We’ve all been to one of these types of seminars, and sometimes we’ve listened to that one naysayer who challenges the topic being discussed… Don’t get me wrong – I commend people who are willing to challenge the possibility of “groupthink” and encourage others to not just take what’s being taught as whole cloth.
So, hats off to this guy for standing up and asking the question. The Sifu, in my opinion, didn’t really handle things as appropriately as I would have preferred – and upon review from the outsider (audience) perspective, I believe that he could have handled it better than he did. His annoyance for being interrupted by a question beyond the scope of what he wanted to teach was apparent, and he let it be known (albeit subtly) when he said that the audience member’s question didn’t relate to what they were talking about… but he, somewhat reluctantly and with a little defensiveness in his attitude, did answer the question. The Youtube description said that the Sifu giving the seminar/lecture gave the karate practitioner the answer to his question twice – actually, it was three times: once with the Sifu’s assistance, and twice with the actual questioner.
The question was valid – especially from a striker’s perspective: How do you close the gap? From a Karate perspective, many practitioners believe that the math of a longer leg immediately means that it is superior to a punch, and distancing with a kick will always be effective. Unfortunately, this is an idea that has found strong roots in both competitive sport Karate and MMA – the “tale of the tape” as it were.
If a Karateka (and I use the word in it’s literal sense – A practitioner of Karate – and not in a pejorative sense) is only exposed to sport rules or tournament settings, even when they practice “Self Defence Applications” of the techniques, they are still fundamentally formulating their understanding in the tournament training paradigm. You fight as you train, and if 80% of your training is to adhere to tournament rules, then the other 20% is not going to change how you think about the combinations of kick and punch.
Wing Chun does not have the same applications as many forms of Karate – and their tournament rules are different as well… So, a Wing Chun practitioner focusing on tournament practices would be limited by this mindset as well, so I am not saying this is only a Karate based phenomenon.
The Karateka questioner wants to see and experience the answer to his question, so, to his credit, he steps up to be shown. The resolution is QUICK and decisive – with the application of the response clearly illustrated. The Karateka does joke at the end, likely in a wish to restore some of his pride, by asking to do that again. This may also be his desire to learn – I couldn’t see his face to make a better determination of what his intentions might have been…
And then he experiences the answer once again…
Unfortunately, I am going to have to say (once again) that I am disappointed with the Sifu’s approach – I believe that he taught the lesson quickly, but somehow felt the need to press the situation well beyond the initial point of resolution. Yes, I am stating that I think following through to punch the guy twice in the head, rather solidly, was excessive. The question was, essentially (and I’m paraphrasing and elaborating a little): how does a close-in style such as Wing Chun handle the distancing tactics and physics of a kicking style/stylist?
The easy answer would come from something he said early on – “My Wing Chun starts here”, and he pointed to where he was. It’s that simple… don’t aggress into another’s space unless you have to, which means that an aggressor would come into HIS space first. The kick is meant to distance, yes, but Wing Chun wouldn’t let it hit them just like a Karateka blocks incoming attacks… An attacking kick would be dealt with quickly and decisively – which is a lesson all martial arts need to learn… In Japanese, these are concepts of Ma’ai, Kyoshi, and Yomi; that of distancing, timing, and understanding (or intuition if you prefer).
So, ultimately a good video – but I would take the attitudes of both participants with a grain of salt, but not throw the lesson (baby) out with the negatives of attitude and approach (bathwater)…
Rating: 3.5 out of 4