I was looking at the Life section today and an article mentioned that a China newspaper has already proclaimed The Grandmasters, the long awaited biopic of Ip Man from Wong Kar Wai as the best film of 2013. It was quite interesting to read that if not for certain constraints the director could go on shooting the movie for another 3 years.
So the big question is will this version of a Ip Man movie be a game changer given the huge success of Donnie Yen’s earlier two Ip Man movies?
On the same page in which the above article appeared there was mention of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. This is a comedy series by Jerry Seinfeld that is produced for the internet.
What was interesting is Seinfeld mentioning that he had already played the game and that he won’t play the same game any more in the sense of making another comedy that is similar to his previous mega success, the comedy series Seinfeld. This certainly shows that Jerry Seinfeld is a game changer.
After watching a hilarious episode featuring Ricky Gervais, I have to give it a thumbs up too. The section about the moment in history that they would like to witness that turned into a joke about Hitler and his terrible honeymoon is really funny.
You know what I like about Wing Chun? Its the fact that the art encourages you to be a game changer. The saying of “when learning martial arts, don’t speak of who is first or last. The adept is the one who is first. Don’t speak of who is senior or junior. The one who attains the skill first is the senior” attests to this.
However, this is something that is forgotten when Wing Chun went mainstream and formal, commercial schools were set up. Soon practitioners who should be innovators became worshippers or be accused of not having Wu De. The seniority, the respect thing, the culture of face became more important than actually passing on the skills of the art.
The saying above does not mean that one should act disrespectfully. However, it rightfully puts skill above respect because without skill then the respect that other people give to you as a master will ring hollow.
If you look at the history of Wing Chun it is littered with game changing moments. The art itself is game changing at that point in history. Leung Jan was a game changer when he created a simpler training method in Koo Lo Wing Chun. Yuen Kay San was another game changer who trimmed the art down to core essentials and emphasized poon sao over huen sao in chi sao training. And Ip Man’s game changing moment was when he changed his approach of Wing Chun to that of long range striking and more frequent use of kicks.
So how do you change your Wing Chun game? Or maybe you are confident that your game does not need changing because your lineage is recognized, well known, blah, blah, blah though somehow there are these nagging little things that you noticed and trying to ignore.
I know its hard to shake off the cloak of loyalty that is clouding your mind and preventing you from thinking clearly. Its common that without what Zen practitioners term the Great Doubt we will continue to be shackled to our beliefs whether they are rational or scientific or consistent or whatever.
This is why the first step in assessing whether we need to change our game is to learn to think, analyze and how to come up with objective conclusions. If you don’t take this step you will always be caught up by arguments of history, lineage and styles.
The second step is to understand whether by changing our game we are giving up a lesser for a better approach. Or is it a case of gaining some new thing at some other expense in which case you may not be as better off as you think. This is why I prefer to think of it as going for a more optimal approach rather than going for a traditional approach. This is because traditional may lead to optimal but optimal need not necessarily be traditional. If this were to be true then we would not have this problem of the classical mess as Bruce Lee termed it.
The third step is to examine and consider what is a more optimal model. We should bear in mind that there are always trade-offs. In this sense, you can’t have everything. So for example if you want to be good in using long range striking like what we do in The Ip Man Question then you need to have very good distance perception and patience. You just can’t rush in with fists blazing otherwise you will be too close to use the long range punches.
In this regard, if you prefer to charge right in and on top of your opponent then the approach of The Ip Man Question is totally wrong for you. For me I took it up because I wanted to know why Ip Man always stood further away from his student in those pictures of him performing applications. By comparison most pictures of Wing Chun masters show them standing very close to their posed opponents, quite different from what Ip Man is showing in the pictures.
Today the answer is clear – its because Ip Man was a master of kicks and long range striking!
So if you are looking to change your game in the aspect of long range striking and no-shadow kicks ala the personal approach of Ip Man then you can consider to examine his art of Wing Chun from this angle.