Welcome to the 3rd edition of our Wing Chun community newsletter.
After having almost nothing 3 days prior to editing deadline, it's heartening to provide a bumper Newsletter packed with thought provoking stuff. Thank you to everyone for making that extra effort to provide material we can all feed upon. It somehow helps us all feel that bit closer!
On a more serious note, please join us in remembrance of our Wing Chun brother & friend Chris Anstey who passed suddenly on 21st November 2013. See tribute below. He was one of the first to help us re-establish WC as a fighting art that could hold its own in the competitive world. Condolence's to family & friends...you will be missed Chris!
Yours in Wing Chun,
Melissa and Corey Slade
Some thought on mind power
by Albert Chong
Accessing the ability to cause things to happen by thought is not difficult once you are willing to change some fundamental attitudes and mindsets.
Here is a sample of how you will be required to alter your concept of what is normal:
For anyone to access thought power, they must first focus on the ability to feel what they are thinking. It's a matter of thinking with the whole body. Let me demonstrate. For example, when you become very angry or you are very sexually aroused... you do so by thinking with your entire body!
It's a matter of feeling what one is thinking. By accepting the concepts of thinking with your entire body rather than just with your brain, you will trigger the spiritual development process. As a result of triggering that process, you will gain access to the power that built the universe. That access would mean you have stepped into (started) your own mind power development.
The spiritual development process involves:
· drawing your opinion from your inner energy/specific knowledge
· enhancing your basic knowledge
· enhancing ones basic sense of awareness
· changing the way you function
· Believing in what you are doing
Access to mind power is mainly done by way of focusing. You will experience the same effect as focusing light into a beam. The ability to focus light can brighten darkness and empower a person to move from helpless state (lost in the dark) to an effective one (being able to see and function effectively in darkness). It is likewise with the accumulation of useful knowledge (language, experiences, teachings, tradition, customs, beliefs) that enable us to function properly.
The steps to believe in something are:
1. to be informed that it can be experienced (as shown by Sigung)
2. to know what you personally must do to experience it
3. to lock yourself into experiencing it to the fullest, a final matter of making that effort.
In the state of WC learning, the specialised knowledge forms the foundation of our consciousness and our spirit.
The specialised knowledge may include:
• Wing Chun stance
• Wing Chun forms
• The concept of relaxation
• Central-line theory
• Body works
• Rotation of joints
• Relax into ball joints
• Pointing with ball joints
• The point of contact
• The line of force
• Penetration/ going through resistance force
• Melting into the contact point
• Relax into Dun Tien
• Turning of Dun Tien from ball joints
• Turning of Dun Tien lead to spinning energy from Dun Tien
• The principle of connecting to a focal point
• The principle of running through the non-resisting surfaces
• Training of mental power
• Use of mental power
Awareness and mindfulness can be enhanced by:
· Consistent maintenance of proper WC stance
· The integrity of the body relaxation and Tei Gong are checked frequently
· Focusing on developing body feeling and mental initiation
· How the body is behaving under different conditions
· The environmental factors that can affect our actions
· Rotation and pointing of joints
· Connection from body and mind to the focal point is established
· Deeper understanding of turning of body by applying different circles and balls
· Defence and attack are carried out on Centre-line
· How to be more aware of the surrounding environment by working our senses to the fullest
Thirty years of Chu Shong Tin
Tips for Wing Chun and staying young
by Mark Spence
I have photos of myself with Grandmaster
Chu Shong Tin that go back almost 30 years.
The early ones were taken on his visits to
Australia as an honoured guest of my Sifu,
These days they are taken in his school in Hong Kong when I bring my students to visit him. In all these pictures Sigung has managed to produce his famously warm smile. He poses without a trace of awkwardness and looks, for all the world, like he is happy to be there. Somewhat annoyingly he hardly seems to have aged through this 30 year montage, while standing right next to him I have wrinkled, fattened, sagged and lost my hair. Dorian Gray–like, he remains youthful, and in recent years as he recovered from his illness, he actually and exasperatingly seems to become younger, further highlighting my aging!
Even more striking than his appearance, is his general good-naturedness and affability. I always get the impression that at any time, Sigung is enjoying his day. I once heard him say that the most important requisite to becoming good at wing chun is patience – indubitably a quality that he has in spades. He will happily spend hours posing with star struck students and grand-students. He will sign his book for you, listen seriously to countless inane questions about wing chun and quietly work his magic on our bodies without ever appearing irritated or bored.
