CENTERLINE ARTS – GEMS AMONG THE MARTIAL ARTS

The Chinese fighting arts popularly known as Wushu, Kung Fu or Gong Fu have transformed and evolved over ages since the time of Bodhidharma. Varied are the arts, their theories and applications along with the training methods and discipline required to transform one’s mental and physical being.

Chinese martial arts can be mainly classified into northern vs. southern, or young vs. old person’s arts. Another classification is that of the centerline fighting arts – which is the main topic of our discussion today.

Northern vs. southern: The north of China is mostly made up of high mountainous regions populated by tall and strong people. Hence their fighting arts stressed the importance of high and powerful kicks, wider and lower stances and rigorous training methods. Their fist movements are long and dramatic – as seen in Northern Shaolin, Long Fist, Eagle Claw and Monkey-style Kung Fu. All are exceptionally graceful when performed by a master and have deadly applications.

On the other hand, the marshy paddy fields of southern China are populated by relatively shorter framed people. Hence the arts developed there focused more on the use of hands over feet and narrow stances to avoid losing foothold on slippery ground. Shorter ‘bridge’ or connecting arm movements are typical of southern Chinese Kung Fu styles like Chow Gar Praying Mantis, Hung Gar and Choy Li Fut which are equally effective in their applications when compared to the northern styles.
(Note: Name “X” + Gar means X Family’s Kung Fu).

Young person vs. old person’s fighting arts: Both northern & southern Chinese fighting arts can be classified either as ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ styles or young vs. old person’s fighting arts. In general, arts whose training methods are based on defeating the opponent using superior strength and skill can be termed as hard styles, which typically depend on developing strong bones and muscles to generate strength. In other words, the training methods and output for such styles are best demonstrated by an average healthy young man. These arts include the various Shaolin styles, Eagle Claws, Hung Gar Kung Fu and Choy Li Fut. Once the training commences the effects are evident, but these need to be maintained by regular conditioning to maintain high standards of fighting skills.
Conversely an alternative approach evolved which can rightly be termed as soft art or old person’s art – meaning that even elderly people or small-framed individuals can apply these techniques to ward off physical attacks. Created out of intricate knowledge of the chi or pranic energy, meridians and deep breathing methods, the soft arts harness the power of tendons and unify the body and mind to stay fit for long, with fight skills that are meant to last till a ripe old age. The most popular of these are Tai Chi, Bagua or the lesser known Xing Yi and Lui He Ba Fa. All have very fluid motions and are widely practiced by women and elderly people right up to a very old age.

Centerline Arts: A group of masters across southern China developed a unique set of fighting skills which can be collectively classified as centerline arts. Developed by masters who were already adepts at various fighting arts, the centerline arts changed the perspective on effectiveness and efficiency in practical combat. Taught only to the most trusted disciples of arts brought a higher level of refinement to getting devastating output with more and more efficient input of energy and effort

  • Bak Mei (White Eye Brow),
  • Chow Gar Praying Mantis,
  • Chuka Shaolin Pheonix Eye Fist and
  • Wing Chun

The combination of a deeper and broader understanding of body mechanics, Chi Gung and an analytical approach all helped to create a highly effective group of fighting arts which did not depend on the practitioner’s age, sex or physical prowess. These advanced and refined martial arts concepts were highly guarded secrets as they could make a life and death difference to the practitioner.

All the centerline arts mentioned below have their own set of Chi Gung and so-called ‘iron palm’ and body exercises which gives them a well-grounded approach to pugilism.

Bak Mei or White Eyebrow: A Taoist priest known as Bak Mei, popularly depicted like the white-haired Kung Fu master in the movie Kill Bill Vol. 1, is said to have created this art.

bak meibak mei thumbbak mei position

Relatively less well-known, this art has around 18 forms which cover both empty hand and weapons applications. Bak Mei also has its own wooden dummy form, as well as characteristic Fa Jing or explosive energy which multiples the attack power directed at its own list of Dim Mak targets.

Chow Gar Praying Mantis: Adapted from the fighting skills of the predatory insect knowing as praying mantis, the Chow family’s Mantis-style Kung Fu has 10 forms with its own version of wooden dummy form.

chow garchw gar positionchw gar hand

Special training methods to develop tendon tearing and gripping power of the mantis claw is combined with unique rib bone exercises, which create and iron cage protecting. Chow Gar Praying Mantis also has its unique Dim Mak theory which utilizes the Mantis Claw Chin Na or tendon paralyzing grip.

