Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Redstart Media

Sorry it has been so long since I have been posting regularly. We do most of our Wing Chun chatting over on facebook (Wing Chun Island) Wing Chun classes are still going great as they should for years to come. Lately, I have been too busy with my new project, Redstart Media 水鶇媒體 (youtube link )where we make food, diy, fitness, and ridiculous videos. Hope you drop by and give us a look. Here is a sampling of some of our Chinese food videos.

                                                         Spicy (mala) hotpot base,

Bamboo shoots and salty duck egg

Betel Nut Salad

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014!

Happy Halloween from "Sexy" Mr. T. Just got back from a long trip in China and the U.S. and am slowly getting back into the swing of things. For the near future, we are meeting on Thursdays 8:30 to 10:30. Join Wing Chun Island on Facebook for more updated information.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Still rockin in the free world

Wow, it's been a loooong time since I have been posting regularly. Rest assured that we are still working it out in the park every week. Right now, the schedule is Tuesday and Thursday night from 8:30pm to 10:30pm. Times may change in the near future. Come out while the weather is awesome!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sorry for not posting more.

Sorry I haven't updated this blog in a while. We are still going strong. If you would like more wing chun information and nonsense, please join our facebook group, "wing chun island".

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taipei Wing Chun Recent happenings and changes

All classes are starting on time right now at 8pm on Mon, Tues and Thurs nights. 10:30am on Tuesday mornings. We are tentatively starting a Friday class, but please mention on our facebook group that you will be there. Please wear appropriate clothing to classes as we will be upping the intensity and you may be eating some grass or laying in it.

A few people are going out to 228 park to work out with whomever on Sundays. Ask about or mention that you will be there in the facebook group if you wish company. If you are a new student, please email me or call 0987131444 if you have any questions.

We will be doing some kind of outing very soon. Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cleaning House - Wing Chun Island 台北詠春拳 (Taipei, Taiwan)

I have been trying to catch up with some of the more mundane aspects of running Wing Chun Island. Here is what has been going on lately....

  • Started the facebook group Wing Chun Island 台北詠春拳 (Taipei, Taiwan). It is a closed group so let me know if I forgot to add you or you are a prospective student that would like to join. 
  • I went through the blog and took out posts without much content.
  • I got google+ but will wait and see how it goes before I attempt to use it for any class communications.
  • Classes continue in the summer heat. Lots of people asking about classes. We'll see how many show up.
  • I will try to get some time to film more of our classes and put together something that I am willing to put up for the general public. 
  • Have a great summer!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wing chun interview on Radio Taiwan International

I was interviewed for Radio Taiwan International last week about wing chun. The show is called In Mystical Taiwan.

There site is bit hard to navigate. Here is a link to the intro page.
Intro page
You can go here to find the interview. Click on "listen" and then "November 14" and finally "In Mystical Taiwan."
Listen to the Interview

The interview is fairly short and is intended more for people who don't know much about wing chun. Also, it was done outside where it was a bit windy so the sound quality has some issues.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brené Brown on Vulnerability

TED talks by Brené Brown that hit on some of the concepts of emotion and vulnerability that I have mentioned in the past.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Wing Chun Movie.....

Wing chun craziness continues in Hong Kong cinema. A wing chun comedy called I Love Wing Chun is set to begin filming in November in Malaysia. More details here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Badass wing chun update

It's so damn hot and yet we continue to move forward. Lots of people on vacation right now. I am about to send out my first flyers next week to try to get some new blood. We could have a schedule change coming at the end of the summer for the Taipei wing chun crew. Check back here for details....damn....it's just too hot to write a blog today. Here is some badass stuff to help us get inspired to fight the heat and keep training.

They don't make videos like this...but they should. Red Fang's "Prehistoric Dog"
"What is this '6-pack' you speak of?" (Fedor...if you don't know then now you know)
 C'mon...you gotta love the shoe on the floor
 This hipster will whoop your ass (actually a professor)
 I ain't messing with this dude
I wasn't a tattoo fan before...now I am (he lost the arm in a shark attack).
Suddenly my motorcycle don't seem so great. Damn, you would think a parrot and a cigar on a beat up motorcycle would be too much...apparently not.
Ok, me and Steve are outta here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

When to fight

I often hear people say that fighting should only be used as a last resort or that they want to learn martial arts for self-defence. That sounds pretty good in theory, but life is a little more complicated than that. I wish things were so simple that you could just walk around doing your thing and then only resort to violence when ruffians rear their ugly heads and start trouble (always after they strike first, of course).

