About Mushin

Wing Chun researcher and teacher.

Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, tiger,
Hungry as can be.

From the mountain
descend the tigers.

Out of the forest,
into a village.

See man,
see food.

Tiger, tiger,
Hungry soon no more.

Long unappreciated was the training sequence taught by Master Leong. Lying around in my mind, dormant, like a sleeping tiger.

The tiger soon awakened as I understand better over time the significance of the training sequence. As I would tell my students you have to find the application to understand what you are doing.

For you see, a form is words without music. Find the music and the words come alive. So find the application and you will understand better what you are looking at.

In China, a tiger is a fierce creature, residing in forest, in mountain, rarely venturing out of its comfort zone. Unless there is a shortage of food and hunger can drive a tiger to emerge from the forest to seek food in any form it can find.

A hungry tiger is a desperate tiger. A few hungry tigers are even more frightening. Perhaps there is such a thing as animal mob mentality or they just hunt in a pack.

Perhaps this was what Grandmaster Nip Chee Fei had in mind when he created this training sequence to encapsulate the essential elements of this one technique. This one simple looking technique which when applied vigorously resemble a pack of tigers throwing themselves at the prey relentlessly, one after another, after another.

A fitting image because when the 5 Tigers Descending Mountain sequence is used this is exactly what it would feel like, look like to an onlooker. A pounce, a rush, the unceasing attack, just like a hungry tiger hunting, seizing and subduing its prey.

Fly on Wall

I wish I was that fly on the wall.

Or maybe there was no fly at all.

A few years back, how long(?), I have forgotten, a student touched hands with a friend and videod it.

Before the event I gave him some advice on what he could try. However, as the video showed he practically couldn’t carry out any of what I suggested.

Cut to 2019. He had another encounter. More time passed since then. Wiser, more prepared to listen to my advice not to over focus on power. And I made him do some simple techniques.

Actually, those weren’t simple techniques. They are part of our 5 Tigers expression of techniques transmitted by Master Leong. I just taught them in a simpler, accessible manner so that they are easier to pick up.

He said, he claimed he had a much easier going this time around. I was tempted to say, yes, but where is the video evidence.

OK, maybe he didn’t made any. It would have been nice to see if he actually did what he said. Not so much as to cast doubt but to see how well he did it, and to spot room for improvement.

No matter. I showed him where he could improve further. The techniques may be external but underneath are the principles culled from what I learned in Dong style Tai Chi and the style of Grandmaster Wei Shuren.

Yeah, he had to bring up the power thing again. My point again – power is useless without the means of delivering it. So the technique matters. Speed matters. Then when all are in place deliver the power.

Power. Forget internal, forget external. Go with what works in that split second that you have to issue it. Don’t do anything fanciful. Quick, just do it.

How? Use simple, proven biomechanics that is backed by principles of our Tai Chi approach. The method looks external but feels internal. Few tweaks here and there to get the power out in a penetrating and strong manner.

When the time comes I will introduce him to a more focused method of training the power. Just appetizer for now, something to get started. Small bites.

Circling Pole Gung

Introduced a third pole exercise – circling – last night to my student as part of his gung lik development.

In this case, a big circle. The type used to deflect opponent’s pole whilst advancing, kinda like a spinning horizontal tornado.

A snippet of the practice :-

What we are working on is to find the right size circle that can deflect and knock opponent off balance such as illustrated below :-

The circling below is a clockwise circle. In this example, the applied circle technique is more or less straight out of our Ngok Gar 5-Tip Pole technique.

Once the opponent’s pole is swept aside you can move in for the kill.

The actual circling technique is shown above from the manual on the 5-Tip Pole.

Finally, when doing partner practice care must be taken not to accidentally hit the partner in the hand or body. This can be done by maintaining a longer distance.

Basic Pole Gung 3

The third principle we can learn from the Arrow Pole posture is how to get the power from the ground to the tip of the pole via the use of concentric spirals.

OK, I know the lines shown are not spirals. No matter how I draw the spirals they will not be a good representation of what I want to convey across.

I shouldn’t even mention counter-spirals cause that would be even more confusing without some basic understanding of the Tao, physics and the workings of Nature.

Even then its much easier to just do it, feel it and understand it. Some things are just meant to be felt rather than puzzle over intellectually.

That’s why students who are learning the pole will need to keep practicing the Arrow Pole posture over and over again. Then the gung lik of the pole will manifest in the hand.

Basic Pole Gung 2

The second thing we can learn from the Arrow Pole posture is the use of triangulation to focus our power when handling the pole.

I have added a few lines above to give a basic idea of what this means. This is not exhaustive. The actual triangulation is more complicated than this.

A series of principles are applied in order to triangulate properly. For example, we can use a body closing movement to triangulate.

Add to this the principle of the six harmonies and the plot quickly becomes complex. This is why we must drill Arrow Pole a lot so that we can add in the principles layer by layer.

If we try to dump all the principles in at one go the information will overwhelm and confuse rather than enlighten.

Basic Pole Gung 1

The Arrow Pole posture can teach us a thing or two about power.

A simple but important principle is that of perpendicularity.

Perpendicularity calls for our body to be at right angle to the pole when it is held horizontally in the striking motion known as Arrow Pole.

Perpendicularity enables us to position the pole in a stable manner. This in turn allows us to line up the body behind the pole properly to deliver a powerful thrust.

Another Pole Exercise 2

Last week I got my student to do a new pole solo drill. Here he is starting off :-

With some practice he at least nailed some semblance of what the movement should be like.

Why I got him to work on this new exercise? Its because its a great training method to develop quick wrist turning that is vital to generating power in a short burst. When you do it quickly this is what it would look like :-

The movements can be applied in push hands and last night I provided examples of how to use small circles and spirals in quick counters and attacks.

When done fast the techniques should be like a swift torrent of movements overwhelming the visual and tactile senses, confusing the opponent’s reaction, slowing him down, making it easier for you to apply your techniques. I didn’t film any of this as its one of those 1-to-1 transmissions thingy.