Ninja Versus Chinese Assassins

The lines between eastern cultures many times become blurred when looking from the western side. Food, music, clothing, etc, can all seem to run together to the uneducated eye. One distinction to make involves the difference between the Japanese Ninja versus Chinese Assassins. Two very rooted aspects of Japan and China’s history, and yet so different. I will seek to clarify the distinctions here by touching on the history and training these two groups.

Ninja Versus Chinese Assassins – The History


Between the years 600-900 A.D. the skills needed to form the Ninja first began to develop. The first “official” Ninja school seems to have come about in the 12th century. Daisuke, a disgraced Samurai, met Kain Doshi in the Southwest Honshu mountains. Kain was a chinese warrior-monk who, with Daisuke’s help, created the art of Ninjutsu. It was Daisukes descendants that later created the first Ninjutsu school for formal training. The art then reached it’s peak during the years of 1330-1660 A.D. due to the many feuds with warring Samurai.


Looking at the history of Chinese Assassins gives you another perspective. Chinese assassins had no formal association or school like Japanese Assassins (Ninja). The Chinese Assassins Corp in the early 1900’s is not included because this was more an anarchist group than a martial art foundation. Chinese Assassins made marks in history—not by what they trained, but by their loyalty. This loyalty went to such extremes that their actions were burned in the annals of history from that moment on. One such story includes that of the midget Yao Li, who stood no higher than 4 feet tall. To complete his mission he requested that his hand be cut off and his entire family killed.

Using these events as a cover story he was able to infiltrate the ranks of his target, Qing Ji, and swear allegiance to him. The moment to strike came as Qing Ji, poised his fleet to attack his enemy, King Helu. Qing Ji stood atop his ship’s deck with Yao Li at his side. Seeing his moment Yao Li thrust his spear into the back of Yao Li. After completing his mission Yao Li committed suicide. He had disgraced himself with mutilation, by having his family killed, and through the betrayal of Qing Ji.



The birth of the Ninja came as a counter to the traditional Samurai and Bushido code. The Samurai, through their code, believed in honor and loyalty to family. Bushido was more to the Samurai than just a set of rules. Interwoven in their very person, it dictated their actions. To break this code meant to bring shame and dishonor to ones family and line. The Ninja capitalized on this instead of taking the Samurai head on, attacked them at their weakest. Their training focused on stealth, deceit, and guerrilla warfare. To the Samurai this type of behavior was shameful, but to the Ninja this didn’t matter. The goal was to accomplish the mission by whatever means necessary.

Chinese Assassins

Since the Chinese Assassins had no formal coalition, there existed no common skills either learned or taught. Each individual account tells of different skills used each time. The story of Nie Zheng as opposed to that of Yu Rang. Nie Zheng got recruited based on his martial arts skill. After completing a commitment to his mother he simply walked into his target’s, Xia Lei, residence and cut down everyone in his path. Minister Yu Rang however went to more drastic measures. Hoping to avenge his Earl, Zhi Zao, he attempted twice to assassinate Xia Lei.

After the first attempt working as a servant in the lavatory failed, Zao had to take on a disguise. So fierce was his loyalty that he not only scarred his face horrifically but swallowed burning coals to change his voice. Although he did not complete his mission, Xia Lei became moved by Zhi Zao’s devotion and allowed him to cut a piece of his fabric. After completing his mission in ceremony, Zhi committed suicide.

Final Thoughts

Even though many distinctions exist between Ninja versus Chinese Assassins, common threads still exist. Both remain very deadly, and both played a key part in each individual country’s history. History is an important part in martial arts. Knowing the origin and purpose for which something originated helps you understand its use now. Don’t just seek to make your knowledge wide, let it run deep.

Your Own Martial Arts Secret

“C’mon man, you do martial arts right? Well, let me see what you got!” “Are you scared? Kung Fu is supposed to be good.” “Dude, a good boxer could beat your Karate any day.” These types of phrases are dangerous. Like a cattle prod used against lion or tiger, they only mean to instigate trouble. Due to other people’s inability to to let go of their ego and understand the nuances of training, it’s best to avoid letting others know your skill. As martial artists we should do everything in our power to promote peace. Your own martial arts secret helps you accomplish this. When forced to protect yourself or someone else, use every means necessary to win.

The other guy

As you travel on your journey there are a couple of reasons you should keep your own arts secret. First, if you’re confronted because you train, you may lose. Why is that first? Because you don’t know what the other guy knows, or you may be a beginner. You may have learned many techniques and practiced how to apply them. However, it takes years to develop full muscle memory and synchronization with the techniques. 10,000 repetitions is the average amount to master a technique and that’s not including learning timing and distance. Combine that with the need to learn reaction training, and it’s best to avoid conflict as much as possible.

Your Own Martial Arts Secret – USE Every Advantage

There’s a second reason to keep your art a secret. Wing Chun is a sensible self defense system. If you divulge your skill you have empowered the opponent. How so, you may ask? If confronted by a wrestler, you might have the mindset prepared to watch for a takedown. Maybe feint to the head with a jab or something similar and then a single leg. Knowing this would allow me to position myself in a way to avoid or stop his attack. So following suit, you should keep every advantage possible. Martial arts is about deception. If you can deceive your opponent into believing you have no skill, he will not set his guard as high. At the minimum it will keep him guessing. That could be just the edge needed to win.

Actions not words

The final reason involves talking to friends. Many times questioning your art comes from a point of disbelief. Even after you have soundly answered a question, more always follow. They will counter it with “but what if this happens, or that” over and over again. Certain types of people don’t really want an answer. They either want to prove they know something or that your art doesn’t work.  I bring this up because of personal experience. Certain techniques use pain to bring a reaction which would be followed up. Techniques such as these cannot merely be explain, they must be experience to fully understand them.

If one shows this to a certain type of person they will be unable to cope with it and will increase the resistance level. The practitioner must either give in or increase the energy level. If someone does not concede, it will typically end in a confrontation. The non-practitioner will not have the discipline to concede so your art may end up looking weak. So the choices are grim. Hurt your friend and risk losing the friendship or concede and allow your art to look weak. Speaking in general terms of course. Therefore, the classroom is the best place for any such teaching.

These three reasons are why I believe you should keep your own martial arts secret. Most people find it difficult to let go of their pride. You don’t know what the other guy knows. And you don’t want to give away your advantage. Keep these things in mind as you walk through life.

The Black Belt Hall of Fame – EUSAIMMA

Gathering many of the top martial artists in the world for a weekend of training, sharing, and recognition, the EUSAIMAA (Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association) is the of the oldest Hall of Fames in the USA. This Black Belt Hall of Fame is one of our favorite times of the year.

Black Belt Hall of Fame – The Real Deal

The EUSAIMAA is not an association that you can buy your way into. You also don’t submit your own awards for the ceremony like many other Associations and Hall of Fames. Entrance into this hall of fame comes at no small cost. For approval to be inducted, a member must put his reputation at stake to refer someone else. With this check in place, The Black Belt Hall of Fame has successfully brought together some of the most talented and deadly martial artists for 29 years.

A Melting Pot

What is the benefit of such a gathering? With so many talented people coming together from 64 countries there could be a lot of conflict due to ego and pride. However, when you gather talented people of strong character, you get a melting pot full of opportunities. This exposes martial artists to other styles, allowing them to make many lifelong friends. The biggest thing that can be gained from such weekend is humility.

Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association

Seeing Masters and Grandmasters in so many different styles showcasing their arts full potential really puts in perspective what one person can do from staying dedicated to something no matter the style. And not only where the different styles great to watch, it was amazing to see the similarities! Seeing the footwork of Ninjitsu blend with Kenpo at times. The hands of Karate alluding to White Crane. From Ninjistu to Kenpo, Karate to Wing Chun, one can really appreciate and respect someone else’s passions and beliefs. You could really see that respect in place with how everyone came together that weekend to help each other grow.

