Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Guidelines for new students Phase 1

So many new students recently that I can sometimes overlook some of the basic skills they need to learn. Here are some of the basic concepts that I think are important in the first stage of learning.

Phase 1
What are we doing? What is this stuff?
Our primary goal is learning to fight. We are trying to learn the best and most effective way to fight using any information and technology available. One of the things we do differently is that we try to learn the principles of fighting rather than the techniques. Some of the things we have to master on the road to learning to fight are body and mind control and the principles of interactive movement. These things are all very interesting and apply to many things outside of fighting, but fighting is the primary goal. 

How to learn
This is not the Will show. Ok, it’s my class, but I am just a guy who plays around with and looks for good fighting and movement principles. I learned these principles from people and books but mostly from trying them out and playing around with them. These principles exist for you to find (along with many better ones). They don’t belong to me. If you are interested in this stuff, make a commitment to figure it out any way you can. I will help, but you have to do it. It is easy if you just work the drills (and make up your own). 

Class time
In class, don’t wait for me. Start working on this stuff the minute you get there. There is a lot you can do alone or with a partner. If I am boring you during class, go do what you want to do. Take responsibility for your own learning.

Any skill takes work. You must play with this stuff any chance you get. Even five minutes a day has a major effect. Play with this stuff when you are walking around, watching tv or whatever.

You must master the basic skills in this phase in order to progress. If you proceed without mastering these skills, you will get confused and frustrated and stop learning. It is also not fair for someone who has mastered these skills to have to work with someone that is not ready for more advanced skills. The most advanced skills are just a series of smaller skills stacked on top of each other.

Wing Chun Techniques
These are the techniques I need you to know at this stage. Feel free to ask me about them at any time.
Stance - See rag doll
Siu lim tao - Do it while maintaining the rag doll position and thinking about weights on your joints

Key Concepts
Body habit
We are all a collection of physical and mental habits. We learn one way of doing something and that is usually good enough. After you learn to walk one way, why change it? Who needs a more efficient way of picking up a beer? For what we are doing, however, we need to relearn how to do everything we do in a more efficient manner. We begin doing this by letting our way of holding our body go and going to the “rag doll” position. We then relearn to do things and use the minimal amount of effort required to accomplish it. This is that whole “empty the cup” crap. Let your way of doing things or of controlling your body go in order to discover a new way. Is it more important to do things your way or the best way? Let go mentally and physically and observe the differences. 

Understanding vs. doing
If you hear something and understand the words, you think you understand. When learning a skill, understanding doesn’t count for much. You can do it or you can’t. Nobody cares how much you understand the guitar, only how well you can play it. Informational learning by itself translates to 95% failure. It is ok to not understand. In fact, it’s normal. Just keep doing the drills. If you really get lost, back up a step. Be careful if you think of yourself as “smart”. It is easy for smart people to “understand” stuff and never bother to master the underlying skill. Dumb is good. 

Principle vs. technique
People love techniques. I don’t teach many techniques. If you deeply understand a principle, you can create an infinite amount of techniques that illustrate that principle. You own it. There are not that many principles. I hope to help you understand them as quickly as possible so you don’t need me (you don’t already).

This skill is easy
These fighting principles are simple if you take them step by step. If you learn little skills, they lead to great things.

You kick ass!
Ok, that is cheesy, but it is absolutely important. You have to believe you can fight first. I can’t teach you to fight if you want to learn to first before you believe. If you believe you can fight, you are halfway there. Start every class thinking how much ass you can kick (I can kick about 57 pounds worth). Finally, the best way to be successful is to help others be successful. Help your classmates and you will learn fast.

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