As some of you might have noticed over the last four month or more, my article writing slowed down to a crawl. This was because of issues behind the scenes, which culminated in my leaving my old job and starting a new job on Jan 3rd. But now I’m slowly getting used to the new job and starting to think about my progress in Wing Chun.
Although its very easy to fall into a situation where you are on automatic pilot in your training, going to the school for your classes and either doing what your Sifu suggests or just doing whatever you feel like and using whatever equipment is open, making real progress in Wing Chun requires planning.
I would suggest sitting down at least every six months with a pen and paper and thinking about where you are, where you want to be, and what you need to work on to get there.
My Sifu told me the secret of his success.
He learned all the forms and the drills in his system and then he started doing them all at least once a week. He did this for quite while! As we all know, Wing Chun has relatively few forms and drills (compared to other systems of Chinese combat).
So for all of us, goal number one should be to learn (fully and correctly) all the forms and drills of the system. And then you really begin. Its like they say in Karate – the Black Belt is just the beginning. In Wing Chun, learning all the forms and drills is our equivalent of a Black Belt. Now you really begin.
We have Siu Lum Tao, Chum Kiu, Biu Gee, the Dummy, the Pole, and the Knives. Then we have the support drills (hitting the wall bag, doing the various hands with turning, the various hands with stepping, plus Chi Sao). Throw in some of the more exotic stuff like table drills and X-stepping and you have the complete package. These drills and forms all work together to develop different skills and attributes and they are cumulative.
And more to the point of your semi-annual review (which is what I’m doing right now, since I slacked off for about six months!), many of the specific drills were designed to correct specific weakness and bad habits. Sifu Wong Shun Leung was known as someone who would often design a drill on the spot when faced with a problem in a student. Is the student leaning over too much? Have the training partner pulls his arms away now and then in Chi Sao so the student who has been leaning forward will stumble when they lose the counter-balance of their partners energy. Or if the student is flinching when struck, have the student close their eyes. Well, Wong probably didn’t invent blind Chi Sao, but you get what I’m saying!
Assess yourself in your review and note what problems your teacher and your Sihings have been pointing out to you. NOTE: It will do you and your ego a lot of good to ask your teacher and your training partners to be brutally honest with you (if they are not already). If you want to improve, you need to work on your weaknesses! It is often hard to see these yourself. This is, in large part, what your teacher is there for – they are standing apart watching you and seeing your flaws and problems. Once you have a list of these, you should pick one (the worst one) and start making that your ONE THING to focus on the most.
Right now, for me, my Biu Gee is not the best (I still have to consult my notes and video to remember the whole form) and I’ve still only learned about the first 1/5 of the Knives form. Plus I need to bring my punch back up to speed (its gotten weak during my slack period). Part of this is putting some muscle back on (weight = power). But those are 3 things! I need to pick one.
So I think first I will focus on getting Biu Gee down, by training it more than everything else until I have it. Then I will learn the Knife, by focusing on it more than everything else.
After I have those two down, I can do as my Sifu advised and develop a schedule in which I do everything at least once a week. Then I need to make certain to attend every class and in addition, make some progress in the gym with my weight training and my cardio (I’ll start this now). You need to also support the body, so it can support your Wing Chun!
So I guess this is sort of a New Year’s resolution post. Have a great year of training! See you in the Kwoon.