March's Rant -

Again, few people opened the newsletter, but the few who did and got back to me said they liked my Rant for some reason, so I'll leave it in instead of a real editorial. Again the newsletter is late due to circumstances within my control. Got hit by red tape for our Family Day Care and had to take care of that, which left no energy left over for this. I stared at it for a few days, doing nothing. This is the result of that stare. Not much.

Also, after I finished it, I noticed that my training tip needed more introduction, and started talking about something half way through. Once I got some time, I rewrote it, and now have the rest in various stages of completion for later newsletters. So, the next one is already done. The last one is going to be a bitch to write, though, so, luckily, it is some time away.

Anyway, there has been a lot this month of bickering about the politics and infighting in WSL VTK. Mostly it's amusing, listening to arguments about what some guy they never met or barely knew would say. Lots of people setting themselves up as spokesmen.

This is what I think: They are all missing the point. We should all just shut up and train. The students should research and find the appropriate sifu for them. This isn't going to happen, by the way, but that's what should happen.

The petty arguing about certification and who has the right to make movies or teach using WSL's name is going to continue and the actual style of WSL VTK as is publicly known will slide downhill until it reaches the depths of the other well-known brands.

There is a saying in VTK "Shut up and train". That is what people should be doing. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing, just do what you know is right.

You see, it doesn't matter if one million people are doing it wrong.

I used to get angry, but a wise man told me how to deal with it.

He said "How many people did VTK correctly 100 years ago?"

I said maybe a half dozen, maybe less.

"How many 50 years ago?"

I said "Well, maybe a dozen or so"

He said "How many 20 years ago?" I said "Maybe 3-4 dozen?" Hmmm. He said. Seems to me things are getting better, not worse. Are you learning correctly?"

"Of course I am." I said. He asked "Are you teaching correctly?" Yes, I said.

"Well, there are more and more people learning better and better. The others simply do not count."

He was Peter Oberekar, my friend, and a great master of Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate,

One advantage is that in modern times, we can meet, talk, and fill in what we don't understand, so we can learn even more than before. Except, the masses tend to learn crap. But that is not the fault of the style. As long as we do the right stuff, then it's all good. What the others, or the public, thinks does not change a thing. They haven't got a clue.

If VTK was still secret, each master only teaching 3-4 people, then every generation would have more people - 1, then 3, then 9, then 27, then 81, etc. And no one else would know about it.

VTK went public with Yip Man and Bruce Lee, but still, the best are following something like the same rate....and the public opinion has no effect on the style at all.

Either way, each sifu teaches a few. The rest didn't get it.

I think VTK is probably going up by about 5 or 6 a generation as a multiplier.

So those that are learning the real VTK are slowly growing. The thousands that are learning and teaching the watered down forms simply do not count, so they can be safely ignored. A style is not determined by averages but by its best. Public opnion is irrelevant. Actually, if public opinion is against VTK or WSL VTK then that is fine, because they will underestimate you. If you are more worried about what people think, perhaps you are learning for the wrong reasons.Remember, this is about fighting not prestige.

And that, is the real Kung Fu.


Social Events

 Since this is just starting not much is going on. Over the year, and each year, I have 3 planned trips. In May from about the 5th to the 26th of May a trip to Hong Kong and China is planned, flying first into HK until about the 11th, then traveling to Nanning for 10 or 11 days of teaching at my school there. The picture here is from Ba Ma a beautiful area near Nanning where reputedly people live over 100 years  old.

Next I have a 5 week Europe trip covering Holland, Germany, and probably the UK, other places are possible. This will be from mid July to late August, or  early September, or thereabouts. Exact times and dates not yet known. More is settled for this trip. Next newsletter should have all the destinations and timing done.

There will be another trip in Nov virtually identical to the China May trip.

Looks like we picked up another school in China, so annual trips to China may be increased.

I have a trip in the works to Melbourne, probably in April, for a weekend.

People wanting to join in need only get their asses over to where I am and communicate to meet up.


Quote of the Month:"Shut up and train!"

This is probably one of Barry Lee's favourite sayings, and probably needs to explanation either. Too many people are talking on Facebook or writing stuff up. Just train. Let the real things happen in real space rather than the social media.Stop talking about it, stop thinking about it, just do it. Although all those things have their place, they are seriously overused. When you get down to it, basically, the rest is dressing. You just have to do it. So, "Shut up and train!"


Training Tip 3: The Learning Process

The next several articles are a series of descriptions of one way of looking at the process of martial arts training, from basic learning to combat usage. There are other ways, but this is one way I look at it and it is useful from an overall perspective to see how techniques, the units of hard skill, can be improved and made ready for combat. It doesn’t talk about the psychology or the hardening of the individual, nor the soft skills of chi sau, nor how to put it together. Nor many other absolutely necessary aspects. It focusses on something often ignored – the process of the unit itself, from beginning to end; the technique. For this particular area of training, kind of a microcosm of training as a whole, it is a useful view, I feel. Other articles later, I hope, will cover other aspects.

This one, the first in this series, will give an overview of this particular series of thoughts.

 Some Definitions

Deep Training – the efficient process of behavioural change where, at the end, the student can manage to use the technique as it is supposed to be used – in a combat environment where there is no prior knowledge what skills are needed. It goes through several phases.

Learning – The student is able to perform the technique competently in the air, or in basic drills

Skill – able to do it right under the circumstances of training

Reflex – able to do the correct technique, and do it right when not expecting a particular technique

Behaviour – able to do it right when in a fight.

 Learning is a word that has many meanings. In the terms of vtk we mean that if you have learned something it has gone through a process that includes not just knowing something, and not just being able to do it skilfully in training, but to be able to use it in a fight. That is not just a skill, not just a reflex but a behaviour. There is kind of a spiral approach to training that I use. It keeps revisiting what you know, but at a higher level, so instead of circling back, you spiral along, going onwards and upwards, as you revisit each phase anew at a higher level of understanding and performance.

It is my approach to Bruce Lee’s statement, often misunderstood: “Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick”. In my way of thinking, while true, it means that the student has moved along a spiral and has reached a new level of thinking about techniques. There are more to go, of course, and each time, a new perspective is gained. But the illustration is useful.

Anyway, here is one way of viewing the issue:

 Learning the technique

• Emulating the teacher.

• Making it comfortable.

• Making it smooth

Training the technique

• Engraving the technique

• Matching the technique to the engraved image

• Making it smooth

• Use it as it should be used

Reflexive training

• Put the techniques into context

• Go through slowly, so the responses are at the correct time

• Build up speed until you respond correctly at the correct time.

• Do it flat out

• Test it at faster than necessary an under surprise circumstances.

Making it a behaviour

• Training it until it is as good as can be

• Training it to be second nature

• Making it smooth

• Training it to be a combat reflex

There is no reason why different phases can't occur simultaneously under some conditions, but others are mutual exclusive. Mostly, it is pretty normal for different types of training to be used at the same time, so some aspects can be learned together, instead of serially.

There is also no reason why one technique can't be at a different stage than another, in fact, this would be normal.