How is WingTsun different from other martial arts?
Why Test?
What Is a Sifu?
Hit in the Stomach
Never Wrestle a Wrestler
Siu Nim Tau Weak?
Less Ego Better WT

How is WingTsun different from other martial arts?

by Sifu Asad Mir

The most important difference between WingTsun™ and others forms of martial arts derives less from stylistic externals (although there are plenty) than from the revolutionary total concept. Classic stylists trust in a series of previously regulated, progressive movements; in other words, they put their faith into well-honed combinations of kicks and punches.

In a real fighting situation (as distinct from a class situation) though, the opponent never really attacks in just the way that we’ve prepared ourselves for. In other words, the aggressor doesn’t ever really ask the "question" to which the classic stylist has rehearsed the answer. That’s why the answer (defense) often doesn’t fit the question (attack).

It is only with the use of a lot of personal body strength that one can really make these previously rehearsed answers (defense) workable. Combat situations that also depend on luck and speediness leave the physically weaker person at a disadvantage. This is why in WingTsun™ Kung Fu we determine our own movement directly and immediately through the movement of the opponent. Our technique is a reaction that is tuned exactly to the initiating action of the opponent whose power and speed actually feeds us further.

In WingTsun™ we don’t see the two fighters as "opponents", but rather see them in the Taoist sense of Yin-Yang as two forces that mutually complete each other and make up one whole. Put simply: instead of seeing the opponent as an intruder who hinders us in our display of "clean techniques" (a term so often used by traditional stylists) we regard him as our source of energy and as a supporter who unwittingly provides our safety and ultimately, his own defeat. Chi-Sau and the Lat-Sau program are two training aids that help students achieve that end.

This and more is taught by licensed WingTsun™ Kung Fu instructors at WingTsun™ Toronto.

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Why Test?

Article by Sigung Keith KernspechtTranslated from German publication WT-Welt #2, 1982. Sifu Asad Mir: I have updated and substituted examples in the article

Often enough it seems to us that our whole life consists of tests. And tests are likely to be important events in any person’s life. Tests set the stage for the future, are responsible for deep impacts and changes in our life. School tests, confirmation, dares, high school diploma, college, university, job interviews, meeting your girl- or boy-friend’s parents, the death of close relatives, losing touch with or being disappointed by a close friend... All these are tests that leave an impression, that force us to accept consequences, which require our courage. One can prepare for many tests. If you did your homework, if you are prepared, you have little to worry about.

But one can also prepare for life’s tests, life’s injustices (even if not quite so directly). A firm belief, a philosophical look on life, an understanding of human nature through experience or books, all these are a good foundation for dealing with these issues. If all life consists of tests, should there not be tests in the martial arts, which reflect life?

There are twelve student grades, each grade being more demanding and difficult than the last. A student requires on average three months of training per grade. (If the student takes private lessons he can of course considerably speed up the process). The WingTsun™ organization wants to make sure that students have a good foundation that they can build upon. This is why they should only learn new material after they have practiced their old three-month program sufficiently.

The WingTsun™ Kung Fu student passes his first test when he tirelessly continues to practice the first sets of the Siu Nim Tau form, despite all the difficulty and perceived senselessness of it. The actual test for the first student grade is then the second test. The student has to demonstrate hand techniques, footwork, partner drills and combat techniques and also minimal theoretical knowledge.

The WingTsun™ Kung Fu instructor acts irresponsibly if he teaches the next program before the old one "works", because he is not helping the student but actually diminishing his progress. The student often does not have this insight and only wants to wear the next colored WT patch as an outer sign of his progress and standing. He then becomes disappointed and angry when – in his own interest – he is asked to first get rid of basic gaps and weaknesses in his practice of the old program. Local instructors would be in an uncomfortable position, should they refuse the next level to the student because of the aforementioned reason.

This is one reason why local instructors cannot test their own students on every level [unless they have achieved a high ranking and demonstrated over a period of time that they are upkeeping the level of quality determined by the organization- editor’s note]. This prevents the local instructor from having to make the choice of possibly advancing the student without adequate ability for that grade, worrying that the student will leave the school if he does not pass.

