iKali Singapore – begin your Filipino Martial Arts journey with this innovative, fun and breezy method of learning the Pekiti-Tirsia System of Kali designed by the iKali (indigenous Kali) branch of Tuhon Apolo Ladra who has been honored by Black Belt’s Hall of Fame as “Weapons Instructor of the Year”. The focused, structured and integrated teaching means you can pick up the learning at a much faster pace. Sign up for our free training here.

SKD Combatives – our modern redesigned learning has a simple objective which is to enable the learning and mastery of core human body combative movements used in the Chinese martial arts of Tai Chi, Wing Chun, Ngok Gar Kuen, Pok Khek Kuen and Baguazhang in a shorter time frame through skill development drills and short flow sequences.


Tai Chi – we are focused on the learning of Tai Chi that is in compliance with the principles of the Tai Chi Classics. The teaching is focused intensely around the use of intention to govern the movements of the body to execute the techniques and power. Read more of our approach to what a true internal Tai Chi is here. Please DO NOT contact us if you are looking to do Tai Chi for exercise, fitness and health as this is not the focus of our training.

Lesson Number Four

Lesson Number 4 this week. No fidgeting in Beginning Posture. Good beginning.

Alas, I spoke too soon. The stance and hand characeteristics took on a wushu flavor. Why would this happen? There goes my plan to teach Single Whip.

From nothing to something. From simple natural standing we can form a basic stance with attendant arch.

Shift the weight and we have a forward or backward stance depending on whether the weight is forward or backward. However, he did an arch-less stance which weakens the stance and cause the connection to the ground to be lost.

A backward stance with a straightened front leg is bad because it makes it easier for a takedown to be used against the leg. A simple hold at the ankle and press at the upper thigh and down he went, after clearing his leading arm out of the way.

A proper forward or backward stance has traceability, like a son has matching DNA with the mother. No matter how we move we can always revert back to the basic stance. So in essence we are just practicing one stance throughout. What differentiates each of the stances is where the weight is and how the unweighted leg is positioned.

In turning or in stepping the characteristic of the basic stance is ever present. The shape of the stance when the weight is forward can be applied as an uprooting technique like water floating a boat.

Because of this we have to keep the mind full focussed. We have to do the process carefully so that at the end of the movement we have a proper stance. It is easy to get the 2nd sub-movement of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail wrong and end up with an improper stance once we lose track of what we are supposed to do.

This time to make it clearer I added another component to the process. This breakdowns the movement of the hip, knee and foot so that it can match the movement of the arm more closely such that they move in a coordinated manner.

The same logic applies to the 3rd sub-movement where we end up in the posture of grasping the tail of a sparrow. A wushu like stance makes it difficult to control the amount of strength to use. When we fish we want the bait to move like a living worm to invite the fish to take a nibble.

In using strength we shouldn’t be applying peng jing indiscriminately to all and sundry. Some movements require a lot less strength whereas some require more. Calibrating the amount required is what the training of form is partly about.

A proper technique allows you to entice and lead the opponent’s strength to land on empty space. As this is happening you enter with your response. Place it at a good angle and the movement itself takes care of the neutralizing and issuing.

Again, using the leading hand to come up to the bottom of opponent’s arm like water supporting it but not carrying his strength, then floating his arm to unbalance his body. This leads to the opponent’s closed arm position to open up allowing you to enter to attack.

Done properly you do not feel that you are trying to carry the opponent’s body weight. Instead, you feel as if he is floated up by an energetic force. This is the role of the arch in the stance to neutralize and return the opponent’s force using the principle of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion.

Mind Trains Body

Visualize a point in space. Fix it in your mind. Now point your left index finger at it.

Next, move your left index finger towards it. As you move let your left index finger pull your left arm and your left leg towards the target.

Keep moving your left index finger towards the point in space even as your left foot lands on the ground and you shift your weight from your right leg to your left leg.

At the end of the movement check if your left index finger is still pointing at the point or is it pointing somewhere else.

