Monday, 7 December 2009

Wing Chun Training: What Are You Looking At?

What are you looking at? WHAT are you LOOKING at?

I’m not looking at your ugly face, that’s for sure.

But isn’t that where most people look in a fight? They get in the other guy’s space, they stare him down, they bounce around with fists at the ready, they look at shoulders, body, legs…everywhere but at what really matters. And that’s okay with me. You go ahead and stare at my gorgeous baby-browns, boys. I’m watching the part of you that interests me the most.

Your elbows.

The elbow has to move past the plane of the body in order for the hand to reach out, right? And the closest elbow will indicate the closest possible weapon my opponent can use on me. So that’s the one I’m going to watch. The shorter the distance between the weapon and the target, the faster it can arrive. In simple terms:
Distance = Time
Maybe your opponent decides to throw a punch with the rear arm. If you’re watching the forward elbow and a punch arrives from the rear, you will see it, peripherally. And you’ll have more time to react because the distance is greater between that far weapon and you. But you won’t know what your opponent will do until he or she commits to something, so you must be prepared for the closest weapon, first.

Actually, let me rephrase that:
You should be watching the closest elbow that you’re not touching.

Not only do you want to watch that elbow, it’s the primary body part to get under control. Let’s suppose your opponent throws a lead-arm, straight right at your chin. You block his arm with a left-handed pak-sao and simultaneously punch over that pak-sao with your right. Now what? Assuming your opponent is still standing, you want to immediately follow up. Let’s say your first punch was effective, so you roll punch to his face. But what if he throws up his right elbow to block me? you suggest. Yes, potential problem. Solution? Don’t let him move that elbow.

As long as you’re touching it, you know exactly where that arm is. As you roll punch with one hand and then the other, you lay down “cover fire” with the opposite hand in a continuous pak-sao/lop-sao trade-off while your opponent’s head is being repeatedly rocked. If he steps away, you’re touching him. You know exactly where he’s going. Wherever he goes, he’s going to pull you along with him, punching his head while pounding down his arm, all the way. You should be able to close your eyes and always know where your opponent is, letting his movements drive where your center goes.

Okay, save the closed eyes for practice. Let’s get back to the real thing.

If you’re touching that right arm, maintaining constant contact, do you need to watch for that right arm to be hitting you? Of course not. You’ll know if it’s getting anywhere near you because you can feel it. And your reaction to touch is faster than your reaction to sight. So where should you be looking, if not at that closest weapon?

I repeat:
You should be watching the closest elbow that you’re not touching.

You’re hitting this fool on one side, but you’re always watching that other, free elbow, lest it attempt to rise to the occasion and swing around after you. (And when it does, you’ll be ready to take it on, right Si-Hings?)

What about my opponent’s feet? you ask. Or his head? Both are weapons of destruction in and of their own right. You’ll be watching them peripherally, of course. But from what I’ve learned so far, controlling the elbows is a key component in Wing Chun combat. No, not the be-all-and-end-all, but important, nonetheless.

So go ahead and laugh when I put my guard up and stare at the middle of your arms, oh enemies dear. I may look stupid, but it’ll only be for few seconds. After that, you won’t see me at all.

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