Another reason why only the Chief Instructor can test all grades [apart from the fact that he is usually more advanced than the local instructor – editor’s note] , is the goal that all students should be measured by one yardstick. The ideal examiner must have an overview of all WingTsun™ schools. If he is only familiar with the standard of the local school, he will either judge too leniently or harshly.

Is it the driving teacher who examines the student at the driver’s test? No! Only a qualified and impartial (incorruptible) examiner is authorized. It is the same principle with the IWTA-NAS. There are three National Instructors who tour the WingTsun™ schools in the U.S. and Canada to test all student grades. The National Instructors would have to put together an examination committee to test higher than Third Technician level. The rule is that the examiner has to be at least three Technician grades higher than the person being tested. Only if the examiner has this kind of lead on ability and knowledge can one expect him to have the necessary overview and be able to correctly gauge the efforts of the student.

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A looming WingTsun™-Student Grade test often has the positive effect that students concentrate intensively and critically on their individual three-month program. They practice at home in front of the mirror, ask their instructor for help. This is often when students begin to interest themselves for basic techniques, and much to the joy of the instructor they toil away on their footwork, turning stance and forms. These students soon realize they are doing themselves the greatest favor as they notice their technical advancement.Very rarely will the examiner notice no mistakes. WingTsun™ Kung Fu is too intricate and there are too many details to consider. Even those who pass should be aware of their mistakes and weaknesses. In the ensuing classes after the test the students should work on chipping away at them with the help of their instructor. What at one grade was a minor mistake could become a significant mistake at the next grade, which requires a higher degree of exactness.

The student has to perform the entire first form of Siu Nim Tau at the third grade test. But if he performs the form exactly the same way on his fourth test as he did on the third, he will be in for a surprise. He will take note that on the fourth test the examiner will suddenly "see" mistakes that hadn’t been "noticed" on the third. The reason: with every advancing level one expects a higher degree of exactness (meaning improvement!).

While the first and second grades are relatively easy, the third and fourth offer the first real hurdles. Whole body movement/coordination like attacking step with chain punches, chain punches with turning alone and with a partner as well as Dan-Chi (one-armed Chi-Sau) can sometimes lead to frustration. [With the fourth grade the student is also introduced to the second form, the Chum Kiu – editor’s note]. To skip or let slide these immensely important basics would mean to not do the students a favor but actually betray them.

The fifth and sixth tests deal with a totally different matter. Here the student is expected to ’master’ the basics and is tested for being able to use the techniques practically. Now it is not about whether the technique itself is correct but if the student can successfully use it. With the completion of the sixth grade the student completes the basic training and his ability to defend himself has generally magnified significantly.

In levels five through twelve, the students deal with Chi-Sau, applications of Chi-Sau, WingTsun™–specific sparring, defense against multiple attackers, armed and unarmed defense against an armed attacker and soft methods. These programs are much more demanding and often require a lot of patience both from student and instructor. Yet the student should be able to test after three months (again, shorter periods of time can be achieved if the student takes private lessons or participates in intensive seminars). Programs nine and twelve probably require more like five or six months instead of three because they are very demanding programs.

The student is aware ahead of time of the WingTsun™ Student Grade testing date and should have sufficient time to prepare. In the end, if in doubt, he should consult his WingTsun™ Kung Fu instructor as to whether the student is ready or will be ready to test by the testing date. At the examination the students are bringing an effort to the table, which they will be rewarded for if they have trained well. They will graduate to the next WingTsun™ Student Grade and be allowed to learn the contents of the next level.

Thus, step by step, the martial arts student advances in WingTsun™ Kung Fu, with tests ensuring his progress and motivation.

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What Is a Sifu?

by Sifu Asad Mir

Sifu is a Cantonese term for "teacher" and also has the connotation of "father". It is a title that denotes respect towards the person addressed as Sifu. This title is commonly used in the Chinese martial arts, the equivalent of the Japanese "Sensei".

