Sunday, October 11, 2009

A tradition that evolves over time

I recently came across an article by GM Kernspecht on Wingtsun Welt at

Quote: “Asians often have a different point of view, and in my experience many would rather allow themselves to be struck on the head than use a technique that is not part of their style.”

I hope he was using the word “Asians” to describe “traditionalists”. Because then I would tend to agree more with that statement. But only if the word “traditionalist” means that the person is traditional in the techniques rather than the concepts of WT. After all, how many times have you heard that WT is not a style, but a system?

Traditional techniques
If the person is traditional in the techniques only, and also without realizing how or where they originated from, then to this person in WT there are bong saus, tan saus, fak saus, straight punches, and even hooking punches, etc. However, there wouldn’t be a spinning back fist or a high roundhouse kick in the WT repertoire.

Is this person limited or restricted then? Perhaps, but what if a so-called traditional technique does the job every single time? Hard to predict that, but then there would be no problems whatsoever. But if an attack isn’t used because it wasn’t in the dictionary of traditional techniques, at the expense of getting hit instead, then that would be considered a failure. This is what the above article alluded to. I suppose this scenario could happen, but hopefully whatever high-impact hit is done is still economical and to the point without wasting too much energy. To counter that though, what if it doesn’t fit those ideas but still gets the job done anyways?

Traditional concepts
If the person is traditional in the concepts, then I don’t think that’d be too much of a problem, as long as there are functional and effective techniques to back up those concepts. Because either the concepts would create the techniques, or certain techniques would fit into the concepts. After all, “if the way is clear, then move forward” could mean a nice high hook kick to an open face. If you’ve seen some demos by Sifu Heinrich Pfaff, then you know what I mean.

Anyways, my first reflexive response to that article was “wait… I’m an Asian – what is he trying to say?” But in my infant years of learning WT, I think he was trying to say when it comes to learning a martial art, that it’s sometimes okay to be goal-oriented and think about the ends rather than the means. And if we are stubborn traditionalists, then we might lose out on certain aspects of training WT.

Do you want to be traditional or effective?

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