Monday, March 9, 2020

Barbell Training and Wing Tsun Kung Fu

If you recall back in 2014, I had a blog post about the journey to soft, pliable, effective power - Part 2.

My strength, fitness, and conditioning exercises outside of Wing Tsun Kung Fu have always been centered around cycling, kettlebells, body-weight exercises and parallette bar training like GMB.  At the end of 2019, I became interested about the barbell and started training in the condo gym.  In 2020, I had the opportunity to build a Garage Gym.  I bought the Kindle edition of Mark Rippetoe's book Starting Strength, and was intrigued by the discussion about biomechanics and balance.

The discussion about balancing the barbell on the midfoot, essentially using the body as a set of levers, reminded me of the training in Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan and instructions by Sifu Joshua Craig.  If you recall, Wing Tsun Kung Fu training via Si-Fu Ralph Haenel's Core Concepts include:  Distance, Timing, Coordination, Mobility, Positioning, Power, Fluidity, Centreline, Release Power, and Balance.

All of these thoughts started percolating in my head, including the previous blog post, the initial one back in 2010 about the Journey to Soft, Pliable, Effective Power.

Even though at 5'6" and 142lbs (probably lighter back in 2010), I was able to do this with a cooperative partner:

Or affect another person's structure during a teaching demo, again with an essentially cooperative partner:

Here is a question. What does functional strength in Wing Tsun Kung Fu have to do with strength in general?  This question actually reminds me of a book by Si-Hing Brian Yam, or a video of kettlebell training by Si-Hing Steve McMinn of DoStrength.

My Si-Fu Ralph Haenel has told us previously about his encounters with other students or practitioners who could bench press a LOT, but the functional strength from their punches were a completely different story i.e. not as strong, or perhaps the correct terminology would be powerful.  There are likely a lot of factors, including even a select number of core concepts above such as coordination, timing, release power, balance...

Nevertheless, after reading Mark Rippetoe's words in the first few chapters of Starting Strength, that I interpret as essentially alignment and balance, I have decided that for the rest of 2020 (besides work and the other wonders of life), I will study the role of barbell strengthening in improving my own Wing Tsun Kung Fu, and perhaps even Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan.  I will seek out reading, videos, and coaching in order to improve the form.  I am particularly curious about the compound exercises required, as the functional part of Wing Tsun necessitates whole body movement.  One premise is that general strength and fitness training should improve any sport or martial art.  I will attempt to focus on barbell training, and forgo kettlebell training.  It is difficult to stop any body-weight training entirely, as I have recently also gotten into olympic ring training.  Disclaimer:  this is not a double-blinded randomized controlled trial.

The other challenge is to determine what the actual outcome measure is, to say that barbell training has improved my Wing Tsun Kung Fu.  Because, I am not going to stop Wing Tsun either.  Perhaps I can stop some of the weapons training, and see how barbell training may improve my long pole or butterfly knife workouts.  I have not decided yet.

More importantly, I hope to draw some thoughts and correlations between barbell training methodology, and some of the concepts from Wing Tsun Kung Fu and Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan.

So, stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Journey in Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan

After another insightful Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan seminar in Vancouver, BC by Sifu Joshua Craig this past weekend, it led to my thoughts about the journey thus far.

The last blog post about a ZXD seminar was the October 2018 by GM Sam Chin, my introduction to this art.  Since then I have participated in various seminars to get a better overview of the system and philosophy, as well as have an opportunity to train with and learn from different ZXD students.  It seems excessive after typing this all out, but some of them happened to be tied into trips around the area already.  They have all helped with the journey in Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan thus far, in different ways.