Chuka Shaolin Phoenix Eye Fist: The least known centerline fighting art developed in the Hakka community of southern China has its main weapon – the Phoenix Eye Fist. The fist (made much like a karate fist) has the bent index finger protruding forward to attack the dim mak points across the centerline. These attacks are similar to chain punching the opponent’s center.

chuka shaolinchuka shaolin position

This fighting art has around 10 forms and its own unique conditioning method for training the deadly and effective Phoenix Eye Fist technique.

Wing Chun Fist: The most popular among the centerline arts today, Wing Chun is also the most compact art with only 4 empty hand forms and 2 weapons forms. The most unique feature of Wing Chun Kung Fu is that its forms are not simply a set pattern of attacks and defense like a traditional Kung Fu form or karate kata. Instead, Wing chun forms are made up of an unrelated sequence of movements which can be used independently or in combination with both hands and feet. The complete range of the applications generated by these movements is dependent on the depth of the proper understanding of the movements by the practitioner, which evolves with further practice. Most movements can be used to attack or defend depending on the opponent’s moves and can be used in ambidextrous combinations for simultaneous attack and defense.

wing chun fistwing chun facewing chun postion

Wing Chun has cherry-picked the most effective –and efficient – movements of Shaolin Kung Fu and other Chinese martial arts, progressively arranged with the centerline theory always as the guiding philosophy. In brief, economy of motion and utilizing one’s powers efficiently to produce highly devastating results is the clearly stated goal of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Due to its unique and highly effective techniques and strategies, this centerline art has captured the imagination of successive new generations of practitioners towards a game-changing view to martial arts and life itself.

IWCA’s Wing Chun Cultural Exchange Program: Looking out of the window…..

At times martial artists fall so much in love with their own system, style or methods that they rarely open out to the knowledge and wisdom that other martial artists brothers. Often there are more paths to the same destination and who knows if someone discovered a quicker route while we were busy looking into the mirror.

The IWCA core team is constantly working on updating their curriculum and skills to give the most updated body of knowledge for our students. What good is a skill learnt long back but may not work in today’s world. With deep thought and foresight the IWCA Core team envisaged the “International Wing Chun Cultural Exchange Program(IWC-CEP). The IWC-CEP is a unique program where International Wing Chun Sifus will get a wonderful opportunity to interact with the IWCA’s rich pool of Wing Chun enthusiasts in India. This special program is a melting pot where the best of the Wing Chun knowledge will get passed on to the students regardless of the barriers of country or lineage.

The objectives of the cultural exchange program is to

– Create a platform for experienced Wing Chun Sifus to interact and understand each other’s system.

– Explore the training methodologies and tools used by different Wing Chun schools, get acquainted with their logic and the expected results.

– Comprehend the depth of the system, applicability to various situations and scalability from the point of view of transferring the knowledge & skills. Effectiveness in ensuring the instructor quality and skill up-gradation.

IWCA 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

IWC-CEP Episode 001: Sifu Artyom of Armenian Wing Chun Federation (AWCF)
Sifu Artyom visited India from AWCF’s Russian chapter, after an adventurous Wing Chun competition in Russia where many AWCF students won many matches. With multiple skype meetings before the face to face meeting with Sifu Shiv of IWCA, the stage was set for launching the 1 st episode of IWC-CEP. On 30 th July Sifu Artyom took the IWCA Delhi team deep into the theory and logic which forms the basis of the AWCF’s interpretation of Wing Chun.With multiple martial arts under his wings before he accepted Wing Chun as his passion, Sifu Artyom started with a logical approach of understanding the evolution of martial arts in the ancient times, right upto today’s interpretations of Wing Chun across the world.

With lots of interesting questions from the IWCA students and practical answers from Sifu Artyum, the session bloomed like a garden where multiple fragrances inter-mingled. The knowledge exchange was not just theoretical but also live demos of beginner and advanced concepts, where not just the IWCA team got to dive-in but also some very new participants got to taste the flavor of Wing Chun. The Centerline, the Yin & Yang, the Man’s approach vs the Woman’s approach to solving a martial arts problem, the Fight or Flight response during a real self defense situation and how to Wing Chun transforms the bodies’ natural response into a highly effective weapon, the distances and ranges of combat, the outer gate footwork, power generation with body alignment, use of low kicks were some of the concepts which got touched to great detail. For the advanced students this was a full course dinner of Wing Chun goodies when they got to do Dan-Chi Sau or Single Hand Chi Sau with a real Wing Chun master. The beginners got to understand the bridging concepts and quick to learn & easy to implement Wing Chun solutions.

