Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Principle Excuse

What is the principle excuse? it is the commonly taught idea that kata primarily teach principles and that the sequence and technical content are there simply to express these principles instead of a specific underlying function. An example of this would be saying that Naihanchi is about developing posture, rooting, generating power, mindfulness or any other number of self evident 'principles' that really do not need kata as a medium to be effectively practised. In fact a form like Naihanchi may be a hindrance in developing these qualities if the purpose of the practitioner is to become say a better fighter due to its very limited technical content and range of movements. 

So what makes more sense as an approach to studying kata?

1. Kata were synthesised to catalogue techniques with a specific function in mind and context for usage. Example - Naihanchi records grappling techniques to be used in the context of civil arrest.


2. Kata were created to record principles (that are usually self evident and do not require recording in a form!) within a group of unrelated techniques in no significant order. Example - Naihanchi is for developing posture, power generation, chi, rooting, mindfulness etc.

Function dictates form? or abstract principles dictate form?

Monday, 31 July 2017

Just a Thought!

It is worth checking from time to time the huge assumption that all of the antique kata were created by great masters of their day and that each form contains a great reservoir of combative experience. A wide range of forms have made their way to Okinawa from China from many different sources quite a few of which are unknown. Perhaps not all kata were born equal and produced by experienced experts, perhaps money making opportunities were seen from local amateurs of the day who had no practical experience but were great salesmen!(not unlike many so called masters today). This is also reflected today in the endless applications, flow drills and bunkai exercises that are clearly made up by the instructors and sold on.

Some forms are undoubtedly combative masterpieces, but are all kata?

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Secret of Wing Chun - Part III (Last One I Promise!)

Wing Chun has millions of followers worldwide, with huge support from the film industry it has achieved a cult like status. Wing Chun techniques translate beautifully to the big screen and after seeing Donnie Yen dispatch opponent after opponent its hard to not let the imagination run wild and think what if?!!!
Well complex choreography is not reality when it comes to violence and no one needs to look far to see how badly Wing Chun fighters have performed in no holds barred and mixed martial arts contests. The video above is just one example of many available. The usual excuses almost always follow any criticisms of Wing Chun, such and such a fighter wasn't a real Wing Chun expert, he wasn't able to use the dangerous advanced techniques, my master would have...... and Wing Chun is just for the street where there are no rules.

Well hats off to anyone who steps up to fight in MMA to test themselves, their ability and their practice instead of citing lineage, rank, anecdotes about the good old days when training was really hardcore and so on!

Fighters aside what does this say about the technical content of Wing Chun and most importantly the forms that are the core of the system?

Is this an effective way of preparing someone for the chaos of real violence? (note: the example is for demonstrating the first form practiced in Wing Chun and is not a comment on or critique of Yip Chun).

If the forms were not intended for unarmed combat could the original function have been for something more pragmatic? it was! Armed combat!

Nathan Johnson (demonstrating in video) has spent the last decade unraveling the original function of the mysterious Wing Chun forms (Note: Nathan has practiced and taught Wing Chun and Karate for over 40 years). Over the course of the next year Nathan will be gradually publishing his findings and will be available for seminars for those wanting to explore in depth the roots and origins of Wing Chun.

For more information please email

Thursday, 18 May 2017