One Big Family

What this weekend was really about was unity. It was great to see such unity in a world that has so much strife, division, and hate. There was nothing but love in that hotel this past weekend. Love that crossed all borders, colors, and politics. The love was based on a common mission we all have in the martial arts world. That mission is to protect those we love and reach into people’s lives to help them become stronger and better. By doing so we create and better world by changing one life at a time. Through the struggle and toil of training we overcome our own demons so we can show other people the way.

The Mission

With a common goal in mind, the awards ceremony that Saturday night was nothing less than beautiful for The Black Belt Hall of Fame. Everyone from Masters and Grandmaster’s awarded for their lifelong dedication to their art, students, and community, to special needs students defeating the hardest of obstacles. Award and praise is given to those who stay determined! Over 450 black belts in one room encouraging one another is a site to behold and even though praise and awards should not be one’s motivation, it does something to a person to know their actions do not go unrecognized. In each school those who put in the work should get rewarded. By focusing on the positive aspects of training students learn to replace negativity in their mind. This is a great practice to have in all walks of life.

Your Training

Ninjitsu, Kenpo, Karate, Wing Chun, Kendo, Tae Kwon Do, Krav Maga, the list goes on and on. No matter what you pick, train hard. Stay dedicated and humble. Seek to serve those around you by being the best you can be. It doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 55, you can make a difference to those around you. Develop the black belt mentality and defeat your obstacles no matter the size and one day you could be in The Black Belt Hall of Fame.

Elongated Rotator Cuff – Wing Chun Killer

At Sifu Och Wing Chun there has arisen a leech. It drains our energy, hinders us from seeing progress during training. The Wing Chun Killer, this leech, is the elongated rotator cuff. He starts off subtly as a uncomfortable annoyance in the front of the shoulder. But before long he has grown to such the monster training at all can become a nightmare of pain. The unbearable pain is enough to stop even the strongest practitioner if not dealt with properly.

Stop the Wing chun killer

Many of our coaches and instructors deal with this pain. It is caused by the elongation of the rotator cuffs, mainly the Teres Minor. This tends to happen due to the fact that the anterior deltoid and the pectoral muscles get a lot of use with Wing Chun. Its direct attacks firing straight off the shoulder strengthens only the anterior portion of the shoulder as well as the pectoral (chest) muscles. Without proper muscular compensation to counter act that strength the head of the Humerous will sit in a rolled forward position. With the rotator cuffs elongated any use in the shoulder can not only cause pain but fatigue as well.  You can see in the pictures below the shoulder position in it’s correct form and incorrect form. You will also see the rotator cuffs in the next photo to better understand what is happening.





Rotator Cuffs (posterior view)

rotator cuff muscles

Fight back

Now that we have identified the “Wing Chun Killer”, stretched and weak rotator cuffs, what’s the solution? The solution is twofold and simple: stretch out the muscles that are tight and strengthen the muscles that are being overpowered by the tight ones. To do this we must understand what muscles are being used. To counter-act the muscles pulling forward we must strengthen the rhomboids and rotator cuffs. The rhomboids must be included because of the role the scapula or shoulder blade. As you can see in the photo above the rotator cuffs actually attach to the scapula. If the rhomboids are also loose the rotator cuffs will not have a good anchor. The rhomboids attach from the spine to the scapulas and are used to retract the scapula towards the spine. View the photo below to better understand the rhomboid.

We already know now that rhomboids pull the scapula towards the spine lets look at the rotator cuffs. The rotator cuffs are used to rotate the shoulder posteriorly and hold it in a stable position. So what type of workouts should you do to help strengthen these muscles. In the videos below you will see some exercises to work out those rotator cuffs and a second video to help make sure that you are doing them correctly.

Watch These now

These videos are from Jeff Cavalier who is a Personal Trainer for professional athletes but comes from a physical therapy background.

Rotator Cuff Workout:

Rotator Cuff Mistakes:

These techniques have helped many students here at Sifu Och Wing Chun to minimize and eliminate the pain in their shoulders. You also want to make sure that you stretch out your pectoral muscles. To do this simply find a corner, spread your arms and lean into the corner. You can also grab a door frame with one arm and twist away from it.  As you train and become stronger make sure you seek to build your body has a whole unit! We hope this helps you on your Wing Chun journey!

Learn These Three Moves For Self Defense

Throughout martial art history there has always been a quest for the final move. The ultimate takedown of any opponent no matter the size. Unfortunately, such a technique does not exist. Nor is there an art that is the end all to other arts. However, within one’s art there can exist techniques which can provide simple answers to complicated questions. Since Wing Chun is about being direct and simple we should always seek the most efficient choice. We also don’t want to leave ourselves open to Wing Chun weaknesses. I only had a weekend to show you three techniques, these are what I would choose. They are simple enough to learn within that weekend but they are also effective enough to make a big difference. So you must learn these three moves: Intercepting Fist, Jum Sao, and the Inside Low Shadow Kick.

Learn these Three Moves

Intercepting Fist



The Intercepting Fist does exactly what it’s name implies: it intercepts a strike instead of blocking. With the proper timing there is no need to block and then attack which makes this a very dangerous technique. Firing off the Wing Chun centerline with a shift of the body it is powerful and effective. It uses the forearm to deflect an oncoming strike off the line. When deflected it allows the fist to continue on it’s course to the intended target. This strike is used mainly against attacks coming down the middle in a straight line. Curved attacks need something else, bringing me to the next move.

Jum Sao



Jum Sao, one of the most versatile techniques in all of Wing Chun. It can be used against almost any initial strike. Driving from the elbow with a reverse L shape it can be used to deflect straight punches (jabs and crosses etc), uppercuts, and even front kicks. When doubled up, two Jum Saos simultaneously, it can be used to block outside kicks: Roundhouses Etc. It can even be used to assist in takedown defense! Not only does it stop the straight attacks but it can be used against wild hooks (not tight hooks) as a last resort. With it’s wide range of uses the Jum is a must for the Wing Chun practitioner!

Inside Low Shadow Kick




To finish off the trio I want to present the Inside Low Shadow Kick. Comparable to a stomp, it can be used to stop other kicks, blow out knees, and break ankles. Since it is kept low it is hard to see coming and can be used very quickly off the front foot. The foot turned away from the body it uses the heel to drive through the intended target. The most common target is the inside or outside of the knee. When combined with a deflection or strike it is near impossible to avoid or stop.


So there you have it! Intercepting Fist, Jum Sao, and Inside Low Shadow Kick. Wing Chun’s knowledge goes deep; there are many effective and powerful techniques. However these three standout due to their simplicity. Learn these three moves and your Wing Chun will have a solid base. Be simple, direct, and devastating!

Do Karate and Wing Chun Share Origins?

Tag lines like Karate beats Wing Chun, Wing Chun is better than Karate, Karate vs Wing Chun, splatters the internet, are always pitted against one another. However, there seems to be a lack of discussion about their similarities amidst all this conflict regarding their differences. We in the martial arts community need to come together and stop fighting amongst ourselves to better help others. So lets begin to look at this question: Do Karate and Wing Chun Share Origins? I am here to argue that they do, and that origin is White Crane Kung Fu.

Writers note: All of the information recorded below is complied via the internet and word of mouth via instructors. With all of the variances in language and historical accounting there may still be conflict. As the writer I have done my best to streamline the knowledge I have gathered and pay respects to the appropriate Masters who’s work brought these to incredible arts to life.