Traditionally, once a student opened a school he became a Sifu. In the IWTA, the world’s largest single-style professional martial arts organization, the title of "Sifu" is conferred to WingTsun™ instructors only after they have obtained specific qualifications. Receiving the Sifu title indicates that the instructor has been training and advancing over many years, has his or her own group of students, and has brought at least two students to the First Technician Grade. Until the instructor has achieved those qualifications, his/her students will commonly refer to him as their "Dai-Sihing" which means "Eldest Brother".

There is no clear and separate equivalent for female instructors. Generally, a female instructor who reaches the level of Sifu is referred to as "Sifu" or "Lady-Sifu". "Simo" in any case would be considered wrong, as "Simo" means "wife of Sifu".

Chinese martial arts organizations generally reflect a family structure. A male student will be addressed as "Sihing" (Older Brother) by students who have been training for a shorter period than he has, and Sidai (Younger Brother) by students who have been training longer. Likewise, a female student will be addressed as Sije (Older Sister) by more junior students and "Simui" (Younger Sister) by senior students.

The relationship between the students does not change. If student X learns from an instructor before the instructor has been pronounced Sifu, he generally calls him "Dai-Sihing". If that instructor becomes a Sifu, student X will still call him "Dai-Sihing" and not "Sifu". How can an "Eldest Brother" become a "Father"? Of course he cannot! Any new students that join the school would call the instructor "Sifu" and these new students become the instructor’s "Kung Fu children" or "To-Dai."

As an example, "Sifu Asad Mir" would be used to refer to the instructor as a third person. A student addressing his or her own personal "Father-Teacher" (there can be only one in the traditional Chinese martial arts!) would address him simply as "Si-Fu" without the first or last name.

The title "Sifu" carries respect with it. Without respect, there can be no sharing of knowledge between student and instructor. Students and, of course, instructors, should always use the appropriate title when talking to or referring to members of their martial arts family senior to themselves.

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Hit in Stomach

Hit in the Stomach. What happens?

A punch or kick to the stomach can lead to internal injuries, depending on how much force is used. We have to differentiate between two cases:

1: Stomach hit with no organs involved

2: Stomach hit with:
    a) isolated organs involved
    b) multiple injuries

First case: The effect of the hit depends on the stimulation of the solar plexus. The solar plexus is the largest nerve cluster of the entire body, located between the aorta and stomach. A forceful enough punch or kick to the stomach can trigger reflex mechanisms, which lead to:
    1) Short breath through tightening of the lung vessels
    2) Rapid acceleration of the heart beat
    3) Rise of blood pressure through increased resistance in peripheral vessels.

It seems evident, that it is almost impossible to continue a fight under these conditions. In WingTsun™, the proponent will attack multiple ’levels’, head, body blows, sweeps etc. It does not take a lot of force to knock the wind out of someone with a blow to the solar plexus or a kick to the abdomen. It is imperative to protect the mid-section as well as the neck/head in a serious, no-rules scenario. The mechanics of WingTsun™ are designed to protect one’s head and mid-section to the utmost while simultaneously counter-attacking along the "center-line", the geometrically shortest distance between your trunk and your opponent’s (simplified explanation).

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Never Wrestle a Wrestler

Article by Sigung Keith Kernspecht

In the days when I gave Wing Chun (WC) and (from 1975 onwards) WingTsun™ (WT) instruction at the Budo Circle in Kiel, I used to end each training session with 15 minutes of groundfighting. As a teenager I had begun my own martial arts carrier with freestyle wrestling followed by Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido. My uncle instructed me in wrestling techniques, and a neighbor who managed a catch-as-catch-can team occasionally allowed me to appear in the ring as "Keith the Strangler" to supplement my student grant. The name was highly appropriate, as strangling techniques both standing and on the ground were my specialty. I never lost, and all my victories on the mat or on the street were won with strangleholds. At the time I tipped the scale at 97 kg (214 lbs) and was capable of moving up to 200 kg (440 lbs) with my arms during daily weight training. No wonder I never had to apply a stranglehold for long!