Unfortunately, violence is a complicated and touchy issue. There really is no such thing as self-defense. If you can handle someone without hurting them, they really were never much of a threat. I myself am pretty good with self-defense against 5 year-olds and old ladies. The real question is "when is violence warranted?" This is a moral question for most of us, but for many, it's more an issue of survival. People struggling to survive might find the whole concept of morality when it comes to fighting a bit silly. If you are in a situation, area or place where no one is protecting you, you may have little choice about when you have to fight.

On the question of "when is violence justified?" which I consider from the comfort of a middle class background and residence in a developed country, I think there are three basic situations when you should perhaps fight or employ violence.

1. Protecting yourself, friends or family from physical harm.

2. For long-term status and well-being: This is complicated so I will give a few examples. If there is someone that you live with or near that you often see that uses physicality or threats or implied threats, you need to be willing to have a physical confrontation in order to keep your status. This is usually more important for boys and men than women but can apply for them as well. There are almost always other ways to get what you want out of situation rather than fight, but you may not know how to do them. They are easier to learn if you are willing to fight. A lot in the rough and tumble world of status depends on willingness to fight rather than the ability to win.

Sometimes you see a little brother who is picked on by a big brother. When the little brother fights with everything he has, the big brother will often relent. In the adult world, there may be a big guy that uses implied threat to punk people out (pushing them, grabbing their head), strong objection and willingness to fight, can often put an end to this. When you use fighting in this way, you have to ask yourself if the loss in status, annoyance or humiliation is worth getting hurt badly and make a decision. One principle to remember in these kinds of conflicts is that it is easier to fight back or resist the first time someone messes with you. If you let someone hit you or grab you or disrespect you for a year and then object, expect strong resistance. The first time someone messes with you, they are testing what you will put up with and usually will back off at the first sign of opposition. After you have allowed the behavior for a while, they have already put you at a certain status, so when you resist you are upsetting the status quo in their minds.

3. Fighting over resources: Sometimes you have to fight to get or keep, food, family and/or space. This one is kind of a cop out on my part, because it encompasses the full gamut of war, murder and most kinds of "evil". Who knows what is absolutely necessary to survive? It kind of depends on each unique situation. Any animal understands this, but humans don't really have to think about it until their backs are against the wall. I suppose in extreme enough circumstances, almost any violence could be justified by the need to survive. It's complicated.

And that is really the point of this entry. When is violence justified? Its hard to say, but I don't think it helps to pretend that violence is not a fundamental part of our reality. It is not something that is avoided by good people and performed by evil people. It's easy to think of it as something done by base individuals, but in my experience, if someone thinks that violence is a horrible thing that should always be avoided they are being protected by someone else who will have to face the question of violence whether it be a husband, policeman or soldier.

Some people think violence is only justified when protecting yourself, which i find a little naive. On the other hand, I can't stand when people use flimsy reasoning to justify hurting someone that is not a real threat to them. Many people will attack someone for "insulting" their wife or girlfriend, but it seems to me that they only do it when they are sure they can "win". Or other times, there is an obnoxious but harmless drunk. Many people will line up at the chance to harm the guy because they get the chance to hurt someone and be "in the right". Harming someone who is not a direct or indirect threat is simply giving in to our most base instincts and is indefensible in my opinion. Doing it to punish those who are seen as being "wrong" according to some ever-changing arbitrary standard is perhaps the worst form of unjustified violence. Harming people who are "in the wrong" when you have the power is a human instinct that helps give rise to societies that begin to eat themselves as occurred in Nazi Germany, Cambodia, China and many other countries.