To begin answering the question do Karate and Wing Chun share origins let us look at Wing Chun Kung Fu First. It was developed by Ng Mui, and Shaolin nun during the ancient Qing dynasty (1644-1917) in Southern China. Much of the martial arts history is a mix of legend and fact due to the monks living on the run from the Manchu Government seeking to destroy all opposition at that time. As the story goes, Ng Mui developed a system of short range combat with heavy influences from Crane Style Kung Fu. One only need watch the Crane style form and the similarities become easily visible. For example,Wing Chun’s Bui Jee, Palm strikes, and Tan Sao shapes as well as the stance immediately show themselves in the first form: San Zhan.  Throughout the generations Wing Chun remained a secretive style and was used for assassinations due to its viciousness and effectiveness. Eventually this system was then passed down to Ip Man who then made it available to the rest of the world when he brought it to Hong Kong after leaving Foshan. Wing Chun is known for it’s direct and incredibly fast techniques. It uses structure and technique to overcome size and power by cutting angles or driving force back into the opponent. Due to its extensive and wide history Karate cannot be defined as easily.

Karate’s history is not so easily traced, due to the many styles and variations. However, in 1922, a man by the name of Funakoshi Gichin, later known as the “Father of Japanese Karate”, left Okinawa for Tokyo, Japan, to demonstrate his art to the Ministry of Education at the First National Athletic Exhibition. Funakoshi’s stunning performance led to governmental approval to include Karate in the University Education System. Combining the fighting techniques from Okinawa with the Budo, or “martial way”, he began teaching the art openly across Japan. His teaching was the key to opening the door for Karate’s international future. Karate’s many styles all have their own origins but there was a clear Chinese influence from the very beginning. One piece of the puzzle is in the name that was given to the original styles of Karate from Okinawa: Okinawa-te or Tode meaning “Chinese Hand.” It was later changed to “Karate-do” by an Okinawan Master which means “way of the empty hand.” So where did Karate come from and where does White Crane fit in?

Confirming the influence from Southern China, trade between Southern China and Okinawa during the early 1900’s was at a high. As a result of this trade Chinese Kung Fu was exposed and taught to many the island of Okinawan and Mainland Japanese. So sought after were these chinese techniques that many martial artists would journey to China for extended periods of time. Often presumed dead, many would return as masters in the style of Kung Fu they had trained. Three main schools emerged when these techniques were organized by local masters;Naha-te, Tomari-te, and Shuri-te, all located in Okinawa. From Naha-te came Grandmaster Kanryo Higaonna (or Higashionna in the original Okinawan language) and from Shuri-te came To-De Sakugawa. both men had heavy training in Chinese arts.

Grandmaster Sakugawa trained under Chinese Master Kong Su Kung (or Kusanku in Japanese). From Master Kung he learned Chinese Boxing or Kenpo. From his knowledge in these styles three main styles emerged from his school in Shuri: Shotokan, Wado-Ryu, and Shito-Ryu Karate. So even though his style of Karate does originate from China it does not really contain White Crane. However, there is another line that needs to be followed through Grandmaster Kanryo Higaonna by which came Goju-Ryu Karate. Grandmaster Higaonna spent time in Fuzhou, China, in the 1870’s and trained under Ryu Ryu Ko, also known as Xie Xie Chongxiang, the founder Crying Crane Kung Fu and Grandmaster of White Crane Kung Fu.

Writers Note: Uechi-Ryu and Chito-Ryu are both also said to have aspects of White Crane. Due to the influence as far as lineage not being quite as clear and for the sake of simplicity I wanted to focus on Goju-Ryu here.

Now, obvious to say that White Crane is not the sole founder of Karate with so many styles of Kung Fu in China at that time. There was, however, a definite influence on at least Goju-Ryu Karate (and as mentioned above Uechi-Ryu and Chito-Ryu). It is easy to quote a lineage but what about the actual techniques? Are there actually similarities that can be seen between Karate and White Crane? Yes, one very clear example is in a form called Sachin or San Zhan. The movements and similarities between the forms can actually been seen here in this video Sanchin Form Comparison.

So in conclusion, I believe it is safe to say that some styles of Karate were definitely influenced by White Crane Kung Fu. Thereby solidifying Karate as a cousin of Wing Chun (albeit a very distant one). A further study could be done on concepts that overlap from the four mentioned styles: Goju-Ryu, Ueji-Ryu, Chito-Ryu, and Wing Chun. But, I will leave that to you the reader as a challenge. As you continue your martial art journey don’t seek out conflict but look to find harmony wherever possible.

Editors Closing Thoughts

Isn’t that what martial arts is about? Making yourself better and working together with those around you. Are we prepared to defend ourselves should trouble arise? Of course, but whether you train Karate, Wing Chun, or any other system we should be seeking to common ground. As martial arts brothers and sisters we should seek help those around us!

Fighting Fitness – Are You Fit to Fight?

When training for self defense many devote a lot of focus to technique. Surviving a tense situation requires repetition until you achieve perfection. But when the situation goes beyond your fighting fitness, techniques become sloppy, slower, and the danger level rises with each passing moment. Asking the question: “Are you fit to fight?” and knowing your personal fighting fitness is something you want to do before it matters.

There is a reason that professional MMA fighters are so dangerous. It’s not just their technique and skill, but they are athletes in every sense of the word. They push themselves to their physical limits every day of training to prepare for their matches. Obviously, most people don’t have the time to devote to the same regiment as an athlete. Fitting in training time for self defense techniques is a challenge. Take into account families, work, and any other activities, and you begin to see the problem. Still, when dealing with an attacker, remember that he or she may not be alone. Will your training last you past the first attacker, on to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th? What if you must carry an injured friend to safety? You want to ask these type of questions early to bring some reality into your training.

Building Fighting Fitness into TraIning

At Sifu Och Wing Chun, we build some of the fitness needed for scenarios like this right into our actual training. But to compliment the Wing Chun, Sifu Och includes a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) regiment within his schedule just before his kickboxing class to maximize cardio. Once students have pushed themselves to their limit, they can then begin increasing their cardio within the Wing Chun training. You cannot initiate hypertrophy in a muscle by going to its limit and stopping. You actually need to overload the muscle past its limit to get growth. The same goes for cardio. You want to take your training to the limit, and then push through that to increase the endurance capacity.

If a student is sparring, and they reach their cardio limit, it begins to manifest itself in weaker strikes and slower reaction time. In a situation hinging on split-second decisions, there’s no room for errors. One second could make the difference between life or death. Your fighting fitness level is your gas tank. The bigger the gas tank, the longer the drive. Without gas, your car goes nowhere. Without adequate fighting fitness, you go nowhere….Fast.

Martial Arts Awareness – Are You Aware?

Wing Chun, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Boxing, Karate, Judo…it doesn’t matter what you do. There is the one thing that will determine a martial artist’s ultimate demise. If proper respect and attention is not devoting to maintaining this one thing properly, it can demolish any training no matter the level. This may come as a surprise to many, but this is not an external attack. Rather, it’s a defeat that occurs within oneself. It’s what we call your level of martial arts awareness.

Awareness is the first key to any situation where conflict can arise. Whether in a sports arena, on your way to your car, or in a busy subway, an attacker can defeat the greatest practitioner of any art if they are not aware of their surroundings. As a martial artist, learning to be aware of all of your surroundings is key. Also, learning to have awareness of specific attacks from an opponent is also crucial in overcoming a situation. By neglecting to develop your awareness you leave yourself open to anything, anyone, at anytime. But there are two kinds of awareness alluded to, lets call them single awareness and broad awareness.

Single awareness here, refers to having altercation with an individual in something like a sports arena. This would be in the realm of sparring or cage fighting, facing off with one person at a time. The crucial awareness here involves focusing more watching the fighter’s movements as a whole. If you put too much focus on his eyes, for example, you will not see his kicks or knees. If you place too much focus on his legs and take downs, you may not see his strikes. Therefore, by having a balanced focus, you gain awareness of the big picture. Practically speaking, the ideal location to watch is the chin or chest, giving you that balance to catch everything. Fighting with blinders on is the fastest way to get knocked out.