If you didn’t get it the first time try again and again until you get it. It is not a difficult thing to do correct or is it? How many tries did you go through before you got it. Did you get it within an hour or take a few days to get it?

If you did not get it what was the reason why you couldn’t get it?

Most of the time you would think you got it. So it is good to use a video or get a spotter to help you check if indeed you are doing what you think you are doing.

You may find it easier to actually hang an object for you to point towards. Try it if this is what works for you. Once you can do it with an object try going back to doing it without an actual physical object.

Most people who do this think they are able to point to the point in space when they fail to do so. It is easy to deceive ourselves to think we are doing what we are not.

To be able to do this simple thing you need to be able to keep your mind on your left index finger all the time first and foremost.
When you can do this then you need to assign some of this attention to the other parts of the body that is involved in the movement chain. All this while you must keep your mind still trained on your left index finger so that the entire body coordination is still whole.

You keep practicing until the entire movement chain is smooth outwardly yet on the inside you can feel how each part of the chain is moving in its turn in terms of changes in velocity, getting the relevant mass lined up behind each other in preparation to be able to trigger the mass to move sinuously like the rising and falling of a wave.

The better your body control the less outer movement you need to use, to the point where a slight downward movement will be like an ocean floor suddenly caving down to displace a body of water to create a tsunami, in this case an energetic wave consistent with rising (Peng) and falling (An) characteristic of an actual wave.

The movement in this experiment is the second movement after Beginning Posture that leads up to Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. Though this movement can be used to learn how to generate power, we must never divorce it from the application. If you do not keep the application in mind then what happens is that you will end up exaggerating the wave motion in an attempt to generate more power.

There is a trade-off between power and speed. In application we need to be timely when the need is there. If you are too slow to get into position then you will not be able to get into place to generate power. And when you get into position you have a split second to issue power before the opponent fights back.

So between speed and power you should go for speed because speed is basically a matter of change in velocity. The change in velocity is termed acceleration which is found in the formula for Force = Mass X Acceleration.

The form trains us to move in the manner of an imperceptible wave, controlling the rate of velocity and amount of mass that should be used in various techniques. Sometimes you need a hammer to do the job but sometimes you need to use a thumb.

Training the form is not about training fajing only. Training the form is training the use of techniques and understanding how various force models can be used with their attendant timing, angles, position, etc.

Training the form is the beginning of the study of the means to an end. Push hands is another piece of the study puzzle. When you have learned how to move like the wind, execute techniques like the falling of incessant autumn rain, pound with the force of a wave, and flow like a river then you can learn to apply the techniques more freely.

Lesson Number Three

Added two movements on the third lesson – Separate and Push.

But before that did a review. The fidgeting is still there, not as bad, so I left it at that.

Grasp Sparrow’s Tail – added one detail – after pluck to get the body weight behind the grabbing hand. Emphasized not to lose this control when moving the left hand and shifting weight from right to left. Reason – do not lose control once you have grabbed the opponent’s hand otherwise he can exploit it against you.

Oh, a problem with navigation when moving the left hand and left leg out. The movement is to be linearly to the side. However, at the last minute the linear motion became a curve.

It is a slight deviation in the movement path, however, that is enough to leave room for opponent to grab your left hand when your arm enters his space, enabling him to throw you instead of you throw him. Root cause – awareness not 100% throughout, inattention to the entire process; mind not kept on the lead hand causing the off course steering at the last moment.

Step forward into Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. And the stance is too narrow. This is an issue with traceability.

Went back to basics as defined in Beginning Posture. How is a stance formed. How do we actually shift weight. How to keep the stance strong and primed to fajing.

From lower body to upper body. Need to keep the left hand guarding properly. How can the left hand be used?

Two possibilities in how to use left hand in push hands to guard and open up opponent’s door for you to enter with your own attack.

How to dissipate opponent’s strength when he intercepts your right arm. Option of not changing to another Ward-off by using neutralizing energy or by changing to Ward-off.

