Chuang Tzu and Wing Chun

On Understanding

Mark TanGreat knowledge sees all in one. Small knowledge breaks down into the many.

Chi Sau, footwork, forms, fighting, Jong, sandbags. We train in many ways.

Small knowledge is thinking that each exercise is just and exercise. Great knowledge seeks to relate each to the other.

What is fighting without sensitivity? Where is sensitivity without Chi Sau? Where is Chi Sau without form? Where is form without power? Where is power without accuracy? Where is accuracy without the Jong Form? Where is the Jong Form without angles? Where are angles without footwork? Where can you apply all you have learnt… but in fighting?


On Skill

A good cook changes his knife once a year, because he cuts an ordinary cook changes his knife every month, because he hacks. This knife of mine is nineteen years old. It has carved several thousand cows, yet its blade looks like it had just carne from the grindstone. There are spaces in the joints, and the blade has no thickness so when something with no thick ness enters something with space it has plenty of room to move about.

Think of you hands as knives, in the beginning when you fight, you hack, your hands have no precision, and they blunder forward with force, trying to land a strike because that is all you know. Hitting is so important to you that you bludgeon, batter and bash.

Then they cut, when you have learnt that force against force is not the Wing Chun way. Wit and accuracy are the important things when you fight, only then can you overcome your opponent regardless of your stature. You have the understanding to see that hacking is no longer your aim, and you have not yet the skill to carve, but the understanding to not hack. The strike is not the object of the game, you partner is not a thing to hit, but someone to outwit.

When you achieve mastery, you carve. Fighting is an effortless activity. Each technique is applied with surgical accuracy, and your execution is like a knife with no thickness. There is always space to move in, an angle, no matter how small to find. You no longer see your partner as an object to strike or outwit, but as a subject to dismantle. Each technique’s aim is to dismantle his structure.


On Using The Tools You Have

“…In Sung there was a man who was skilled at making a salve to prevent chapped hands, and generation after generation his family made a living by this. A traveller heard about the salve and offered to buy the prescription for a hundred measures of gold. The man called everyone to a family council. ‘For generations we’ve made this salve and we’ve never made more than a few measures of gold,’ he said. ‘Now if we sell our secret, we can make a hundred measures in one morning. Let’s let him have it!”

The traveller got the salve and introduced it to the king of Wu, who was having trouble with the state of Yueh. The king put the man in charge of his troops, and that Winter they fought a naval battle with the men of Yueh and gave them a bad beating (Their hands were not chapped because of the salve they used and they could use their weapons). A portion of the conquered territory was awarded to the man as a fief. The salve had the power to prevent chapped hands in either case; but one man used it to get a fief, while the other one never got beyond silk bleaching-because they used it in different ways…..”

Each technique we know, tan sau, bong saw and son is like a salve. All of us from the first level to the sixth rank can all play them. Using them in the most obvious way is like selling out for a hundred measures of gold. Apply thought to your techniques, in application and in practise, study their flight, analyse their angles, memorise the way they feel. It is this thought that will ultimately gain you a fiefdom of deeper understanding, different avenues to explore, greater insights not only into your own body- awareness, but also into how these techniques can be crafted and adapted to suit your needs as a martial artist.


On Overconfidence

“Great understanding is broad and unhurried; little understanding is cramped and busy. Great words are clear; little words are shrill and quarrelsome.
They bound off like an arrow or a crossbow pellet, certain that they are the arbiters of right and wrong. They cling to their positions as though they had sworn before the gods, sure that they are holding on to victory….”

After six months of training, most of us are begin to understand something of what Wing Chun is capable of.

After a year of training, most of us probably begin to feel some confidence in your Wing Chun skills.

After two years of training, you may even be dangerous! Do not be so sure that you are holding on to victory. There are depths of knowledge and understanding that you have not yet even seen, and levels of power that you have yet to experience. At this stage, can your understanding be broad and unhurried when Wing Chun takes fifteen years to learn?


On Learning

The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; hearing with the spirit, with your whole being… The hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind.

Wing Chun in all of its training, in all of its fighting is all about letting go. Listen; hear, not just with your eyes and ears, but with your body too. Learn with your arms, as when we teach, we teach as much with our arms as we do with our words and actions. Feel the energy; find your understanding in the feeling, not the words.

Learn with no judgements or preconceptions, let anything that you already know go trust us as your teachers to show you the way. Do not judge what you see and place obstacles to your own path. To truly learn and understand Wing Chun, you must first embrace and never judge her, and when you remember her, remember with what has been instilled in your body. Knowing and understanding is useless to you in Wing Chun if you cannot act. Knowing in he body is as if not more important than knowing in the mind. Knowing how to do a pak sau is not the same as being able to do it properly.


On Teaching

The Great Man in his teaching is like the shadow that follows a form, the echo that follows a sound. Only when questioned does he answer, and then he pours out all his thoughts, making himself the companion of the world. He dwells in the echoless, moves in the directionless, takes by the hand you who are rushing and bustling back and forth, and proceeds to wander in the beginning less. He passes in and out of the boundless, and is ageless as the sun. His face and form blend with the Great Unity, the Great Unity that is selfless. Being selfless, how then can he look upon possession as possession?

By Tai Chi Instructor Mark Tan


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