Wing Chun: The Works

Self-defence is only an illusion…Wing Chun Kung Fu is a very sophisticated weapon – nothing else.  It is a science of combat, the intent of which is the total incapacitation of an opponent.
Wong Shun Leung

Sifu Alan Gibson lives in Southampton in the UK, one of the more populous areas outside of London, and an area with a pretty decent crime rate (a sister city for Oakland?).

He started studying Wing Chun in the UK, later moving to Hong Kong and studying first with Ip Chun (son of Ip Man), then later, after an encounter with Wan Kam Leung, he switched over to the Wong Shun Leung lineage.

Over the years, he has studied with some of the best of Sifu Wong’s first generation students, including Clive Potter, David Peterson, Cliff Au Yeung, and John Smith.

Wing Chun: The Works is a consolidated and updated version of Alan’s first three books (Beginning Wing Chun: Why Wing Chun Works, Simple Thinking; Intelligent Fighters, and Wing Chun Forms).

Reading this book with this review in mind, I had the impulse to quote it in its entirety.

Lee Morrisy and Alan Gibson
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Fights in the UK News

Stories like this show you need to stay alert out there.

Six years for killer who stabbed friend in street fight (from The Northern Echo)

“A KILLER who stabbed a friend through the heart in a street fight after he was called “a divvy” (slang for idiot) was today jailed for six years…The two men – who had been friends for years – are said to have fallen out about rumours in their neighbourhood, and a debt.  On his way to the clash, Conway sent a text to father-of-one Mr Bennett, a barber, saying: “Don’t call me a divvy.”  Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told Conway that he had changed the nature of a fair fist fight by using a weapon.”

Suspended prison sentence for man who intervened in Willington pub dispute (from The Northern Echo)

“A MAN stepped into a pub dispute between other drinkers over a mobile phone, a court heard.  But, Mark Lee’s unwarranted violent intervention almost landed him behind bars….The disagreement stemmed from one of the group inadvertently placing a mobile phone, similar to his own, in his pocket….Even though it had nothing to do with the defendant, Mark Lee involved himself, approaching the complainant and attacking him.  Witnesses said the victim was repeatedly punched about the head, causing him to go to the floor.

The judge “imposed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered Lee to perform 150 hours’ unpaid work and pay his victim £200 compensation.”

NPR’s Ira Glass Can Help You Become a Great Fighter

“Your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you.”

Ira Glass of This American Life

The video below is about persevering.

I think it applies not only to storytelling but to any skill.  This idea definitely applied to me and this blog!

I used to want to write novels and screenplays.  I plugged away on and off for 20 years.  I would write something and it wasn’t that great.  I would be all excited at first and then later on I realized it wasn’t that good.  I eventually quit trying.

I decided to suspend that critical (hyper-critical) faculty with this blog and just do my best and stick to it.

Little by little, I got better at it (I hope!).

This is the same in learning a martial art (or anything).

Weight lifting, for instance.

In my Twenties, it took me over two months before I saw any results.  I started and stopped weight lifting about ten times before I finally stuck with it long enough to get significant results.  I would buy a bench and some of those cheap plastic weights and lift for two or three weeks, then give up.

Now (in my early Fifties) it takes more like three or four months to see changes in my body from weight training.  You have to stick it out!

I was lucky in that (for whatever reason) I was a little more driven in martial arts, so in my first attempt (with Tae Kwan Do at 15) I stuck to it (for 3 years) and got “good.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t really learn how to fight (no sparring, no getting hit, not much in the way of training against a real opponent) but I did learn to do the sport well.

AnSeth Godin The Dipd something drove me to keep trying.

Not only did I finally discover Wing Chun — I kept going through 8 years of training that didn’t really pay off (maybe that’s not to so smart!).

But I finally found the right teacher and lineage, one that fit with my understanding of Wing Chun as a weapon, not a toy.

Its so hard to see it when you are in what Seth Godin calls “the Dip.”  He speaks of going up that first hill (and everything looks promising) and then finding yourself in this long dip with no end in sight.  Most people quit before that dramatic acceleration of skill on the other side.

I’m not saying I’m a Wing Chun master now, but I have pushed through one sticking point after another.

It took me YEARS to learn how to properly perform the double bong exercise (teaching how to take position).  Even now I’m not 100%.  But I’m maybe 85%, after years of being more like 25%.

That stretch of time seemed to last forever!  Then it was suddenly mostly behind me.

People would act impressed by my ability to do the thing which I sucked at for so long and I would find it hard not to run my performance down, I was so used to sucking at it.

The key is to identify your sticking point and push through it.  I wrote myself 3 x 5 cards.  I picked specific problems and devoted entire private lessons with Greg to that particular problem.  I made it my poster child issue.

I powered through the dip and started up the big beautiful hill on the other side.

Get Your Hands Up!

My Si-hing Dave (of Red Palm Wing Chun) turned me on to this excellent video demonstrating just how important it is to get your hands up when conflict is brewing.

I love fight science!

Long story short: once the first punch is on its way, its too late.  Your hands are all that stand between you and possibly a concussion (and probably worse, once the boots come into play).

Also: See Geoff Thompson’s The Fence.