Moving to Broader Martial Arts Awareness

Moving onto broad awareness and why it is so important outside of the cage or ring. When crossing the road, we are all taught to stop, look, and listen for oncoming traffic. Why should your personal safety from the threat of a mugger or robber be any different? The Navy Seals utilize a checklist to make sure that they are operating with full awareness in any situation. Their checklist is as follows:

  1. Attempt to guess what individuals are doing or thinking.
  2. Watch for odd behavior.
  3. Determine where you would go for cover from explosions or gun fire.
  4. Find the closest two exits.
  5. Determine whether or not someone is following you or taking an unusual interest in you.

These tips become very hard to accomplish if you focus in on any one specific thing. That includes looking at your phone, the ground, or even your friend. Learning to take in your entire surroundings while picking up specific details is a hard skill to acquire. But without it, the danger of threat grows exponentially.

Sifu Och trains his student’s against worst case scenarios: Head-locks, chokes from behind, bear-hugs, etc. But, to avoid these scenarios altogether is much more advantageous than having to deal with them. You cannot utilize the checklist mentioned above if you’re not actively choosing to be attentive to your surroundings. Be aware of your surroundings, and be alert and ready. In short, practice and hone your martial arts awareness.

Kung Fu Family Training and Self-Defense

A family that trains together can all defend themselves. Is kung fu—the stuff of movies, childhood pretend games, and a popular karaoke song—something that can actually be a family event? Can Wing Chun kung fu be something a family does and learns together? Can it also actually be something they can protect themselves with? At Sifu Och Wing Chun, this is absolutely the case! Kung fu family training will not only equip every member of your family in self defense, it will also keep you healthy.

Kung Fu has two main components when focusing on oneself, internal and external. Both must be developed together to truly have growth within a given system. While the external focuses techniques dealing with striking or grappling, the internal focuses on the development of the person’s character. This development is something that all families would desire, not only for their children but for themselves. WIth a good kung fu school, families can exercise together, learn to protect one another, and grow closer by overcoming personal obstacles together.

Kung Fu Family Training

But can a family actually train so as to learn how to protect themselves? Is there a system that’s good enough to be used by adults and by children as well? The answer is yes! While there are many useful, powerful, and effective systems for self defense, it’s my opinion that none more effective across the board than Wing Chun. Sifu Justin Och is certified under four different lineages in the Wing Chun system. There is no more complete understanding of how this system can protect a family—in our area of the country—than at his downtown Lakeland studio in Florida. Since the Wing Chun system emphasizes directness, quickness, and speed, anyone—of any size—can overcome a larger stronger opponent. These attributes make the Wing Chun Kung Fu system one of the best systems for families to train together in.

Carl Douglas was right, “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting”. And everyone should be. Kung Fu can bring people together through training, focus, and discipline. More, it has the goal of seeking peace with those around you. When you train in Wing Chun, you become part of a larger kung fu family—one that provides camaraderie, accountability, and lots of fun.

Building a Solid Wing Chun Foundation

Building a solid Wing Chun foundation reminds me of a biblical parable and the house built on the sand:

“…And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

– Matthew 7:27

Biblical Truths Can Be Applied to Your Training

This parable from the Bible speaks about a man who built his house on the sand. It fell as soon as pressure from the storm and winds came. Before that, the verse speaks of the man who built his house on the rock. It stood firm under the tempest. The same goes for your training! Without good structure, techniques will not have a solid base from which to operate. They will collapse under the weight of an opponent that has developed their structure.

Yee Chi Kimyeung Ma – The First Form

Wing Chun uses Yee Chi Kimyeung Ma with its first form and many drills. This helps develop the student’s structure within the very first steps. Teaching students to root through the heels and keep their hips tucked underneath their spine allows for the lower body to be “rooted” into the ground. This is exactly the same theory as when one is finishing a squat. With the proper structure aligned through the spine, the student can now work on combining the hand techniques with the lower body structure.

With this combination, nearly any attack can be withstood! But this adjustment doesn’t come overnight. Something as integral as structure takes a long time to not only learn, but understand how to tap into that correct structure for power and strength. But why is this so hard? What could be so difficult about tucking in your hips?

The Difference with Wing Chun Foundation

As we grow as humans, from the very first step we learn to lean and press from our toes to walk. As we play sports and go through P.E. We always hear, “be on your toes” from our coaches. So the body is programed to learn to draw power from the toes from very early on. Structurally, however, this isn’t optimal location to withstand weight. With the balls of the toes being the primary source of contact, instead of utilizing the bones for structure, the calf and tibialus anterior is now recruited to stabilize the rest of the body.

The ability to withstand pressure is no longer contingent on the alignment of the bones of the body, but the muscle strength of the individual. Therefore, utilizing the toes as the contact point for structure is not the best option for the smaller fighter. Since it’s been recruited for so long, the body will not understand how to draw power from the heels without constant and consistent training.

Drilling Until It’s Second Nature

When practicing to develop any technique there are two (arguably three, with some) stages to learning and using a new skill: Programming and applying. When programming a new skill, first the user must be made aware of how to make the proper skeletal adjustments and where bad habits are manifesting. Once the awareness has been raised, the student can now practice to make the adjustments automatic. After the new technique has been programmed, it must be refined under pressure in the application portion of training. Just as gold is refined under fire, so will structure manifest itself when real, strong pressure it used against it! Once t’s tested over, and over, and over again, it will settle in with the mind-body connection.

So, you must decide. With your training, when the tempests come, and you are tested, will you have a strong house built on a rock? Or will you settle for one built on the sand? Find a good blueprint, and then work, work, work to make that house impregnable.

Wing Chun Biu Jee Thrusting Fingers (Bil Jee)

When it comes to fighting someone larger or stronger than yourself, you need to exploit every advantage possible. This is the key to surviving a street confrontation versus a sporting event. The mentality of “fighting dirty” could be the deciding factor on ones ability to survive an attack from a larger opponent, or potentially multiple opponents. One of the targets considered illegal in a sporting event is the eyes. On the street, however, it is one of the best targets to aim for. But how do you attack it? Wing Chun Biu Jee (Bil Jee), or “thrusting fingers” is a great tool for such a target.

Using Wing Chun Biu Jee (Bil Jee)

The Biu Jee’s primary use is offensive, but it can be used defensively. Before addressing either of these let us address the structure of the Biu Jee or Bil Jee. Since Wing Chun’s focus is to protect the centerline while finding the most direct route to another’s, the Biu Jee is shaped in a way that when retracted, can easily protect the ribs of the user. The lead hand comes straight out from the shoulder, and the wrist is curved away from the body. This shape not only allows the eyes to be attacked, but it can also be used as a defense intercept of a jab or cross.

The second hand has two options: It can either be kept in a Wu Sau position, (hand in the center of the chest pressed outward, fingers pulled back) or a secondary Biu Jee. The secondary Biu Jee is kept chambered under the elbow of the primary hand. This secondary hand allows for a quick release of that hand. This serves two functions: It allows firing a follow up Biu Jee or clearing a hand pressing in on the elbow of the other arm.

Using the Hand with Biu Jee Thrusting Fingers

Wing Chun Bui Jee Thrusting Fingers William CheungMoving on to the hand itself and how it is used, there are again two options. The hand, if striking towards the eyes, should actually be kept loose. If the fingers are stiff there is a likely chance of a break due to the eye being encased in bone. There is an exception to this: The fingers can and should be stiff if using the same technique when striking the throat. With a fast whipping motion, the fingers are thrust forward into the eye of the opponent simulating the striking of a snake.

If the eye is missed, the finger will simply collapse against the pressure only causing minor discomfort versus a break. The attacker may not have been dealt any serious damage but with a strike going towards the eyes he is almost sure to close his eyes or at least pull his head away. This is the perfect moment to follow up with another attack.

When you combine the elbow structure and the hand shape, you now have a tool that has multiple uses. As mentioned earlier, it can be used to intercept strikes from the outside. It’s also quite useful from the inside against hooks. Since the elbow is kept below the hand, similar to the shape of a Tan Sau, it can be thrust towards the bicep crease of an arm to be used defensively. The same concept applies (as mentioned earlier) against a jab or a cross.