So, how does he do it? Of course I don’t know or I would be looking much younger and behaving less grumpily. But I am willing to bet that it has something to do with his Wing Chun training. Anyone who has spent time seriously training Wing Chun in the Chu Shong Tin method will have noticed a general improvement in health. The postural adjustment and meditation involved in performing the forms relaxes the body and enlivens the mind. The fascination with this elusive and compelling art helps to keep us motivated and curious.
For those of us lucky enough to be able to teach Wing Chun for a living there is also the benefit of being unshackled from anything that resembles real work. Consistently rewarding play keeps us young. However Sigung seems to have taken this to a higher level.
I would like to present a few tips that I have picked up
over many years of association with Sigung. I cannot really speak with much authority, because like my practice of Wing Chun, while I have
benefited from Sigung’s instruction, I certainly make no claim to getting anything right. I cannot emulate his example in any way, but still I do feel that I have learned something. So, in no particular order here are some of the things I have heard from Sigung that resonated with me and seemed to help along the way.
Never presume that you understand something fully
Wing chun cannot be classified, labelled, put in a box and stored away. Sensations change, concepts develop and skills emerge from unexpected places. Keeping an open mind is difficult and requires constant vigilance. Throughout one’s training feelings and ideas will appear to solve the problem and we seize on them as the answer. I advise students to absorb useful developments in thinking, but to avoid holding on to them tenaciously. The least skilled Wing Chun teachers I have met are generally the most sure of their own ability and knowledge. People who are actually capable also possess humility. I remember someone asking Sigung if he had reached the peak of Wing Chun. He replied ‘How would I know? I’m still learning so I cannot see an end to it yet’.
I can honestly say that I have never heard Sigung say anything small-minded or critical of anyone. The energy that is not wasted on little things is effortlessly directed to the task at hand, so he lives in the moment.
Don’t try too hard
One should not interpret this as permission to be lazy. Wing Chun requires concentration and hard work; however it is necessary to keep our mood light and playful when training. Musicians always understand this immediately. I usually explain to musicians that we need to get into the same mental state as when improvising. We are trying to tap into a certain area in the brain and gritting one’s teeth and straining is not conducive to finding it.
Don’t compare yourself to other students
Difficult as it is, we need to rise above petty vanities and jealousy. They just get in the way. Being jealous of another student’s ability, or being proud of one’s own skill, distorts our perception. We diminish our ability to learn from our training partners, both senior and junior.
Visit Chu Shong Tin
I take a group of 15 or so students to Hong Kong 3 times each year. Many of these students have been more than 6 times and everyone who gets there always plans to return. There are a few schools in Australia and around the world that are lucky enough to do this, (Sigung does not accept students unless they are referred by certain people). If your Sifu can visit Sigung with students, then beg him to take you.
Candice Birch, student profile
By Seth Piszczuk
Candy currently trains under Seth Piszczuk at Full Circle Wing Chun and Adelaide University Wing Chun. Seth asks a few questions for us to
get to know her better:
What brought you to WC?
Well, I had just moved to Adelaide and realised that everything closes at 5pm except the 24 hour pub on Hindley Street, the O’Connell St Bakery and the local Martial Art Schools. Realising that both the first and second option required fighting skills (the last gourmet veg pasty is well worth a fight), I decided to look at dabbling in Martial Arts.
It was originally a toss between
Akido ('cause they have funky pants) and Wing Chun (because a friend of mine had read an article about the local Kung Fu Sifu and his awesomeness). So, I decided that the Wing Chun Academy would be my first point of call. That was back in 2007.
What was the pivoting moment that Wing Chun became a passion rather than a hobby?
Well pretty much within a few weeks I knew that this was the Martial Art that I wanted to be involved in. I found Wing Chun Kung Fu to be so very practical and streamlined. So much so that at first I thought it was just too easy but after a little bit of time I came to see the deeper side of Kung Fu and this challenged me greatly, particularly in the mental focus sense.
This ignited what I call ‘The Bursting Fire of Wanting’ ie. The desire to do it more and more and more and more (until one cannot bong sau any longer). What I also noticed was that I had discovered a group of people who were as passionate about their Kung Fu but also passionate about passing on their knowledge and their skills. They did so with patience and humility. I was greatly inspired by this and took on the Trainee Instructor Course as my next challenge.
What is something about you that your training Wing Chun Brothers/Sisters may not know?
