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No-Bullshit Wing Chun Training Tips ALWAYS GO WITH THE GUT – “6 Principles of Combat” for Practical and Effective Wing Chun Training PART 2

ALWAYS GO WITH THE GUT – “6 Principles of Combat” for Practical and Effective Wing Chun Training PART 2


Demonstrating Chi Sau at the Chinatown Summer Fair with my good buddy, classmate and all around bad-ass Kingston Go. I hesitated- and I got whacked. Lesson learned-don’t think, act!!

In keeping in line with our never -ending quest to functionalize our Wing Chun; harnessing its’ power for the singular purpose of simple, effective and realistic self defense, let us continue with the second of the “6 Principles of Combat” from John Kary, USMC (Ret.) founder of the American Combatives system of self-defense, a close-quarter, battle-tested system that is both structurally and conceptually congruent with proper use of Wing Chun for self-defense and personal protection.

Principle #2 is as follows:  Trust Your Instincts.

What does that mean? Simple.  Listen to your gut.  As Gavin De Becker, noted security expert, states several times in his masterpiece The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence your intuition and instinct is an invaluable tool from our earliest caveman days making fire, clubbing animals and yelling “ooga-booga!”  It is there to serve you, yet so many folks deaden it by either becoming hyper-vigilant and overstimulated or by ignoring it outright.  BAD move on both counts.

An essential read for everyone concerned with self-defense and personal protection.

An essential read for everyone concerned with self-defense and personal protection.

Evolution At It’s Finest

If you have a bad feeling about a certain place, person, or situation, remove yourself from that place, person or situation as soon as possible. People forget that instincts are finely tuned mechanisms that have been developed from centuries of evolution. Animals have instincts and we are no different. Many times, victims of crime will say “I just had this feeling…” or “Why didn’t I listen to that voice in my head...” That little voice is there for a reason.  Now in all fairness there is a difference between being vigilant and being paranoid, however, insofar as your safety is concerned nothing is trivial.

If you have a bad feeling or “vibe” about someone, do not betray it. Be even more aware, and look for signs that might put you in harm’s way. If your friends want to go to a party in a rough area or with people you don’t know or trust, don’t go. It’s a lot easier to patch up a misunderstanding than be dead. If you feel anything that says, “this isn’t a good idea,” listen to it. Again, it’s better to be wrong than to be trapped in a situation where your options are taken from you.

Tuning Forks and Throat Strikes

The Japanese system of holistic healing known as Reiki (literally translated as “universal life force energy”) works by attuning the energy field of the recipient to that of the healer; once the recipient is vibrating on a higher frequency, they will then right whatever maladies they are afflicted with.  In this system of healing, and indeed in all forms of energy work, the healer does not “send” energy, vibes or ju-ju to the recipient; they simply “attune” the recipient to their higher vibration level, like a tuning fork.

With our Wing Chun training,  you find yourself in a situation where such a scenario occurs and you must  PROTECT yourself, you must “attune” yourself to the situation and do so pretty damn quick.  Your intention must be to attack fiercely and ferociously yet efficiently and dispassionately without regard to his safety or for that matter, your own.  You will most likely sustain an injury; that can’t affect you.  Your structure must be tight, compact and directed towards your opponent’s vital targets (which, unless they parachute down and land on your head, will be their centerline), your mindset and mentality must be one of acting OFFENSIVELY and your attacks must be to the eyes, throat or balls.

Do not stop until the threat is neutralized. Period.  It’s barbaric but at this point you need to realize you have no other options.  Addressing the reality of this scenario (which plays out countless times every day all across the world) is precisely where so many Wing Chun “teachers” short-change their flock – it is also where those who truly “get it” can provide immense value to those they instruct.

Chi Sau:  Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy

Chi Sau is to Wing Chun what batting practice and baserunning is to baseball; what running drills and layups are to basketball and what rehearsals are to dancers.  It is the functionalization of our Wing Chun skillset for use in reality.  With this amount of responsibility in one drill, it is no wonder why so many folks can’t use their Wing Chun outside the confines of their pristine, perfect and sanitary training environment.  Too often Chi Sau training falls into one of two categories, both of which are about as useful as a blind man taking Driver’s Ed classes:

  • Treating Chi Sau as a method of “sparring”
  • Engaging in Chi Sau as some intellectual pursuit of theory, concept and technique, workshopping endless scenarios and concocting responses to each possible situation.


Chi Sau is a reflex drill designed to hone and sharpen your killer instinct; to train your hands to shoot forward when unobstructed to your opponent’s centerline and if there is an obstruction, clearing it in the most simple, direct and efficient manner to continue your onslaught until this shitbag is no longer a threat.  Chi Sau is your key to freedom in combat-provided it is trained the right way.  The next time you roll, implement these key strategies and watch your functionality and combat effectiveness skyrocket:

  • Don’t Think.  When rolling, if you are timing an opponent, they can sense that.  If you are counting in your head as to when you will attack,  believe me, your opponent can sense your intention just as you can sense his pressure and has already locked onto you like a fighter jet with radar lock.  Make it a point to almost surprise yourself with your attack by launching it once you feel the opportunity to do so.  Will it work?  Maybe, maybe not.  If it works, sweet-follow up!  If it doesn’t, who gives a shit?  Adjust, adapt and carry on with the exchange.  This will do wonders for your abilities by boosting your confidence to handle any situation once it presents rather than planning for every possible scenario which is both foolish and useless.
  • Remember the Rule of 3.  When engaging in Chi Sau practice, Attack within 3 rolls of each reset.  The number one mistake I see folks make is rolling too much.  The purpose of the roll in Chi Sau isn’t to roll; it’s to dial into forward pressure, probe for an opening and exploit it.  Too much rolling leads to too much thinking.  Too much thinking leads to hesitation and, as Grandmaster Ed Parker once said, “hesitation leads to horizontal meditation.”
  • Don’t Care About The Outcome.  I have found that the majority of mistakes in approaching Chi Sau stem from a fear of being hit.  This can lead to “chasing hands” syndrome of loopy, circular motions and the habit of trying to “stick” to the opponent’s hands no matter where they go.  Although Chi Sau is translated as “sticking hands”  people get the wrong idea.  The “sticking” of “sticking hands” isn’t your hands to your opponent’s; it is your hands to your opponent’s face.  Picture magnets coming together-they find the simplest route towards each other due to the magnetic pull which is as powerful as it is efficient.  Magnets will move other objects out of the way as they gravitate towards each other.  Practice with the intention that your hands have magnets super-glued to them and your opponent’s face is a steel mask and watch what happens.

Try This Next Time

In order to not deviate from Wing Chun mechanics; that is to say, to reach forward and break the structure of elbows-in, don a pair of MMA gloves and imagine your opponent’s chest is the magnet, not his head.  In doing so, you will be able to train angle-cutting and triangular structure, slicing through your opponent’s arms and attacks by deflecting to his center.  Remember, if you can hit the chest while maintaining your structure and collapsing your opponent’s, you can hit the head.

Red Shirt, Green Shirt

Think of it this way: you have to evacuate your home immediately and can’t decide whether to grab a red shirt or a green shirt. Give yourself 5 seconds and pick. If you choose red but later want green, tough shit.  Stick with red and make it work.

Take that attitude with your Chi Sau and watch what happens.  You will be pleased with the results!


Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby



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