Information and views on Chinese Martial Arts and related topics
Wing Chun - A conceptual martial art
Wing Chun is built upon a foundation of simple, practical concepts that form the means to explore the relationship between people in a fight.
The forms in Wing Chun are essentially a physical textbook of ideas that explain how your body works, and the interaction with an opponent(s), not, as in many martial arts, a series of techniques to counter specific attacks or movements.
They are not meant to restrict either the mind or body but provide a foundation to analyse and simplify the complex situation of two or more people fighting.
Martial arts drills are often an area of misunderstanding for both the audience and the practitioners.
The comments made most often regarding a drill run along the lines of, 'that wouldn't work in a real fight', or 'but what would you do if I did this?'.
It is important to realise that a drill, even one with fewer restrictions, such as Wing Chun's Chi Sao, is not supposed to be a fight, but a means of practising specific skills that will be useful in a fight.
The reason for this is that a real fight is a serious business! The need to win because of the high risk of personal injury makes a fight a relatively poor environment for developing skills. In addition, having a real fight is not a constructive use of training time, in the course of one fight dozens of mistakes go unnoticed, and shortcuts are taken to compensate for a lack of skill, fitness or speed instead of addressing the defficiency.
That said, if a martial artist never engages in training that closely resembles real situations is terms of intensity, aggression, speed, power and unpredictability it is not likely that his martial art will be effective for fighting or self defense.
Back to drills, a key criteria is to know exactly what you are trying to acheive when you practise a drill. After all, a drill makes a situation less realistic in order to focus on specifics, so you must train for specific goals otherwise the drill is worthless.
In a drill a specific technique, response or sequence is practised repeatedly, which allows the participants to develop quick, accurate responses to a given situation. From this platform a drill can then be expanded to include variations and a higher degree of unpredictability whilst maintaining the skill in the more simplistic situation. An obvious example in Wing Chun is the Lap sao drill.
The other essential is having a co-operative training partner. This doesn't mean they should make it easy for you, just that they behave in a constructive manner.
For example, take any basic drill that involves evasion of an attack. As mentioned, a drill, by definition, is repetitive, so the attacker knows how the defender will counter their attack, so it is important that they behave as if they don't know and target the attack at the defender's current location, not where they will finish, or deliberately miss to 'help' their partner.