Drills, Forms and Training for Fighting… OH MY!
Repetitious, static, mundane, routine…BORING. Such are the terms of endearment used when viewing Wing Chun drills and the forms.
Sil Lim Tao (our main form containing the Wing Chun Concepts and Techniques)
Pak / Da drill (slapping hand / punching hand drill) where we stand static and basically play paddy cake.
Dan Chi Sau (single handed drill consisting of 3 basic “sticking” movements)where we move in a pre set fashion over and over and over.
Reflex Drills (using our techniques to redirect and counter incoming attacks)where we start from an unrealistic position to take overly telegraphed attacks and counter them.
And tons more…
Why do we do these drills? Why do we bother with forms? Bruce Lee didn’t teach forms…
I read an article years back, which stated Bruce Lee didn’t teach forms because Westerners were impatient and did not understand the value of training something statically to see it’s relationship for applicability. So we can thank ourselves for that.
The reason for training forms and drills is to set up understanding of yourself in the hierarchy of fighting skill and NOT to learn a set of movements for overtaking an enemy.
To learn yourself and your foundation you must perform these movements in the air over and over and over. These movements are your tools and you have to learn to use them.
If you were new to the trades field and you showed up to your first day on the job with your tool box and didn’t know the difference between a Phillips screwdriver and slotted, you’d be fired. You must learn your tools. Furthermore, you must learn the variation of these tools.
We all know that a flat head screwdriver was made for slotted screws. But haven’t some of us use the same screwdriver as a scraper or pry bar to open things? You have to understand that there is a difference between TRAINING and APPLICATION.
In training Sil Lim Tao we use our Tan Sau “sky palm / wedge hand block” in a certain fashion. Our centerline is in control, the Tan Sau is at a certain trained angle with elbow, wrist, hand and fingers in control…yet when we use our Tan Sau in a live action drill, at times it looks nothing like how we train it. The elbow may flair out a bit, the hand and wrist may be angled… Hence understanding the difference between training the tool and applying it.
Why do we train these pre set drills such as reflex drills? When do we take punches we know we can block and counter? Why learn to move in a certain way? Over and over and over and over? We do this for reaction. We learn to put our tools into human contact while keeping an understanding of ourselves…NOT our enemy.
One of my favorite things is to watch a new student do a movement over and over. I will have him / her do their Tan Sau with Punch to show me they understand what they are doing.
After diligent training, they will execute a sharply shifted punch with a surgically precise Tan Sau in the air. No falter in the balance, no waiver from centerline…perfect. Then I will feed them incoming energy with a punch…and watch their form and execution go to hell.
Human contact throws everything out the window. So, now we must practice more…
Drills give us an insight to ourselves.
We link these drills to Dan Chi Sau and in time Chi Sau.
Most Wing Chun practitioners confuse Chi Sau with the epitome of their training…the top level of their skill. Chi Sau is merely another, never ending, learning tool to improve our fighting ability.
The most dangerous place to be in a fight is the point between you and your enemy where there is no contact. Chi Sau enthusiasts forget that we willingly make contact with our partners and our enemy will not enter our world’s so kindly.
Hence, why we train more. To react.
We train drills to end fights in one fast, decisive, effective, devastating and violent act. This, of course, is if we must fight.
Energetic drills are fun to learn and fun to show our level of understanding our own bodies in relation to others, but it is just that…a test of controlled skill.
Fights are chaos personified and will not afford us time to test our skill. We must drill, drill, drill to react with certainty.
Chi Sau and drills are not the fight, but they are the path to the fight and we must understand this.
Train the drills with the intent that you are not learning to block or counter, rather you are learning to better understand your body during the movement, you are improving your output of power, you are increasing your confidence in your ability and you are learning to react without planning or thinking in a fight.
Nothing can replace the importance of drills.
We have all heard it, “I do not fear the man who has trained 10,000 things 1 time, rather the man who has trained 1 thing 10,000 times.”
Train we must.