Occasionally I would take on up to three opponents on the ground, beating them with a combination of e.g. body-scissors, pressure on particularly vulnerable spots and strangling techniques. All this had very little or nothing at all to do with WingTsun™ Kung Fu, borrowing strength and giving way, however. My students in Kiel usually ended up frustrated, as they neither had the years of wrestling experience nor the exceptional strength to copy my example. Some time later I was in for a big surprise when I tried to apply a wrestling hold to my Si-Fu Leung Ting. Using Chi-Sau techniques, he frustrated every attempt to gain a grip from the start. My younger Kung Fu brother, an Iraqi who had also once been a wrestler, weighed more than 100 kg and was a personal student of the bull-slayer Masutatsu Oyama, was equally unsuccessful when he thought he had managed to get the better of Grandmaster Leung Ting with a semi-serious surprise attack in the form of a bear-hug over the arms - until Sifu Leung Ting’s elbow struck his face, that is.

While abroad years later, when my own WingTsun™ Kung Fu required less and less strength to be effective, I had numerous friendly bouts as well as less-than-amicable encounters with "grapplers" of various kinds. To my amazement and satisfaction they were never really able to get a firm grip. Not once was I obliged to continue the fight on the ground. Both Si-Fu Leung Ting and Bruce Lee also won all their fights with punches while standing upright.

WingTsun™ Kung Fu’s anti-grappling methods also removed any doubts on the part of those attending an international police training course, who witnessed the almost playful ease with which Grandmaster Leung Ting thwarted a combined "armlock and throw" attack by a highly-graduated, enormously strong police Jiu-Jitsu instructor, who must have weighed at least 110 kg, by borrowing his strength and turning it against him while already falling. The spectators’ breath stood still for several seconds.

When my student Emin Boztepe challenged and defeated a Yip Man student in Cologne in 1986, the fight began in a standing position and ended on the ground, where Emin gained 200% control over the original Yip Man student, who was unable to free himself after falling (See the Video "Dynamic WingTsun™"). This awakened an interest in ground fighting amongst many EWTO members, an aspect which is experiencing a resurgence 10 years later (1995), with the less-than-realistic-cage-contests. In fact the advanced WingTsun™ Kung Fu program has numerous techniques that are quite capable of taking the fun out of grappling methods.

Although I express the view that wrestlers have significant advantages over boxers and karateka in my book "On Single Combat" (Vom Zweikampf / Het duel), my faith in WingTsun™ Kung Fu is such that I am sure a good WT-fighter who is well-versed in anti-grappling methods will easily frustrate a wrestling attack by means of Chi-Sau reactions plus punches, thrusts and kicks. At the same time we should always call the old motto of Escrima Master Bill Newman to mind: "Never box a boxer, never wrestle a wrestler!" This would be just as futile as Jiu-Jitsu or Karate people trying to use so-called WingTsun™ "tricks" which they have learned during a crash-course against experienced WT experts.

In order to defeat an experienced wrestler on the ground using wrestling techniques, a WingTsun™-follower would need to devote as much time to the dissimilar and strength-intensive sport of wrestling as a wrestler. We are WT-people, however, and we neither wish to become wrestlers nor to falsify our WingTsun™ Kung Fu by mixing it with wrestling techniques. And neither is there any reason for doing so.

Let us remember the three distances and weapon types that occur in a real fight, and which I have described in "On Single Combat":
    Long distance (feet)
    Medium distance (hands)
    Short distance (elbows, knees, head-butting, grappling, throws)

In this respect, ground fighting may be seen as a continuation of the third distance, possibly as a result of a throw. This means that a grappler must first get past your kicks to the knees and genitals. To do this he needs first-class footwork to bridge the distance, i.e. up to the standard of a WT-expert.

Secondly he must get past your chain-punches, eye jabs and strikes to the throat. Only a WingTsun™-expert who has mastered the 3rd form or the wooden dummy techniques can do this systematically.

As a third hurdle, the grappler must also successfully avoid your "clinging arms", elbows and knees in order to apply a hold and execute a throw. Then he must overcome the WT-anti-armlock and counterthrow techniques contained in the three Chi-Gerk programs. By this time I have to conclude that you are not dealing with a normal "grappler", but with a follower of the Leung Ting system whose nationality (Turkish, Iranian) gives him a strong affinity for his national sport. Quite obviously you will be unable to cope with someone like this even if you spend two extra sessions each week rolling around the floor. And anyway, this man was only playing cat and mouse with you, for he could have downed you at the first or second distance.