How to use position of posture to neutralize, intercept, open door and enter. Softer response to neutralize first then attack vs faster, more aggressive counter to continuously attack like wave pounding.

Addressed the question of the opponent’s left hand response. How to preempt a counter-attack by delivering a stinging strike. Example of how a light strike can work instead of relying on heavy, fajingy pushing.

Had to explain how to do basic push hands by just doing horizontal circling. How to use the movements of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail for meaningful learning instead of meaningless pushing. Going back to the use of just Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, Ward-off and Rollback for a simple game of push hands to learn strategy and change.

Dyson & Tai Chi

I read an interview with James Dyson in last week’s The Sunday Times entitled “No Such Thing As A Silly Idea”.

Whether you agree with him or not, his comments can nevertheless be useful to us in learning Tai Chi.

Comment No. 1 – “Knowing what has worked in the past really doesn’t help you at all now. In fact, it does always the opposite. It’s a hindrance.”

Opinion No. 1 – Its a no-brainer to say that the most obvious example is this was when BJJ met the striking arts in UFC and we see strikers being defeated left and right.

However, I will talk about this in the context of Tai Chi instead. The thing about knowledge is that it can be a double edge sword. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we know a lot just because we learned a lot or is learning from a knowledgeable / famous master. However, until we know the boundaries of our knowledge we cannot really say that we know a lot and by extension what we had learned may not be as helpful as we thought.

Nowhere is this more obvious than when I switched to learning the Yang style of Grandmaster Wei Shuren’s lineage. If you look at some of the videos of people playing the forms from GM Wei’s style you might think that in terms of flavor there is not much different though the same techniques are played differently from that in Yang Cheng Fu’s descendants’ style. This typically is the problem of making the mistake of thinking that you can bring your previous learning experience from other Yang styles to GM Wei’s style.

If anything, your previous learning can be a hindrance to learning GM Wei’s style. I had to practically relearn GM Wei’s Tai Chi style from the ground up once I realized that what I had learned from the Yang styles of Cheng Man Ching, Dong family, Yang Sau Chung and Nip Chee Fei was of little help to mastering GM Wei’s style, if not an obstacle.

It is only when I go back to the beginner’s mindset that I could change my physical habits. GM Wei’s style is not just about outer movements but how what you are thinking of can affect the way your body moves and reacts. Once you know what this is you can read the Tai Chi Classics and things that do not make sense will now make a lot of sense.

So Dyson’s comment can be taken in this manner also, that your past is a hindrance to your present and therefore future. This is especially true in today’s fast changing technologies that look set to change a lot of things across many fields of knowledge and industry.

Comment No. 2 – “I think naive curiosity, naive questioning, wrong suggestions, are good ideas.”

One reason why I don’t join many forums is because people that flock together tend to be of the same feathers. They have a tendency to agree with each other, shouting down those that they don’t agree with.

Innovation comes about because of questioning the status quo. If we agree with everything we will still be living in caves and hunting with stones. You will be surprised at how closed minded Tai Chi people are. A number of practitioners have told me that they consider zhanzhuang to be super important. One of my friends even told me zhanzhuang is the secret to mastering Tai Chi.

They are so super assured that zhanzhuang is the way that they have never considered the alternative argument that zhanzhuang is not the way (or not the only way). They never thought to ask me why. They never asked why the Dong family, GM Wei and some masters don’t have zhanzhuang practice yet these masters have superb skills. In fact, I doubt anyone who considers zhanzhuang to be the way can explain how GM Wei did his fajing but for us what zhanzhuang people do for fajing is so obvious that to call it a secret is doing a disservice to those who want to uplift the practice of Chinese internal arts.

Comment No. 3 – An experienced person will only put forward a sensible suggestion, which might work, whereas a native person, or a young person who is unafraid to make mistakes, will ask the wrong question, will make an outrageous suggestion, which might actually be a very good idea.”

I am relatively new to learning FMA. I was taught that we can hold the blade with a forward grip or an ice-pick grip. We could also switch from one grip to the other while we are wielding the blade.