This is a hard one! I can’t give away all my tactics. Then everyone will know that I’m really a ninja. Seriously though, I wear my mouth on my sleeve so there isn’t much they may not know. If we’re speaking superficially well then I like Whisky and Skyrim, preferably at the same time because slaying Dragons is way better when you’re swilling a Jamiesons. If we’re talking about a more personal sense well then I guess you could say I have a Big Sister inclination. Meaning I prefer to help others grow and learn, as well as setting a good example, rather than standing in the background and watch them lose confidence over confusion. Even though I seem like a MASSIVE goof at times I really do take Kung Fu seriously and the passing on of our understandings and skills is quite important to me.
Where do you see yourself in regards to Wing Chun in 2 years time?
I see myself continuing to fine tune what I have already learned, especially in regards to the forms and how they relate to each other. I would like to focus on a weapon form and applications and also see how this entwines with the forms (but really its so I can run through bamboo forests with my swirling cape). There is always something deeper to learn and Wing Chun doesn’t have a timeframe so I am well happy exploring, learning and kicking arse till all the suns and moons stop appearing.
A role of Qi Gong in Kung Fu
by Paul Cardle
It is easy to get lost in the pursuit of total intellectual understanding of Wing Chun so in the interest of practice and progress, I would like to keep this brief.
An aspect of training Wing Chun that is often forgotten and, I believe, at times largely misunderstood are the areas in which the training can benefit our health and wellbeing and the type of intent this requires. Whether or not it was the original intent of the Wing Chun ‘creators’, it is clear that somewhere along the timeline of our lineage the art of Qi Gong has been almost irreversibly fused with our version of this martial art.
So, first of all, what is Qi Gong?
Qi gong or Chinese exercise therapy is an ancient form of healthcare that has been practiced for up to 8000 years, where the practitioner uses specific movements aligned with meditative practices to affect and maintain the health of the body and mind with the manipulation of Qi and blood circulation around the body. The phrase Qigong was first officially used at a Kung Fu Convention on July 15, 1979, where the traditional practice of training for Kung Fu was generalised as Qigong. Prior to this there were several names for this type of training.
How does Qi Gong benefit our Health?
For those who are opposed to the belief of qi I would like to propose an
alternative view on the normal understanding of the word. Qi is often translated to Life energy or Life force. To me this does not mean it has to be an otherworldly aspect of our body or some magical energy that no one can objectively find. It simply refers to the functional processes and the workings of the body. Everything from blood circulation to hormone function, muscle contraction and everything in between is controlled by Qi. Not as an external or internal energy source but as the day to day regular churning of the body’s physiological process.
It is this that Qi Gong is seen to benefit. On a side note, this is why I am still
sceptical of those that claim to throw their Qi at people from across the room, you surely cannot throw physiological process at people.
In Traditional Chinese medicine it is said that for the body to be healthy the blood and Qi need to flow smoothly and this can only be achieved when the muscles are relaxed and the joints are open. Adding the meditative aspects into this through the practice of Qi Gong and Sil Lim Tao, we can learn how to control this flow. In fact there is evidence of this style of training being beneficial to the nourishing ability of the blood.
In an article presented on Qigong.com while discussing the difference between Qi Gong and exercises like jogging or weights it is explained that “In Qigong the body is totally relaxed, yet the blood is mobilized to flow powerfully. Because there is no stress response or cortisol release, which contracts blood vessels, the blood can enter areas that may have been blocked off for years.”
Looking at the little things
by Gary King
I thought I would follow along the same theme as my last article, looking at the little things. So in this article we will look closer at another of the earliest movements in the Siu Nim Tao, the legs and feet.
I feel many students overlook the part of 'measuring their stance' when performing their form practise. That is they quickly just measure the prescribed distance of their feet by clicking out the heels and toes and that's about all the thought they put into it. That is mostly true but we can't forget the little things. At some point you will need to re-visit the legs and feet when practising the form. So why not start right back at the beginning.
So maybe next time you practise the Siu Nim Tao try this. First start with your feet together, arms by your sides. Gain an awareness of your vertical axis/spine, and then slightly bend the knees. Before doing anything else use this slight knee bent position to start releasing tension around your vertical axis/spine.
If you find it difficult to be aware of your whole spine try just thinking about releasing tension around the back of your neck and your hips.
Then try to release some tension from your knees, and then your ankles, and then your feet.
Now you bring your hands to the pulled back position, and then repeat the steps of thinking about your whole spine/vertical axis and again start releasing tension from your hips, knees and ankles.
Be aware of your feet feeling flatter, more relaxed, be aware of your toes.
Then while maintaining this awareness slowly move your feet to their stance positions. I find it also beneficial at this point to pause in between movements to check and feel my balance.
