On the third day of the new year, another day older. The saying of “tiger dies leaves skin, man dies leaves name” comes to mind. With this I also remember what my Taiji teacher said about not throwing away the good stuff but passing it on.
One thing I noticed over 2012 is how practitioners of Wing Chun would praise their art to the sky yet lament how the Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is not very useful training. In fact, one local instructor even lamented the clumsiness of Wing Chun footwork.
I can sympathize with them because I was once in the same boat. In fact, during the period of the writing of Complete Wing Chun I was even led to believe that the traditional way of learning YJKYM is practically useless. Yes, this is quite true judging from my experience up to that point in time.
However, a few years down the road I had to revise this point of view to :-
a) Yes, the “traditional” way of learning YJKYM is practically useless however this is an inaccurate point of view
b) Rather, I should say that the so-called “traditional” is not really *traditional* because what I had been led to believe is “traditional” is not really *traditional*.
In fact, a number of key points are missing from the way I was taught to do the stance hence a little wrong in the beginning leads to a major wrong a few years down the road. This led to my problem and revision of the art by following what my friends told me is correct and workable because “traditional” as they too learned it was wrong but in fact the entire problem was that “traditional” as taught was not properly *traditional*.
There are ways that we can easily tell if our “traditional” is or is not *traditional*. One simple but expensive (in the sense of time lost) is that our learning of YJKYM does not lead to a lively stance. Instead we even up with footwork that is cumbersome and unwieldy.
One day I was reading a multi-volume series on Wing Chun and I was impressed by how the author professed that the Bong Sao must have 135 degrees or words to that effect. But when I think of it if Wing Chun is so scientific then how come our learning of stance is unscientific and led to poor results such that many have to modify the way they stand and move with many adopting boxing stances instead. If I were to follow this approach would this not make my entire art a lie?
So there was my dilemma. Stuck but no solution. Until the day a tape arrived in the mail that changed the way I looked at Wing Chun.
Fast forward a few years down the road. I had this student who came from a baguazhang background but walked the circle in an un-lively manner. After some time of teaching him at the Siu Nim Tao level I introduced him to the pivoting stance of the Chum Kiu form. When he got the pivoting correct I immediately asked him to walk the baguazhang circle again and this time he was amazed that he could walk the circle in a light footed and balanced manner.
Now years later when I analyzed back that period of time I realized that one of the things that enabled this student to get the Chum Kiu pivoting stance correct was because his YJKYM is down pat. But what enabled him to get the YJKYM correct?
The answer was the form training plus the partner training that was configured to reinforce the learning of the usefulness of the stance. So *traditional* was not wrong. But minus the crucial details and we would end up with “traditional” and the result could have turned out differently.
How well does this model hold up? Pretty good I would say when I analyzed the video of pivoting that one member in the closed group forum put up in the latter part of 2012. I could see that he wobbled and showed signs of unbalance at certain critical points in the turning. If these parts aren’t fixed then the practitioner would fail to generate power out of the rear leg balance stance and he would have to revert to using boxing stances to generate power.
So one of the first things I will do in the Wing Chun e-learning course is to address this seemingly simple problem. I see even well known masters having this problem but out of respect I cannot name them or point out where the problems are. However, those who learn how to do the stance the *traditional* way should have no problem identifying the shortcomings and the consequences of not fixing the root causes.