Thursday, 18 June 2009

Everybody was kung fu fighting

Even after a year of doing kung fu, I can’t possibly bluff that I’m on the same page as some of the great exponents of the martial art – such as a big fluffy Panda voiced by Jack Black…

Still, the more I practice it, the more I see it beyond the slow mo acrobatics that good cinematography and a great head for heights brings to a movie theatre near you. The basic tenets of it all actually seem to apply to what I’m trying to stick to in real life. For example, there’s a basic sequence of movements that you rehearse, which are the basis of all Wing Chun kung fu moves, known as ‘Siu Nim Tau’. Think: an upright form of Tai Chi - and you can get the idea of a set routine, posture and way of applying yourself.

The more you practice it, the more you realise it’s all about the inner workings. It’s not just a slow, mimicking, shadow-boxing kind of act. It’s about how everything ticks within. My instructor boiled down Siu Nim Tau, and Wing Chun in general, to four major elements: being centred through the spine, relaxation, flexibility and having focus with intent.

The Bruce Lee flying kicks are great box office but real Wing Chun is all about looking from the outside inwards and not the other way round. You don’t focus on looking the right way; you focus on being the right way.

The other day the instructor outlined the correct way to move, fully focusing on both your poised structure and your arm rotations, rather than focusing on an object you may be hitting or blocking or whatever. Interpreting it for my real world, I view it as a call to focus on your goals/values/essence without being disrupted by those kinks in the road that suddenly appear from nowhere, called ‘real life’. Wing Chun isn’t a crazily theatrical martial art with arms and legs flailing everywhere. It’s all about keeping things simple and focused. The movements are deliberate and direct. No need to be excessive or undisciplined or wasteful. Relax – move forward…


  1. I think it's wonderful that you've been doing kung fu for 4 years! That is what attracted me to Tai Chi actually, not the physical movement per se, but the connection I make within...I've let it go recently, got to start again!

  2. Keep at it - I'm sure you'll feel the benefits.