anyone who decides to try and impose their will on you.
The Myth That Creates Cowards
The thing that blows my skirt up the most re: martial artists is this desire to imitate the “peaceful warrior” persona like David Carradine from the old Kung Fu TV show. Hey, I get it-I mean, I was raised on that show and to this day I think me watching that old show at the age of around 5 years old is what stoked the fire of martial arts in my little brain. What so many wannabe mystic warrior monks out there just don’t seem to “get” (or realize but don’t want to step out of their respective burning incense-stick comfort bubbles) is the fact that those characters were calm because they knew what they were capable of; they were in touch with their primal nature and were capable of acts of extreme violence if faced with no other choice. That is what made them “peaceful.”
So many people raised on the pre-UFC mystique of the martial artist, myself included, as being able to walk on water and rupture someone’s kidney with their pinkie finger missed that critical piece of the puzzle. The difference is that some of us lucky ones got our shit together and opened our eyes.
Every aspect of the Wing Chun system is designed, both structurally and in application, for ONE reason…and that is, in the words of all-around badass Cobra Kai Sensei John Kreese from the original (and real) Karate Kid film to take someone OUT OF COMMISSION. Techniques are just tools, the mind is the true weapon-learn to use it as such.
Your Wing Chun training had best address this simple reality.
If it hasn’t been up to now, no worries. Start today-there’s no time like now to get your mind right. Simply keep your end goal in the back of your mind while concentrating fully on whatever task is in front of you and always remind yourself why you are training. Hint: the only meditation it involves is making sure some poor bastard who made the fateful choice to attack you meditates horizontally.
If it has been, good. Keep it up-and remember, Wing Chun is a structurally perfect system. People are not. And since people apply the system, people will cause problems. Always seek to find combative answers to your physical questions within your Wing Chun. Wing Chun does not “need” anything added to it or deleted from it. It just needs the proper vehicle to be expressed fully-and that vehicle is PURPOSE.
If you happen to fall into the third group; those who choose not to acknowledge the above mentioned realities, I have the perfect training exercise for you. Stand up, go to your front door, open it, put your head squarely against the door frame and slam the door really, really hard. Repeat as needed until your head is so swollen that it can’t fit up your ass anymore.
Train Smart, Stay Safe