In words of Sasanka – IWCA Delhi representative: It was a great opportunity to meet and interact with an international Sifu of Wing Chun. During the seminar, Sifu Artyom shared his knowledge of various martial arts prevalent across the world and its relevance in today’s times. His emphasis on the principal & system of Wing Chun as an art was very enlightening. His informed views on self-defense as well as combat sports were worth listening to.

This platform gave us an opportunity to understand the essence of Wing Chun style followed by Armenian practitioners. It was seen that a considerable emphasis is given on relaxation of the muscles, joint alignment in technique application and speed in applying a technique. To prove them, Sifu Artyom demonstrated techniques wherein frontal dummy knife attacks, roundhouse punches, straight punches were nullified with lightning speed and accuracy. It was interesting to see how he applied the Wing Chun’s semi-circular movements with economy of motion in minimizing the distance with the opponent. I would like to thank Sifu Shiv for organizing such a unique program like IWC-CEP and wish to be part of many such sessions planned in future.

Time was flying by and Sifu Artyom’s energy level was only going up with every passing minute as the session kept getting more and more practical. The knowledge exchange session concluded with our mind and body bloated with lots of pratical info capsules on the European Wing Chun interpretation and hordes of Wing Chun applications. While we bade a warm farewell to Sifu Artyom, we looked back to see that while our objectives of the cultural exchange program was achieved beyond our wildest expectations we realize that this is just the 1 st step. With many more chapters the IWC-CEP will be one of the key projects to be taken to newer level and raise the bar for the future generation of IWCA’s Wing Chun enthusiasts.

How you or your academy / association / federation can be a part of IWCA’s IWC-CEP program ?
If you are an authorized and experienced Sifu / Sensei or Martial Arts trainer and wish to conduct a program with IWCA, please send your proposal at indiawingchun@gmail.com. The IWCA team will review your proposal and revert to you at the earliest.

Sifu Shiv –
Chief Instructor IWCA

MY TRAINING WEEKEND AT MUMBAI IWCA HEADQUARTERS, BY HARISH VELADI

My name is Harish. I’m originally from Hyderabad, now known as Telangana state. I have been practicing Wing Chun for 5 months under the Delhi Trainer Suresh Nair; I’m currently in the first module of the 3-year IWCA curriculum.

A passion for learning self-defense started my search for a complete and perfect fighting skill. In 2010, I saw the movie Ip Man with Donnie Yen. Perceiving that Wing Chun is a very skilled martial art, I started searching for a top-quality school in India.

In 2013, I learned about IWCA Delhi and started training there. Between then and now, I feel I have improved a lot in terms of understanding and improving my balance and positioning my body and spine to form the right structure for practicing a ‘soft style’ of Wing Chun. Since I have started training, I can see that I have become more disciplined, confident, slim, fit, energetic and focused. My reflexes have improved noticeably.

I have also learned about the core Wing Chun theory of centerline and its applications, as well as how to absorb an external force and apply it back to my opponent. So far I have found Wing Chun to be both highly effective, but also very spiritual – in that one learns how to use one’s natural energy rather than needing physical strength and muscular power.

To understand Wing Chun in depth and learn more about its application in daily life, I stopped over in Mumbai for a weekend in September 2014 to train at Mumbai IWCA headquarters in Borivali under Sifu Shiv, IWCA’s Head Instructor.

HARISH-SHIV_2

At first I thought I would be learning new techniques. Instead, Sifu Shiv’s classes helped me to understand basic concepts at subtler level related to application. I finally understood why Wing Chun is so ideal for self-defense and I felt I could become unbeatable if I could master the techniques and strategies found in Wing Chun.

Some of the important points I took away from my training sessions at Mumbai include –

  • How to maintain ideal Wing Chun ‘structure’
  • Application of mind in conflict situations
  • How to finish a fight faster with effective application of chain punching
  • Understanding my opponent’s intention through bridging
  • The concept of ligament power, and
  • The importance of footwork.

HARISH-SHIV_1

Overall I am very pleased with the quality of Wing Chun I have learned so far at IWCA Mumbai and Delhi – and I look forward to my future Wing Chun journey!

IWCA MEETS GM LEUNG TING, BY NILESH SONAR

In January earlier this year, Sifu Shiv and I travelled to Hong Kong for a few days to visit Wing Chun masters to learn more about them as well as about the noble art of Wing Chun itself. We visited almost every major school and were lucky enough to meet a few well-known masters of this exciting and popular martial art.

