Someone I know posted a link to a training document he put together based on the information given out in a series of videos and posts in a particular Facebook group.
At first glance it seems like a well put together document with a lot of concepts and principles that is supposed to describe the workings of a certain style of Wing Chun.
However, I can’t help but notice that for a document that is supposed to talk about Wing Chun there is actually very little information on the nitty gritty little things that define Wing Chun. In fact, to use an analogy it is like reading a book on Taiji but the terms and principles used to describe Taiji is taken from Yoga! Thus, I have to say that it is more like reading a book on Chinese internal martial arts than reading a book on Wing Chun.
There is nothing wrong to describe Wing Chun this way but I have to ask is it necessary? Its like going to attend a lecture on law but the lecturer keeps using economics to explain what law is about. What’s wrong with using law terms and definitions to explain the workings of law?
If I have to make a guess I would say that rather than describe a style using its own authentic terms and definitions the document is an attempt to try to recreate the style of Wing Chun in the mould of an internal style. Again I say there is nothing wrong with this because I once did this when my knowledge and understanding of Wing Chun was shallow and there were many gaps that I could not fill in. My learning of Taiji helped me fill in the gaps and I suspect that this is what is happening here with this style.
However, once I got to learn from people who come from authentic and traditional lineages then I came to understand that there is no need to impose an internal arts framework on Wing Chun. The style as it is can be explained well and truly using its own terms and definitions. If one is unable to do so then it points to a reinvention or reworking or recreation of the style to fill in the gaps. In fact, there is a school in Singapore that claims to merge Yoga with Wing Chun.
I have read comments from people who try to follow the teachings that they have improved in their own practice. I can’t help but wonder if this is because their previous learning is not good or not taught well or whatever and hence something better would surely bring about improvements. For example, I found that my Taiji learning helped to improve my Wing Chun. But when I finally found a Wing Chun style that is proper then I discovered my Taiji learning actually obstructed my progress and I had to relearn my Wing Chun again. The same goes for my learning of Taiji in which my Wing Chun impeded my progress and I had to forget my Wing Chun in order to truly understand Taiji.
Because most people tend to mix their learning or they do not learn indepth this is why they cannot make a distinction when it comes to matters of styles and will swallow any claims that is advanced hook, link and sinker. If the information can bring about an improvement then all the more reason not to question it. Sometimes the problems that come with along with a reworked style may not be obvious until one reaches the advanced stage so it will be a long time before one realizes the problems.
Coming back to the document, the thing is Wing Chun as practiced and taught by many schools tend to share a set of common terminology and characteristics. All have their reasons for doing so. But a number are doing it blindly because they dare not question the lineage or their teacher. Many practitioners like to say that their approach to Wing Chun is scientific but when it comes to learning and examining what they actually do their behaviour is anything but scientific.
Given that there are so many valid approaches based on the legitimacy of each lineage sometimes its difficult to separate the wheat from chaff. So I tend to look for completeness of approach, consistent explanations, scientific basis of the presented model and ability of the model to solve a wide range of combat problems. By adopting this approach I can spot when a style has inconsistencies in its model.
One very simple example – many know that Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is the most basic stance taught. But many also decried the training as not practical. I wonder if this is because they don’t understand the training or they have incomplete information. To say that the basic stance training is not practical is to basically say that the foundation on which the style is built is a lie. But if it is not, then what is the missing picture?
However, if you are of the opinion that the basic stance training is correct but you do Wing Chun like a hard style such that instead of following the principle of “borrow strength to defeat strength” you adhere to “use strength to defeat strength” how does that make your approach Wing Chun in tune with the stated principle? Sure, you may win many fights but still without following the principle rigorously can you still call what you do Wing Chun? Or is the principle of “borrow strength to defeat strength” a lie too?
As I learned it there is a method behind the madness of the basic stance. Most people get the first half of the explanation. It is the missing second half that gives rise to some many problems and disillusionment with the practice of this stance. And now there is a document showing a method that is supposed to be ancient yet even the most basic training tool is not mentioned I really wonder if indeed it is about Wing Chun at all. I think that the document would read better if the name Wing Chun is substituted for styles such as Chen Taiji, xingyi or yiquan.
Ignorance is good because when you are ignorant you can accept what you read readily. Ignorance is also good because a recreated style can be hoisted on the gullible public without much protesting from those who know better. Sometimes I really cannot blame people like my teachers who are very careful about explaining what they do because they do not want such people to take their style’s information and use it to justify another style’s approach.
Putting IMA into Wing Chun can be a good thing but only in so far it goes towards improving what is already good rather than recreating an entire style because the creator didn’t really get it in the first place and by necessity had to reinvent the entire style so that he can legitimize it in order that he can make himself the leader.