Learning Ving Tsun Kuen

When beginning your training in VTK, let go of the need to remember.

You will be going over the material so many times that you eventually will not be able to forget it! Relax. What is important is that you are developing your understanding of the ideas.

Listen, think, practice, and ask questions if you are unclear about anything.

Don’t worry if you don’t remember much to train at home. If you just train the stance and basic punching in your own time in the early stages it is best. Keep it simple.

The more you train the movements at home in the early stages of training, the more you are programming errors in which are harder to fix. As you move through the material you will get better at adapting your moves to be consistent with your current understanding. As your understanding develops it makes sense to train more in your own time, and you will see the value in this.

Class time is better spent on two person training.. though we do need to keep an eye on how it is all progressing.

We learn to let the learning flow. VTK is all about learning to flow with changes.

The forms are not so much for energy, timing, or even technique. Their main function is to program ideas into the neuromuscular system. Ideas. These ideas are then expressed as required, in a problem-solving-on-the-fly kind of way, creatively in chi sau, practical applications, and of course in any fighting you may get involved in.

We learn to do this problem solving in chi sau, and in practical applications training.. by allowing this process to happen as and of itself. We learn to get out of our own way and let it happen, what athletes call being in the zone. No thinking, just action.

The primitive parts of the brain that play with these ideas learn very slowly, hence the slow section in the SLT and the endless repetition of all the forms.. but it moves like lightning, and acts quicker than we can think. It is similar to the brain of a snake. Our higher brain modifies the movements to suit the situation, but the movements we have programmed in during our forms training will begin before any thought has occurred.

Real fighting will speed up the learning process in some ways, but may well shorten your life &/or lower your quality of life. It can also cause you to pay more attention to being aggressive in the training, rather than working on all the finer details which could take you to a higher level. This is an example of mixing training with fighting, which is always to the detriment of both.

Training without fighting will get you there.. it will just take longer. Note that I am not talking about sparring here, or competition bouts, but real life or death fights where your VT is put on the anvil. This kind of fighting takes it’s toll, no two ways about it. Getting involved in this kind of fighting is a personal choice, unless the decision is made for you, in which case you’d better get in and get it done, or get out of there quick.

For many Ving Tsun practitioners, the training is the goal. The fight may never even happen. Without ever getting involved in fighting, these students are formidable fighters anyway. Sometimes when such students do find themselves in a situation where they have to defend themselves, they are shocked at how well their Ving Tsun has worked. Some even stop training because of the mess they made of their opponent’s face. Some people worry about whether their training will work in a fight.. maybe they’be be better concerned whether it will work too well! VTK training works.

We train to fight, and train to fight to win, but whether one has had a few fights or not in the past won’t make a great deal of difference in the long run, after the years of sweat and hard work in the training ground.

Another consideration when learning Ving Tsun is to let go of the use of strength. Strength is a good thing, and if you are strong it will only help you in fighting. Some of the Ving Tsun training will help you develop strength. The thing is, you are most likely accustomed to using strength. Training and fighting with Ving Tsun involves using strength and softness. We eliminate the use of strength in the early stages of training so that we can develop the use and understanding of softness. Later on we can and will use both. Though we usually discuss strength in terms of structural strength, we also teach students to use their strengths to their advantage. When we completely eliminate the use of strength from the training, strong students miss out on using something which can give them a fighting advantage, and everyone misses out on practicing their actions on a strong and non-compliant opponent.

Compliancy is necessary to a degree when learning a skill, so that the student can get a handle on what is being asked of them, but at some point the actions must be practiced against a non-compliant partner, otherwise attacks and defences that won’t work in the fight may continue to be practiced within the school, to the detriment of all. Test everything! Whatever doesn’t pass the test needs to be modified or rejected. This is the process that is VTK.

I strongly suggest that anyone interested in learning VTK, and especially teaching it, study biomechanics as pertains to Ving Tsun. Biomechanics is the study of movement of the human body. This supplementary learning will assist greatly with understanding what the system is asking of us and how to get our bodies to move accordingly. It will help you to think about the movements and discuss them, and be able to teach more effectively.

VTK will work for anyone.. if you put the work in, and listen, think, practice, and understand.

Dave Jardine


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