Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Commitment in Wing Tsun
3 blog posts in one month? Finally...
I started a post like this in 2011 with the same title, but never finished it. Again in September 2014, also another one, but never finished it. The irony... I am finally committing to finishing this post. A recent exercise with a student reminded me about it.
The theme is committing to Wing Tsun but not committing in Wing Tsun.
When anyone talks about WC/WT, they talk about how there aren't any techniques, and that the opponent creates the techniques. About how one answer does not fit all. About no defense B for attack A. About how with the same single punch, there can be a multitude of responses depending on the opponent's (or your) build, speed, pressure, etc. But, this is hard to achieve in absolutely every situation encountered!
The one constant in a WT defense is the attacking defense. "When the path is clear..." The variable that changes is what happens after your attacking defense is blocked or deflected. I think we are not too shabby at changing once. But when a second change is needed, we fall apart. Our attack/defense can't just change once - it must be variable until the path is certainly clear and we are ready to release power. This is the problem that I hope to convey to you, and welcome any ideas on how to train this even further.
One of Si-Fu Ralph Haenel's CoreConcepts is "Release Power". One aspect of it, is being able to know when to release it. If by defending, we release our power too soon, i.e. commit to a defensive/attacking action, then we have the potential to already lose. Since that power has not yet reached it's end target, it can still be deflected. It is in this moment that our body might become tense with that release of power, and then we are thrown off course by a stronger opponent. Because we weren't ready to change a second or third time... because we have committed already. There are many other factors including reaching with the arms, or balance being off, etc., but I'm trying to keep this blog post simple.
Not committing is so difficult!
The other day, a fellow student and I were trying to fake each other out, when being the initial attacker:
1) Going for a punch
2) Recognizing the WT guy about to respond
3) Watching when the WT guy commits slightly to the visual feedback, or chasing hands
4) Switching the punching angle, or punching with other hand, finding the hole
Of course, at slower speeds this is easier. Our mind unfortunately is not fast enough to perform this at higher speeds consciously.
In this feinting exercise, the attacker is actually behaving like a WT guy as well, by not committing to the first attack and changing when to release power. Of course, the defender can also act in the same manner, ad nauseum... but that would be a competing exercise vs. cooperative one. One partner has to choose when to commit and let the WT guy find the timing and gap to release power.
I think this is one of the hardest WT ideas I've tried to put into writing.
The idea of ever-changing requires all the CoreConcepts including fluidity and mobility, as well as elasticity. But also relies on not committing and realizing when it is time and safe enough to release power.
How else do you think we should train this idea of "Release Power"?