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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Same But Different ?

I am interested in the wooden dummy for this blog but this is a general issue of Wing Chun that goes beyond the dummy. It's the disputes within Wing Chun over how one way is 'the' way and everything else is modified.

I had a good replay to a question on the AWCAOnline blog that you should be looking at - if your not already. I asked Phil Bradley its proprietor why footwork is an issue in dividing Wing Chun schools.

see here :

His reply reminded me of the issue of relativism in the philosophy of Science and Thomas Kuhn's issue of Paradigms. This was derived from astronomy, but the point here is how different interpretations can be seen to be true, relative to the 'framework' they are applied with.
Phil made the point that different moves 'work' within different frameworks of footwork, [paradigms if you like]. The moves are 'true' relative to the way they are trained in the specific location / school that spawned them. Outside of this they may not be 'true', given a different 'paradigm'. IE a different school cannot utilizes their moves as their foundation is different and not optimized for those moves.

An issue here is they are same Wing Chun family but a slight difference in a variable yields new consequences. The impact this has on the 'scientific' street fighting is a cultural one - politics occurs around the 'truth'.

I am including 2 pictures here of 2 airplanes. They belong the same family of planes but they differ structurally but were capable of performing a 'fighting' function:

Here is a conventional design.


This is the Blohm and Voss 141. It was a viable plane design:

So what's the point. They both 'work' but are different too. (Check the link on youtube if you dont believe the above plane flew: .

Which is the 'true' plane ? Which disobeys the laws of flight ?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bruce Lee and the Dummy

Here is an article from

I include this because it enlightens us to alternative uses of the dummy and some innovative ways to use it and train. This is thinking outside the box stuff and if you're not used to this the nit will cause discomfort or fascination.
I would love to have seen a film of Bruce Lee on the Dummy it would be really enlightening indeed.
There are some videos - very rare - of the Bruce Lee Jun Fan sets - 1o sets of movements that look like modified Wing Chun. And then another 10 Jeet Kune Do sets that have moved away from Wing Chun-style and are more dynamic (by this I mean less upright structure and use of space to zone in and out and around the dummy is more varied).

I wonder why Inosanto hasn't published material on these sets and their use or a video on them ?

(I will review the tapes I have on these in another post- the are by a Spanish practitioner)


Bruce Lee's Wooden Dummy Sets

by By John Kreng and Tsuyoshi Abe

JKD Free-lance Dummy Sets and Jun Fan Wing Chun Dummy Sets at the Inosanto Academy Today
It is widely known that Bruce Lee studied Wing Chun Gung Fu under Yip Man when he was in Hong Kong and then later did research on other styles and systems to formulate Jun Fan Gung Fu (JFGF) and later called it Jeet Kune Do (JKD). JFGF is a base system of progression of JKD, and Bruce Lee was known to practice and teach his martial art with a non-traditional approach. He was against forms; he felt like doing forms was like learning how to swim on dry land. Although he did not especially encourage his students to focus their training in forms, he went through the phase of training in forms himself and according to Sifu Dan Inosanto, "He was a very good forms person." Lee's belief was to practice with a partner to feel the energy or to hit something with substance like a heavy bag or focus gloves because combat is not a set pattern and should be more alive.

But if you don't have a partner to practice with, what do you do? You could shadow box, hit the heavy bag, do supplemental training like weight training, jogging, etc. One of his favorite ways to train by himself was with the Wing Chun Wooden Dummy (Mook Jong). On the traditional Wooden Dummy set in Wing Chun there are ten sections which
compromises all 108 moves that you can perform on the apparatus. Bruce Lee learned only the first 6-3/4 sections at Yip Man's kwoon. Later, Lee taught traditional Wing Chun dummy form to only a select few students. One of those select few was Dan Inosanto.

After Bruce's death, Dan Inosanto went to Hong Kong to learn the last four sections, among other things. Since then Inosanto has studied under seven other Wing Chun instructors besides Bruce Lee and James Yimm Lee to update his skills and knowledge in Wing Chun. When Bruce was in Los Angeles he created his method of practicing with the wooden dummy. He had several different ways of calling it -- "JKD Free-lancing Sets on the Dummy," "Shadow Boxing with the Dummy," and "Expressing One's Self on the Dummy." Lee's method is structurally different than traditional Wing Chun in that it is performed in a right or left lead and with more of a modern boxing approach.

Inosanto on Bruce Lee's Approach
Inosanto explains Bruce Lee's approach to the wooden dummy. "Sifu Bruce preferred free expressing himself on the dummy. Sometimes having no set pattern at all. For example, sometimes opening like Dummy set #7 and ceasing like Dummy set #3, with the middle section looking like Dummy set #5. Sometimes he isolates the set like #4 and we'd work on it. At other times his workout didn't resemble anything that looked like traditional Wing Chun. But then in the next few minutes he would return to what resembled Wing Chun. Then a few minutes later it would be like kickboxing. Sifu Bruce believed you should use the dummy like you used the heavy bag in boxing, using your imagination and working on angles, leverage, and precision of motions."

Other than Jun Fan Wing Chun Dummy sets and JKD Free-lancing Dummy sets, several combinations of techniques on the dummy were taught to Inosanto by Bruce Lee. He learned, practiced, and taught to his students the usage of the Wooden Dummy. Although he did not have any Wooden Dummies at his L.A. Chinatown school, Lee taught Inosanto how to use the Dummy at his L.A. home. At the time they did not have any names or numbers which made it very difficult to practice, remember, and pass on.