Forward Grip
Ice Pick Grip

At one point I thought why not hold two blades in one hand? Wouldn’t this eliminate the need to switch from one grip to another if I want to switch the way I am holding the blade? The question why anyone would want to switch grip is another matter.

This is not a new idea. In fact, there is a weapon from the style of Yin baguazhang called Judge’s Pen (goggle it) that sparked off my thinking (past experience can matter sometimes…….) in this direction. I played around with it while holding two knives in one hand. Seems like a good idea.

However, the reality is that unless a real blade is made this way this idea is not practical. Why?

Firstly, a real knife handle may be thicker and oval shaped, making it difficult to hold two knifes in one hand. Secondly, how will you carry the blade in a concealed manner? How will you draw it out quickly when required without cutting yourself? So what seems like a good idea is not a practical idea. But who knows, maybe someone will make this into a practical idea, which begs the question how does a Yin style baguazhang practitioner carry a Judge’s Pen?

Comment No. 4 – “Being very open to every suggestion and not ever saying ‘that’s a silly idea, don’t be so stupid’ – that’s my style. I like the unobvious suggestion…I get very worried when someone says they’re an expert.”

There’s nothing wrong with being an expert. The problem is when their mind is closed even when they are obviously wrong. They want to argue until a corpse can come alive, to use a colorful Chinese saying.

The basis for creativity is to not be afraid to ask what to others would be obvious stupid or even impossible questions. Remember the assumption that things heavier than air can’t fly (Lord Kelvin said that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible). So for a long time if someone brought up the idea of flying they would be laughed at. Yet birds can fly. So obviously the assumption that things heavier than air cannot fly is not true.

Assumptions can be wrong. What is today correct may also be wrong tomorrow (flat earth versus round earth argument). So it is this way with the argument with zhanzhuang being the secret to developing fajing skills in Tai Chi. I say that this is not true because any beginner can learn to do fajing without having to learn zhanzhuang. They don’t even need to learn forms or to put in years of practice.

There is a difference between being able to use freely (requires years of practice) and being able to do fajing in controlled environment (does not require years of practice, just a few minutes of instruction and tinkering the movements for proof of concept). The latter is proof that it is important to know what you are doing clearly and not be caught up by outdated dogma that is enslaving you.

So in this sense when an expert, someone who proudly tacks a sifu before his name, tells you that you take years to learn how to fajing take it with a few spoonful of salt because it is not true. Even if I don’t tell you the basis of my argument you can figure it out easily with the help of a physics textbook and a partner willing to be your guinea pig. Once you figure it out you will probably slap your head for not seeing it for the simple thing that it is.

Learning from Master Wong’s Knife Defence

Master Wong is very entertaining. Some of his videos on emptyhand techniques are not bad. Then he put out videos on the Wing Chun weapons and I was kinda like meh…..

Yesterday, I saw his video on defending against a knife attack. He is still entertaining.

His explanations sound so convincing too. It even looked effective and could work against someone who does not know how to use a knife and just thrust without any idea of follow up.

However, I am more worried about the attacker who knows how to use a knife or an attacker who repeatedly thrusts and slashes with speed.

I have seen different techniques against the basic thrusting / stabbing attack in Master Wong’s video. One of the more recent ones is from Master Yang Jwing Ming.

Whether dealing with emptyhand technique or weapon attack the problem is always the unknown factor i.e. I don’t know what the attacker will do or not do.

In this example, if the attacker just thrusts with the knife and leave his arm there you can get away with anything. Similary if he thrusts and slowly withdraws his knife for another attack.

The problem starts when the attacker thrusts fast, withdraw as fast (including stepping back). Then its not easy to do the technique Master Wong showed.

Add to it the possibility of the attacker slashing as a follow up to the thrust whether when he is in forward position or does so when he withdraws his blade and you have a different dimension to the problem.

Shall I then add the possibility of the attacker using his other arm to fend off your attempts to defend against his knife?

How about if the attacker switches hand?

When you consider these few points you will see the loopholes in the responses that Master Wong demonstrated.