In application, the Biu Jee can be used in quick succession against a quick Jab and cross combo. First, you can intercept the Jab from the outside. Then, depending on the situation, you can slip the cross on the inside and take the center. You can also redirect the cross off, and take the opposite side. With the opponent committed in their cross, their structure can now be compromised with that outside angle.

On the street, you have to do what you can to survive. If that means jabbing someone in the eyes to get home safely, do it. The Biu Jee is a great tool. Offensively and defensively, it can be fired quickly and easily against very common attacks or for a direct line to disrupt and seriously damage your opponent. Effective and direct, it is a tool everyone should have in their street arsenal.

When It’s Life or Death What Do You Do?

The thought of causing another human being serious, devastating, potentially life threatening damage is not a pleasant thing to think about. The average person doesn’t bring those thoughts to the forefront of their mind to examine. So then, how does one develop the mindset to hurt someone else if it came to that? Motivation to do anything in life comes from one thing, the “why”. So when it’s life or death, what do you do?

Understanding The “Why”

Why? Why would you want to lose weight? And why would you want to stay up till 4am doing work? Why would you persevere through trials with seemingly no end in sight? When that “why” can be answered, the mind will fall into place and actions will follow. So how do you find the answer to such a heavy question?

When it comes to your life, you have to understand what it’s worth—to yourself and to others. We as humans were created with a purpose, to make life beautiful, to make this world a better place. Your part in this world is something you have to discover! No one has the right to take that away from you! But what if we look past ourselves? Who is depending on you to come home and take care of them? What will they do if you are not around? Now the situation has surpassed just yourself and your desires.

Let’s move along that same line of thinking but get our thoughts off of ourselves. Here is something else to ponder: What about the next victim? If you don’t take action do you think that this person will magically change their ways after they have had their way with you? Absolutely not! There will always be another victim unless they are stopped! And that person to stop them could be you! You could be the one to protect the next person before anything even happens to them. If you have an opportunity to stop evil in its tracks you should take it because the next victim may not get that chance.

Once someone crosses the line of crime they are more likely to commit another crime. According to the Association for Psychological Science, “Within three years of being released from Jail, two out of every three inmates in the US wind up behind bars again”. Two out of three is a staggering statistic, and that is only based on criminals getting caught. Who knows, maybe YOUR life was spared because someone else stepped up and stopped someone and you will never know about it.

Life or Death Decisions Matter

In the moment, there is no time for thinking, no hesitation. Your mind must have already accepted what must be done when the time comes. There can be no room left for error. So what are you doing to prepare for such a moment? If you have never trained your mind and your body to handle such a situation do you really believe that in the moment you will suddenly spring to action as if you were magically imbued with abilities you never had before? Of course not! It is foolish to believe so!

It would be the same if you were placed into any sporting match believe you will suddenly be able to not only play with your teammates but also beat the other team. You must train, you must prepare, you must be ready, you must decide now. Find your why, let it guide you, and then be follow through with action. Find a good master, train hard, and become more than you are now! Become the person others can come to depend on.

Never Give Up in Wing Chun

When most people think of the word SUCCESS they envision someone with lots of money or power. However, success does not apply to only those two areas, it applies to all aspects of life where an individual has a goal to be reached. What do you think of when you hear the word “success”? We compiled some of our favorite Never Give Up success quotes that can be applied to your Wing Chun kung fu classes.

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

– Zig Ziglar.

Successful People Never Give Up

Contrary to first thought, success is not the reaching of the goal, but the growth of the individual towards that goal. As you look at any “successful” person, whether it be in Finances, Health and Fitness, or Martial Arts, there is one thing in common with their journey, they NEVER gave up. And because they NEVER gave up they grew into a person that was able to achieve the goals they were seeking. They BECAME successful.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

– Bruce Lee

This very famous quote emphasizes the focus of ones time towards excellence in few abilities rather than mediocrity in many. Hidden within the little proverb is another truth, that to be able to complete 10,000 of anything one must have a character saturated in diligence, perseverance, and patience. Coupled with these characteristics is belief that in time any goal can be achieved with persistence and consistent work. No matter what the obstacles, what the challenges, if a person simply decides in his mind that he can accomplish something, and NEVER gives up, anything can be achieved.

80% of people that walk through a martial arts door and a decide to actually begin their journey quit within the first 3 months. Only 3% of students actually make it to the coveted black belt. What its the difference? Why the huge gap? Because NEVER quitting, no matter how hard it gets, is an attribute that most do not understand.

“The Master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”.

– Stephen McCranie

Success Quotes Come from Successful People

Failure is commonly viewed as a negative aspect of life. Growing up in school we are conditioned to avoid failure at all costs which causes much stress. This pressure is actually misplaced because the common view of failure is incorrect. Failure goes hand in hand with success. Without failure there cannot be success. We are imperfect beings therefore there will be imperfect decisions and actions taken. Once this is accepted failure becomes a teacher that one can learn to improve all areas of their life with. Failing a belt test does not mean you are a bad martial artist, if you have put in the time and work. Tests are designed not for the teacher, but for the student, to see where they are in their journey. If that test is failed, that is simply another indicator of what steps are needed to help the student grow and move forward.

The pain of failure, in time can become powerful tool in the process of upgrading ones character and abilities. Over time, as one begins to actively use failure as a tool, it no longer brings feels of pain and discouragement, but of excitement and determination. However, to reach that level of mental maturity, one must be patient and allow the growth to happen. We did not learn to walk in one step. We fell down as babies, and ALWAYS got back up. It didn’t matter what our parents, siblings, friends, thought, we simply got back up and kept walking! NEVER GIVE UP!

“Pain is Temporary, if I quit, however, it will last forever”.

– Eric Thomas

Do you want to be successful? Do you want to go from a white belt to black belt? I have the key: NEVER GIVE UP.

Chi Sao – Wing Chun’s Whetstone

Probably the most talked about aspect of Wing Chun is Chi Sao. Every school is different on how they approach and teach Chi Sao. Many show it to you within your first week of training. At Sifu Och Wing Chun, we do things a little differently. The mentality behind our training is that of crafting a weapon. We want students to forge their weapon first on the anvil of defense against common attacks such as hooks, sucker punches, kicks, shirt grabs, takedowns, etc. Then, we sharpen it with Chi Sao, wooden dummy practice, and other drills. This is done to help students understand Wing Chun’s primary purpose—to protect yourself and your family and return home safely.

This builds the student’s confidence and understanding of the tools given to them. Without crafting the sword first, an “outsider” may not understand the need for sharpening and fall under impression that Chi Sao is useless or a waste of time.

Chi Sao – Wing Chun’s WHetStone

Once the sword is crafted, the sharpening can begin. One of the first things you can feel when beginning Chi Sao training is your structure being tested. Before any strikes, counters, and defenses can (or should) be learned, good structure and rooting needs to be cemented in your training. Without good structure, even the best attack will crumble against good alignment of the opposite body. Rooting through the heels, with hips tucked under the spine and the glutes engaged, form the basis for a strong structure.

The structure is confirmed in the science behind a squat. Ask any knowledgable fitness personal trainer, and they will agree. To safely squat, the weight must drive through the heels with the spine aligned properly. After that, you can roll with a basic level of understanding in how to not only have structure, but how to use Chi Sao to refine it.

Then attacks can commence.

Reactions and Chi Sao Training

Quick reactions are the cornerstone of Wing Chun self defense. It makes sense that, in one of the deadliest arts in the world, there is a specific drill to train your reaction. Drilling hours upon hours on good technique and structure is pointless if it cannot be applied in a combat scenario. Going back to what was mentioned earlier, that is why basic defense against attacks is introduced first at Sifu Och Wing Chun. Now that there is an appreciation for the techniques required, they can be upgraded. That is where Chi Sao lends a heavy hand to the Wing Chun practitioner’s development.