But seriously, it might make sense for the 200% combat-freaks amongst us (the EWTO both has and needs these!) or for those who want to measure their prowess in unrealistic cage-contests, to devote 10 additional hours per week to the last and statistically most improbable combat distance while accepting the risk of serious wrestling injuries (just show me one of our ground fighting specialists who has never required a shoulder operation or similar!)

As WingTsun™ Kung Fu-followers, the rest of us should sensibly do what we are good at, namely WingTsun™ Kung Fu. Renowned Chinese strategists (e.g. Sun Tsu in "The Art of War") repeatedly point out that a wise general should deploy his troops in such a way that his strength opposes his enemy weakness. This is the very essence of WingTsun™ Kung Fu. We can only match a wrestler on the ground if we possess the requisite physical strength and talent and devote a disproportionate amount of time and effort to appropriate training. A wise general will select the battlefield and determine the weapons which suit him best, however.

When dealing with a ground-fighting specialist, we are therefore well advised to stick to the first two distances and decide the encounter in our favor according to WingTsun™ principles. Our Chi-Sau techniques will frustrate any attempt to gain a hold from the start.

Nonetheless, just in case we do end up on the floor or are surprised in our sleep, we should still be sure to have a few surprises in store for our opponent. In doing so we need have no recourse to extraneous techniques, for in this case too, the WingTsun™ Kung Fu principles offer solutions that require little strength and are in keeping with the WingTsun™ concept. Here too, suppleness combined with elbow and knee techniques is our traditional weapon.

Let us make sure that alien influences do not cause our WingTsun™ ship to stray from its only correct course as defined by the WingTsun™ concept of borrowing the opponent’s strength etc. Perhaps then we shall still be practicing WingTsun™ Kung Fu successfully at the age of 80.

In conclusion, let me quote the introductory words of my student Emin Boztepe during his anti-ground fighting seminar held in October 1995: "As the fourth and last distance, anti-ground fighting is absolutely the least important aspect of WingTsun™ Kung Fu. In approximately 300 real fights, I have not once been obliged to fight on the ground."

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Siu Nim Tau Weak?

Article by Sigung Keith Kernspecht translated from German by Sifu Asad Mir

Some students see the first form of WingTsun™ Kung Fu, the Siu Nim Tau (SNT), as an unnecessary bond to tradition and thus don’t pay enough attention to it. In Western society, people want to see results as soon as possible. If an instructor would only let the students stand in the IRAS, they would have the feeling of not learning something practical, they would become impatient and would then turn away from the school. By doing this, they lose sight of some of the most important aspects of any art: patience and endurance.

In the Asian cultures it’s a different story. They (still) know that it takes time to learn an art and it takes a lot of effort (Kung Fu = Hard Work), not only for the techniques, but also on the self. Western people for the most part are more like someone who wants to be a pianist without doing his finger exercises and without practicing scales. As soon as he has started playing his first notes, he brings out a piece by Mozart. After practicing twice a week for a year, he can play the piece with a LOT of mistakes, out of tempo, and believes he is a pianist, a master.

Siu Nim Tau means "Little Idea", but often students forget that. They don’t concentrate on the muscles involved in the movements and don’t realize the difficulty of them. Once you’re "settled" in the IRAS, you start your movements, Tan Sau, Gaun Sau... and presto, you’ve already let up in your stance. You won’t achieve the goal of SNT, which is to develop independence of hand techniques from footwork and maintain an evenly stable stance while performing whatever hand technique. To reach this goal, you not only have to bring your muscles to a certain state, but must also be conscious of this state at all times. You have to sense your body from toes to scalp, without any area taking up too much attention.

As your right arm is pushing forward to the correct position, you must pay attention to your left arm, maintaining position with constant tension. An increase of tension in the right arm may not lead to even the smallest move in the left arm or stance. Or the face, for that matter. Even with greatest tension in the arm, your mouth shouldn’t tense up. What does your mouth have to do with your arm? If you tense up in the face, it’s an indication that you can’t achieve a higher amount of tension "without effort". The WT-student should try to reach a state, where he/she can apply force "without effort", thus without tensing up. If I can only stabilize my right arm with extra effort, it takes away attention from my left arm, and that will tense up as well.

