The Wing Chun Knives are an important part of our Art’s training. They are to Wing Chun what the Bokken is to Aikido and the sword to Tai Chi.
Of what use can a knife form be in 2016? Truth be told, weapons have often been practiced in traditional Martial Arts in order to enhance empty hand training. In fact, it is obvious that many movements in Wing Chun are in fact derived from the knive form.
The first obvious benefit of weapons training is improvements in power. The extra weight discourages the use of arm power and helps to develop power generation from the waist.
A second benefit is awareness of coverage. It is easy when training in Martial Arts to get into a tic for tac mentality. You hit me, I hit you.
However, knife training reminds us that on the street, any strike could be potentially lethal.
Allowing your opponent to land a strike on you in order for you to land your own strike is dangerous on the street. The opponent could be carrying a concealed weapon.
Many can take a punch to the head, but how many can take a blade to the neck? You might not become aware of this concealed weapon until it is too late.
A third benefit is the effect of weapon training on developing “Intent” or “ Mind Force”.
This mysterious force is not so mysterious at all. It is a method for developing superior alignment and reduced slackness in structure, by focusing the mind far away, often at the tip of the weapon, although not exclusively so.
Number 5 – POWER
The Added weight of the knives encourages proper use of the waist and core muscles and helps to break the habit of simply waiving the arms around.
At an advanced level, the practitioner’s body will lead the knives, much like a pitcher’s hip leads the arm in baseball. This creates a whip like energy.
The progressive phases are:
1. Learning the movements of the form
2. To Tai Sun (Knife leading the body)
3. Sun Tai To (Body leading the knife)
4. To Sun Hup Yut (Knife body as one)
Number 4 FIGHTING ☯ SPIRIT
Proper Knife training should require the practitioner to exhale loudly as they strike. This concept is similar to the kiai exhibited by some Japanese styles, and helps to coordinate strikes during partner practice.
Correct use of weapon and kiai training will also kick-star your fighting spirit, which is a vital part of learning how to handle violent individuals.
Number 3 ☯ COVERAGE ☯
Wing Chun places extra emphasis on coverage. Hit and don’t get hit is the mantra.
Unlike combat sports, where often, practitioners engage in tic for tac tactics, and will take a hit in order to land a hit, In Wing Chun, we want to always cover ourselves and shut down the opponent’s defense.
The reason is simple. Wing Chun is designed for the street. We must always assume that our opponent is carrying a concealed weapon. That punch to the face is in fact an attempt to cut our throats with a small concealed blade. That must ALWAYS be the assumption.
The Knives teach us to cover ourselves carefully during every strike so that we do not expose vulnerable areas, even when fighting empty handed.
Number 2 ☯ IMPROVISED ☯ WEAPONS
Although weapons such as large knives and swords are outlawed in most countries, and simply not practical to carry around, improvised weapons are not.
Empty hand fighting should always be a last resort. In a life and death situation, a good martial artist should reach for the nearest objects available that can be used as a weapon. Pens, sticks, brooms and umbrellas are but a few that are readily available in day to day life.
Weapons training can be of great help when wielding improvised tools.
Most of the same principles apply, and a martial artist trained in using knives and swords can turn a stick or umbrella into an effective weapon more easily.
Number 1 ☯ MIND INTENT ☯
Weapons have often been used in martial Arts to train the “Intent”. In essence, the practitioner places his attention at the tip of the weapon (i.e. – outside of the body).
The effect is similar to that of someone pointing at a far away place. The structure becomes springy and the slack is reduced. It also allows you to use the concept of levers, by keeping the point of contact (and maximum resistance) with the opponent, relatively still.
The intent runs through all our practice. Every movement and posture should have, as the boxing classics say, “Intent in first place. Intention should guide the form from the beginning to the end and we should not practice “empty movements” even for a short moment.
The process of the mind approach is to use intent to lead qi to trigger body form. Use the heart (mind and intent) to circulate qi; use qi to move the body first in the heart, and then in the body.