I have to work on some computer issues I am having so I am posting from an Internet cafe. Here is something I wrote a little while ago about the subject of "vulnerability". Thanks to Dan for sending this my way.
Why being vulnerable is important
If you want to think about it simply, two people are in a struggle. If you struggle to win everything, the stronger person wins. If you are the weaker party you have to negotiate. Wing chun is about that negotiation. If you are the stronger party, you don't need it. You need it when you are outgunned. When you are outgunned a good negotiator tries to identify exactly what he or she wants and is willing to sacrifice anything to keep the important parts. In wing chun, we don't want to get hit or give up the control of our balance.
In order to get what I want, I will give up ground (you can push me), I will let you win any struggles that don't result in my getting hit or losing control of my balance. As a matter of fact, I will go ahead and allow you to do as much as you want to do and edit out the parts that result in my getting hit or losing my balance as delicately as possible so as not to cause you any discomfort. That is the cooperation part. The more I allow the other party to be free and do what they want, the smoother it will go and the freer I am to move. So only interrupt their movement for important reasons like if you are going to get hit otherwise.
All this leads to the vulnerability issue. Vulnerabiltiy is just a fact, you are imperfect, weak and can be hurt. Hiding that or locking up or pushing so as not to seem vulnerable will keep you from doing the above. You hide the reality of the interaction from yourself so you can't really feel what is going on and get what is in your interest. It is sort of how socially awkward people often try to hide their weakness and emotions because of their incorrect belief that allowing the flaws to be obvious will result in their being rejected.
This is why I often suggest that people chisao, or hit on girls or dance with the assumption that what you do is wrong, terrible, inadequate...just accept it and yet continue to "play" and be fully in the moment. How do you do things when you aren't worried about the outcome? When you are free to feel and react as you want? Most things are beyond controlling so you have to let go.
To me, this relaxing and letting go is what "kungfu" or being in the zone or effortless mastery or whatever is all about. You let go of fear and expectation and yet fully participate and then the real "you" starts to emerge. It's pretty cool.
I also see you can see this same fear play out in many different venues. People don't take risks because they could die. They don't follow the career they would like because they might not make money. They lock up rather than fight because they could get hurt. They don't talk to the girl because they could get rejected.
All the things that lead to people not putting themselves out there tend to happen anyway in my experience. Run everyday and you will still die, don't fight back and you will still get hit, people who get their colons cleansed die too. The real problem is that if you don't let go and let yourself express itself, who are you and what is the point of your life?