In his younger years, Grandmaster Dr. Leung Ting used to practice the third set of the SNT very slowly. He said he needed an hour (!!) to complete the third set once. You should try this at least once. The most difficult aspect of this lies in concentrating, because you can’t think of anything other than the movement. It will be so slow that an outsider will barely notice any motion at all. As soon as your concentration is divided, the movement will become faster or stop. At the same time you have to keep the tension in your IRAS constant and pay attention to the other arm. The third set is also called "The Thrice Reverence of Buddha". Buddha said: "When I walk, I walk. When I eat, I eat," meaning, his consciousness was focused on what he was doing at a particular moment. This ability has to be developed, in order to do the set this slowly. Or put differently, by doing the third set of the SNT so slowly, you are practicing Buddha’s method, thus "paying reverence" to him. It doesn’t make a difference if one circles the Bodhi-tree once in one day (the tree, under which Buddha attained enlightenment) or pushes Fook Sau forward three times in one hour. So much for the explanation of the third set’s colorful name.

The SNT, of course, has more aspects to it than just the ones I mentioned here. I hope though, that I may have given you some food for thought and an inclination to think a bit more about "The Little Idea".

WingTsun™ Kung Fu is a martial art that stresses practicality in a no-rules self defense situation, but it offers a whole lot more than only learning how to heap a world of pain on another person.

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Less Ego Better WT

by Sihing Mark Fitzpatrick- 1st Technician Grade WT

"Train WITH your partner, not AGAINST your partner." Wise words from Sifu Asad Mir that have stuck with me as I continue along the path of WingTsun™ Kung Fu. As we train, we find that our hurried lifestyles have not only made our bodies stiff and rigid, but that this age of mega-stars and mega-egos has had a significant impact on how we interact with others, both in and out of the kwoon. Modern society has "more convenience but less time, taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints" (George Carlin). Our level of patience with others has gone down while our level of competitiveness has gone up - not a particularly healthy formula for those of us that have made a commitment to learning a scientific system of self-defense that demands large doses of humility and open-mindedness.

This lack of patience arises from our ego and can contribute to a difficult learning experience. What does patience have to do with ego? Well, let’s start with a definition. It will by no means be an all-encompassing definition, given that to truly understand and control ego is a lifelong experience, but we need to start somewhere. Ego is a sense of destructive pride that arises out of attachment to a characteristic or ability that differentiates or puts you on a real (or perceived) level of superiority in relation to other people.

"But what if I am superior to others in some areas of my life? Everyone has strengths. Is it wrong to be better than someone else or perhaps even gifted in some things?" The simple answer is: of course not. It is natural for different people to develop at a faster pace in some activities, while others have difficulty. This is an obvious truth. Some people are better at arithmetic, some are more accomplished athletes, some have a gift for communicating and, in WT terms, some seem born soft, some naturally have more power in their punches, some have a better sense of balance and so on. This in itself is not a bad thing. It just means that we all have things that come easy to us and on the flip side of the coin, things that we have to work harder on. Ego takes hold when we become attached to our strengths and allow a sense of destructive pride to emerge. It is fine to be proud of what you have trained hard for; however, a line exists that we all sometimes cross, where that sense of accomplishment turns into a feeling of superiority.

A typical example of how this can be a detriment to your progression in WingTsun™: during a training session with a partner of a lower level, you notice they have made the same mistake a few times over, and thus it has been a fairly easy feat for you to penetrate and strike. You make a choice (consciously or subconsciously) to keep this to yourself and continue to exploit the opening. You start to feel good in the knowledge that your forward pressure/balance/footwork, whatever the case may be, is better than this person’s and you feel superior. This carries over to your next training session, this time with a new partner. Perhaps this new partner is at a similar student grade and does not make the same mistakes that the previous partner did. As you begin the exercise, you start to become angry that your ’higher’ level of skill that existed before is now ineffective. You spend the class frustrated and, instead of being relaxed and flowing as you train, your frustration builds, making you stiff and uptight. At the end of the class you feel more stressed than when you started and, compounding the problem, you are determined at the next opportunity to bring your superior skills to bear. The next class you are paired up with the less advanced student and (mentally!) lick your lips at the chance to exploit this person to restore the feeling of superiority you had not so long ago. You are now training AGAINST your partner, not WITH them.

