Fight Stoppers

“Have I knocked people out with one shot? Fuck yeah.”
Lee Morrison

This guy not only impressed me that he knew what he was talking about – he also cracks me up.

I love these hardcore blue collar guys.  Reminds me of all my relatives on my Dad’s side.  Guys who went to Nam, got in up to their necks with blood and death, then they came back and got jobs and raised families, no psychological problems at all.

I think so much of that was attitude.  Some people are brought up in a shrink-wrapped suburbia – send them to kill and its really traumatic.  Some people are raised with a little more awareness of the killer within.  They can go “to hell and back” and keep sane.  There is a lot about this in On Combat.

I sort of straddle the line a little bit.  I studied literature in college and now work IT in a a academic library, but I did my stint in the service and a lot of blue collar work and I come from a long line of guys who were TOUGH.  I sometimes have a hard time with the more sensitive aspects of our culture.  My wife is always roping me in when that side of my personality creeps out.

I feel like I have a guy like Lee Morrison sitting on one shoulder (he kind of reminds me of my grandfather) and a little sensitive poet on the other and they do the Devil and Angel thing.

All that aside, this is why I think Wing Chun and a lot of the more hardcore Western fighting traditions like old school fisticuffs and pugilism and dirty boxing are very Wing Chun.  Our Chinese predecessors and those tough immigrants in the 19th Century discovered the same things about hitting people in the head as a way to end fights.

Wisdom of the ages.

Kind of reminds me of that (probably pretty racist, although as I recall they threw in a white hoodlum too) scene in Crocodile Dundee.

A black kid in a Michael Jackson Thriller jacket pulls a switchblade on Paul Hogan, who laughs.

His girl says, “Give him your money.”


“He has a knife.”

He laughs again.  “That’s not a knife.”

He pulls out a foot long Bowie Knife that’s basically a short sword.

“Now that’s a knife.”

Sparring Preparation with Greg LeBlanc

Here is a video with my Sifu and one of my kung fu brothers doing some drills which help train us to go from free fighting to a bridged and hitting position. This is one of the trickiest moments in a fight, which I’ve also called the “flash point.”

You’re standing there talking and then the fight is on. Getting the right angle on that first bridge is key. Instead of standing there with your hands in a Man Sao/Wu Sao or a Boxing position you might be in the Fence position.

You can see Jutt Da, Bong Da, Tan Da, Jaam, Ding, and many other hands deployed to catch or cover the incoming hand and allow a hitting angle.

There are lot more of his videos on his Youtube channel: HERE.

Devastating Chi Sau Crossing Hand System

Devastating Chi Sau Gary Lam

This video is my favorite of Sifu Lam’s catalog. It contains demos and explanations of a good chunk of the Level One Chi Sao drills and theory.

Sifu Lam is really sharp and natural in this one, effortlessly displaying his mastery of the system. For him, hitting and trapping is like brushing his teeth.

His assistants in this video are my Sifu Greg LeBlanc (with the beard and shades) and his partner at that time Dan.

This video covers all the basic hands and most importantly, shows them being demonstrated by a Wing Chun master at the height of his powers.

Note that although Sifu Lam is talking to his audience and thus is distracted from the “fighting,” there are a few times when Greg or Mitch get a little too aggressive and Sifu Lam shifts and contracts and sort of “spanks” them a little harder.  For instance, in one case, Greg goes flying out of frame but you sort of see him doing a roll to control the fall.

Greg tells me there was little to no preparation for these videos.  They showed up for class one day and there were cameras.  Greg was deep in it at this point, as was Mitch.  Everything you see is crisp and fluid and mostly reflex, with no preparation.  This isn’t the usual dancing you see in martial arts demos and this in fact illustrates the nature of Wing Chun, a system designed to prepare you for random and unexpected actions.So what you see is a group of martial artists illustrating the art

Clicking on the image of the video will take you to Everything Wing Chun  if you’d like to own this one and they will give me a small “finders fee.”  Thanks!

Devastating Chi Sau Gary Lam

The Combat Philosophy of Wong Shun Leung

“…when fighting, one should fix one’s eyes firmly on the target with only one idea in mind; that of attacking the enemy most simply and directly. It is only if your attack meets with an obstruction that you have to change to attain your goal…”
Sifu Wong, quoted in Look Beyond the Pointing Finger: The Combat Philosophy of Wong Shun Leung

This should have been the first book I reviewed on this site.

My opinion is that this is the first book anyone should get who wishes to study Wing Chun.

How can I make such a ballsy and sweeping statement?  I used to be a big reader of fiction, until around 1998.  I wanted to be a novelist and got a degree in Literature (mostly a waste of time and money probably – great place to meet girls!).

When when I decided that wasn’t going to happen, I needed to figure out some other career.  That’s when I switched to reading non-fiction, to help learn to do things and to succeed more in life.  Turns out books can be very useful for this purpose.  I learned to program, to manage people, to use various software.  I learned how to manage my money and invest, all from books.

