At its core, Wing Chun is simple, but that does not mean it is easy to learn. As students work various techniques they make mistakes, stop and try to explain why they keep slipping on some concept. I often tell my classes, “If it were easy, you wouldn’t be here”.
Easy is boring and dull. Oh, some things should be easy. If you want a new app for your phone, it should be click, click, done – easy. It is a single thing, designed for a single purpose. You do not want to take the time to understand the computer languages it was created with, all the hoops it has to jump through to get its job done, or any of that stuff. You just want it to do the job it was designed for with as little of your interaction as possible. To borrow from Ronco, set it and forget it.
However, there is the catch. Set it, and then forget it. Let it leave you. It is so easy that you begin to forget you even have it. If you want to obtain some skill, especially if you want to learn something, you expect it to be difficult. If the skill were easy, you would learn it in a day and then forget all about it. A skill you admire you already know is difficult. That is why you admire it.
When a skill, art, or science is difficult, you will make mistakes. Mistakes are the best teachers. If you performed some move correctly the very first time, you would not really know you had. Your instructor might say you did it well, but you did not really learn it. It just happened. You have to do it wrong, probably thousands of times, to gradually whittle it down to what is correct so you can repeat the correctness more often than not.
I love students who laugh when they make mistakes. It means they are engaged – or perhaps embarrassed but I hope that is rarely the case. The engaged student knows the task is difficult. They know they made a mistake, which means they are learning. You cannot see the proper form without recognizing the egregious one.
Training is hard. I do not mean physically brutal. There should be sufficient physical demand. Fights are ugly. Everyone, of all abilities will be hit, even the best Sifus. You have to know how to take a hit. However, the hardest part of training should be in your head and soul, in grappling with the techniques and sequences, in acquiring the centering and structure. You should always leave the school feeling good, but also thinking, musing, reflecting. If you walk out enjoying only your sweat, you did not learn a thing. You might as well jog. It’s cheaper.
At its core, Wing Chun is simple. Learning is difficult. If it were easy peasy, you would not be interested in it.