Emin Boztepe: Scientific Wing Tzun
July 20, 2011 at 9:02 PM
Emin Boztepe: Scientific Wing Tzun
Part one: Wing Tzun and Strength Training
An argument in favour of strength and conditioning in Wing Tzun: adapted from a transcript of seminars given by Dai-Sifu Emin Boztepe in Antalya, Turkey in July 2010
Q: What is Wing Tzun based on?
A: Science and mathematics!
Many Wing Tzun people boast about how scientific their art is, but in reality they are only teaching the movements of system without fully understanding the science behind them.
Let’s look at the basic concepts in physics like energy and power. Many Wing Tzun people say that the art was created by two women specifically so that weaker people can defeat stronger ones. They argue that therefore you shouldn’t user power, shouldn’t do stretching, bodybuilding or any sort of explosive training either.
O f course, these people never fight; yet they still try to tell you how to do things that they don’t even practice themselves. Personally, I prefer to see muscles working in really hard karate punch than to see the jaw muscles of these people who talk a lot but haven’t really understood anything.
You need a minimum level of power to fight; this is the basic physics. For example, to hold a Bong-sao or Tan-sao in place you require a certain amount of muscles just to maintain the static position.
Moreover, people always forget when they practice Win Tzun that in reality there is anger behind the movements and anger in the attack. Technique training without this realisation can become detached from reality even though it may look skilful.
Anger changes things. It causes explosiveness, brutality and extra force. So if your movements cannot deal with the level of impact and aggression that reality presents, then your defence will collapse. Yet people continue to falsely state that you don’t need muscle to do Wing Tzun.
You develop a muscle structure for highly intense and dynamic repetitions. This means that once you have memorised the basic individual movements you then have to train them hard. If you don’t train hard then where do you expert to get the necessary dynamic power from? If there is no power in your triceps for example, where does the force for a punch come from? If there is no power in your deltoids how do you keep your bong-sao up over a long period of time whilst under immense stress?
Many Wing Tzun people have taken this beautiful art and tried to make it look like Tai-Chi, completely devoid of power. But to be honest, I prefer good Tai-Chi to Wing Tzun when it is done in this way, because at least Tai-Chi is being true to itself.
Then there is the cardio. Have you ever watched a street fight?
If you have to fight then beforehand you get frightened, your heart rate picks up so you start using oxygen faster and you end up out of breath before you even started trading punches. Let’s say you can’t finish the guy straight away and fight lasts over 30 seconds? How many people can actually fight all-out for more than 30 seconds? Even if you can stay in the fight for that long you still need to be able to cope with being under constant pressure, with attacks from unusual angles and high levels of aggression.
What happens? You get tired and it gets harder to breathe. As a result you then get rigid, which means you will be taken out because if your defence is to stiff you will get hit. Conversely if your muscles are not developed enough and your defence is too soft you will get crushed. Additionally you have no time to think, and all the while you have to try and punch at a moving target. Furthermore with out exposure to hard training if you get hit, you can panic and lose your overview of the situation and so yet more fear kicks in. What do you think happens to you then? If you have poor cardio conditioning, how do you expect to last a full minute if the fight gets really serious?
It’s the same thing with flexibility. If you try to kick someone and your tendons and muscles are too short you cannot transfer all your energy and power into the opponent because your leg is straining against itself. Stretching is essential for the execution of techniques and for the efficient transfer of energy into the opponent. So all those Wing Tzun people who say “oh we don’t stretch, we don’t jump rope” how are you expecting to generate the power needed to knock someone out and win the fight?
The Wing Tzun ‘Chain Punch’
One of the trademark techniques from Wing Tzun is the ‘Chain Punch’. This ‘rapid fire’ technique is designed to overwhelm and over power an opponent by driving continuous punches straight down the centre line.
In reality, the attacker presses forwards with body weight behind each punch.
The trouble with most people is that they have ego problems and they don’t want to do the hard work. Remember that the first stage of Buddhism is suffering and in Wing Tzun likewise you have to suffer to prepare your body. To become a good fighter you have to suffer every day, doing drills, improving cardio, co-ordination, combinations etc. You have to prepare yourself and you have to be balanced.
The Wing Tzun system is perfect, but like a great driver you have to train hard to handle the machine and get all you can from it. This means that you have to put your body under the highest levels of stress when you train. You also have to pressure test everything you learn. Ultimately you have to be able to hit the guy so hard he won’t wake up to come back at you again.
This is only one way to get to the appropriate level. I like to keep my lesson fun but I want my students to be serious when they have to be. If you don’t train hard and everybody kicks your ass it’s not Wing Tzun’s problem, it’s your problem. If you train your cheek muscles (talking) rather than your body you will not develop the necessary muscle memory for combat and you are going to lose. What else could you expect to happen?
The responsibility for the current state of affairs often lies with the instructors. They worry that if their students manage to touch them (land a hit), then they will lose their respect. This is true to an extent, but rather than training harder, they use tactics such as saying “It’s not respectful to touch Sifu” or they train in very slow motion and make continual adjustments to people’s technique rather than becoming more explosive and skilful themselves.
This means that we are now fighting for the image of Wing Tzun worldwide. No one has respect for these self proclaimed experts, and to be honest I would laugh at them too if I was a Thai boxer or a wrestler. If they got into a fight they wouldn’t stand a chance.
But is it Wing Tzun’s fault that these people are idiots?
No, these are just lazy ignorant people who lower the art form to their level of understanding rather than sweating and training hard in order to raise themselves to the level of the art. That is causing a problem because the public see these so called ‘experts’ attaching their names to the art and draw their conclusions about the usefulness of Wing Tzun accordingly. But actually as we have said, Wing Tzun is perfect, because it’s a complete system and it’s based on scientific principles.
Yes, it is true that Wing Tzun is designed so that the most people already possess enough power in their arms to maintain a proper defensive position once they have learnt the movement perfectly and they combine it correctly with the right footwork. This is actually the entire concept behind Wing Tzun; it is what makes it so unique, but if you train you muscles, if your attacks are dynamic and explosive, if you have done extra conditioning work and if you are flexible… that can only be a plus!