The goal is to keep forward intent with your techniques, so that any change or gap in the opponent’s movement presents an open target that is immediately struck. After the initial attempt there will be counters and defenses. Open communication between partners is crucial in this part of training. If a student is still learning how to shape a technique, there’s no need for speed and power. Partners should seek to vary the training speed based on the level of each individual. Once needed techniques are ready, the attacker should seek to to use real strikes at the student. Only in this manner can Chi Sao be used properly to develop your Wing Chun.


Without the proper instructor and good training, Chi Sao may look, to some, like a child’s game. And to some it may be nothing more than that, if they do not understand and fully grasp why they’re training in Chi Sao. With time and dedication, it is a valuable asset to training. Without Chi Sao, the Wing Chun student will not have that fully sharpened sword. Using the whetstone of Wing Chun, Chi Sao, is one of the best tools you can hone and use.

Fighting Three Against One – Advantages

If you had to move some furniture, two friends definitely come in handy. What if you were painting a house? Two more painters would make things a lot easier. If you’re in a fight, wouldn’t it be nice if you had the ability to use three of your “weapons” simultaneously as opposed to one? With Wing Chun stances and rooting this is possible. After all, fighting three against one always presents an advantage.

When you’re in a fight you need to take every advantage possible. With many popular styles (Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and boxing, for instance) only one hand or leg is used for attacking (generally speaking). In Karate and Tae Kwon Do the back hand is kept chambered by the side ready to be brought back into the fight with either another strike or block. In boxing, it is kept close to the chin to protect the body and head. One punch is all it takes to end a fight sometimes, but that punch could go either way. Leaving one entire side open to attack is a very dangerous gap in your defense. To keep both hands in the fight, Wing Chun keeps the whole body facing forward. This also gives you the ability to combine strikes, blocks, and counters with a shadow kick or half crescent kick.

Fighting Three Against One – Limbs, That Is

A common combination of all three would be a Tan Sao punch and half crescent moon kick. This is typically utilized to counter an attack from the outside (i.e. a boxing cross moving diagonally across the body). It uses one hand to block the attack, one had to punch the face, and the kick is placed in the ribs. With all three tools being used, the attacker has now been completely caught off guard. Not only has their attack been nullified, they have been knocked off balance with the punch and potentially have broken rib from the kick. With the entire body lurching forward as one unit, a flurry of devastating attacks can be used to follow up.

“If you have an army, why pull away 2/3rds of it during a fight? Keep your whole army ready at all times.”

– Master Sifu Justin Och, Sifu Och Wing Chun

Having the mentality of keeping all weapons forward keeps them readily available which helps decrease reaction time. Since all three weapons can—and should—be used, it makes reacting to an attack easier. Even if you aren’t fully confident with your technique or reaction ability, having all three weapons primed to be activated can greatly increase your chances of defending an attack.

More Than Being Ready

But having the weapons ready is not enough, however. They must be combined with forward intent. A Tan Sao is completely ineffective in stopping a punch if it is not pressing forward to match the incoming energy from the strike. So it is with all of the Wing Chun techniques (with a few specific exceptions).

Seeking to press forward on an attack to disrupt structure lets you attain a direct route to the centerline. Reverting back to the Wing Chun rooting and stance, the hips must be facing forward. They should fuse with the entire torso so as to move as one unit. If the attacker moves, the entire torso is rotated or “shifted” to face the attack. Much like the stance of a shooter, the weapon is not held to the side if a new target appears. The shooter turns his whole body and keeps his weapon in his center.

When the Wing Chun stance is combined with this fighting three against one style, any attack can be withstood, and countered. That’s three times the reaction ability, three times the coverage, and three times the chance of surviving an attack.

Wing Chun White Sash to Black Sash – How Long?

Famous entrepreneur, Jim Rohn once said, “Success is something you attract by the person you become.” That statement , which is typically heard in the business world, has never been more true than in the realm of martial arts. When it comes to training, significant focus is devoted to the development of technique, skill, speed, but the development of who the person is cannot be overlooked. Going from the Wing Chun white sash to black sash (the equivalent of a black belt in other forms) takes time, commitment, and a lot of self-control.

THE Wing Chun White Sash to Black Sash Journey

The journey from the Wing Chun white sash to black sash is typically a long one. At Sifu Och Wing Chun, a practitioner training diligently every week may take anywhere from 8-10 years to finish the system in its entirety. But for those who do finish the system, the transformation from the beginner to master is beautiful. The title of “Sifu” (literally “teacher”), when attained, carries with it the essence of not only instructor, but of mentor, discipler, and leader. The evolution into a Sifu comes only through perseverance in the face of opposition, frustration, and pain.

Where, however, does the struggle originate? Is there opposition within a school? There can be. Is there frustration with an instructor’s method? Potentially. Is there pain at the end of a sparring partner’s strike? Without a doubt. The inward struggle, however, is much more vital to the success of a martial artist. To reach the next level in Wing Chun classes, one must face his or her own flaws and take them head-on. You face opposition with your own work ethic—to train or not to train. Someone dealing with self-doubt will struggle to have the confidence that new abilities can be learned resulting in frustration. And pain, pain from failure, can lead to great personal disappointment. All of these adversities are examples of things which direct each person to one of two ends: failure or success.

From White to Black

To succeed in moving from the Wing Chun white sash to black sash, one must actively work on him or herself. And that, is the exact moment where the title of “Sifu” comes full circle. The Master has overcome those very same struggles in his or her walk. He can now guide and teach the student in the journey before them. And that is the key to Sifu Och’s success, reaching into each individual’s lives and pulling out the very best in his students. That is how success is attained. That is how the Black sash is earned. This is the journey from the Wing Chun white sash to slack sash.

Practical Kids Kung Fu Training

When most people think about Kung Fu, images of high flying wire fights from old movies comes to mind. For kids, you can add Jackie Chan’s crazy stunts and Kung Fu Panda. Most people don’t realize that being a Kung Fu master is so much more than fighting. In the modern translation it has been widely accepted to only refer to the fighting aspect of Chinese Arts. Kung Fu is actually translated as “acquired skill”. It involves anything that been achieved. So, should children participate in Kung Fu? Absolutely! In fact, kids kung fu training can help them assimilate a lot more at an earlier age than is possible when you’re an adult. Learning how to defend oneself and understand ones own body is very important. Becoming a person who conquers every goal he sets for himself is the true meaning of a Kung Fu Master.

Serious Kids Kung Fu Training

As children grow into adults they begin to learn patterns of behavior based on what is permitted by those in authority, friends, and mentors in their life. At Sifu Och Wing Chun the children are taught discipline as a first rule. Working synergisticly with discipline, is hard work and consistency. When those three are combined almost anything can be achieved. Sifu Och utilizes those aspects to teach martial arts in our Lakeland after school program. Our hope is that those characteristics will bleed into the rest of the children’s lives. As they mature, they would have had a childhood of focus, a focus on goals that can only be achieved when one works to improve oneself to reach those goals.

If children are not given the chance to understand self development is ones own responsibility at a young age, how much harder will it be to not only understand that, but to be put into practice with the coming of age? Teaching kids kung fu gives us a chance to jump start that progress.

Imagine a generation that placed goals before themselves, and day in and day out sought to reach those goals. And while they themselves reached for their own goals, the also sought to uplift and encourage those around them to reach as well! Not only masters in the art of defense, but in art, music, food, and people! A generation that sought to improve the world around it with hard work, dedication, and a spirit of selflessness! While Kung Fu is not the answer to everything, it is most definitely a very powerful arena that one can sharpen and grow in.