The Dummy Sets
Inosanto put together a dummy set, which consists of about 150 moves that Sifu Bruce taught him on the Mook Jong. The set is composed of many Jun Fan JKD basic techniques. Each technique is isolated and repeated 1-3 times in the set. This set is completely different from what Inosanto passes on to his students at his academy today. Inosanto teaches the JKD Free-lance dummy sets and Jun Fan Wing Chun Dummy sets as modified and taught by Bruce Lee.

The JKD Free-lance dummy sets are numbered in 1 to 12 sections, but have no set patterns as the end result. These techniques, drills, or component parts are for the practitioner to perform in any order they want. Bruce Lee didn't want Inosanto to teach them as set #1, set #2, set#3, etc., but to be able to freelance the material in any order.

However, Inosanto felt the numbering of the sets helped him in understanding how to freelance and understand the structure better, so he could retain the order of the materials as close as possible, the way he was taught.

In a letter Bruce Lee wrote to James Yimm Lee, dated August 6, 1965, from Hong Kong; he writes...
"Make use of the wooden dummy and equipments available at own
kwoon. It will be a challenge to you to CREATE ways and means
to better the training method- use karate, judo, aikido, or any style to
build your counter-offensive. It will be interesting."

About By John Kreng and Tsuyoshi Abe:
John Kreng is a writer and martial artist based in Burbank, California. He was the Coordinating Editor and supervisor of the 1998 WushuKungfu Bruce Lee Special Issue.
Tsuyoshi Abe is a certified Full Instructor under Sifu Dan Inosanto and
has been studying Jun Fan JKD since 1985 starting with Taky Kimura. Mr.
Abe also works as a stuntman and fight choreographer in films. He can
be seen in Rapid Fire, Lethal Weapon 4, Blade, Red Corner, and The Mystery Man.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

research ...

MMMmmm. In relation to the 1st link on youtube below I emailed an instructor on a Wing chun web site who is skilled in distance learning. I did this to see what he would say about the 116 movements and how he interpreted it.

He didnt agree with the way the criticisms were formed but there were some grains of truth he felt.
I re-looked myself and yes its not perfect: he does seem to lean in for the butterfuly hands - but I see instructional DVDs 'masters' doing that too - he he isnt alone. He thought too there should be power in the strikes. (I thought the sharp clacks = power ?!). Also power on the dummy may not always be the aim *IF* the user is biasing positional skill - I think - for what thats worth. (This is all open to interpretation).

I re-looked at his feet and he may be on his toes for pivoting.

The point of this isn't the practitioners skill - its the use of the internet to share and understand and provoke *useful* criticism. Between the Martial Artist putting up the digitised video, the comments of the youtube 'community, my questioning and reply, posting to another blog to another head instructor and re-watching a circuit of knowledge is reinforced for me.

In other words some new understanding was given to me. I could try and contact the original martial artist and quiz him - that would too give more learning. Don't know how he'd respond though. maybe he would say - yes - I have modified my approach. Thanks very much. Or he could say we are taught to pivot this way because ... let me show you why in this technique ...

I will say it now I am not that good myself on the dummy. I would get slated if I put a video of myself up on youtube - probably rightfully so in some phases of the moves I do. But its worth noting if you look carefully on instructional tapes etc. you do see inconsistencies by 'masters' in their own forms - ie it can be asymmetric sometimes; some moves omitted on one side not another, ad hoc moves inserted. I don't find this a big deal BUT for those who really want to pick hairs be aware of this there is no such thing as perfection in use of the dummy even when doing prescribed forms.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

An example of the 116 movements

Here is a link to someone performing the 116 movements the 4th form of Wing Chun (usually).

When I first heard of Wing Chun in the late 80s and looked through MA magazines, I used to wonder in awe what this would look like and how advanced one must be to reach the dizzy heights of accessing this form. Videos to see it cost about £33 and were above my pocket.

Now, in the next century the digital revolution and growing market for Wing Chun has made this form more accessible to see - and learn. YouTube is a great place. The whole idea of this and the 80s situation I describe are approximating the idea of a 'gift society'.

I liked what this practitioner has done here in his video. Nice clacking noises signify power into the dummy. I believe he has body unity and knows the form. Some of the negative comments he gets shows the bad side of free-speech. he gets slated and there are no comments showing him how else he should do the form specifically if he has got it soooo wrong. (He hasn't and the comments are attention seeking snipes).

The dummy can be interpreted differently within WIng Chun schools as well as between them ! Personal style is relevant too.

Here is Yip Man doing the form:

He is doing two forms here, Chium Kiu, where the practitioner learns to pivot and learns some kicks (plus other things). These shapes are then also planted onto the Wooden dummy along with moves from the 1st and 3rd forms.
It is said that Yip Man simplified the form from 140 moves to 116 moves - but if this is so why are mainland Chinese forms also adhering to the 116 moves format and not 140 ?

This is William Chung's contribution to the wooden dummy. He has nice chops to the dummy very fast and smooth. His footwork is staggered at points and marks out his schools difference to Wing Chun over some others.