So it was natural I would read books on fighting, especially once I moved to Oakland and really started training and trying to become a better fighter.  I used books to supplement my training (Bruce Lee style) by trying to understand everything surrounding fighting: the psychology, both of fighting and of predators, the physiology, the history, and so on.

And I pretty much discovered that you couldn’t learn to fight from books.


But you can learn how to build muscle and endurance and you can learn about psychology and physiology and this will help you deal with the surprising effects of a real fight where you take real damage.

In Vietnam, they used to not learn the name of the new guys until they had survived the first battle, because the mortality rate of new guys in the first battle was so high.  But some guys learned from their Dads and their brothers who had been in Korea or WWII.  Keep your head down.  Don’t be a hero.  You may piss your pants – don’t let it throw you.   Simple tips based on experience.  Make sure the safety is off  before you start shooting.  Watch your six.  Aim low.  Don’t waste your ammo.

This is true of first real street fights too.  Nothing can replace experience but you can learn from the experience of others.  Its the best you can do until the real thing.

You can learn about real fighting from Wong Shun Leung.

Wong was a young man in the Hong Kong of the 1950s  and he liked to fight.  He took up Western boxing and when he got good, he went around challenging people to fight (a semi-acceptable thing to do there in those days, which they called “beimo” or skills comparison).  One day, he showed up in Ip Man’s school and challenged them.  Grandmaster Ip had one of his senior students fight Wong and the student lost.  Then Ip fought Wong and kicked his ass (Wong was “very soundly beaten” according to David Peterson).

He joined up right there and then dove into Wing Chun in his typical hardcore fashion.  He began training at Wing Chun as he had at boxing.

As soon as six months later he began his series of Beimo with other styles that would last for many years and leave him (reportedly) un-beaten.

“Wong Shun Leung (8 May 1935 – 28 January 1997) was a Chinese martial artist from Hong Kong who studied Wing Chun Kung Fu under Yip Man and is credited with training Bruce Lee. Wong reportedly won at least 60, and perhaps over 100, street fights against martial artists of various styles. Due to his reputation, he came to be known as ‘Gong Sau Wong’ (or’King of Talking Hands’).”

When I started studying Wing Chun in 2000, I rounded up all the books you could get at that time. There was a book by James Yimm Lee (a student of Bruce Lee’s), one by Leung Ting, one by Keith Kernspecht, a few others. They had their points, but they were mostly about the basics and spent much of the strength with photo essays on doing the first form, (Siu Lum Tao).  But somehow, they didn’t explain the heart of Wing Chun or even its basic philosophy.

I learned a few things but was still confused about the big picture and how Wing Chun really behaved in a fight.

“Wong Sifu considers boxing to be very practical for the street because boxers learn to give and take punishment right from the word go, concentrating on attacking instead of “chasing the opponent’s hands” like many of the classical Kung Fu styles do. …while sparring with his boxing coach one afternoon, Wong accidentally landed a damaging blow to the face…the coach began pounding Wong until…(Wong knocked the coach out)…After this event, Wong lost all respect for his boxing coach and never went back for another lesson.”
Wong Shun Leung: Wing Chun Personified

Peterson’s Combat Philosophy captures his teacher’s pragmatic and simple approach to Wing Chun. For him, Wing Chun was the skill of knocking people out.  It was a skill you could learn, like carpentry.  But it required hard work and training and it required the nerve to go and fight.

“You, as the fighter, have the responsibility to attack your opponent and to try to finish him off in the shortest time and not waste the time doing unnecessary, fancy techniques.  If you don’t finish him, he will finish you.”
Sifu Wong in Combat Philosophy

Peterson’s book is comprised of a small central core collecting his teacher’s words on Forms, Fighting, and Kung Fu in general. It’s supplemented by a number of prefaces praising the book (by Kung Fu stars like Gary Lam and Jesse Glover) and a sizable appendix with such classic articles as “What I Learned from Beimo” (some of which you can find online).

Clicking on the image of the book will take you to Amazon if you’d like to own this one and they will give me a small “finders fee.”  Thanks!  

Man in critical condition after brutal fist fight

“A Crestview man is in critical condition after a fist fight that happened in a residential area late Monday night….Doug Dockery, 32, is in a Pensacola hospital suffering from head injuries…The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department has charged Martin McDonald, 40, with aggravated battery….Witnesses said Dockery and McDonald were drinking and got into a disagreement…when McDonald started shoving Dockery’s head against a wall and began punching him in the head after throwing him to the ground….deputies found Dockery, he was covered in blood and having trouble breathing….When investigators questioned McDonald, who was on East Robinson Avenue, he said Dockery tried to hit him so he swung back. No visible injuries could be seen on McDonald.”
Pensacola News Journal

This is what can happen.  I like to throw one of these up as an example now and then.

People can get hurt and other people go to jail.

Don’t be a statistic or a headline!