Learn WingChun in 3D

Sihing Paul Wang teaches Sihing Ayron Johnson Section 3.

The International Academy of WingChun (IAW) imparts both a comprehensive learning methodology and teaching pedagogy of WingChun Self-Defense.

Previously, I introduced “Feed, Read, Deed” to guide your practice of specific exercises. The following — “Collect, Correct, Connect” — is a general framework to identify certain dimensions of progress. It clarifies the mode of learning you undergo at any moment.

Collect New

Collect is receiving new information. That can be theoretical or practical. For instance, the concept of Ji Ng Sien (Meridian Line) is described to you as the vertical axis of your spine. Another, physical, example is graduating from the 4th Student Level (SL) and commencing the second Form, Tsum Kiu (Seeking Bridge).

This is like downloading a file onto your hard drive. Of course, don’t forget to open and read it! Is your download folder bloated with unopened, let alone understood, files? Hence, in WingChun, you must actively repeat what you receive. Here is a checklist of data points you want to gather to thoroughly learn a given technique, plus brief words of advice:

  • Motion: See its preparation, execution, transition. Watch where it starts, how it goes and when it stops. For Tan Sao, I notate these beginning, duration and ending junctures as pT (pre-Tan), T (Tan), Tp (post-Tan).
    • Learning TipPause to fully observe demonstrations and absorb instructions.

  • Action: Feel its intention, utilization, collision. Your tactile sense essentially supplements your visual perception. There are two Tan Sao purposes for defensive attack, which I’ll elaborate on in a future article.
    • Learning Tip: Offer to Feed the attack for your teacher to defend.

  • Diction: Know its terminology, translation, transliteration. Intellectual apprehension subsumes linguistic aspects. Tan Sao means “Spreading Arm”. For English speakers, writing “Tan” and “Sao” approximates Cantonese pronunciations of  and .
    • Learning Tip: Mentally recite each technique while performing Form.

If you can properly apply a technique, don’t fret if you can’t correctly spell or remember its exact appellation. How many instances have you forgotten, before finally retaining, a peculiar name of an acquaintance? However, this doesn’t mean you can’t spend time getting to know her personality first. That said, eventually making precise references confers ease of communication.

However, always initially obtain at least the principle of a technique, the motive for a movement.

Correct Old

Correct is revising old knowledge. Let’s say you thought Pak Sao (Slapping Arm) was meant to impede a moving punch. But your Sihing (Teacher) prompts you that it is rather designed to disrupt a guard position or incipient strike. Alternatively, perhaps you inadvertently switched the 6th and 7th segments of the Gerk Fat I (Leg Methods).

Gradually, your data structure will fragment. You may unknowingly acquire a software virus from visiting unsecured websites. That literally includes excessively watching videos of other incongruent “wing chun” styles, which can detract from your embodiment of IAW WingChun. As such, there are three reasons you require an update:

  • Missing: Parts are lost. You skipped a class and never learned something in its entirety. You simply forgot previous material due to training neglect. What kind of punches can you do after Bong Sao (Winging Arm) in 3rd Student Level?
    • Learning Tip: Maximize your frequency of class participation and event attendance.

  • Mixing: Pieces become confused. You began to drift away from what was actually taught. You displace or commingle disparate elements. What was the contrast among Su Bo (Pivoting Step), Juen Bo (Revolving Step) and Juen Ma (Revolving Stance) again?
    • Learning Tip: Take detailed notes and draw illustrative diagrams.
  • Minting: Portions get revised. You discover that a technique or series evolves. You notice novel explanations of prior concepts. What makes Kam Na Sao (Grappling Hand) an improvement over Gam Sao (Pressing Arm) in Section 1 Puen Sao (Coiling Arms) 8.2?
    • Learning Tip: Appreciate the dynamic quality of your educational process. 

These causes above are equally prevalent, but some students especially struggle with the last. They lament, rather than welcome, amendments. Akin to your body continually remodeling itself, WingChun is perpetually renewing towards greater efficacy. In fact, that is a core connotation of “Praising Springtime”. Our operating system is updated once we develop upgraded, thus superseding outdated, strategies to train and teach.

Inevitably, like an aging wall cracks and warps, cognitive gaps and somatic divergences appear which can be rectified.

Connect All

Connect is reifying whole wisdom. This happens as you interrelate elements. Not only are the 5 Lat Sao (Casting Arms) Programs separate, but recombinant, Flows. Years later, you attain insight why it is favorable to assimilate Siu Nim Tau (Small Intention) and Tsum Kiu before Biu Jee (Darting Fingers) and Mok Yan Jang (Wooden Person Post).

Imagine 86 billion neurons in your brain but no synapses conjoining them. Or 8.54 billion webpages of the internet without any mutual links. Or 88 keys of a piano but no chords. Or 26 letters without any words. Similarly, WingChun consequentially works as a network of associated components. Consider these three ways to Connect:

  • Form: Connect techniques by coordinating your mind and body. Furthermore, different Forms connect with each other such as Siu Nim Tau and Gerk Fat. Form also connects into Flow.
    • Learning TipExperiment with rearranging arm and leg configurations beyond those codified in Forms.

  • Flow: Connect sequences by choreographing you and your partners. Moreover, discrete Flows connect with each other such as Chi Sao (Adhering Arms) and Guo Sao (Passing Arms). Flow also connects into Function.
    • Learning Tip: Anytime one technique appears in two Flows, it is a crossover bridge between them.

  • FunctionConnect realities by combining WingChun and Self-Defense. Additionally, diverse Functions connect with each other such as Application and Combat. Function also connects into Form.
    • Learning TipRandomize Application Feeds so your true Combat competency unfolds.

Meta-learning builds an intersecting lattice of units which scaffolds you to a higher order of actualization as a practitioner.

Types and Phases

Collect, Correct, Connect co-encircle.

Some students are eager for the next thing. They are the Collectors. Others desire to perfect every minutiae. Those are the Correctors. Then there are those who love finding patterns. These are the Connectors. Which one are you? The best students don’t complain because they are not collecting “new” subjects, but are just as happy correcting “old” ideas. Lately, I’m mostly a Connector. It excites me to discover and share the underlying matrix and overarching elegance of our integral art.

Experience matures information to knowledge and ripens it into wisdom. Whereas this correlation implies that Collect, Correct and Connect are primarily linear stages, they are simultaneous as well. Your learning trajectory follows parallel, lateral and even diagonal tracts. Like the x, y and z axes of coordinate space, Collect, Correct and Connect mark three directions. Whenever you suffer seeming stagnation or regression it is likely due to a one-sided or partial mindset. Learning WingChun in 3D reminds you to seek balanced advancement along all these facets.

The Forms, Flows and Functions in each Program are Collections of techniques that you recurrently enhance via the ongoing Corrections you effect. If you sustain this effort, hidden Connections will naturally manifest. In turn, these breakthroughs open you to mastery.

One thought on “Learn WingChun in 3D

  1. A brilliant article, full of rich details that I will definitely take on board. Several pieces of good advice as well. I feel this article is a good example of how this system is so well setup with forms, sections and flows all relating to each other.

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