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Monday, October 30, 2006

Training outside ?

One reason why I bought my plastic Wing Chun dummy was because I have to train outside. It tends to rain outside - especially in Britain. When you train outside the ground gets churned up and the grass vanishes and is replaced by mud.

To get around this I bought a cattle mat / stable mat. This is a thick rubber mat that is about 7 x 4 foot or so. It weighs 7 stone ! I lay this down to train on and have some old car mats to place when I step off the mat. This helps to aid me train when it rains. If I didn't have this it would be a mud bath. Also I would slip all over the place.

Also I include picks of how I add in a sand bag to the dummy. I don't want to nail any bags to the dummy so hang it with plastic taping I got off a parcel. Its strong enough to take the weight of the wall bag [with just 2 sections filled]. Because I used the bag once when it was wet the normal side is splitting and leaks sand when punched so I taped that up and use this zipped side. I don't usually hit the zip so it doesn't matter.

Leg and 2 arms were taken off today as I was just kicking and entering with straight blast.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Randy WIllams work on the dummy

Book Review: Wing Chun Gung Fu
The Explosive Art of Close Range Combat
Volume #3 Mook Yan Joang and Mui Fah Joang
by Randy Williams
This is an excellent book, if you have a dummy especially so!
Because it has foot patterns in it – as this picture shows (Ipludered it off the web). This is very helpful. I had managed to derive the footwork from Michael Wong’s DVD using slow motion stepping – had I got this book beforehand it would have saved some time indeed. But I was pleased I had got most of it ‘right’.
Also of interest in this book [its quite big using A4 pages] is that is talks about the plum blossom posts. This is very rare indeed. Its an array of wooden posts that the wing chun player can step on in a pattern from one side to another using arm shapes too. Or even run through kicking the stumps as you go. The heights of the wooden stumps can be varied from 1 inch to a foot ? No other wing chun book covers this and Randy Williams really give you a lot of information in this book – with sample patterns to navigate the posts. The attention to detail is excellent. I have 3 other books in this series. This is my favourite of the series. They are hard to get hold of the UK and the copyright is 1989. They are ahead of other books published about wing chun at that time and very very useful.

Randy Williams 4 x tapes on the Wooden Dummy too are excellent. These are 2 on the 116 movements and applications and 2 on wooden dummy combat drills. Get these if you have a wooden dummy as they include details that are very well described. As a teacher Williams attention to detail and use of language / metaphor to explain is top dollar. I rate him as a teacher and his work is up there with the best of them (I need to nominate who I regard these are at some point – remind me). Even though the form starts to diverge from Yip Man’s 116 movements (does it matter ?!) its still of use to any wing chun stylist as you hear / see ideas you may not have considered. There are kneeing motions for example that are highly useful – I haven’t seen anyone knee the dummy in a classical form. (Only Joseph Simonet does in his Slam Set using Thai knees).


Review of Master Wong’s DVD on the 116 Movements.

I bought the 1st edition of this DVD in 2003 about April and didn’t have a DVD player to watch it until December of that year. Come to that I didn’t have a Wooden Dummy either ! (Actually I still don’t really as I have a plastic Immortal one – but that split’s hairs and we want to move away from all that. (Ok I have wooden arms specially made for it – happy)).

OK the 1st edition is good. Very good. The use of the menus is very good as it supply’s aspects of the form into chunks. Applications too have a menu for themselves too. It’s the best menu system I have seen on any DVD of martial arts. It allows you to get to the part of the form you want.

To learn this form I utilised step motion and drew cartoons of stick men to learn the form. It took me about 5 months to learn the form properly. I would not move on until I knew the part off by heart and had some flow. The learning experience was really exhilarating.

I also cross referenced this form with a disk I got off ebay. This was the Pan Nam disk – which by coincidence was the same style of Wing Chun that Michael Wong’s form was (but he wont go into style issues on the DVD or his www-site for some reason). I then chose aspects I could understand and excluded minor parts I didn’t. For example in the final third there are some finger jabs I didn’t want to use / understand so I modified this.

2 years Later there is a second edition of Michael Wong’s disk and I bought that too. Glad I did as its even longer (3 hours) and more verbal explanation. He breaks down some of the moves and explain typical mistakes. There are some useful drills offered too – such as jut gerk type leg sweep. This is something I drill now.

