…there are no unstoppable techniques.
I’ve been reading an excellent book by Jose M. Fraguas called Kung Fu Masters. The author interviews various people, including Jackie Chan, Wong Shun Leung, William Cheung, and Robert Chu.
I bought Chu’s book Complete Wing Chun: The Definitive Guide to Wing Chun’s History and Traditions back in 2001 but only read about 20% of it. Now that I’ve read his interview in Kung Fu Masters, I will read the rest ASAP. Chu seems very pragmatic and intelligent (maybe because what he says jibes with what I believe?).
Robert Chu found what I would call the secret (which isn’t secret, just little known) to kung fu after studying with Hawkins Cheung.
Hawkins Cheung was one of Ip Man’s students in that legendary period in the Fifties which included other students such as Wong Shun Leung and Bruce Lee.
Sifu Cheung (whom I have never met) is my Sigung’s Kung Fu brother, so I guess that would make him my kung fu grand uncle, or something like that. My Sigung (my teacher’s teacher) is Gary Lam and he and Hawkins Cheung are very close. He influenced my training indirectly, because he was at Gary Lam’s house a lot when my teacher was studying there in the late 90s and early 2000s, so much so that he was like a second teacher.
This is Robert Chu: “Hawkin’s style I feel is unique, his wing chun emphasizes body structure and stresses combat applications … the real DNA of wing chun is body structure, and this is what permeates the application of it. What I was lacking in my previous study was how to use body power. When I learned this, it made sense, for after all, Yip Man was a small man – how could he beat bigger, huskier people like Leung Sheung, Tsui Sheung Tien, Lok Yiu amd Wong Shun Leung, unless he had mastery over body structure?
Some have speculated special or secret techniques, or another secret system, but this is not so. The truth is one either develops body structure or doesn’t. With advanced practitioners of wing chun – the lineage isn’t important–what I noticed was only a small handful of people had body structure. Most didn’t. Even experts with 10 or 20 years practice still topple over during ‘chi sao’ or go flying around the room. It’s a shame.”
This is also my experience. If you want to get really good at martial arts, this is probably the most important thing to know. That scary power you glimpse here and there in the martial arts world comes from structure. Some call it “internal power.”
It is the proper alignment of the skeleton and tendons relative to the ground and the opponent.
I am just barely beginning to be able to express this sort of structural power and my abilities have doubled (at least). I studied other systems and they didn’t talk about structure. Maybe I didn’t get far enough along in their systems, I’m not sure.
When you feel it from someone else, you know.
I studied at one school for over three years and then one day, I did chi sao with a new student, a big guy who probably weighed about 240. He could barely even roll, but he was pushing me all over the place. I was one of the three or four best people at the school but I couldn’t handle his weight.
Now, I train with guys who are well over two hundred pounds and none of them can easily push me around (unless they have structure and timing). Weight alone is no longer enough to defeat my skill. I’ve been taught how to use the ground for power.
I can already hear people flaming me for these statements, but hey, I’m just telling you my experience. I make no claims to be anything special. I’m with David Peterson in saying, I’m no master anything.
But I know what I see and what I feel and what I can do. Before, if a guy weighed a lot more than me, I was defeated. With a structured approach, and timing, I can make them wrong, I can create an angle, I can stop them in their tracks, I can even push them back if necessary in the moment.
Its only been in the last six months that this has really taken off, but its there. Now I am just learning how to use it skillfully and to develop it.
The secret to powerful Wing Chun is structure.