In order to learn physical structure and, so as not to be too influenced by the attributes of another beginner when learning new material, a new student should get in a good amount of solo practice time.
As with many other martial arts, training by oneself in learning new material is encouraged in the Wing Tsun system. Body structure is very important, as is concentration and taking the time to get one’s mind into a relaxed enough state to experience progress. In order to do this, you must find a quiet place alone with all electronics turned off or placed in a way so as not be heard or seen. A good technique is to get away from home or other too familiar surroundings so that you cannot easily run back to an easy chair! Specify a certain time period for this practice. It could be 20 minutes or 40 minutes or longer.
Solo training does not have to be a sprint or a physical marathon. Part of the training will be mental. You may not be productive for the first 20 minutes while you clear your head from our hectic life.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that intermediate or advanced students do not ignore solo training. It is easy to lose sight of the original techniques and structure that one learned a few years ago and yet remains as important to your current progress. Also if you find yourself ‘stuck’ or stalled, it is important to renew your solo training in earnest. It behooves you to read this article to the end.
It is suggested that students develop their OWN drills and think through them in sequence. Once the sequence has been remembered, walk through the movements slowly like a T’ai Chi student.
Students at these grades must be able to do this kind of self-developed drill over and over, perhaps 6 or 8 times, or more. This will help you get rid of complete dependence on other people to learn about yourself. Your instructor can guide you and explain theories and practice with you but your instructor cannot get inside of you. Solo practice is about you learning about you and what makes you tick. Can you even stand to be alone in a room with just you and your techniques? If you try this solo practice, you will find out.
Intermediate and advanced students should move slowly through self-developed drills. The movements should be slow and relaxed. Anytime you practice by yourself, your practice should be thoughtful but your mind must not be busy. It must be present. It may take a half an hour to get into that mental state. However if you rationally consider that you have spent a certain number of years to get to this point and you do not allow yourself this much, you are then probably wasting your time. Mindless moving through techniques is wasting your time and intelligence. Movement must have a present state of mind – in the moment. This kind of mental state will be needed as you get into more challenging techniques.
Your instructor can guide you to the water but only you can drink of it.
- Sifu Keith Sonnenberg