Do You Feel Me?

All Martial Arts are inherently forms of communication through contact, though the connections maybe of entirely different natures. We might consider the contact on a spectrum, much like other forms of communication.

Some people are talkers. They do not really listen or respond to the position of the person they are in communication with. They look for opportunities to drive their point. Others are good listeners. They take a moment to hear you, to feel you. They listen to your words and the quality of your voice, and respond to you.

Weapon based arts are at one end of the spectrum. Contact with a weapon creates at least some disassociation with the opponent. Little information about the opponent is passed through the weapon. There are moments when intent can be felt, such as during a bind. With loose weapons, such as chain, the ability to feel the opponent’s intent is almost impossible.

Boxing and similar arts are somewhere in the middle of the continuum. Contact is momentary with singular purpose – to damage or move the opponent. Outside of the occasional head-to-head or clinch, there is not a lot of listening or responding. The goal is to drive into visual openings.

Wrestlers and Grapplers are at the other end of the spectrum. The entire exchange is handled through contact. Touch is constant. They continually listen to the opponent’s intent, and respond.

Wing Chun slides up and down the spectrum, though it may be fair to say Wing Chun leans more toward the listening end. While strikes are momentary with the intent to damage, move, or control, the touch itself is an important tool. Like the grappler, contact is maintained with the opponent in order to read them and either meet or prevent the next move. Trapping, the practices of Chi Sau and Nucleus Drills train us to feel the intent of the opponent.

Wing Chun and grappling are a bit like good listeners, and that is part of the beauty of Wing Chun. It is a listening art.


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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