I guess what I am saying is that it is quite simple, violence against actual threats is often justified. Violence against non-threats is usually not justifiable. The hardest part may be determining what is a threat and what isn't.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

10 ways to improve your chisao

1. Intentionally lose. Let the other person win but keep your attention on the other person. Watch how they win. Concentrate on your balance and staying relaxed while they do whatever they want.

2. Make sure you aren't leaning at all. All your weight should be balanced in the middle of the foot. You should conceive of your arms and your body as being in front of you. Move the whole body forward from the bottom, not from the top by leaning. Don't lean ever... at all. Well ok, once you totally understand how balance works, then lean all you want. I promise I won't say anything.

3. Don't move until you are connected. Move the body forward until you can feel your partner's core down to the ground. At that point, (if your arms are relaxed) you should feel where to move almost as though your arms are moving themselves. Work on improving connection rather than your arms' position in relation to your partners'. Also, don't pull away from your partner to get a move off.

4. Don't speed up or do series of moves. Stay in the moment and do what you are doing at that moment. Don't speed up in order to get a move to work. Don't practice a series of moves to do something fancy. Just do what the system created by the connection between you and your opponent tells you to do.

5. Don't look down until you don't have any urge to look down at what is going on with the hands. Even then, nothing special to see.

6. Concentrate on your opponent as a whole body, not on his moves.

7. Don't look for openings or ways to "get" or hit your opponent. Keep connected and take ground. The good stuff will happen naturally.

8. Try chisaoing with only one foot touching the ground at any given moment. Make sure you are relaxed and "seated" on the leg. Change legs at any time as often as you like.

9. What attitude or emotion or mental state do you decide to have when you chisao. Try answering this question and changing it up frequently.

10. Treat chisao as an experiment. Decide how you will change your approach each time you do it before you begin. Try relaxed, stiff, fast, slow, hard, soft, intentionally bad, leaning, moving forward, stationary, aggressive....try anything and everything you can think of. Do things no one else would ever try. See how it works. Change it up even more based on what you learn from your experiments. Most people just try their hardest each time. Trying is for people who haven't decided what to do.

Ok, here is a bonus point.

Don't stop when you manage to hit or push your partner or get hit yourself. Continue working. If you are much better than your opponent, you can see openings but not take them and just work to deepen the connection. Keep the connection and flow going as long as possible.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

台北千人打詠春 - Trip Report

Well, things didn't turn out as expected. I planned to go to the 1000 people do wing chun promotion for the new Yip Man movie to do some filming. Unfortunately, nothing cooperated with that plan.

First of all, it was raining and pretty miserable for 7am on a Saturday morning. I told my camera buddy not to come since it was raining and not many people were there.

I will make this quick, because the whole thing was boring and lame. There was a second-rate drum and dragon dance performance that had nothing to do with wing chun. The MC was annoying as hell in typical Taiwan fashion. About 30 people performed siu lim tao on stage. The actors from the movie were visibly uncomfortable at being there. No one in the audience did any wing chun or were led through any forms. There was no chisao of any kind really except for like 10 seconds by the actors from the movie. Overall, just a huge boring waste of time.

I knew from the start that the whole thing was just a PR event for the movie, but part of me hoped it would be well done. It wasn't. They just built a stage and stuck some people on it to wave their hands around and smile. Oh, and there was a raffle for bottled water and little cans of some kind of meat. Awesome. Ok, I am done with movies and other people's wing chun. From now on, I am out of the wing chun news business. I will concentrate on what my students and I do.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

台北千人打詠春 1000 people do wing chun

Just a reminder. The "1000 people do wing chun" event to promote the new Yip Man movie will take place tomorrow morning, saturday, at the Taipei city hall.  I will be going out around 7 or so to check the "scene" and do some filming. It could be cool or it could look like henchmen training in a kungfu movie. If anyone wants to join me, I am sure something funny and/or cool will happen at some point. Mostly it might rain. If that is the case, it might turn into the "10 people do wing chun" event. I should warn any of my students that hope to come out and chisao that the event will most likely involve a lot of people who have never done wing chun being led through the first wing chun form, siu lim tao. But, I could be wrong. Here is the official schedule.


