The Man-Sau

A few months ago, I made a blog about barriers and how they contribute to safety. In that post, I emphasized that martial arts techniques should only be used as a last resort.  Before I begin, I would like to restate that the best defense is to distance yourself from harms way using the barriers mentioned previously! But there are occasions when you must defend yourself or your family members.  With that in mind, I would like to explore the Man-Sau and how it is used for self-protection.

The man-sau is formed by placing one arm extended towards the attacker and the other hand in the wu-sau or “waiting hand” position.  In this manner, the arms become the final “barrier” protecting the body from trauma.

When faced with an assailant, the use of the man-sau is the last line of defense.  Flinching is an instinctual response which include shrinking back, or covering up to protect the head or torso using the arms.  This is effective for defense incoming threats,  but it doesn’t offer much in regard to stopping the assault.  In Wing Tsun, we want to capitalize on our instinct to protect the body, while creating an opportunity to mount a counter-attack.  To do this we activate the man-sau.

In your first few lessons of training Wing Tsun, I teach students two movements that use an active man-sau.  One is applied against a punch towards the face, and the other a defense against a mid-level punch, each move begins with the same seeking (reaching forward) arm but adapts depending on the incoming force-or lack thereof. In this way, the new student begins reinforcing her approach to incoming attacks; rather than flinching and recoiling, to spring forward and seek.

Some Wing Chun styles treat the man-sau as passive- waiting for an attack. This approach is a mistake in fighting! The word “Man” translates as “Inquisitive” or “seeking”.  This is exactly what your lead arm should be doing- seeking a target.

In Wing Tsun, the guard appears unique.  In MMA, boxing and Kick boxing, training is done with gloves which can become tools that can help to protect and deflect incoming attacks effectively.  Without the benefit of gloves, pressing your hand across your temple as defense is not nearly as effective.  In using the Man-Sau, we train the arms to spring toward our opponent while protecting the head and body, and seeking to hit a target. Our goal is to end the altercation as quickly as possible.

The Man-Sau is the last line of defense.  With practice, the man-sau becomes a way to simultaneously protect your body, while attacking.  Learning to correctly apply the man-sau technique coupled with solid footwork is the difference between success and failure in a physical altercation. Stay diligent and keep practicing it.

 

Want to learn Kung Fu in Arizona?  Contact Sifu John

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Is that Karate?

Recently, I was asked what is the difference between Karate, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do.  I was a little amused at this question because as a martial arts enthusiast,  It is easy to forget that for most people when they hear these terms they just think of uniformed individuals, lined up counting out punches in unison- not considering the difference between them.  In hopes of awakening a curiosity in your mind about the world of traditional martial arts, I figured I’d take this opportunity to provide my definition of each.

Karate is a system of fighting that comes from Japan.  Karate is translated as “empty hand” and most techniques involve the use of the hands to defend and attack. Kicks are also used.   Students develop power using forms that get more complex as they advance.  Forms training develops focus, balance and power using stances, and arm movements.

Tae Kwon Do can be translated as “Foot Fist Way”.  It  is a Korean martial art, famed for its high kicking techniques.  Tae Kwon Do practitioners develop their kicking abilities through form training, and stretching techniques.   In the beginning, students keep opponents at long range.

Kung Fu refers to many of the martial arts styles from China.  Kung Fu, translated as “Hard work”,  is commonly used in reference to different styles- Wushu, Shaolin, and Wing Tsun to name a few.  Each has its own qualities that makes it unique.

From Aikido to Zulu stick fighting, there are hundreds of unique martial arts, each with its own traditions, and ideals. The definitions I provided above are a generalized, and barely scratch the surface of what each martial art is really about.  I encourage you to get involved in a martial art yourself so that you can experience the many benefits they have to offer.

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March- Spring into Wing Tsun

March was a super month for Wing Tsun despite having a week off for spring break.  I traveled to Dublin Ireland for vacation.  While there, I was able to drop in on Master Aiden Canavan’s Wing Tsun class.  The class session was 2 hours long, and we worked on form training, padded drills, form application and chi sau.  It was interesting to see how others branches do things a little different, there were some elements that I felt a little awkward with at first, but Sifu Canavan and his friendly students helped me to get my confidence.  I learned some interesting applications and footwork.  Thank you all at Wing Tsun Dublin for the hospitality!

Wing Tsun at Dublin City Centre

 

Master Canavan is a 5th level master grade instructor in the  Irish European Wing Tsun Organization (IEWTO).  The European Wing Tsun Organization was founded by Grand Master Keith Kenrnspect, a student of  Grand Master Leung Ting.

Master Adams Lop-sau with Frank.

March ended with our Seminar with Master Mike Adams, of Dynamic Martial Arts in Illinois.  We did a 4 hour seminar on Saturday, March 25 with students both the Gilbert and Scottsdale location in attendance.  The special event was held at the Scottsdale Martial Arts Center and we got a chance to learn Wing Tsun from a new perspective.  I learned some new material and I know that attendees enjoyed themselves too.

In addition to the seminar, I was able to do a couple private lessons focusing on Wooden Dummy, and Biu Tze Chi Sau sections.  Thank you Master Adams for visiting us!

 

Choosing a Kung Fu School

With the popularity of the Ip Man films, Wing Chun (Wing Tsun) is seeing revived interest among martial artists and film fans alike.  In the films, Donnie Yen portrays Grand Master Yip Man- Famed for bringing the Wing Chun style to the forefront of Kung fu in Hong Kong, as well as being the Sifu (Teacher) of Bruce Lee.  In these films, we can see a lot of the hallmark techniques of Wing Tsun.  Enthusiasts wanting to learn this system should be wary of schools that are all flash and no substance.  So what should a student look for when choosing a Kung Fu school in Phoenix?

Be sure to choose a school with quality instruction.  Some schools use the names of martial art styles as a marketing strategy: Slapping the names of popular martial arts in order to get you in the door. Don’t settle for a bandwagon Sensei! Be sure your instructor is well versed in the nuances of the style being taught.  Ask the instructor about their curriculum and what you will be learning.  If they don’t have a plan for instruction, that is a sign that they will be showing you martial art tricks rather than martial art techniques.

Similarly, a good school refuses to water down its curriculum in order to appeal to the masses.  My advice, be wary of schools that start students right away on chi-sau (Sticking hands). Chi-sau is a highly specialized skill that you will begin to understand once ideas of punching, footwork, yielding and trapping have been absorbed. Chi-sau that is tense, tight, and quick-  resembles chi sau in appearance, but not in function.  This is why it is critical to follow curriculum that is scaffolded in order to build proper technique, with a strong foundation.

A good martial arts school is focused on your safety.  Beware of the teachers that are not mindful of your well-being. I have had students come to me from other schools describing being beaten up in class without regard for their safety. The teachers and students should adhere to the golden rule. “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”  At the end of the day, you want to learn self-defense, but not at the expense of your health.  Wing Tsun is not a sports martial arts like MMA, it is a traditional martial art meant to be practiced over the course of your life; it is meant to build your body up, not to wear you down.  If possible, talk to students see what types of injuries (if any) they have encountered in class.

Make sure the school has a positive atmosphere.  When talking to your potential teacher, listen to how they answer your questions:  does the instructor appear to be sincere or arrogant?  Pay attention for clues, and go with your gut. If he or she doesn’t have personality you respect, you won’t enjoy the classes for long.

Studying martial arts is a lot of fun.  Choose a school that is focused on student learning. Be sure that the schools number one rule is safety.  Once you’ve found the right one do your part by attending regularly, learning consistently, and enjoying yourself! I wish you much success.

 

Want to learn Kung Fu in Arizona?  Contact Sifu John

 

 

 

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Special Seminar with Master Mike Adams

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Master Mike Adams, 5th Level Practition, is holding a seminar on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at the Scottsdale Martial Arts Cener in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Master Adams is among the first American students be granted the Master level by his Sifu Grand Master Leung
Ting.  Currently, he is teaching martial arts in the Central Illinois and Chicago area.  This seminar is a special opportunity to gain some insight on the effectiveness of wing tsun from a certified master.

Contact Sifu John for to register.

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Maximize Your Siu Nim Tau Form

If Wing Tsun is a building, then the Siu Nim Tau is its foundation.  Siu Nim Tau, a.k.a. the Little Idea Form,  focuses the mind and body  by combining simple movement with mindful effort.  As in many martial arts, form training is an opportunity to focus the mind and develop fundamental skills.  Increasingly MMA and  combat sports have de-emphasised “form training” in favor of combat application regimens.  Even in Wing Tsun it is easy be seduced by the allure of chi-sau and fighting drills over humble Siu Nim Tau practice.  However, after the basic structure has been developed, students need to continually revisit the Siu Nim Tau to compliment other areas of training, and benefit their overall health.  Every time we practice Siu Nim Tau, is another opportunity to strengthen the body, mind and spirit.   Read more

Simple Self Defense

In class, students often throw hypothetical situations at me asking how I’d deal with them- presumably expecting an extravagant display of martial arts prowess.  As a true student of Wing Tsun, I adhere to the idea of simplicity and opt for the simple solution: Run and hide behind a row of chairs, or behind one of the spectators. It usually gets a laugh, but it is an important lesson for a martial artist to learn: When your life is in danger, there is no room for ego!   Putting a barrier between you and your attacker is the smartest, safest and simplest way to defend yourself.

As a martial arts teacher, I have a responsibility to teach strategies that I feel are the best bet for self-protection. I take this very seriously as it could potentially save a life someday. When talking about self defense it is important to remember the point of self defense is to keep yourself safe, not an opportunity to show off your moves. The simplest way to accomplish this is to keep the attacker from being able to reach you.

Getting some material between you and an attacker is critical to protecting yourself. Why not use the environment to fight for you?  Barriers for self defense benefit you in at least two ways: Barriers increase the effort required for an attacker to get to you, and barriers give you time to react.

So don’t let your ego get the better of you, Wing Tsun is an effective martial art, but should only be used when necessary. Start by being smart, and by staying in control. use the environment to help you out: a parked car, a shopping cart, a chair- anything to make it less convenient for someone to start attacking you, and to give you precious time to call for help or mount a proper defense.

 

Sifu John

New Years Special

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Welcome to 2017, the year of the Rooster!  The new year is a great opportunity to celebrate our lives, and resolve to make those little changes in habits and attitudes that can lead to a better version of ourselves.

At Everybody Martial Arts, self improvement is one of our top priorities, and  we’d like to give you the opportunity to experience the Wing Tsun difference. Right now, we are offering three months of training for only $50 per month when you sign up in January!  This is in addition to the Free introductory class.

Fill out the form and become a part of one of the best martial art schools in Arizona.

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Schedule for 2017

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Attention Students:

There will be no classes the week of December 26-30, 2016.

When we return in 2017, we will start our new schedule. Starting on January 3rd we will be training on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30, and on Sunday at 10:00 am. I am hoping that this new weekend time will you all to come in fresh, focused and rested. You’ll feel so energized after class, Wing Tsun just might replace your morning Coffee.

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.

Regards,

Sifu John

Wing Tsun for Life

Many people ask me: Is Wing Tsun an external or internal style?   External martial art (hard style) typically utilizes superior strength and force for defense.  Internal martial arts utilize angling and yielding for defense; These are often categorized as peaceful martial arts.  Wing Tsun has techniques that are from both schools, but at its core it is an internal martial art.

Wing Tsun is considered a peaceful martial art; this means can be gentle enough on the body to be practiced over a lifetime. Training in Wing Tsun is an opportunity to focus your mind to become more peaceful. This is established by centering the body and calming the mind with breath work.  The first third of the Siu Nim Tau (Wing Tsun’s Little Idea Form), establishes our approach for martial arts training: Firm foundation, flexible body, and controlled movement.  Students increase energy and peace of mind by practicing the breathe work with the hand movements.  Reducing the movements allows the student to focus on body mechanics in a controlled slow manner.

Wing Tsun is meant to be practiced daily. Although getting a solid 30-60 stretch is preferred, its not really practical for many. Fortunately, life presents many situations in which we can employ the lessons we learn in class.  When confronted with many tasks pulling your attention-Complete one, then move to another.  Hunched over your computer for a couple hours- Take a couple minutes to stand up and run through the Siu Nim Tau form. Get cut off in traffic- Yield and breathe to calm yourself rather than reacting aggressively. The benefits of practicing a peaceful martial art such as Wing Tsun  flow into many aspects of life.

The ability to change your state of mind, and redirect energy is what Wing Tsun is all about.  I encourage all student to consider the forces that are negatively impacting them and consider how you can use Wing Tsun to find a little more serenity in daily life.