He may have more effective techniques that he did not show to the public (most masters do) but for the ones he showed the following pictures below are the things that come to mind when I looked at what he showed. I am not even an expert in defending against a knife attack but the problem areas below are what I spotted with a beginner’s eyes.

Example A
Example B

Example A and B – Master Wong showed this as the first movement in deflecting the knife thrust. The problem I see with this response is that the neck is wide open to a slashing counter. However, as seen in Example E Master Wong has anticipated this. This is good as long as the opponent is not able to flow with your deflection and take advantage of it to insert his slashing attack in between the timing required for you to move your hands up as shown in Example E.

Example C

Example C – before Master Wong secured the hold in Example F he ended in this hold first. This is not a secure hold and by twisting the blade to face up, the opponent can slash upwards as he step back. But once you get to the one palm down, one palm up position in Example F then the hold is secure. The problem is before you get to this secure position.

Example D

Example D – Master Wong does foresee the possibility of a follow up slashing counter as shown here.

Example E

Example E – a question I like to ask is if I can foresee the attacker trying to slash me as shown in Example D then would the attacker be smart enough to anticipate my response and have a counter ready to both my hands coming up to protect my throat. If the opponent has experience using a knife then bring both hands up to protect myself is an invitation for the attacker to slash my stomach. Because I am reacting to his attempt to slash my throat first it means that the attacker is ahead of me on the attacking beat and the moment my hands come up and he quickly lowers himself to slash my stomach I will not be fast enough to counter the follow up attack.

Example F

Example F – good response from Master Wong. If there is a weakness in this counter it is that the attacker can still get out of the control. If he can do this he can easily switch knife hand and re-attack Master Wong. This time Master Wong will be way behind the attacking curve since both his arms are attached to the attacker’s right arm but Master Wong does not have any hand to check the attacker’s left hand with the knife now.

I do this analysis as part of my own study in how to defend against knife attacks rather than a post to take down Master Wong. By understanding what not to do I gain a better understanding of what to do.

Dealing with a knife attack or any types of attack is not so much a case of I am right, you are wrong. Instead, it is a case of given this response what can I do to avoid getting stabbed or slashed, and at the same time be able to counter effectively.

Effectively in this sense means how to prevent the attacker from continuing his attack and take away his weapon. In this regard I need to eliminate his ability to move and change.

This is why in Kali our study of how to handle knife attacks is based on knowing both sides of the equation – the defender and the attacker. We learn how to defend including how to take away the knife, and then initiate our own knife attack. When the glove is on the other hand (or blade in our hand) how can we use the knife and prevent the attacker from being able to defend himself.

Lesson Number Two

A week passed by very quickly. Lesson 2 came and passed for new student.

First a review of Lesson 1. Correction number one – eliminate unnecessary movements in the hands before raising hands in Beginning Posture. Root cause – slight hunched back leading to palms facing unnaturally.

Correction number 2 – hand lead the body in sub-movement 1 of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail, differentiating joint movements and strength usage clearly. Also, how to shift the vertical axis from one side to the other without compromising balance. Mindfulness in left hand grasp and control.

Correction number 3 – fingers in left parry hand at commencement of sub-movement 2 of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. Control body angling. Importance of positioning to remain offensive even when parrying. Right arm closing movement re-emphasize again the holding hinge concept, aligning the right wrist to body to facilitate neutralizing, closing the posture. How to properly raise the right wrist to form cross with left wrist, passing the imaginary opponent’s right fist to land into space, as you open up a space to enter for your right hand. Again, not to lose balance by unneccessary moving of vertical axis causing sway and tilt. Showed student how to move without causing axis sway and tilt after he tried but could not move if I impose a restraint on his left shoulder to check his vertical axis. Correct placement of right palm on target area and left hand on guard after completion. The how and why of this application, addressing loop holes in posture, how to set up for a follow up movement from the start, possible strikes in this position. Check correct holding of sphere in right arm, sphere holding between left hand and right hand.