I guess I can translate that for those that might be interested.
Activity details
Registration and collection of participants
Divided into the network and on-site registration
event begins
Culture University opening ceremony drums, opening speech, MC introduces activities and special guests. 
1000 people do wing chun
Master Lo Man Kam and others lead 1000 people to perform wing chun
Media time
Media takes pictures
Electronic media visit
End of event

Getting your wing chun to flow - an overview

Right now, most of my students are working on what I like to think of as the first stage of wing chun. Over the next few articles, I want to try to lay out what I see as being necessary to get past this stage or at least to make interactive wing chun start to click and flow. Keep in mind that this is the way I personally see it. I make no claims that this is the only way to do wing chun or that it is the perfect way. I would say that it is the only way I see that it can work, but I am open to any ideas. In this entry, I will just lay out the main points and I will get more into specifics in follow-up entries.

The difficult thing about putting all these parts together is that it really doesn't work properly without all the parts working together. Missing one part causes the other parts to get corrupted.

1. Anchoring. You need to be relaxed and inhabiting your body. Who is it that is going to be having this interaction. Is anyone home? Intent should be focused outwardly in all directions. Physical, mental and emotional tension should be released and there should be no feeling of "preparing" to do something. Really let all the breath out and continue to breath fully and deeply. Be aware of gravity. Your attention should always be outward in a way that encompasses the opponent (or partner). Keep in mind that being anchored doesn't have anything to do with being hard to move. Don't look down or off to the side. Look forward and out.

2. The elbows and shoulders must be unlocked. Ideally this is done when "anchoring." I list it as a separate point because it is extremely difficult for most people to do. One thing that helps is to make sure the shoulders are down and let the elbows pull away from the body constantly. We want to avoid using the arms to lever out which will change the direction of the interaction and will not transfer power ideally.

3. Let the pressure that your opponent puts on you affect your core and or your position. If they push you hard it should move your body as a unit. If someone puts a lot of pressure on your arm, it will might turn your body. Don't rush to move the arms so that the other person cannot affect your core. Be affected. If they can't reach your core, you can't use  your core to attack them. Slow down and interact rather than quickly react on your own.

4. Pressure in the arms goes outward with power originating from the elbow. Mostly following the trajectory of the forearms. Don't drag, pull back or wipe the arms. Let them flow outward from your anchored center. Don't let the conception of self go along with the arms which will result in leaning and levering. They must be leaving your core center at a constant angle.

5. The body moves forward as an anchored whole to "attack" the opponent. This, in combination with the outward nature of the arms results in constant attack on the opponent. Move forward at a steady pace. The important part is the amount of pressure, not the distance moved. You can't control how far you walk into your opponent. Only the amount of pressure. Whether light or heavy keep it steady.

6. The places where you are touching your opponent should always allow you to feel their bodies down to the ground. Don't try to control them. Just feel the system you have created from the ground under your feet to the ground under their feet.

7. Ideally, the connecting pressure and the relaxation of your body should allow the interaction to move. That means you don't absolutely control which moves are done. You set the conditions with your outward intent and movement forward. The arms only go outward but can move anywhere within certain conditions so allow it to happen more than try to control it.

8. Don't hurry or lock or try to speed up in the beginning. The important part is to relax and observe yourself, your opponent and what is around  you.

9. Don't pay to much attention to the interaction itself. The chisao happens too fast to be interpreted. Put the proper conditions in place and see what happens. Trust your body more than your eyes.

10. It's easy to "find"  your opponent. Just go into their attacks. Don't trust your eys about where they "are". Trust what is revealed in their attack. Meet the attack and continue to meet it and go deeper.

11. When you want to improve an interaction. Make decisions about how you would go about it before the interaction starts. After it has started you need to be fully absorbed in what is going on. It is extremely difficult to make changes at that point. Change your decisions frequently.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Chisao Videos

One of my students asked me if there were any good chisao videos online. Unfortunately, there really aren't many at all. Here are all the ones I could find that were interesting. I am sure there are others that I just haven't seen. Some of them are not really chisao, by the way. I won't comment on the videos individually for two reasons. One, I am trying to keep this blog apolitical so I don't want to ruffle anyone's feathers. Two, you can't really know exactly what someone is doing right or wrong unless you can actually interact with them. So, without further ado.

