How big is your Wing Chun class? How many people are in it? Do all these people have similar thoughts about Wing Chun like you?
As Wing Chun people, or soon to be Wing Chun people, it is our duty to make sure we understand as much as possible about the art. By expanding our knowledge we will keep growing as Kung Fu practitioners.
If you are stuck in a class with 5 to 30 different people, how do you escape your own personal Wing Chun bubble? How do you see things other things that are outside your current training environment (aka the real world)?
Of course flying across the country (or the world) to meet “top” Wing Chun people is the best possible scenario. In reality it is not an option for the most of us. One solution I often turn to is checking out some Wing Chun DVDs. Watching a DVD is like getting a sneak peak about what the person or style is all about.
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Why watch Sifu Sergio’s “The Secret of Chinese Chain Punching Part One?”
If you are not familiar with Sifu Sergio he is a pretty well known in the Wing Chun world. He is the Chief instructor of the International Wing Tjun Kung Fu Association (IWKA,) one of the words LARGEST Wing Chun organizations. What is interesting about him is that he travels the world researching and documenting different Wing Chun styles & lineages. Since he has seen so much he will often share multiple perspectives of different Wing Chun styles.
This is a pretty unique characteristic. When you talk to many Wing Chun people, you get the impression that it is their way or the highway. The openness of Sergio’s teaching style really makes one think about what else is out there. If you are going to Chi Sau with another Wing Chun person, it is very unlikely they Chi Sau like you or your classmates. We don’t learn Kung Fu to fight our friends, we learn Kung Fu to develop the art, and better ourselves. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to bring yourself to the next level without outside influences.
What is interesting about this DVD is that Sifu Sergio shows us that there is more than one way to throw a chain punch.
Wait!?! There is more than one way to punch in Wing Chun???
Chain punching or bicycle punching is nothing like boxing or many other Kung Fu styles. The goal is to rapidly fire punches in close quarters combat. For the sake of this blog post, watch the video below to see what we are going to call “mainstream” chain punching.
I have never personally met Sifu Sergio, nor can I speak for his school/organization curriculum. He has studied many different lineages, including Leung Ting’s version of Wing Chun.
To be blunt about it, based on this DVD, he doesn’t appear to be a big fan of “mainstream” chain punching. According to his perspective, it leaves you wide open and limits your options as a fighter. Often causing people to be too linear, just punching straight, and not worrying about attacks from other angles. The message I believe is trying to convey is “what about other directions? People aren’t always going to attack you the same way every time. If they are not going to attack you the same way every time, why should there be only one punch?”
Sifu Sergio points out the punching style he teaches offers more “bridging” opportunities and ways to attack. He explains these types of applications at the end of the DVD, but it is the type of thing that makes you go “huh, I never thought of that.”
So…… how the hell does he punch?
Long story short, DIFFERENT! Very cool – never saw anything like it before. It really opened my eyes to what else is out there and reminded me not to dismiss other martial arts because they are different.
The DVD incorporates two types of punches:
The first being the “Ying” punch.
Sifu Sergio compares it to a snake exploding to attack its target. Quickly attacking and recoiling, using the springiness or wound up’ness for power. By studying this punch you will learn another way to generate power from your body.
The second is “Yang” punch.
This punch comes from a completely different angle than you might expect. This punch is much lower and equally as impressive/interesting to watch. It generates power similar to how most Wing Chun people might expect, but the result and emphasis is somewhat different. I can only explain it by saying it is more condense and rooted. The “rooting” or drop down action is something you can play around during your “mainstream” punching training.
Why two different types of punches?
Sifu Sergio points out that these two types of punches are for different situations. The punches and their applications are all demonstrated in this DVD. Despite these punches being different from what you might be used to, they are still considered chain punches. Punches that can be rapidly fired one after another.
Let’s put it this way, most people don’t know what to make of Wing Chun or its chain punching. If your friend who knew nothing about Kung Fu saw you training these punches he would say “oh this looks more like kung fu.”
