Master Dan Bernardo and I are intrigued by the similarities we see in disparate Martial Art styles, more specifically Chinese based Kung Fu such as Wing Chun, and Okinawan or Korean based Karate such as Dangsoodo.

Some individuals may doubt these observations. Questioning is a good and fair thing. Our own curiosities lead us to these interesting comparisons.

It would be sad to think the world is so small that any given technique or movement in a form is restricted to a single function or use, and as such any visually similar movement in another system cannot have a comparable use or meaning.

It is implausible to think anyone knows without question the host of possibilities the original choreographer of a form had in mind for a given movement. Minor variations of an inch or a simple change in focus can turn an arm-bar into a control, a deflection into a strike. It is not possible, in most cases, to know if the scripter of a form intended only a single function, or recognized the shape had multiple uses. While I am not a renowned authority – if there is such a person – I tend to believe all forms, at least in Wing Chun, speak to generalities, not specifics. Any move may have multiple possibilities. What is a Martial Art if it is not adaptable to the moment?

Similarly appearing techniques may be the result of migration and cross training. Wing Chun is an emergent amalgam with its roots in White Crane and Snake Boxing Kung Fu. Cross training is nothing new. Well-tested approaches undoubtedly flow across countries, styles, and oceans.

However, migration does not have to be the only answer for common techniques. All human bodies are built with the same joints and appendages, all around the Golden Measure. Similar approaches can evolve independently.

Of course, this can be over generalized. All cultures developed a punch, a kick, a bite. However, systems and styles often combine these isolated techniques into combinations. Hence, there are forms and drills, and sometimes these complex patterns match up, including common intent.

Disregarding these unique commonalities out of hand, based on a notion an unalterable exactness is known, stifles inquisitiveness, growth, and inspiration.


About Sifu

I teach Wing Chun, both traditional and practical, at KDA Karate Academy. I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager. In addition to being a Martial Arts Instructor, I am an author. My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge".

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