- GM Sam Chin seminar in Oakland, California - December 2018: convinced about the consistency of results from ZXD students

- Sifu Ashe Higgs seminar in Vancouver, BC - March 2019:  further introduction to basic exercises and partner drills

- GM Sam Chin seminar in Phoenix, Arizona - May 2019:  immersive environment with many senior students; tested and passed ZXD ILC Student Level 1

- Group class with Lipyeow Lim in Honolulu, Hawaii - May 2019:  side trip to group class while on vacation; detailed training about looking for the bone

- Sifu Joshua Craig seminar in Barrie, Ontario - June 2019:  amazed about the details in basic exercises; realized that there is much more to look for in Student Level 1 basic exercises 1-10; surprised I passed one month ago and realized my condense/expand was just choreography and not internal

- Sifu Joshua Craig seminar in Vancouver, BC - August 2019:  After Chris Chinfen (Vancouver group leader) also gained exposure to Joshua Craig's teaching, Joshua was invited to come to Vancouver; again I was floored by his teaching abilities

- GM Sam Chin seminar in Paris, France - September 2019:  side trip while in Europe; excellent training tips from various European students

- GM Sam Chin seminar in Vancouver, BC - October 2019:  1 year since my first exposure to ZXD; easier to recognize and realize what we should be looking for during training

- Sifu Joshua Craig seminar in Vancouver, BC - February 2020:  More details about level 1 basics; also had an excellent 2-hour private lesson on Basic Exercise 11 - concave/convex

In today's blog post though, I will take you through my experiences from the seminar in Oakland, California.

Oakland, California - December 2018
After the introduction to Zhong Xin Dao in Vancouver, BC I wanted to find out more.  As mentioned in the previous blog post, I was immediately intrigued by the philosophy.  The feeling of the art felt similar to Hänel-WT in effect, but perhaps different in cause.

Thus, in December 2018, I went to the seminar in Oakland, California organized by Guru Bernard Langan.  My goal was to have another exposure, and also to see what the longer-term students were like i.e. were they able to manifest similar abilities to GM Sam Chin.  Deeper down the question was if this was a path I could see myself train in.

I was not disappointed.  I met many other students from the west coast, from Oregon to California.  One of them, Mike, reminded me of a Wing Tsun Si-Hing Armando, as he was "light" yet responsive and structured.  There were others like Sonjue, Artem, and Kaiwe and who gave excellent tips from their backgrounds in anatomy.

It was also here that I learned even though one can be "successful" in a push-hands type drill/exercise, I may have still relied on past experience.  Although, I still believe that the Hänel-WingTsun Core Concepts training approach, especially in the last 3-4 years, helped get my body structure and function to its current state.  I could see a deeper level of refinement via Zhong Xin Dao.

I also learned from GM Sam Chin that I was preferentially moving in a sagittal plane.  That actually makes sense to me, especially as a result of more Biu-Tze training.

After this Oakland seminar, I was even more convinced about not only I Liq Chuan, but the Zhong Xin Dao philosophy to its training.

This photo below is not a demonstration of the frontal* plane, basic exercise 10, or otherwise.  It is a still from a Happy Holidays greeting.

Until the next post... happy training!

*a former version of this article incorrectly stated "horizontal plane"; thanks Sifu Joshua Craig

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

January 2015 WingTsun notes - From blank to a dot

I happen to be cleaning up my OneNote notebooks, having not used them in 3 years.

I found this entry from January 11, 2015 at 11:54PM.


Idea about video

Graphic artist needed

Journey in Wing Tsun

Imagine a WT student, learning SNT for the first time.
Mechanics in the head, blank essentially.

As one learns more and more, schematics come out, different option.

More experience, multitude of options and ideas in stick figures, come out.

Mastery, involves simplicity again, and unified answer.

It looks as though in 2015, I was writing about an idea representing the journey in Wing Tsun that could be displayed as a video.

Question:  What would I change about this note now?

In the second stage, as one learns more and more, schematics do come out of the head, but the student is more so in the "collecting" phase.  There are still issues with collecting techniques, but this may still be needed without a full understanding and appreciation.

In the next stage with more experience, although there are multitude of options, they aren't due to collecting more techniques, but rather more so in the "amalgamation" and "synchronization" phase.

In terms of the last stage, I still believe that Mastery = Simplicity = Unified.  And in the video, the WT student's head is no longer completely blank, but imagine a white background with a dot, right in the centre.

Popular Middle of the Circle Optical Illusion | Genius Puzzles

But what is that dot, and where is the centre?