The 3 Secrets of Punching That Isn’t So Secret Anymore!
In one section Sifu Sergio teaches what he calls the “3 secrets of punching.” These are three different concepts that were passed down to him, he points out in the old days this information was truly secret and hard to come by.
From a modern perceptive, very few people openly talk about these types of methods. It makes you reexamine how you throw punches in general, not just the style of punches that Sifu Sergio teaches in this DVD. To say the least it will get your noodle (brain) cooking.
Bridging Concepts in Wing Chun
The more I think about it, the more I enjoy watching Segio’s teaching style. Instead of showing 50 or so techniques, Sergio focuses very heavily on concepts. Mentally or physically, it is something you can take away and apply to your training immediately.
One concept he keeps bringing up is “bridging.” To make a long story short, bridging is how you use your arm to “bridge the gap” between you and the opponent. As Sifu Sergio points out, it is more than simply making contact with someone. It is how you use your entire body to take advantage of your competitor.
He does a great job of explaining its importance and gives lots of examples to help visualize his perceptive on bridging. His explanation is something most native English speakers could not match.
What types of blocking cannot “bridge” in Wing Chun?
One thing that caught my attention is at the time of the filming of this DVD, Sergio points out that he IS NOT a huge fan Pok-Sau techniques. Pok Sau, or however your lineage spells it, is a Wing Chun application that uses attacking and blocking at the same time. Sergio is clearly a huge fan of attacking and defending at the same time, just not in this one situation. It requires a sudden burst of energy to block with one hand to clear the way for the other hand.
Although I personally believe there is a time and place for everything, including Pok Sau, from what I could gather, he would prefer to apply bridging concepts. His reasoning for this is that in many cases it is dangerous to perform Pok-Sau. Agree or disagree, it teaches you that there is more than one way to do the same thing.
Ancient Chinese Secret: Bridging Concepts from back in da’ day!
Sifu Sergio sprinkles in facts that he learned from his Wing Chun research. In the DVD he shows us a scroll in Chinese that explains 18 different bridging concepts once kept secret in China. He shares the first 3 of 18.
If you are going to take one thing away from this DVD, it is going to be how to conceptualize bridging. These 3 concepts will help you better understand bridging and beef up your Wing Chun. This is probably knowledge that only high level Kung Fu masters would have available back in the day, now, this knowledge is probably lost. For those who do have this document, even if they do speak Chinese, they more than likely do not understand it. Take advantage of this opportunity to have it explained to you in simple English.
Attacking the Centerline Vs Attacking the centerline without Bridging
In Wing Chun we got this thing called the “centerline,” which divides the body in two parts. Most, if not all, Wing Chun people say that you have to attack the centerline. Not focus on chasing hands or damaging limbs, destroy the center of your opponent and you will win the battle. Why attack the centerline? Sifu Sergio believes this is where many of the “vital” organs are.
Sifu Sergio goes into more depth about how to apply bridging concepts to the centerline theory. Like many different Sifu’s, he has his own theories about where the different “gates” are. Gates are the areas of your body for one to attack/defend that might remain open. For instance, one could argue that that the upper left hand side of your body is a “gate” and the lower right hand side of your body is another one.
One section of the DVD that really got me thinking is attacking the center vs. attacking the center with bridging. The difference is HUGE and I really agree with Sifu Sergio’s perceptive on this subject. Ideally in fighting you want to completely dismantle your opponent and not give him/her any opportunity to fight back. One way to do this is by applying Sifu Sergio’s concept of attacking the center line WITH bridging. By not apply this theory you would be putting yourself in danger. He does an excellent job of explaining this theory and I recommend you watch it no matter what level of Wing Chun you are presently at.
Sifu Sergio doesn’t leave you hanging. He gives you both solo and partnered training drills to practice what he taught.
He briefly goes into training with a wall bag and shows a push up training exercisers that applies to the shape of your punches. In the beginning of the DVD he teaches you how to properly throw the punches.