Today I would like to share with you some details of our exciting our visit to the Hong Kong headquarters of one of the most famous living masters of Wing Chun – GM Leung Ting, the founder of International Wing Tsun Association (IWTA) in Hong Kong and co-founder of European Wing Tsun Organization (EWTO) with GM Keith Kernspecht.

Although we had planned to visit GM Leung Ting’s school, we did not have a prior appointment with the GM himself, so we were initially doubtful if we could see him. It didn’t take us long to find the school while walking on the ‘Wing Chun Street’ on Nathan Road.

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When we entered the headquarters of IWTA, we first met Mr. Robin Tsang, the administrative head of the organization. When we informed him about the purpose of our visit, Mr. Tsang was very helpful in allowing us to watch the class on the condition that we would not take photos, to which we gladly agreed.

Located on the first floor of the building, the training area itself is a good small hall of around 2000 square feet. The room was full of photographs of GM Leung Ting with various famous personalities. In the middle wall there was a framed photo of the legend of Wing Chun, GGM Ip Man. We also saw two wooden dummies attached to the wall with a mirror behind them for the practitioner to observe themselves during practice. One of the dummies was exactly at our right-hand side.

We were very fortunate to have been invited to watch the senior students’ class with both men and women in it. The students exuded an aura of focus and dedication and were too busy polishing their Wing Chun skills to pay any attention to the two visiting Indians who were watching them practice. Both Sifu Shiv and I were impressed by the high level of discipline shown by all the students, even though GM Leung Ting was himself absent at first.

We avidly watched the senior students perform the Siu Lim Tao, Chum Kiu and Biu Tze forms. We were suddenly distracted by the sounds of rhythmic wood hitting – one of the students was practicing the Wooden Dummy form. We carefully observed all the movements of the senior students, comparing them to what we already knew from our own practice sessions back in India.

Some of the unique aspects of GM Leung Ting’s school which we noticed included the students doing a set of 100 punches after completing each of the forms. Also, we noticed that GM Leung Ting’s students performed a very smooth and free-flowing Chum Kiu, especially during the turning.

After some time our pulses started racing as GM Leung Ting entered the class. Immediately, all the students stopped their practice and greeted him with a traditional Kung Fu bowing stance. In turn he bowed to the photo of GGM Ip Man and returned the greeting to his students.

GM Leung Ting looked very elegant in his white uniform, which we had seen many times in his videos and photos. We were amazed to see that in spite of being in his early 60’s he could still send many of his heavyweight students flying, using moves from his chi sao section 1. We were very pleased to have the privilege and honor of introducing ourselves to GM Leung Ting and of course shaking hands with him.

The rest of the time that we spent in the class flew by and we left with a sense of fulfillment, taking along with us many lessons. For me personally, the most important lesson was a better awareness of the high standards of commitment, dedication and discipline needed to be as successful as IWTA and EWTO – and which we are now trying to impart to the students of India Wing Chun Academy (IWCA).

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Nilesh Sonar has successfully completed half of IWCA’s 4-year Standard Curriculum, while also simultaneously participating in IWCA’s Advanced Instructor’s Training Module. Earlier this year as part of IWCA’s ‘Gifted Student’ program he was given the exciting opportunity to join IWCA’s Head Instructor Sifu Shiv on his trip to visit Wing Chun masters in Hong Kong. Nilesh’s goal is to become a certified Wing Chun Instructor and spread awareness of this scientific and highly effective martial art for the purpose of self-defense, self-confidence and fitness, especially among visually impaired and other disadvantaged individuals.

MY TRAINING SESSION AT MUMBAI IWCA HEADQUARTERS, BY SASANKA RAJ DEKA

My journey with India Wing Chun Academy (IWCA) started in May 2013. I had been searching for a long time to learn a martial art designed around soft power. Without having a clue about Wing Chun Kung Fu, I was drawn towards it due to the simple fact that it can be learned by anyone irrespective of age and gender; which was exactly what I was looking for.

It was a warm summer afternoon when along with my fiancée, I met the Delhi IWCA Trainer Suresh Nair at India gate. I was immensely impressed by the way he deflected all my punches and how I got hit every time I went to attack him, sometimes even without looking at what I was doing.
And thus my endeavor to learn this fighting art began.

