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Keep it Real

Drilling the Basics

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By David Peterson

 Sifu David Peterson -  WSL Ving Tsun Combat Science MalaysiaIt never ceases to amaze me how people are always seeking some kind of “advanced” training, or “secret” skills in their quest for martial arts proficiency. Year after year, it’s the same story as students come and go in my school: “When do we learn the “advanced” stuff?” or “What are the “secret” techniques?” …same old questions, time and time again.

What a pity that some people just can’t accept that it is SIMPLICITY that makes Wing Chun the effective system that it is. In fact, I always maintain that the “most advanced” techniques and concepts in Wing Chun are the ones that you learn in your very first lesson, namely:

  1. the basic stance (‘Yi Ji Kim Yeung Ma’) – the basis of ALL footwork, including kicking, in the system.
  2. the basic punch (‘Yat Ji Chung Kuen’) – the primary weapon in the system and the basis of ‘Centerline’ theory.
  3. advancing footwork (‘Saam Gok Bo’) – the footwork of attack.
  4. defensive footwork/side-stepping (‘Tui Ma’) – the basic introduction to the footwork of counter-fighting.
  5. the first section of the ‘Siu Nim Tau’ (“young idea”) form – the origin of ALL the basic concepts of the system. 
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The Nature of Chi Sau(黐手)

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By David Peterson

Wong Shun  Leung & David Peterson chi sau The Wing Chun training drill of ‘Chi Sau’ – commonly referred to in English as “sticking hands” – is one of the most misused and misunderstood parts of this combat system. Primarily it is a reflex training drill that requires constant practice in order to develop skilful, quick and alert responses to meet the basic requirements of Wing Chun combat theory: “Intercept what comes; pursue what departs; when the hands are free of obstructions, attack instinctively.”

Even before a student begins to learn ‘Chi Sau’ they are taught the basic requirements of this exercise through the practice of the ‘Siu Nim Tau’ form, the “young idea” from which Wing Chun grows. The concept of ‘Chiu Ying’ or “facing” is immediately present, laying down the foundation for always being able to take the most favourable and shortest line to attack the opponent, even before the fight has commenced. Thus, when ‘Chi Sau’ training begins, the proper structures are already present so that the next stage – becoming comfortable and confident when in contact range – can then be developed and enhanced.

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‘Ip Man’ the movie: separating fact from fiction

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By David Peterson

img_keepitreal_ipman In December of 2008, Hong Kong actor, Donnie Yen (“Hero”, “Shanghai Knights”, “SPL”) mesmerised cinema goers in China, Hong Kong and throughout south-east Asia with his on-screen portrayal of legendary Wing Chun patriarch, Grandmaster Ip Man in the film of the same name. Smashing box office records everywhere (over $100 million in China, more than $25 million in Hong Kong), ‘Ip Man’ went on to become one of the biggest Chinese films of the last 10 years, picking up “Best Picture” and “Best Action Choreography” awards in the recent ‘2009 Asian Film Festival’ along the way.

But how much of the film is fact, and how much of it is pure fiction? The storyline is indeed based on the true-life exploits of the late Grandmaster, and Wing Chun Kuen is represented extremely accurately, not having looked so good on film since “Prodigal Son” back in the early 80s. Missing are the usual special effects and “wire-fu” that have dominated Chinese action cinema in the past. Instead, we see fight sequences where the action is fast, furious and largely (in the case of the Wing Chun used by actor Donnie Yen), very realistically portrayed.

So, as far as the action is concerned, under the brilliant direction of veteran action star, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo (“Prodigal Son”, “SPL”, “Enter the Dragon”), the Wing Chun system looks great and the fight scenes are very memorable by virtue of their reality-based representation, even if there is a little of that “chop-socky” razzmatazz going on here and there. However, the historical accuracy of the film is another matter entirely.

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