Also you see some teaching going on in the extras menu in the author’s club with question and answer session. I wonder what it would be like to study there for a year.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Some links

This is a link to someone who got me introduced into the martial ats. He is an original Jeet Kune Do practitioner. There is a rare video tape of him using a wooden dummy in JKD way. This differs from formal Wing Chun becuase the attacks are using moves from other styles and the footkwork doesnt keep the centre line square to the dummy that often.

This is an interesting place to visit. It has distance learning ideas for Wing Chun and posts videos and commentry. The ideas in this place are thought provoking and has good mission statment to avoid Wing Chun politics [ie the disputes which substyle is 'the best']. I would very much like to see the distance learning program online and live link up to class with feedback potential. The idea is bold.

MMA's contribution and the 'dead patterns debate'
The arguemt posted here in this link is debated elsewhere on the www. It challenges traditional drills and claims they have no function alone - if at all. This implies that much of the drilling material done in many do jos / kwons gyms is not functional.
The counter to this debate is taken up by Mark Denny from The Dog Brothers. He'd argue that drills have a use but you need to know what your looking at when they *are* being applied.
Its a good debate. If you invest time in any form of drilling be aware of this debate and where you think your training does / doesnt stand within this. Its vital to be questioning your learning and practice.
The wooden dummy I think would not be liked by Matt Thornton. Its 'dead' and not alive. My take is its a supplement like a vitamin pill. Its not your dinner its an aid. You can vary the way you train on it to get it more realistic that pure 108 movements style form. Some imagination is needed though. Remember its for those without a training partner.

Some useful tips on the dummy are on Steve Sinclair's web site. For example he warns against the implications of having a gap between the floor and the leg of the dummy. This allows the student to avoid the circling movment when moving around the dummy.

The advice for jut gerk (pulling leg or jerking leg ?!) is interesting - stop too deep and you get judo thrown. Step too shallow and you cant get leaverage and you can be sweapt. Sound advice.
Out of interest I have Steve Sincalair's tape Wing chun pure and simple. This is a good tape. What I liked about this was he gives advice on how to condition your hands and shows you how to use a sandbag. He shows you how to rub in dit da jow(hit fall wine) into your knuckles etc. He said Brandy could be a substitute. All good advice. Also I liked the way he gave pros and cons to movemnt and footwork methods. How refreshing. This empowers to the Wing Chun student because they are given choices and freedom to think with in the theoretcial framework of the system. Its not all 'laws' that are relevant in all contexts.

Slightly modified Dummy ?

Ok here is another post to this emerging page.
What I have done is to show my dummy. This is a plastic Immortal dummy with the leg removed this time to allow access to my Thai pad.
The Thai pad had been squashed up against the mid section to allow knee stikes. If enough pressure is applied it will stay there and keep its inverted 'L' shape. *BUT* dont go mad - it will slip and you will smash your knee cap. Using the straps just remove the 'L' shape and the pad is straigthened out. This means there is no nice space to absorb the 'forward' direction I want from the knee strike into the body not an upward strike into the arm.
The knee strike is really from Thai boxing as it can easily flow out of a wing chun stance or Bi Jong WC/JKD stance. It doesnt matter- it all hurts.

The orange pads are really to stop you being blatently bruised but you cant go flat out on these. Your joints would feel it. Even doubled up those orange pads arnt enough to give flat out strikes. You would need a sandbag for that.

The dummy has the pegs removed from the corner of the base to allow yeild when forward force is applied - I chose this to give some feeback when force was going into the dummy - and save my joints from absorbing all the force. It may be worth putting the wedges back everynow and then to see if your stance can take feedback with out crumbling.

The reason why I remove the leg sometimes is to allow more access to the pad and also copy Joseph Simonet's use. Joseph Simonet's videos on the dummy in 'Extreme Wing Chun vols 1 and 2' and his form tapes - 'Slam Set'. These had a big influence on me as they synthesised Silat with Wing Chun and Kali ideas. More on this later .....
The leg removed simplifes things and you can still be forced to veer off in a 'V' shape due to the arms. I put the leg back when I want to really be forced to veer off to the flanks more blatently / practics sweeps or oblique kicks to the 'knee'. Even without the leg on kciks can be done to the square base or body of the dummy - but these have different qualities