Currently, under the IWCA curriculum, I have graduated to the second module, wherein I have been introduced to the essence of the Siu Lim Tao (the little idea) form. By this time I have learned to keep my calm and composure to defend against different types of punches that one can imagine and expect in a street fight – although I have to still keep on working on it.

In August 2014, when I got an opportunity to train directly under IWCA Head Instructor Sifu Shiv in Mumbai, I immediately packed my bags. As it was my first one-on-one training session with him, my expectations were to only improve my skills that I have acquired under the second module.

But what I received from Sifu Shiv was completely unexpected for me. I was introduced to a higher form of Siu Lim Tao which enabled me to have a deeper understanding of the form and truly understand the effect of relaxation on soft power.

GROUP PHOTO NATIONAL PARK BORIVALI

I was also introduced to Lap sao and single hand Dan chi sao with their various applications. I was totally amazed by the fact that how a weak person can easily defeat a much stronger person by simply using both hands simultaneously. It felt like we were enacting the scenes from the Ip Man movies, with me being thrown around while Sifu Shiv was standing and smiling at me (Click to watch training video).

Alas, like every good thing that comes to an end, my brief training period also came to an end. Nevertheless, this training session has enhanced my belief and faith on this ancient art and I was content that I was learning the right art from the right people.

Like our Delhi IWCA Trainer Suresh Nair always tells us – “Wing Chun is a thinking man’s fighting art”. I truly believe this as we, at IWCA, emphasize mastering not only the forms but also the many applications and improvisations of this art to create our own masterpiece as per our own personal requirements.
It’s like creating one’s own song after having learned all the words!!!

I look forward to my future Wing Chun journey with IWCA.

WING CHUN AS SELF-DEFENSE – THE WOMAN’S WAY, PART 1 BY SIFU SHIV

Being a working woman today is like juggling a dozen balls in the air while performing a balancing act on a unicycle. So many things to do for others, while also living up to her own expectations and aspirations.
At the same time, the rising crime rate against women is a constant presence in the news – which if not incites fear at least raises the heartbeat.
What if……. Can I…..??? These are some of the questions that rush through her mind the moment she hears or reads another incident of a damsel in distress.

What are the real-life challenges for a woman facing physical assaults?

  • Her opponent is typically bigger and stronger than her. In most incidents of physical assaults, the attackers are larger and very aggressive. Trying to defeat them by strength is surefire way to lose.
  • Generally speaking, women are not inherently aggressive. A woman’s natural instinct is to protect herself and get out of the situation unharmed rather than hurting the opponent, Lara Croft-style.

Considering these very real challenges India Wing Chun Academy has created a logical and women oriented self-defense program which focuses on the following three critical issues –

  1. Overcoming strength with skill – Brain vs Brawn
  2. How not to get hit – ‘Covering’ one’s weaker areas
  3. Getting out – Making a quick finish and exiting unharmed

In brief, India Wing Chun Academy’s self-defense strategy for women consists of the following four steps:

Step 1: All-Round Defense
Responding to an oncoming attack is all about how to position our hands in a way that is instinctive and happens automatically; ambidextrous, using both hands interchangeably; protects you at all times, preventing your attacker from reaching your body; and is a quick response that allows you to hit your intended targets rapidly and escape unharmed.

1-UNPREPARED POSITION1. Unprepared Response Position

2-ALL ROUND DEFENSE2. All-Round Defense Position

Step 2: Cover and Attack Simultaneously
The ‘All-Round Defense’ position allows you to use both hands simultaneously to carry out two different activities.
Left hand: Most people are right handed and hence will attack with their right hand. We show you how to use your left hand in tan sao position to cover yourself from the attack.
Right hand: Since most attackers use only one hand at a time, you will outwit your attacker by defending with your ‘weaker’ hand while your strong arm is free for your own counterattack, which can either be a punch or palm strike to your opponent’s center.

SIMULTANEOUS DEFENSE & ATTACK3. Simultaneous Attack and Defense

Step 3: Exploit the Opportunity Fully
Most attackers expect you to either run or give a weak, predictable reaction. Your quick resolute response will surprise the opponent, but only for a few seconds at best. You need to exploit the opportunity and continuously bombard your attacker with machine gun-like punches or palm strikes. This will push your attacker into a defensive mindset.

Step 4: Making a Quick Exit
You now have the opportunity to make a quick exit without any harm to yourself. While escaping you may want to use the surroundings to your advantage – for example, by pushing the attacker causing him to trip over the footpath or pushing any nearby object like a dustbin or a drum to dissuade him from chasing you further.