Correction number 4 – sphere rotation in Ward-off, control superfluos body turning, how to rotate properly to apply movement as a technique. Left hand curve, wrap, bind and control, contribute to unbalance attack and power issuance. Beware of elbow to body disconnect, define appropriate elbow-body connection.

Correction number 5 – defining the physical path for Rollback in the mind – visualize it, map it, move and feel. How to maintain structure and pressure while relaxing before neutralizing, avoiding collapsing of right arm structure or opening up space for opponent to enter. Proper structure of right arm in Rollback, proper timing to change from Rollback to Press. Mother-son relationship in right arm-left arm movement correlation. Whip palm attack in Rollback, if required. How to use elbow position to control opponent’s left arm when attacking without creating a gap for opponent to counter.

Correction number 6 – changing right arm structure at end of Rollback to beginning of Press. Left arm control – definition, process and applications. How to issue power using momentum from application of stance shifting for instant result, no waiting for years of training to master or having to learn secret qigong method or complicated fajing processes, merely using intuitive method most people already know as they are likely to have performed before at home. Using a spiral movement to neutralize, bind and control before issuing power throgh the same right arm. Single arm power generation for better control and defence; illustration of how facing wrongly in Press and using two hands leave student exposed to a counter.

So much for the second lesson this week.

The Attached Mind

I just glance at the topic of a Youtube video “Israeli Study of Natural Immunity vs Vaccine” and my immediate thought was natural immunity earns big Pharma nothing but vaccine brings billions and opportunities to earn more in other ways.

This also reminds me of those Tai Chi masters who would sell you that secret Qigong packaged training, that secret meditation practice, the secret small frame fajing form, that secret this, that secret that.

Why can’t they sell you one form that teaches you how to use the techniques, how to push hands, how to fajing, how to meditate and so on?

Cause you earn more by breaking the knowledge up and selling them. That’s why.

Its more exciting for the consumer, I mean student, to know that there is a secret spinal whip, chakra fire or is it water qigong (or maybe call it tummo to sound more exotic, nah that’s Tibetan), tree hugging, tree rooting, bricks hanging from the balls methods that they can salivate after. The more money they pay the more they buy into the secret and defend it even they found out that they have been conned. That’s the psychology of the victim.

Telling a student that he’s got it is a downer. Whatdaya mean I got it? Already? Where? Like a horse he needs a carrot dangled in front of him to chase after cause the fun is in the chase rather than the getting there.

That’s why in big classes they need a common identify, to reinforce the brainwashing cause you know cultish behaviour leads to loyalty even if contrary hard evidence is presented. This is a kind of attachment, a reason why Tai Chi is difficult to learn. You have to let go of your attachment to resistance if you want to be able to flow like water. To be attached means the opponent’s pressure will cause your mind to be stuck and your body to freeze.

That’s why Tai Chi is easy to learn, difficult to master as you have to deprogram your habitual, instinctive reaction to mental and physical stimuli.

Restarting Teaching

This week I restarted teaching Tai Chi. I am taking this one student at a time. I have lost track of time but I am guessing that its at least a year since the last lesson.

This time I changed my teaching approach in that I aim to get a student moving first before finetuning his movements. To do this I held back some details. Its not something I would do in the past but it certainly made it easier to teach a bit faster.

It was all I could do to stop myself from saying more. I kept to straight forward corrections like remember to stretch out the fingers, point the thumb up, thumb touch the center and index point forward to apex, grab-hold-bring to waist level, secure as if pressing a big ball while squeezing a small ball, etc.

Despite the cut down in the number of details it was still not easy for the new student to remember every step in the process. Sometimes its the little things that are easy to forget. The mind just keep forgetting. But never mind, we will just keep at it until all the details fall into place.

Sometimes it is better to just enjoy the learning and keep at the practice rather than to rush it. As long as the student practices regularly while keeping the steps and details in mind he should get it.

The Cult of Ip Man

Every now and then someone takes a colorized black and white photo of Ip Man, posts it to a FB forum and then proceeds to heap praise and gushes over him.

