Understanding these will help you a lot in understanding why the various “hands” in Wing Chun work, such as Bong and Tan, and especially how making someone “wrong” works in terms of the physics.
“He who manages the distance manages the damage that can be done.”
One of the frustrating things about training for the street is its a highly hypothetical scenario, unless you’ve had street experience. Even if you have had street experience, every situation is basically different. Not many people have had all out street fights and not many of them have had multiple fights. The more fights were are talking about, the fewer people have had that many. Out of the general population, a microscopic fraction have had extensive experience. Going from books and the experience of the experienced people I’ve known, the main thing people learn from their street fighting experiences is how to gauge the kick off of the fight, the importance of distance, and the importance of the psychological element, especially the need for controlled aggression.
So how do we deal with this conundrum? How do we train for the street in a classroom in which most people have not been in a serious fight and only the most rare individual has been in a life or death fight. There are many tacks people take. One of the most recent at my school is the use of “Bulletman” padding to allow for full release of power against an opponent who is closer to human (i.e., they can hit back a little, move around, unlike a heavy bag).
Another important thing to learn is the effect your “training bubble” has on you. You go to a school and learn from an instructor who is teaching a specific system. They usually think this system is the “best.” They have particular curriculum’s they use to share the skill. You end up doing very specific drills which have various constraints (on power, on footwork, etc). You do them repeatedly, to drill them into your nervous system. You develop certain grooves of behavior. These grooves have holes right beside them that you don’t see. In your training, you relax into expecting certain kinds of attacks.
In these two videos below, we see these sorts of issues discussed by some Jiu-Jitsu players.
In the first one, we hear from Rener and Ryron Gracie about the difference between “street Jiu-jitsu” and “sport jiu-jitsu” and how they differ. Many martial artists throughout history have learned something in their schools and then later ran into opponents and situations in the street they were not prepared for. The unseen holes in their game were exposed. We develop these habits playing at fighting with friends in a friendly environment. We don’t usually train how to defend against a sucker punch or misdirection, yet these occur a lot out on the street – just ask Geoff Thompson.
Another good point in the Gracie video is this idea of “tiers of instructorship” and how ideas get diffused and morph. I’ve talked about this some in other articles and its super important. All Wing Chun is not created equal and this goes for all fighting systems. Just because I learned from somebody who was good (or their student’s student) doesn’t mean I’m good. It can often be like the game of telephone. This can be true even with the same person over their lifetime – a teacher can go from excellent to mediocre over the decades. Caveat emptor!
In the other video, Nick Albin (aka Chewjitsu) talks about the phenomenon of having strangers come into the school, bringing their non-school attacks and energy and exposing the holes and assumptions.
“Asymmetrical Adrenal Stress Scenario Based training has proven to be the very best and quickest way to overcome the negative effects of the adrenal rush and even to use the power of adrenaline to fight with the ferocity and force necessary to prevail against a real attacker. Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Symmetrical armored assailant scenario training is where both combatants wear protective armor to spar with one another. Most of the other body armors commercially available are designed for this style of training. Some of them allow pretty hard contact, and there are plenty of effective training systems out there that train this way. But they don’t allow full force strikes to the head and groin, and thus are less effective training for a real fight. Another point is that most fights are typically asymmetrical events where the attacker usually has the psychological advantage of surprise and often of physical strength or some equalizer. Since we do as we train, asymmetric training is the best way to train for an asymmetric event. Asymmetrical training is a cutting edge yet largely misunderstood method of training. Students are trained in the desired skillset to be applied in the fight scenario. The padded attacker surprises the trained defender, elicits the high adrenal rush, and the defender dynamically overcomes the freeze response to fight with full power strikes to vulnerable moving targets. The padded attacker plays a unique dual role of both aggressor and coach to provide a dynamic and effective scenario experience by rewarding when a full power strike is thrown. Thus the fight is not so much a test, but the final fusion where the training all comes together very quickly and effectively. This training permits low training time with maximum retention. Any Body Armor used in such training has to allow for absolutely full force strikes to vulnerable areas to allow the safe experience of “flipping the switch” into and out of the adrenal rush, and the muscle memory to hit with maximum power to vulnerable areas. Anything less than full force is actually much less in this case and greatly reduces training effectiveness.”
Predator Armor website
Our school recently purchased a set of Predator Armor, a technology that utilizes special padding to enable the training partner wearing it to sustain full power strikes to the “head” in simulated confrontations. This sort of training has been perfected over many years in such systems as Model Mugging and the work of Peyton Quinn. They say you “fight like you train,” but in fact, you fight at some weird partially reduced, partially enhanced percentage of your training level, since adrenal stress causes you to lose fine motor control, lose the capacity to fully see and perceive your environment, to be more impulsive, and on and on (see this article for more details), while you may experience reduced pain thresholds, increased strength and ferocity, and other adrenal effects. Its a great idea to find out exactly houw your body reacts.
Here is a video showing my teacher, Greg LeBlanc, working with a training partner wearing the suit. I wouldn’t want to be taking those shots on my bare skull!