Welcome to Snake vs Crane.
Hi, I’m Steve. Welcome to Snake vs Crane.
Psychologists have recently drawn attention to the difference between two approaches to learning: entity (or innate) and incremental.
Some children develop an idea that skills are inborn or innate.
“I just suck at math.”
“I’m not athletic.”
“I don’t have very good balance.”
“I can’t run.”
They see their skills as fixed properties that cannot be trained or improved. They were just born that way.
Other children develop an attitude that any skill can be learned through hard work and diligence. If they find they lack skill, they feel that if they try harder for longer, they will improve.
A child of the first type, when attempting to learn a martial art, may drop out when they don’t find immediate success. A child of the second type will consider their failure a result of inexperience and keep at it, if they have a strong enough desire to obtain the skill.
Until I was about 15, I was definitely in the first camp. I felt I wasn’t “athletic” and so I focused my energies on comic books and learning to draw. I was basically a little nerd. I never played sports and when I got into fights, I curled up and got my ass kicked.
So I was bullied, both at home and out in the world and developed a hunger to learn how to defend myself. I think what I really needed was to find a way to get rid of the fear. I had no idea how to fight and that made me feel kind of helpless.
My perspective changed when I got my first job at 15 and was finally able to afford to go to a martial arts class. I pushed through my fear and embarrassment and went to a Tae Kwan Do class taught by a Seargant on a military base. I remember it was in a community center. All the students were adults in their twenties except one kid my age, who was the son of the instructor. They all had white gis and belts.
I had on cut-off shorts and a T-shirt and skinny white hairless legs.
I wanted run and hide but I stayed. Eventually I was given a bunch of gis by my cousin. Eventually I became the star pupil.
I discovered that hard work, incremental work, done every day, resulted in progress.
I kept training over the next 25 years, studying Karate, Escrima, and Boxing, but I just never found the right style or teacher. I put in a lot of work (including weight training to put on some muscle) but was always left feeling like I still couldn’t fight at the level I was looking for! I wanted to feel capable of being a problem for almost anyone. I didn’t need to think I could beat pros, but I definitely wanted to be on a level with most semi-pros!
I wanted to be dangerous, I guess –someone you wouldn’t want to mess with or provoke.
I moved to Oakland, California in 2000. I was offered a job but one of the big draws of the Bay Area for me was Wing Chun, a fighting science I’d been interested in for decades but never found in New England.
Once in Oakland, I took advantage of the opportunities and really dedicated myself, studying Wing Chun Kung Fu in particular and fight science (physiology, psychology, history, philosophy, etc) in general. This training and research has been my unpaid part-time job for the last 14 years.
Between 2000 and 2008, I tried three different approaches to Wing Chun. Something about Wing Chun lured me forward, but the particular schools I studied with always lacked something I couldn’t exactly define.
In April 2008, I discovered Greg LeBlanc was teaching nearby. He was the first certified coach of Gary Lam’s LA school. Gary Lam was one of Wong Shun Leung’s top students and his assistant coach for many years. Wong Shun Leung was one of Ip Man’s top students and the one who really put Wing Chun on the map with his many fights (“beimo”) with other fighters on the rooftops and back alleys of Hong Kong in the 1950s.
Wong Shun Leung was also the man who really taught Bruce Lee, and you will find Lee’s fighting style and philosophy was heavily influenced by Wong.
After more than six years, I’m now close to “finishing” the Wing Chun system in the Greg LeBlanc – Gary Lam – Wong Shun Leung – Ip Man lineage. I put the word finishing in parentheses because you never really finish! It’s just like golf or any other sport: you are always competing with yourself to improve just a little bit more. And then you start dealing with the loss of capability as you age and that’s another challenge. It only ends when you give up training or when you die.
But I finally feel like I understand Wing Chun and feel like a fighter.
Over the years, I’ve read hundreds of books and thousands of articles on fighting, exercise science, physiology, and the psychology of combat and I’ve relentlessly picked the brains of my teachers.
This website is about communicating the best and most distilled version of what I’ve learned.
I want to help other people get to where I am (and beyond!) faster and more efficiently. I am trying to “hack” this information and figure out how to communicate it as clearly and simply as possible.
So – welcome, enjoy the site, and stick around. I’m just barely getting started.
Please let know what you think!