Effective Training Requires a Master

Sifu Justin Och has devoted his life to martial arts. As a person, he is one of the hardest working and focused men you will find. This work ethic, self motivated drive is manifested not only in how effective is Wing Chun is, but how he devotes himself to the betterment of his students. Working through exhaustion, overwhelming work requirements, he seeks to improve every single one of his students, inside of class, and out. He has developed his character to one of a Master, a black belt. When looking for someone to mentor your children these are aspects one should be looking for. Not just to see if they are good martial artists, but how do they treat those around them. And how well they perform at other tasks in their life.

Children must be led by example, and our kids kung fu training aims to do just that. If kids are surrounded by men and women that push themselves to a new level every day, they’ll learn those to be valuable traits. Our instructors care about each person that they come in contact with. Our hope is they will soon begin to follow suit. We want our kids to improve themselves every day—not just come to class and have fun, but grow, and develop. They will understand that with life, failure is a good thing—it is the ultimate teacher. We hope they can develop the habit of never quitting but learning. Martial arts gives them the opportunity to become uncomfortable, and then push past the feelings to seek a better version of themselves.

Never Give Up Quotes for Wing Chun Training

When most people think of the word success they envision someone with lots of money or power. However, success doesn’t apply to only those two areas, it applies to all aspects of life where an individual has a goal to be reached. Contrary to first thought, success is not reaching of the goal, but the growth of the individual towards that goal. Here are some Never Give Up quotes for Wing Chun training.

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

– Zig Ziglar

As you look at any “successful” person, whether it be in finances, health and fitness, or martial arts, there is one thing in common with their journey, they never gave up. And because they never gave up they grew into a person that was able to achieve the goals they were seeking. They became successful. The next of our Never Give Up quotes may be one of my favorite quotes for Wing Chun training:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

– Bruce Lee

This very famous quote emphasizes the focus of one’s time towards excellence in few abilities rather than mediocrity in many. Hidden within the little proverb is another truth. To be able to complete 10,000 of anything one must have a character saturated in diligence, perseverance, and patience. Coupled with these characteristics is belief that, in time, any goal can be achieved with persistence and consistent work. No matter what the obstacles, or whatever the challenge. If a person simply decides in his mind that he can accomplish something, and never gives up, anything can be achieved. 80% of people that walk through a martial arts door and a decide to actually begin their journey quit within the first 3 months. Only 3% of students actually make it to the coveted black belt. What’s the difference? Why the huge gap? Because never quitting, no matter how hard it gets, is an attribute that most do not understand.

“The Master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”.

– Stephen McCranie

More Never Give Up Quotes

Failure is commonly viewed as a negative aspect of life. Growing up in school we are conditioned to avoid failure at all costs which causes much stress. This pressure is actually misplaced because the common view of failure is incorrect. Failure goes hand in hand with success. Without failure there cannot be success. We are imperfect beings therefore there will be imperfect decisions and actions taken. Once this is accepted failure becomes a teacher that one can learn to improve all areas of their life with. Failing a belt test does not mean you are a bad martial artist. If you have put in the time and work. Tests are designed not for the teacher, but for the student, to see where they are in their journey. If that test is failed, that is simply another indicator of what steps are needed to help the student grow and move forward. The pain of failure, in time can become powerful tool in the process of upgrading ones character and abilities. Over time, as one begins to actively use failure as a tool, it no longer brings feels of pain and discouragement, but of excitement and determination. However, to reach that level of mental maturity, one must be patient and allow the growth to happen. We did not learn to walk in one step. We fell down as babies, and ALWAYS got back up. We did not care what our parents, siblings, friends, thought, we simply got back up and kept walking! NEVER GIVE UP!

“Pain is Temporary, if I quit, however, it will last forever”.

– Eric Thomas

Do you want to be successful? Do you want to become a Black sash? I have the key—it’s more than just these Never Give Up quotes: NEVER. GIVE. UP.

Wing Chun Rooting in Martial Arts

“Be like water my friend.” This quote by Bruce Lee has become famous around the world. But not as famous is the concept of becoming like a tree. This concept is summed up in one word, rooting. But what does Wing Chun rooting in martial arts do with your effectiveness? Everything!

Rooting vs Ground Work

Before rooting can addressed there must be clarification on one subject, ground vs stand up. While an entire article can be devoted to the topic of ground work (i.e. wrestling, Brazilian Jiujitsu, etc) versus Karate, or boxing, or Wing Chun, we can only touch on it briefly here. At Sifu Och Wing Chun the mentality that is present is one that favors stand up or staying on one’s feet. While Brazilian Jiujitsu and wrestling are also trained there, should the need arise, our focus is staying on our feet. Why? Multiple attackers, weapons, unknown terrain…these are just a few reasons.

The Importance of Wing Chun Rooting

Now, back to the topic of Wing Chun rooting and why this is important. No matter what art one is training in, Tae Kwon Do, Muai Thai, Silat, Northern Style Praying Mantis, rooting is essential. It’s very much tied to the Wing Chun stance and structure as well. Should an individual come upon another individual that is to any degree larger than themselves, one can almost assume a power difference in favor of the larger opponent. When that power is being delivered into another body it can only do one of two things. It can overcome a person causing a loss of structure, or it will pass through the body into the ground. This second option is the goal of rooting.

“A tree without roots is just a piece of wood”

– Marco Pierre White

When Wing Chun rooting is accomplished it gives the user a solid foundation to then apply any attack desired. However, if there is no structure, just as a tree with no roots can be easily blown over, so will the martial artist be overtaken without good roots. In Wing Chun the rooting is done through the heels. Similar to the form of a squat, driving through the heels is the correct way to line up the skeletal structure for the most power. This can be reversed to say that supporting through the heels is the best way to support the most weight. Reverting to the squat example, when you have 300 lbs. on your shoulders you have two options, toes or heels. WIth the weight on your toes you now have to utilize your Calves and Tibialis Anterior to attempt to keep your legs underneath the weight. Switching to the heels allows the bones to line up in a way that the structural integrity of that system to not be comprised. The weight has a direct line to be directed into the ground.

Get your rooting right in Wing Chun, and you can stand strong, redirect an opponent’s attack energy, and fight stronger.

Does Wing Chun Actually Work?

In the age of the Internet, everything is now held to a higher standard due to the easy access to information. Martial arts can now be scrutinized from someone across the globe that 100 years ago may never even have come in contact with them before. With videos alone, information can be cross-referenced and discussed with the click of a button. But, does that mean research can replace real life experience? Absolutely not. Do videos posted speak for all such martial arts and artists across the world? Again, absolutely not. So, with today’s digital world, can Wing Chun be accurately depicted on the web? Can the question Does Wing Chun actually work? be answered without experiencing it?

The answer to the question is that it’s irrelevant. A system that is used to defend oneself on the street should not be evaluated via the Internet. Any martial art (or instructor), whether it be Karate, Krav Maga, Brazilian Jui-Jitsu, or Tae Kwon do, should not be criticized via the web. When it comes to personal safety, only experience can truly speak. Can the Internet help? Absolutely—but it should not be your determining factor.

Making Decisions Based on Online Research

The reason the Internet was brought up in a discussion about whether or not Wing Chun actually works is due to the fact that so many people will make potentially life-changing decisions without actually getting their hands dirty. How can you know if something actually works without seeing it for yourself! Speaking to Wing Chun instructors in depth and hearing their story? You might as well determine whether or not YOU like Subway or 5 Guys because of what someone on the Internet said. Now, information does need to be taken into account, but you cannot let someone else’s experience—good or bad—determine your decision. But allow the information to help you keep an open mind to the good and bad, raising your level of awareness.

When testing a martial art you should by all means do your research. Go and meet the instructor. Watch his students, and then TRY IT! As far as Wing Chun is concerned, it absolutely works. Two of Sifu Justin Och’s top students are a testament to that. Garret Brumfield is an ex-professional Boxer out of California and Jeff Gardner was an Army Ranger widely versed in many martial arts prior to Wing Chun. The fact that two experienced, well-trained men now adhere to Sifu Och’s instruction is a huge testament not only the system, but to Sifu Och himself.