Other folks would follow with more praises. There’s no attempt to explain to explain why Ip Man is being praised.

I find this rather bizarre. If you write something about Ip Man’s contributions to the art of Wing Chun and praises his effort I can understand it.

But praising Ip Man for the sake of it?

The first thing I thought of is why is the writer praising Ip Man. Is Ip Man his grandmaster or great, great…. grandmaster? Or is he praising Ip Man because he likes Ip Man the actual person or Ip Man the semi-fictional movie character played by Donnie Yen.

Depending on which teacher I had learned from Ip Man is either my grandmaster or great grandmaster. However, my relationship to him is kinda like I know him but I know him not. Yes, I know who Ip Man is but I don’t really know him, and what I know of him is through 2nd hand or maybe even 3rd, 4th, Xth hand news.

Pre-Donnie Yen Ip Man movies some of these teachers would just refer to Ip Man as Sifu. Some might refer to him as Bloody Old Man; depending on the context.

The person referring to Ip Man in this way is either complaining about Ip Man or is using “bloody old man” as a term of endearment (if you are a Cantonese Chinese this would make sense to you otherwise you will probably be bewildered).

As example, one of my Wing Chun teachers was once on a trip with one of the top 5 disciples of Ip Man. During the trip this teacher complained that this “bloody old man” never taught much. In this context the term is used to express frustration.

In the next example, when there was a rumor that Ip Man might have a third son out there someone said that Ip Chun allegedly commented that since the bloody old man was randy, he would not be surprised if it was true. In this context, the term was one of amusement.

To me, such stories and rumors of Ip Man whether true or not, humanizes him. To me Ip Man is not a deity, a god whose tablet or photo you hang on the wall, bow and worship him.

From the stories of how Ip Man taught it sounded to me that he was a teacher who taught the traditional way in that he didn’t teach as much, preferring to let each student to practice and find his own answer.

Ip Man also did not discourage questions nor did he give absolute answers. He encouraged students to test out the art to find out for themselves if his (Ip Man) teachings were valid.

Ip Man was not above changing the art or teaching each student differently depending on what the student needed. This is unlike the diehard attitude of some of today’s students who insist on being traditional, unchanged teachings whatever the hell this really means.

Though Ip Man may sound like an undefeated superman of a master he was probably not. I read he was challenged by a Choy Li Fut school but nothing came of it. I read two sides of this story as to why the challenge never happened. I have no idea who is correct. I do know that this CLF school defeated a number of Ip Man’s students in a full contact tournament. I had lately read that Wong Shun Leung (one of those who lost in this tournament) was frustrated that the tournament format as not suitable for the use of Wing Chun techniques.

I was also told a story that Yuen Kay San (if you don’t know who he is, google – one of my WC great grandmasters from China said that Ip Man also learned from Yuen, hence Ip’s version of Wing Chun resemble Yuen’s version in many ways) was not happy with Ip Man’s flirty behaviour with his (Yuen) wife and sent Sum Nung to teach him a lesson in Hong Kong. Sum Nung apparently came but the fight didn’t happen. Why? No idea.

Then came the Donnie Yen movies. Suddenly, the name of Ip Man became a cash cow. Anyone who wanted a piece of the pie had to kowtow and play politics to be on the right side.

Overnight, Ip Man the person became synonymous with Ip Man the movie character. Ip Man, the Sifu of Wing Chun suddenly became referred to even by some of his disciples as Ip Man, Zhong-Si.

Previously, Wing Chun was found in Hong Kong, USA, Australia, New Zealand, some parts of Europe. But today, Ip Man’s version of Wing Chun is the MacDonalds of the Wing Chun world. Practitioners are found everywhere including India, Africa, Middle East and many parts of Europe.

More bizarre, Ip Man’s Wing Chun has exported back into China where it is sidelining the other more traditional versions of Wing Chun. I foresee that Ip Man’s Wing Chun DNA will even infect the traditional versions, changing their practice, and not necessarily for the better.

