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Movement skills, tactile skills

Movement skills

Every student of any martial art must learn new movement skills.  Some martial arts are athletic in their approach. A student must stretch, strengthen, use calisthenics and aerobic exercise in addition to stances, kicks, long range punching, power exercises, jumping skills, tumbling skills and other athletic skills.

WingTsun™ is less about high kicks, jumping kicks, spin kicks, and bending into low stances, – we have none of those – than it is about being sharply focused on self-defense skills.  However the skills developed in WingTsun training are more like sharpening a knife than making a dinner recipe. The creators of WingTsun realized that self-defense cannot happen with a recipe. There is no recipe. A student must be prepared to sharpen his or her weapons. In the case of WingTsun, it is the whole body.

WingTsun students must learn efficient ways of moving, fail-safe ways of stepping, deflecting, evading, dissolving, punching, striking and kicking.

The creators of WingTsun realized than no self-defense system has an edge over another if they confine themselves to conventional ways of thinking. That is, if one sees a punch coming, one uses an arm to defend and another to attack. How does one prepare for attack? Devise a series of pre-planned maneuvers that its creator believes are possible attacks. Is it possible to pre-plan every type of attack? No. How do many martial arts try to get around this problem? They spar to work out as many of these situations as possible. Can they devise a way to make the eye and the hand, for example, react to every conceivable angle and speed of attack and deal with it with the appropriate block from even a short or long distance? Still the answer must be No.

Suggestion: With sufficient warning, a defender must react instantly and without hesitation with simultaneous defense and offense methods. These are highly developed in WingTsun.

Leung Ting WingTsun® motto:  “He who attacks first is the stronger.” It is an interesting motto.  However it is not a recommendation to attack first. It is more like a warning about an attacker. Your attacker is going to have power and momentum on his side.

Leung Ting WingTsun® motto:  “Start later, arrive first.” This means that if the fist that is used to defend yourself simultaneously with defense starts later (since your attacker launched his attack first), yours must arrive first regardless!  How are we going to do that? We are going to do that with certain movement skills. One must line up on the centerline which is between you and your attacker by muscle memory training and automatic reactions so that your attacker must go around your heavily occupied centerline thus taking a longer route. Then your chain punches and other centerline hand movements must be your fastest hands ever!  Your footwork must carry you forward and never just stand there like a sitting duck but rather carry you forward toward the fight inside your attacker’s defenses to tactile defenses.

Suggestion: Without sufficient warning: a defender must react passively at first to evade, deflect or dissolve the surprise attack with bong, tan, fook, pak, etc. and then spring forward with an appropriate defense, closing in to engage in close-quarter self-defense using…

Tactile skills

Once inside your attacker’s defenses, tactile skills should take over. By using the sense of touch to notify you of your attacker-opponent’s intentions, you have the fastest early warning system known. A defender can feel the direction, power and angle of attack as soon as the attacker. A defender is trained to release the force within, giving up the force so force can be borrowed from an attacker. Defense and attack can be more exactly timed to occur nearly simultaneously. In addition, a defender is operating well within the comfort zone and skill zone of potential attackers. A defender learns certain skills involving springy force and yielding to pressures and forces so that a simultaneous reaction of punching, striking, sweeping or throwing complete the defense. A defender does not have to try and learn how to react to an infinite number of angles and airborne techniques. The defender merely bends his or her own arms and shifts footwork to dissolve an attacker’s grappling locks, holds, haymaker punches, grabs, straight-punches, hooks, upper-cuts, chokes, kicks, etc. and uses WingTsun’s punches, palms, special punches, fingertips, thumbs, shoulders, elbows, knees and kicks against the attacker. Collectively, the tactile skills are called ‘chi sau,’ – sticky hands, which are a sophisticated learning program of seven sections extending from Student Grade Three’s test for Student Grade 4, (single arm sticky hands)  through the early instructor levels, then chi sau applications of the Biu Tze form (four sections) and wooden dummy programs (seven sections) starting at 2nd Level Technician.

Much later, a student in the advanced instructor levels learns ‘chi kwun,’ the sticky version of the long pole and after that, the ‘chi gurk’ – sticky leg in private lessons.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg