wing chun kung

Western critics loved this film about Bruce Lee's teacher even though most of them probably missed the numerous nods to the true martial arts lifestyle.

The Grandmaster (2013) is the first and only kung fu movie to come from Hong Kong film auteur Wong Kar-wai, but by no means does it suffer because of that. In fact, Western critics loved The Grandmaster — even though most probably didn’t grasp its full meaning. Wong is no noob when it comes to filmmaking. His resume includes Happy Together (1997), In the Mood for Love (2000) and My Blueberry Nights (2007). So when he conceived of The Grandmaster as an authentic depiction of wing chun kung fu that features purposefully hidden martial arts nuances, it’s safe to say he knew what he was doing. You can’t blame the reviewers for failing to notice those concealed treasures. The truth is, anyone who’s not a martial arts practitioner likely won’t appreciate the subtleties of the film. Zhang Zi Yi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Hero; House of Flying Daggers) as the daughter of Gong Yu-tian. Before Wong Kar-wai started shooting the movie, he devoted several years to research, roaming around China in search of old kung fu masters. He even lived with a few so he could learn about and actually experience the traditions of the martial arts. During that time, many of those masters shared stories that otherwise would never have been told.

Have you read Bruce Lee: Wisdom for the Way? It’s a must for all martial artists. Order your copy here — it’s on sale!

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Black Belt's entertainment blogger has a personal story to tell about Bruce Lee, and it has the potential to benefit all martial artists.

On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee passed away at age 32. After so many years, there’s very little anyone who didn’t know him on an intimate level can add to any conversation about his legacy. Yet on a personal level, everyone has a story to share about the “Little Dragon.” Mine is the subject of this blog. I actually have two Bruce Lee stories to share. One you may know, and the other you probably don't. The 75th anniversary of Bruce Lee's birth is celebrated in the August/September 2015 issue of Black Belt. When I was 16, I was forced to down 30 pills a day and required to report to the hospital every three months. My doctor said I'd be dead in five years due to cystic fibrosis, a progressive, incurable disease. Death by malnutrition, suffocation, dehydration and lung infection was what I had to look forward to. Two weeks later, I watched Bruce Lee kick butt in Fists of Fury (aka The Big Boss). It was 1973, and all of a sudden I was no longer depressed and waiting to die. All I could think about was learning what Lee was doing. As I immersed myself in the martial arts, I found that their real purpose is not to convey ways of fighting but to spread the art of healing. And I needed to heal myself. I discovered one chance for survival: an ancient Chinese healing skill that was seldom taught to outsiders.

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In the martial arts, one school of thought holds that you should change your game to match your opponent's. Example: If you're a stand-up fighter and you're facing a grappler, you should immediately switch into grappling mode. Problem is, that requires you to train to such an extent that each subset of your skills is superior to the skills of a person who focuses on only that range of combat. Your grappling must be better than a grappler's, your kicking must be better than a kicker's and your punching must be better than a puncher's. It's a tough task, to be sure. Another school of thought holds that you should never fight force with the same kind of force. In other words, don't try to beat your opponent at what he does best. Instead, use a set of concepts and techniques that will enable you to nullify his attacks and nail him when he's not expecting it. The best set of concepts I've found is called the science of wing chun, as taught by Black Belt Hall of Fame member William Cheung. It offers a strategic approach to combat that's guaranteed to help any stand-up fighter prevail on the street. [ti_billboard name="Neutral Stance"]

Maintain a Balanced Stance

When you're in a balanced wing chun stance, your opponent won't be able to read your intentions because you're not telegraphing the way you'll fight. He can't discern your commitment to any move or to any direction. The stance requires a 50-50 weight distribution at all times. That enables you to move either foot in any direction at anytime. Having maximum mobility, at a moment's notice, is essential for dealing with armed or multiple attackers. Being balanced also conserves energy, which allows you to channel it to other uses while under attack. Once your opponent moves, wing chun teaches that you should immediately shift into a side-neutral stance based on the side of your body he attacks. If he comes from your right, you deal with him by using your right arm and right foot, and vice versa. Your stance is now similar to that of a boxer, except that you're oriented at a 45-degree angle so you're less open to his blows. [ti_billboard name="Balance Disruption"]

Attack Your Opponent's Balance

In any kind of fighting, balance is everything. Strive to maintain yours while attacking your opponent's. Often, that entails getting him to lean too far into his technique, overcommit to his movement or overextend his body. Without proper balance, he won't be able to move, block or strike effectively. In general, grapplers employ a strategy that involves an overzealous commitment to a move. They'll lean, lunge or throw themselves forward in an effort to take you to the ground, which is their preferred environment. At that point, they'll attempt to mount you and punch, or they'll choke you unconscious. That's all well and good as long as you don't take advantage of their momentary lack of balance

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In 1966, karatel egend Joe Lewis rocketed to stardom by winning Jhoon Rhee's U.S. Nationals in Washington, D.C. Incredibly, it was his first tournament, and he won every single point with only one technique — the side kick. For six years, Chuck Norris ruled the karate world with his spinning kicks. He won virtually every major title between 1965 and 1970, including six grand championships. He retired, undefeated, in 1970. From 1974 to 1981, Bill "Superfoot" Wallace dominated the full-contact karate circuit. His lightning-fast left roundhouse and hook kicks rose to legendary status as he stunned one opponent after another. He retired 21-0, with 11 knockouts. Superfoot, indeed. Those champions and many more have demonstrated their awesome kicking abilities in and out of the ring. In fact, the martial arts in general are best-known for their kicks. Even Bruce Lee is remembered more for his dynamic on-screen kicking than for the intricate trapping and striking techniques of jeet kune do. If kicking is the hallmark of the martial arts, it follows logically that to become a superior fighter, you have to learn how to deal with those seemingly indefensible lower-limb assaults. How do you stop a technique that, once mastered, appears to be unstoppable? One answer can be found within William Cheung's traditional wing chun fighting system.

Mechanics of Kicking

The laws of physics hold that a force can have only one direction at a time. The longer a movement is committed to a certain direction, the longer it will take for it to change its direction. It has to run its course before it can move on to another path. When an opponent attacks with a kick as opposed to a punch, his foot must follow a longer path to reach you. Distance equals time, so the greater distance gives you more time to react. In dealing with kicks, then, the first step is to properly train your eyes, or visual reflexes, so you can readily determine how your opponent is attacking and which part of your body he is targeting. Traditional wing chun teaches you to watch your opponent's elbow to identify an upper-body strike — punch, palm strike, elbow and so on — because the movement of the elbow indicates the movement of the entire arm. The arm cannot move without the elbow going with it. The knee is to the leg as the elbow is to the arm. Thus, if you train yourself to watch the knee of your opponent's attacking leg the instant he kicks, you will have the best chance of identifying the kick's path and target. If the opponent attempts to bridge the gap with a kick, he must commit himself to that direction of force. As a defense, you can do anything. You have not committed; therefore, as long as you are balanced and have mobile footwork, you are free to move in any direction. Your response should put you in the best position not only to defend yourself but also to counterattack.

Contingency Case

If your opponent executes a kick and it does not make contact — and it is your job to ensure that it doesn't — he will leave you several openings to exploit:

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