The reverse of this scenario, a case without ego, would be when, as the lower level student makes the mistake, you exploit it a few times and then explain to them where they are going wrong. This way your partner has the chance to improve, and it has the side benefit of making your own WingTsun™ better, since you now have to deal with an improved ’opponent’. In an egoless scenario, everyone wins. You would be amazed at how much better you become as you point out the mistakes of others because, to do so effectively, you must be able to communicate the point with clarity. Hence, you need to think more thoroughly about the movement/concept than you may have had to before.

The dangerous thing about ego is that it is not often as obvious as in the case above. Ego takes many forms and often, these forms are subtle. Let us look at a second example: you are in class trying to master a certain attacking movement with a partner that has assumed the role of defender. As you move in with your attack, the defender completes the cycle and defends as the instructor has shown. Here is where your ego can take hold. Perhaps you know the next step in the cycle and you attack again, thus forcing the defender to come up with another defense. As this drill continues the poor defender starts to overcompensate as they are concentrating on the fact that a second attack is coming and are now not focused on the real point of the drill, the first defensive reaction. You may have the satisfaction of hitting them with a second attack; however, you have taken their concentration away from the task at hand, all because you felt a fleeting moment of superiority and pride in your advanced skill level because they did not know how to deal with your second attack.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with throwing in an advanced technique that your partner cannot counter to practice what you have learned - just keep it in perspective. For example, doing so ten times in a row is not conducive to your partners learning experience - or yours!

We have all been, at one time or another, victims of ego. Don’t fret; we all make mistakes. It is part of the life-long learning experience. Remember when I mentioned that ego often arises from a lack of patience? Well, that means patience not just with others but also patience with yourself. WingTsun™ Kung Fu is a demanding system both physically and mentally so it will be natural for everyone to lose that patience every now and then. The last time I checked, we’re all human, right? Always remember to forgive yourself if you give in. No matter how much your ego tells you so, you’re not perfect! The key is to focus on continual improvement and to learn how to become aware of ego when it rears its ugly head. The only enemies we can fight are those we are aware of. Hence, when you can recognize ego for what it really is, it will vanish in a cloud of newfound perspective. Like a cockroach in the darkness, ego will run for the nearest crack in the wall the moment you shine a spotlight on it!

Personally, I have found that the best way to counter ego is to do so BEFORE it arises. Remember the Taoist maxim, "Prepare for the difficult while it is still easy, deal with the big while it is still small." To subdue ego early, I have made a practice of always reminding myself of my true motivation for learning WingTsun™, to ensure that if I ever encounter a violent attacker and all roads to de-escalate are closed, I come out of the confrontation with my life. It is that simple. Sure, there are many side benefits to WT in terms of health, meeting new people and so on but, coming out of a scrape with our hides intact is the bottom line reason why many study WingTsun™.

Think about it this way, if you don’t train WITH your partners and instead let ego take over and train AGAINST them, YOU are responsible for their ability to react in the streets to an attack. If you could correct them but choose not to, that could make the difference between their life and death. If you could have let them properly learn the defensive movement, as in the case above, and you didn’t, because your ego couldn’t stand to let go of that feeling of dominance and let your partners train properly, one of them could end up lying in the critical-condition ward. Puts ego into perspective, doesn’t it? Remember, everyone has their strengths AND weaknesses. Even though you may be better than some of your training partners, there are always those out there that are better than you.

Keep a humble attitude and your ego will stay at bay. When training with your partners, be patient with them and in turn, you will find others will show you the same courtesy.

Knowing the credo "surpassing the deeds of others is unimportant, to surpass your own is" will lead you to victory against your ego more often than not. Avoid making the comparisons of how good you are in relation to others, always strive to beat yourself and you will notice humility and progression will be your companions because, in the majority of cases, "proving one’s superiority at the cost of somebody else is proof of both inferiority and ignorance."

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