He teaches a handful of drills that teach you how to apply his punching and bridging theories. The partner drill that shows how to train his “Ying” punches is good and COOL Kung Fu training.
What will you learn?
You will learn what Sifu Sergio refers to as “completing the puzzle.” He talks in depth about removing the opponent’s defense with bridging theory, centerlines theory, and his unique punches. All from his research.
He does an excellent job of explaining these theories and brings them all together throughout the DVD. These theories will immediately have an effect on your Wing Chun. Forcing you to rethink what is out there and more importantly how to apply these theories to your current training.
Even without his style of punching, all this stuff will apply to you regardless of what style of Wing Chun you train.
The Sections that really caught my attention
- How he combines Bridging concepts with center line theory. If you are struggling with linking your body and utilizing it to attack your opponent, you should take a look at this DVD. If you do not understand how to do things like bridging, it is very unlikely you will be able to understand how and why your body structure should be like.
- The Punching – just cool, never seen anything like it. As a Bruce Lee fan, I’m always looking for new ways to make my punches more powerful. Just keep in mind the DVD has nothing to do with Bruce, I’m referring to his hunger to learn about other martial arts and apply them to his own training.
- Why you SHOULD NOT Pok Sau – You may have to be at an intermediate or advance level to really understand what is going on in this section. I found it really interesting to see how he applies bridging concepts when you would normally Pok Sau. In short, he is not a fan of Pok Sau’ing a punch cold, without contact. He believes it can put you in a dangerous position. I cannot speak for his view on Pok Sau after you have made contact.
Quality of the DVD:
I’ll give the quality 3 out of 4 stars. Good filming quality, sound is also not bad. It is fairly well structured, but it is a pretty relaxed format. Don’t expect a million dollar production.
The information is top notch and for a Kung Fu DVD the film quality is really good.
Who Should Buy This DVD?
- Anyone interested in learning about a different style of Wing Chun and wants to widen their knowledge base.
- Someone looking to better understand intermediate to advance Wing Chun concepts. Sifu Sergio breaks down combining centerline theory with bridging concepts very well. I dare say even a newbie should be able to understand. This is something ALL Wing Chun people should have a strong understanding of.
- If you want to learn about different ways to generate power in your punching.
- Any IWKA member – Sifu Sergio’s Wing Chun Organization.
Who Should NOT buy this DVD?
- Someone looking for 1,0000 training drills. Sifu Sergio is very careful to only give a handful of drills and how they apply to what you learn in this DVD. NOT overloading you with a million different drills.
- Someone shopping for lineage specific DVD – i.e if you want to learn about Wong Shun Leung style of Wing Chun, buy a Wong Shun Leung DVD.
Conclusion and Final thoughts:
This DVD is worth buying and watching more than once. So far, I’ve watched it twice. The information is top notch and it will really get you thinking.
The only aspect I do not agree is that “mainstream” or normal chain punching is as limited as Sifu Sergio makes it out to be. For example, you don’t always have to punch forward or parallel to the ground. If you are standing at your opponent’s side, unable to hit their head, you could punch STRIGHT into their ribs or any other vulnerable body part.
That being said, Sifu Sergio isn’t standing next to me to further elaborate on the punches he demonstrated in the video.
When I purchase a DVD I hope it will do two things for me.
Make me think – Not only did I get to see what else is out there, he really hammers “bridging concepts” into your head. This is critical information for any Wing Chun person.
- It got me thinking on how to generate power with your punches.
- It got me thinking about how to apply bridging concepts with my body structure behind it.
- Attacking the Centerline Vs Attacking the centerline without Bridging – This one is HUGE. I feel this is not talked about enough in Wing Chun. If you do not have a complete understanding of what Sergio is trying to point out, this is a MUST watch DVD for you.
Give me something new to train – If you cannot find a new concept to work on or refine in the DVD you should be buried next to Grandmaster Ip Man. Make sure you have an open mind when you watch ANY DVD. It is worth watching and I found it truly enjoyable.
This DVD did both.
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