Ok, that's all I could find for now. Please feel free to list any you feel are interesting to the comments below.

Another foreign wing chun teacher in Taipei - Richard Doell

Here is a news report on another foreign wing chun teacher in Taipei, Richard Doell. The news report is more peripheral news due to the rash of Yip Man movies.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Interview with Lo Man Kam

I interviewed Master Lo Man Kam last year for Fountain magazine. He is the nephew of Yip Man and easily the most famous wing chun teacher in Taiwan. This interview is pretty basic as it was meant for general readers and not for martial artists. Here is the interview.

Wing Chun
Master Lo Man Kam
On Yip Man, Bruce Lee and the art of wing chun

WING CHUN IS A relatively young martial art originating in southern China that was made famous worldwide by Bruce Lee. It is known as a aggressive close-combat martial art without fancy moves or adornments. Despite being as common as dim sum in Hong Kong, it is almost nonexistent in Taiwan. There is, however, one Taipei rooftop that attracts Wing Chun students from all over the world: the school and residence of Master Lo Man Kam. Lo is the nephew of perhaps the most famous Wing Chun master in the world, Yip Man. He has taught Wing Chun for over 30 years, acted as a combat instructor for the Taiwan Investigation Bureau and is the founder of the Lo Man Kam Wing Chun Kung Fu Federation which has numerous branches in the US and Europe. 
   I interviewed Master Lo at his school one morning surrounded by yellowing photographs, certificates and calligraphy of his own creation. He is a small, older gentleman with a spry step and enthusiastic smile. His size seems appropriate for a marital art reputed to have been created by a woman and known for redirecting power. As he sat down to answer my questions I could hear the thump of one his students on the rooftop upstairs pounding away at the wooden dummy.

Fountain: How did you first get started studying martial arts?

Lo Man Kam: I began studying Chinese gongfu around the age of 13 until around 18 when I started Wing Chun.

F: Why Wing Chun?

LMK: Around the year 1950, my uncle Yip Man [Lo Man Kam’s sister’s younger brother] moved to Hong Kong from. He had been a policeman and couldn’t find work so he began teaching Wing Chun on the rooftop of the Kowloon Mess Union to earn money. Five or six of us started studying there. 

F: Yip Man was a legendary Wing Chun teacher. What was he like? 

LMK: He was very welcoming and laid back. There were so few students that we all got lots of personal attention. We paid 20HK a month rather than the 5HK that most people paid to study other kinds of gongfu but it was well worth it. Studying with Yip Man required an introduction which also kept the number of students small. I ended up studying 10 years with Yip Man at a few different locations.

F: One of Yip Man’s most famous students was Bruce Lee. What do you remember about him?

LMK: He started studying after getting an introduction from William Cheng, I believe, in around 1956.  He studied for a couple of years and then moved on. He liked fighting and moving as fast as possible, but wasn’t the most experienced. I think he learned the first couple of forms while there [Wing Chun has three open hand forms, a wooden dummy form, a staff form and a butterfly knife form].

F: You hear a lot about fights between various styles during that time. Did you ever see any of those?

LMK: Not really. Actually, at that time many people studied different styles of gongfu. We all got along and would talk to each other and trade information. Most people were more concerned with learning than trying to determine who was the “best”. We were more like gongfu scholars than guys trying to outdo each other.

F: What originally brought you to Taiwan?

LMK: I was originally studying electronics and decided to go to Taiwan to be a soldier in 1960. I joined the military and did special forces military training for over three years in Taichung and later became an Army Major. During that training I learned a lot of hand to hand offensive and defensive tactics. I also did a lot of judo and qin-na [joint locks] and the like. I incorporated much of what I learned there into the training that I now do for the police.

F: When did you start teaching and how many students have you had?

LMK: I started teaching in 1975 after retiring from the military. I had a few Taiwanese students and got my first foreign student later that year since I could speak English. Since that time I have had thousands of students from Taiwan and all over the world. I also do a lot of seminars abroad.

F: What do you think is unique about Wing Chun and its training?