Now that you are in the correct stance position you can seek further awareness and letting go of tension within the whole body before commencing the Siu Nim Tao.
With practice you will find you gain a clearer and stronger awareness of your legs and feet and help round out your whole body feel and balance.
From an application point of view it will provide you with better controlled kicks and also make it much more difficult for opponents to take you down via leg tackle or shoot wrestling. This is simply because you will be more relaxed in your stance and more importantly I think have awareness in your legs. With this awareness you can redirect, nullify, or put force back into your opponent.
And as I said in my last article, the skill doesn't come by writing nor reading this article, practice, explore, practice some more.
Kirra Lawrie, student profile
by Corey Slade
Venue: Kids Martial Arts Academy,
Thinking Fitness - Tumby Bay SA
Coach: Corey Slade
How long have you been training?
I've been training weekly for almost 9 months now.
What do you enjoy most?
That training is really REALLY FUN!
How has MA training helped you?
I used to be very shy, but now I'm more confident with other people and can concentrate better at school.
Favourite food? Ice-cream, of course!
Kirra simply loves the training and really looks forward to each Monday afternoon session.
Favourite movie? Vampire Diaries
Favourite MA moves?
Definitely the forward, backward and shoulder rolling exercises from ground to help escapes but also to land safely from a push or fall.
What else do you get up to?
Weekends with friends, home chores and quiet time. During the week Netball, Swimming & Basketball.
Sil Lim Tau Form
18 different arm grab release techniques combined with arm defense techniques against 14 different punching attacks.
Double Chi Sau - basic level
Plus i just earnt my defensive back kick badge!
What skills are you currently working on?
Well, my defensive Side Slash,
My 3 T's of self defense when dealing with a bully which are;
3. Tackle using verbal Jiu Jitsu & then as a last resort physical Jiu Jitsu (no striking).
And I've just qualified for my first grading to white/yellow belt so I need to polish all the skills I've learnt so far.
Some thoughts on Chi Sau
by Lindy Scott
Chi Sau is an exercise which links all the forms in Wing Chun with the movements established deeply and firmly in the power of Sil Lim Tau.
There is often some confusion with the use of offense and defence in this practise. This can depend on the ability of both partners. The more senior being more proficient at both, while often the junior partner is better at defence. However, I think it’s a good idea to practise attacking moves with a more senior partner, obviously within the context of the exercise. This will highlight problems, as the movements will be easily dealt with if they are executed with tension.
There is also the question of the use of practising particular techniques to be used in Chi Sau. I feel that this only develops an instinctual reaction to a predetermined movement, the exact same of which is rarely encountered. When a person tries to use a particular technique in Chi Sau there is an anticipatory element, which can easily be read by the partner.
Another factor is the speed of Chi Sau, as some people roll very fast and are not feeling anything, while others are extremely slow, resulting in a build up of tension. Chi Sau should be practiced at a steady speed. Sometimes people speed up and increase force for their attacking move often resulting in the move being telegraphed, and so is easily deflected.
There is no need to strike in Chi Sau, as once someone is through and/or has unbalanced the opponent there is no encumbrance to the theoretical strike. This clearing the passage for a strike is the aim of the exercise and not testing the strike.
With a good stance your balance will not be compromised by your partner and with sensitivity it is easy to feel someone’s state of balance. I think this is well expressed with the quote: “Listening and reading skills of energy (listening Jing in Tai Chi) is practiced extensively in Chi Sau” (Scott Baker).
The term Sigung Choy Shong Tin uses is ‘Nim Lik’, which in Chi Sau helps Chi flow to every part of your body. Sil Lim Tau is the tool for developing this mind focussing power. The subject of where do you focus your vision, strikes etc. often arises in a discussion on Chi Sau. If you try very hard to focus on one point you become partially blind to everything around that point. The vision and awareness should encompass the subject and the surrounding area, that is, an all over focus. This can positively influence your ability to move as the opponent moves without any telegraphing.
With good structure and relaxation you can be instinctive with your movements, have good control and not tire easily. I feel Chi Sau is not a competitive exercise, but provides a platform for self improvement. As such I think it’s beneficial to Chi Sau with as many people as possible, as everyone is different and has a different feel. Chi Sau is often referred to as ‘playing’, and this reflects that it should be fun and practiced with mutual respect, while each of you is trying to optimise your own abilities.
So have fun with your Chi Sau!
Chris Anstey - in remembrance of a great bloke and Wing Chun Fighter
photos courtesy of Seth Piszczuk
Australian Wing Chun Federation Photos - Miscellaneous