It is unfortunate, but this is what happens in a world where people are overwhelmed and bombarded with the same information over and over again, until fiction can become fact. The ease of information access also means research can be done by googling it instead of actually going to the ground to do it. The constant brainwashing results in failure to think, hence the cultish behaviour of wanting to deify, to worship, to praise blindly.

If you love the art of Wing Chun open your eyes wide and not throw the baby out with the bath water. No, sorry learn to see the baby first. Otherwise, once the older knowledge is lost it will be lost and then Wing Chun will be nothing but a shell of an art once great, its characteristics distorted in the face of ignorance.

A Practice A Day

There is an old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

However, I think a Tai Chi practice a day is better. This is because Tai Chi is not just an exercise for the body but for the mind too.

We say that if there is no intent then there is no Tai Chi. If you just stand there and breath then there is nothing different between what a normal person does and what you, a Tai Chi practitioner, does.

When we stand we are not standing we are activating our mind. In our mind we formulate a connection between heaven and earth. This is not some mystical shit for the New Age groupies.

Instead, it is a method to open up the body without moving visibly. The key phrase is “WITHOUT MOVING VISIBLY”. There is movement but its subtle, like a gentle ripple on the pond surface. You can’t really see it but you can feel it.

If you do it you will feel your spine lengthening as if it is reaching upwards towards the sky, hence connecting to heaven. You will also feel as if your feet is merging with the ground, developing roots that dissolve into an endless bottom, as if you are standing on quicksand.

With this connection set up then you can move into the preparatory posture with two feet apart. But you do not move without a reason. You have to use your intent to command your body to move in a specific manner so that you have an integrating between inside and outside, internal and external.

In this way when you stand in preparatory posture the way you stand is different from the way a normal person stands. You will also be standing in a manner that is not the same as the average Tai Chi practitioner.

This is only the beginning. You next have to use intent to configure the inside of your body. You don’t try to relax, you don’t try to control your breathing. This is where we approach the practice differently.

You don’t try to relax because we practice a specific method to bring about a state of minimizing the use of strength. This in turn will allow you to relax. This type of relaxation creates a state of pliant tension such that the body is like an inflated ball sans the attempts we see sometimes to be like a ball by splaying the elbows sideways.

This relaxation method is based on using the mind to tell the body to do something and this something brings about the relaxation. You don’t have to try to relax. Just doing the principle will bring about the relaxation.

We also don’t try to breathe in and out to bring about the relaxation. Doing this can cause the mind to be attached when we want to detach the mind, to allow it to quiet down, so that we can listen and feel how our body is responding to the series of commands that our mind will issue it to perform the subsequent movements.

The carrying out of the procedures to create the Ancient Bell Body will open up your body from within such that you can feel as if you are hollow inside like an actual bell.

The Bell Body will magnify the ballooning of your body like an inflated ball without having to make posture physically. This is a more natural approach. This is also why we say this is a true internal approach because you can’t see it.

We can also conceal the feeling of this internal opening of the body. When necessary we can demonstrate by letting another party feel how this opening of the body allows us to channel an external pressure into the ground without having to move the body a lot.

After the creation of the Ancient Bell Body then you can proceed to start going through the other movements of the form. You have to be careful not to lose the Ancient Bell Body. It has to be kept intact throughout the performance of the entire form.

The Ancient Bell Body is the foundation for freeing up your old habits so that you can tap and use the power that is already inherent in you.

Yes, you read correctly. We don’t have to acquire internal power, we merely have to remove the obstacles that is stopping us from being able to use what we already have all along.

Unless Newton’s Laws of Motion and Classical Mechanics do not apply to you then you already have internal power. Its just a matter of unlocking it.

Power issue aside, practicing Tai Chi daily with the Ancient Bell Body is beneficial for your health. For one it makes for good posture by opening up your joints. This is something that you will understand once you feel it.

The second point is that Tai Chi practice somehow energizes the body. This is why it is good to practice it in the morning and if possible, do it also in the evening.