LMK: Many martial arts emphasize techniques and forms. Wing Chun is designed to improve a student’s actual reactions. It develops your feeling and ability to react to situations rather than depend on your memory of a series of techniques. Chisao [a form of fast push hands with punching] is non-cooperative so that students learn to react to any situation as it arises rather than simply doing choreographed movements. 
   It also helps improve circulation and overall health. Since Wing Chun focuses on skill rather than brute force, it can be practiced by anyone of any size at almost any age.

F: Are there other martial arts that you find interesting?

LMK: Of course there are many martial arts that are interesting and effective. Most martial arts are really trying to accomplish the same things, and the basic principles of movement have to be followed by everyone. I try to follow the natural movement principles and go as long and as deep as possible using the Wing Chun way. I don’t have time to use a variety of approaches.

F: You hear a lot about “internal” and “external” martial arts? What is the difference?

LMK: Most are really a combination of both. The external is the obvious part of what you do. It can be measured, copied or taught. The internal is what you are doing inside to make the external actually work. Science can’t measure or determine that. That is the art.

F: How does one go about learning Wing Chun?

LMK: When a student first learns Wing Chun, he or she learns a few movements and a form. The Wing Chun form is not flowing like the forms of most martial arts. It is more like a dictionary that provides the most basic movements. These movements act as “words.” Later the student does chisao with other students. This exercise is non-cooperative and is similar to learning to talk. The student is soon forming “sentences” and later having full “conversations”. Just as every person talks and communicates in different ways, so too does each person learn to chisao and fight in different ways. During chisao, the students also learn to trust the feeling in their bodies rather than their eyes. This improves the fundamental reactions in the body to any new situation. These improved reactions help you when it comes to fighting at the most basic level.

F: What do you think most attracts students to Wing Chun?

LMK: Of course they come to learn to fight. They start out that way, but Wing Chun can change the way you think. Wing Chun looks aggressive, but it is actually an extremely conservative martial art. It teaches you to only hit when you can’t be hit. The philosophy behind it is that you can never lose if you never get hit. I mean, you might see two guys fighting back and forth and trading blows until one goes down. The guy still standing might say, “I won! I won!” Yeah, you won maybe, but…well…look at your face. Winning is not getting hit.

Friday, May 28, 2010

1000 People Wing Chuning with Lo Man Kam and Ip Chun

Apparently, Masters Lo Man Kam and Ip Chun will be leading 1000 people in the City Hall Square a couple of blocks from where we train for the opening of the New Yip Movie on June 5. I will definitely go and try to get some footage. Will I be one of the 1000 people? I don't know. We'll see.

Here is a second extended trailer for the movie with English Subtitles.

I really promise to get off these movies soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Yip Men Cometh

So first there was the Ip Man movie which was pretty fun. Then, there was the sequel, Ip Man 2, which sucked. Now there is talk of a third film Ip Man 3 which would focus on the relationship between Yip Man and Bruce Lee. So, who are they thinking of casting as Bruce Lee? Holy crap.....Asian Pop superstar, Jay Chou.
But...that is just a rumor at this point. Apparently, the new movie may be delayed for a while. Donnie Yen doesn't seem so keen to do another one (who could blame him?) and....get this...there are two more fricken Yip Man movies coming down the pipeline in the near future.

The first is The Legend is Born: Ip Man directed by Herman Yau with film adviser Ip Chun and featuring a lot of the actors in the last Yip Man movie such as Sammo Hung. (I know I keep writing Yip Man rather than Ip Man, but Ip Man bugs me for some reason and Yip Man is more commonly used.). The film is due out next month and will supposedly be more "realistic" or based on the actual story of Yip Man's life. Here is a trailer.

Then, it gets better. In 2011, Chungking Express director, Wong Kar Wai, will release The Grandmaster. What is The Grandmaster you ask? Its a biopic about an obscure wing chun teacher by the name of....you guessed it...Yip Man. I got to be honest, this is pretty exciting. I love Chungking Express and Wong Kar Wai films in general. The film will be starring Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi. How can this be bad? Wouldn't be surprised if there weren't any fight scenes at all in it which would be fine by me. Damn, the movies be wing chun crazy right now.