Cam Evans generously shares his experience and reflection on Sifu’s recent back-to-back seminars in Calgary.
Sifu will often come up from the school in Atlanta to spend some quality time with the Kung Fu Family in Calgary; offering some training pointers and advice, sharing his Ving Tsun expertise, and so much more.
In his most recent visit, he conducted two seminars over the course of a weekend, which I chose as the topic for this particular article.
Little did I realize how much of a challenge that would be. I gave a lot of thought as to what the most effective and efficient way would be to capture the essence of each seminar.
I realized the nature of my problem in reflecting on something Sifu had said on the subject of reading. He told me that a good book is a culmination of decades of an author’s work and experience. They’ve tried and tested. They’ve succeeded and failed. They’ve grown and developed. And, most interestingly, they’ve refined and polished their experiences so that they can share them with others. All we have to do is read the answers they’ve given to us.
These seminars were no different. Well, they’re a little different; a book won’t punch back. But they are the result of years of training and experience put together into a workshop for the benefit of all in attendance.
I won’t get too detailed about the content of the seminars; Sifu says it better than I. I recommend checking out his content on YouTube and Wing Chun University, or reading any of his books. Instead, I’ll try to give you all a taste for the topics that were covered, and leave you with an idea of possibilities that future seminars could bring to your training.
Saturday – Fan Sau
We had special guests, Sifu Tony and some of his students, join us for this seminar. It was a true pleasure having the opportunity to practice and learn with them.
In this seminar we dived into a concept called Fan Sau, which translates to changing (or returning) hands. This is an essential skill for the Ving Tsun practitioner. It allows us to enter the opponent’s boundaries while keeping ours protected. It helps us eliminate mistakes that an opponent could use against us. It helps us trap their hands, and keep hands flowing towards their target.
In essence, it’s a helpful element in maintaining control of center line and line of attack.
Here’s an example. If you throw a punch, and it is unblocked, then it should smash into it’s target. But maybe the opponent reacts in some way. Maybe they try to jam your hands into a position in which you cannot generate power. Maybe they try to sweep your hand or arm off of it’s course, or it’s position on the center line. Maybe they have moved, and are trying to grab your wrist in an effort to pull you off balance, or dislocate your elbow.
Regardless of what the opponent is doing, they are doing something to your punch. At that moment, a change is required.
If you do not change, or if you lock up your arm or leg or body, then you are giving an advantage to your opponent. They can use your inaction against you to either take your balance, or turn you away from them, or find an opening and hit.
Practicing Fan Sau can give you an understanding of how to change your hands so that you can still hit your opponent, unopposed, regardless how they respond to your attack.
Sunday – Ground Path
In Ving Tsun we practice the art of aligning our body so that incoming energy can be directed into the ground and so that we can use the ground to help drive our techniques forward and add power to our strikes.
But just like Fan Sau, alignment is an ever changing phenomenon. Or, more accurately, good alignment is relative to your opponent. If the opponent moves, your good alignment is probably not good anymore, and so you will need to adjust (much like Fan Sau, do not freeze or lock up).
Ideally, you want to execute your techniques so that you have structure and stance supporting them and driving them forward. But you also want your opponent to be in a position in which they CANNOT react favourably.
If they can push back, for example, they may try to use your alignment against you by taking away your balance. As you probably know, or can imagine, if you lose your balance, it’s over.
Through practice you can get an understanding of whether or not you have good alignment, whether or not your opponent has good alignment, how to prevent the opponent from taking your balance, and how to take control over your opponent’s balance.
Again, I don’t wish to go into too much detail on the content of the seminars. I hope that, if you take anything away from this article, it’s an idea of how much can be learned from such a seminar, at least from my perspective.
Thanks, Sifu, for visiting and sharing your knowledge and experience! I look forward to seeing you soon!