Until next time...

Happy Training!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

GM Sam Chin Zhong Xin Dao I Liq Chuan Seminar in Vancouver

On the weekend of October 6-7, 2018, I had an opportunity to participate in a Zhong Xin Dao (中心道) / I Liq Chuan (意力拳) seminar by GM Sam Chin in Vancouver, BC.  Thank you to Sifu Chris Chinfen for organizing this event, and for Sifu Steve McMinn for hosting it at DoStrength.

The Martial Art of Awareness.

I thought this would be a unique chance to learn about the Zhong Xin Dao philosophy behind the training of movement and awareness, to complement Wing Tsun training.  

Recently, Zhong Xin Dao has been formally declared as another discipline through the EWTO organization, by Si-Gung Keith Kernspecht.

Over the last several years, in Si-Fu Ralph Haenel's Wing Tsun Kung Fu, we have been working on uniting the body and movement with training exercises:
-       Folding, sliding
-       Opening, closing
-       Compressing, expanding
-       Pushing, pulling

For my own training and awareness, I have been trying to expand upon:
-       Connections and ability to generate pushing and pulling forces simultaneously
-       Spheres and circles (hence the original name of this blog Kyklosphaira)
-       Power from the ground, and absorption into the ground
-       Affecting the opponent’s structure on first contact

The first 10 minutes of GM Sam Chin's seminar caught my attention.  

We did not do any physical training at first.  It was strictly a verbal introduction by GM Sam Chin, yet it captured my mind.  Especially in regards to such things as having a reference point, the journey of the neutral path, realizing and recognizing, etc.  This was also helpful due to the concurrent timing of another journey of mine in trying to understand world views and philosophy.  When GM Sam Chin talked about the Zen and Tao philosophies behind the training methods of I Liq Chuan, numerous mind-body connections came through to me.

The ability to put a conceptual philosophical framework as a basis for the training of movement and awareness was very helpful to orient some of the movement in Wing Tsun training.  It does not replace my Wing Tsun training, but rather complements it and enhances it.

Time to bring out Si-Gung Keith Kernspecht's book, Inner WingTsun again.

Many thanks to GM Sam Chin, his wife, and son Hsin Chin for making the trip to Vancouver.

I will continue with Haenel-WingTsun, but will also seek out I Liq Chuan training as well.  Next stop, Oakland, California...

Happy Training!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Compress and Expand

The following video clip was made from Sifu Ralph Haenel's MovementKeys seminar held on December 9th, 2017.

This exercise allows you to train the awareness of your movements in Wing Tsun Kung Fu.

The tips summarized below:
  1. Train slow and listen
  2. Find your spinal movements
  3. Play with gravity
  4. Slide and ride the wave
  5. Compress and expand
  6. Wiggle and find the point
  7. Be present
  8. Experiment
  9. Be the wave
  10. Flow from under or over
Happy Training!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Wing Chun Illustrated

Wing Chun Illustrated "gives a voice to all lineages."

I was fortunate to be able to interview my Si-Fu, Ralph Hänel, for the 38th issue of this magazine.  Check out my Si-Fu's website here.  Thanks to Sifu Eric Lilleør for the opportunity!

Read it here.

Order your print-on-demand copy of Issue #38 here.

Happy training!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Awareness of balance in Wing Tsun

If you study and train Wing Tsun Kung Fu, you may have been told about the Centerline theory (centREline for us Canadians).  Or, you may have heard about following the opponent's center.  Alternatively, you may have had experience with an opponent's elusive center, yet yours is quite apparent to them.

This video is based upon the seminar held on August 19th, 2017 in Vancouver, BC, Canada, by Master Ralph Hänel, of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver.

Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver

During this seminar, through all of the exercises (be it opening, hollowing, pushing, etc.), we trained our spherical shield or ballistic armour.

My own personal training points were:

1. Feeling the partner's center
2. Affecting the partner on first contact, at any contact point
3. Constant awareness of maintaining one's own balance and affecting the partner's balance

Happy Training!