That being said, the system works, but does your instructor? There are many effective, brutal, powerful systems of combat out there. That doesn’t mean that every instructor either knows or understands how to effectively teach that system. That is where your research comes in. Check your instructor’s lineage, and watch his students. Those will be two determining indicators of a good teacher. As for Wing Chun, good instructors are hard to find. This is mainly due to the commercialized versions that are now popular after the release of the Ip Man movies. These were movies loosely based on the teacher of Bruce Lee, Ip Man. Many “Sifus” began to emerge and teach the “real” Wing Chun. The Internet soon caught on, and many videos surfaced of Wing Chun students losing fights to Muai Thai, Karate, and Brasilian Jui-Jitsu Fighters. Faith in Wing Chun was weakened. There are, however, real Wing Chun instructors who understand the system and communicate it well. Sifu Philip Bayer, Sifu David Peterson, and Sifu Justin Och are just a few of the truly knowledgable instructors.

Find a good school, do your research, and try it out! If you are anywhere near Central Florida, visit the World Ving Tsun Athletic Association Regional Director of the entire Southeastern USA, Sifu Justin Och.

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Two Hands are Better Than One in Self Defense

Doing anything with two hands is always better than one! Ever tried opening a jar? How about moving some furniture? Want to talk about safety? Everyone is taught to drive with two hands! Of course these tasks can be completed with some degree of success with one hand. But utilizing two hands doubles the effectiveness of that task. It’s the same with fighting, and yet many popular striking styles seem to shy away from simultaneous hand techniques. Believe me when I say, two hands are better than one in self defense.

Why Two Hands are Better Than One

Let’s take a look at two of the most popular and widespread styles of striking in America: Boxing and karate. Boxing (also called pugilism, meaning “fist fight”) was a sport dating as far back as 4,000 B.C. in ancient Africa. Karate is a self defense system that originated in Okinawa, Japan. Karate has become increasingly adapted for sport use as well. Both systems, for the most part, strike with one hand at a time. Karate has a few exceptions, but we’ll stay with general concepts here. Boxing uses the non-striking hand to keep the body covered while Karate’s chambering hand is prepping for power maximization. Karate does have other uses for the chambering hand (one being to pull the opponents hand down to clear for easy striking). Primarily, however, striking occurs with only one hand. In karate, the goal is to have as much power as possible focused into those strikes and to end the fight quickly.

The Wing Chun Two Hands Option

To achieve this maximum power, both systems start on their toes, connect to their hips, and rotate through the striking arm. However, if one could block and attack at the same time—and have enough power to knock someone out—would that not be more advantageous? As Master Sifu Och puts it, “Why pull away half your army when you can utilize all of it?”. Wing Chun seeks to demonstrate why two hands are better than one in martial arts. Wing Chun uses both hands (and sometimes a foot) as a single unit. This is achieved by driving the power from the heels and propelling the entire body forward as one cohesive unit. Instead of rotating the hips away, as in boxing, Wing Chun keeps both hips facing forward. With both hips engaged, both hands can now be activated simultaneously. With two hands going forward, opponents can now be blocked and attacked at the same with every strike.

Here is a video of Sifu Justin Och demonstrating the use of two hands in a practical self defense scenario:

In the video you can see how two hands allows the practitioner to double the effectiveness of his striking. When this happens, you have doubled your chances for effectively dissolving or resolving the situation. In an altercation every advantage is needed. If you’re facing one opponent—or two or six—every second is precious. By utilizing two hands, you gain valuable seconds by cutting out the time needed to alternate between strikes.

Two hands are truly better than one.

The Wing Chun Kung Fu Shadow Kick

One kick: the kick to end all kicks. To destroy any opponent, no matter the size, with one blow. Is this even possible? What could this kick be? The impressive 720 Spin Kick? The famous Side Kick? Or perhaps the deceptive Spinning Back Kick? (Editor’s note: It’s certainly not the crane kick from The Karate Kid!) While all effective and deadly when landed, there is one kick that is more simple than all of these kicks. It also has the potential to not only stop an opponent in his tracks, but also disrupt other kicks and immobilize an opponent in one quick strike. Say hello to the Wing Chun kung fu shadow kick.

The Wing Chun Kung Fu Shadow Kick is Real

Even though the Wing Chun kung fu shadow kick sounds likes something you would find in video game, it’s quite real, and very effective. But before understanding the shadow kick, you must understand the Wing Chun stance. A quick glance at Wing Chun shows us that the stance is built on the concept of strong rooting combined with the ability to to always be facing your opponent with all of your “weapons”. Shoulders, hips, feet, all facing the opponent at all times. With one foot forward, weight (generally speaking) 50-50, the Shadow Kick is now primed to strike.

Using the Wing Chun Shadow Kick

But what does the Wing Chun kung fu shadow kick do, and how does it work? And can the Wing Chun shadow kick actually end all other kicks? The potential for this is definitely there. The shortest distance between to two targets is a straight line. Wing Chun, as a whole, follows this principal. The Shadow Kick is designed to strike under the “shadow” of your first and go directly to the nearest target. The target being primarily the knee, depending on the situation. With the toe facing away from your body, pulled back, it allows for the heel to be exposed. Pressing off the back foot, the Wing Chun kung fu shadow kick is thrust through the joint to disrupt the opponent’s stance. If done correctly, the result can be a torn ligament or, at minimum, a significant break in their stance.

This short, quick strike’s design allows for a perfect surprise—catching any opponent off guard. With Wing Chun’s stance allowing for both hands and front foot to be utilized at the same time, an opponent’s focus would be on the hands while at the same time a kick can be delivered to a joint. You can than double stomp through a side kick, break the rooting foot of a round house, or simply crush through a lead leg when someone is punching.

In short, the Wing Chun kung fu shadow kick is a very effective, short, powerful strike that has a wide range of uses. Simple and to the point, anyone can learn and utilize this strike.

Phoenix Eye Fist – Wing Chun’s Dirty Little Secret

What would you do if you knew of a technique that could concentrate all of the power your body could generate behind a strike into a singular focused point to break your assailant? You may not believe it at first, but Phoenix Eye Fist is Wing Chun’s dirty little secret. This is very similar to the famous Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do one inch punch.

The result would be a devastating blow that would leave the opponent staggering! Welcome to Sifu Och Wing Chun’s dirty little secret: the Phoenix Eye fist.

What is the Phoenix Eye Fist?

Sounding like something from an 80’s Kung Fu movie, Wing Chun’s Phoenix Eye Fist does quite a bit. Instead of spreading out the energy and losing its combined force to multiple points of contact, the Phoenix Eye Fist focuses the energy of a punch into one point to exponentially increase the damage done to that specific area. This is similar to how the same amount energy utilized for a slap—if applied to a knife—could allow that knife to actually penetrate the same target.

Phoenix Eye Fist right outside

While this technique is best suited to be backed up by a straight punch (Wing Chun’s cornerstone punch), it can also be combined with almost any other punch to accomplish its goal. Focusing the energy for a strike is accomplished by curling the index finger inward exposing the second joint. The thumb is then locked in behind it to support the new position. When used correctly the Phoenix Eye can be used to strike to the eye, temple, throat, and ribs to maximize effectiveness. Respectively, each strike can result in blindness, concussion, collapse of the trachea, or severely bruised ribs. This is not a technique to be used lightly!

When it comes to self defense, practical street fighting, and the protection of one’s family, there is no room for wasted energy and movement. With training, time, and practice, the Wing Chun Phoenix Eye Fist can be an efficient addition to your arsenal and can free up an extra second for a finishing blow. That could mean the difference between making it home alive, coming away injured, or not going home at all. The ability to devastate an opponent with fewer strikes should be at the top of a martial artist’s priority list.


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