How many times have returned from class dejected and down and thinking ‘I am not progressing in wing chun’. You have been practicing, you have thought about the forms, practiced on the dummy but you feel you are just not making any progress.
There are a few fundamental things you need to ask, Is it your Instructor?, Is it your fellow Students?, you don’t like the club setup you are training in? Whilst you may ask those questions and they may have a bearing on them, your progression in Wing Chun is down to one thing and one thing alone. YOU
There is a simple Formula for progression in any Martial Art let alone Wing Chun and that is:
Attend – Turn up for Class
Attention – Listen and Pay Attention..
Activity – Train the techniques, principles and drills
Ask – Ask Questions if needed.
So basically Turn up, Train and Listen and if you need, ask questions. Each one of these elements are down to you and you alone. The most important element is to turn up! If you don’t turn up the rest of the process cannot take place, if there is a breakdown in any of this practice the learning process will not take place and you will not progress.
The Learning Process and the Stages of Learning
A famous Author of the self-improvement classic ‘The New Psycho-Cybernetics The Original Science of Self-Improvement’, Maxwell Maltz, said there is an explanation of what he calls the four stages of learning.
As you look at these stages you can see the mental progression the student goes through. One progresses from struggling to execute or understand a technique right through being able to execute and understand without giving it much thought. The last level of “Unconscious Competence” could be described as a “conditioned reflex” to incoming threats and your counter just happens without you giving much thought.
In order to build this reflex it takes time, patience and effort and this is where the saying ‘Hard Work Beats Talent’ comes into play.
In Wing Chun there is a definite systematic approach to progression, Firstly the ‘Seeds’ of the art are sewn in Siu Lim Tao 小念头 (Meaning: Little Idea) built on in Chum Kiu 寻桥(Meaning: Seeking Bridge) and then finally polished and sharpened in Biu Gee 镖指 (Meaning: Darting Fingers). Each form adding different elements to your WIng Chun and each pushing your further to a goal.
After progression from the first three Empty Hand forms we then have three forms involving apparatus and\or weapons and they are Muk Yan Jong 木人桩 (Meaning: Wooden Man Dummy), Luk Deem Boon Kwan 六点半棍 (Meaning: Six and Half point Pole) and Baat Cham Dao 八斬刀 (Meaning: 8 Slashing Knives).
The Wooden Dummy Form can be introduced earlier but only if a solid foundation and understanding of Siu Lim Tao and Chun Kiu is gained.
We must not rush this process and to expect progression outside of it would be unrealistic and make your wing chun ‘Incomplete’. The one huge conclusion we must draw is that ultimately your progression through the Wing Chun is down to you and if you don’t attend class there is no point. you can only gain so much learning online but ultimately you need a live partner for full progression. If your training is not allowing progression then change it, whatever element you think is lacking, change it! But it is only YOU that can change it.