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Wing Chun Explained

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Wing Chun is a system of movement that enables one to generate and absorb force without relying on muscular strength. The movements/forms are basically the application of this ability in the context of combat.

The underlying skill allowing you to absorb and generate force through relaxation is what makes Wing Chun truly unique, though many people seem to get fixated on the self-defence applications without ever sufficiently developing this unique power source (like buying an electric car and then installing a combustion engine because you couldn’t figure out how to charge it). While the shapes, angles of attack, speed etc. are interesting solutions to the science of combat in their own right, without the ability to drive these movements in a relaxed manner, Wing Chun loses much of its point of difference. Having little firsthand experience in the 100’s of other approaches to Wing Chun/Ving Tsun, I cannot speak to their efficacy beyond what I can see online which from the outside appears to be quite tense (lots of bouncing off each other like billiard balls instead of transferring energy into the target like a pool cue striking a ball) and focused on attacking or chasing the opponents limbs instead of the centre of mass.

As described in the following articles, the process to develop this physical ability stems mainly from the cultivation of a high performance state of mind - what CST labelled “thought force” or ”Nim Lik” in Cantonese - akin to scientific descriptions of flow states (“being in the zone”) and marked by a sense of selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and richness. Aside from the significant and objectively measurable improvement in performance (this isn’t one of those things that only works if your opponent also “believes”), the intentional cultivation of this state of mind brings with it a noticeable shift in mood and an improved overall sense of physical and psychological wellbeing (these great articles by my Sifu Mark Spence describe some of the health benefits we’ve witnessed firsthand, though we don’t claim to understand how it works). While there are presumably plenty of activities - meditation, yoga, playing music, dancing, sex, surfing etc. - that can lead to similar improvements in wellbeing through the activation of “flow”, as they’re often triggered simply as a by-product of the activity, this flow state can be much harder to apply to other activities. At Flow State Wing Chun we teach you how to consciously trigger this high performance state of mind on demand and how to harness its benefits - whether you’re stressed at work, learning a new skill or facing the threat of violence.

This is achieved through a combination of standing meditation, practicing the forms in a slow and deliberate manner, chi sau (cooperative and competitive) along with good natured sparring for those who have an interest in combat/competitive fighting, all of which I’ve explained the purpose of in separate articles. I’ve been fortunate enough that violence is not a feature in my life, therefore I increasingly find the combat aspects the least interesting application of this art (it almost feels like building a space ship only to fly it to the shops), however for those that have a need for/interest in combat or sports fighting, good natured sparring (healthy conflict designed to improve all involved) against similarly minded practitioners of as many different styles as possible is essential. I’m personally not a fan of “aggressive” sparring (unhealthy conflict) where the goal shifts from testing ability/learning/teaching to an ego driven desire to “win” (the drive to survive a real life fight is not something we need to learn or practice). While undoubtedly effective in learning to fight and harness the fight/flight response, the activation of the ego makes it all but impossible to achieve the higher level flow state (i.e. selflessness) we’re trying to develop as a more productive and healthy response to highly stressful situations, instead of the raw, emotional aggression that often accompanies the “fight” response.

Where many see a choice between being passive (submitting) or aggressive (escalating), at Flow State Wing Chun we seek to cultivate mental & physical assertiveness instead.

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