When it comes to Wing Chun, doing is better than watching. However, it's nice to sit back every once in a while and watch what can be some pretty amazing Wing Chun movie magic. Keep in mind that the martial arts you see on films and TV is all make believe, even when it's based on a "true story". It's staged and choreographed and made to look perfect. But it can still be something that inspires, and something to aspire to. If you're ever feeling a lull in your drive to come to class and train, put one of these flicks on and it'll be sure to get you fired up again!
Impetuous Love In Action
Bet you thought I was going to say Ip Man! Well, yes, numerous Ip Man movies are up next, but here's a breath of fresh air first. A romantic comedy involving Wing Chun!
Ip Man 1,2 (and eventually 3)
The Donnie Yen series of Ip Man movies are by far the best in terms of fight choreography.
The Legend is Born: Ip Man
Not a bad prequel to the above Ip Man series, though it does take a bit of mental gymnastics when the same actors are playing different but closely related characters between films.
Artistic and philosophical, with interesting fight scenes. This Ip Man movie definitely leans more towards the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon style of choreography in some spots (e.g. when Ip Man and another martial artist crush a rickshaw between their respective front kicks!).
Ip Man: The Final Fight
A "more realistic" look at the life of Ip Man during his time spent in Hong Kong.
There is some pretty good use of Wing Chun in the fight scenes in both the first Sherlock Holmes and the sequel. Robert Downey Jr. practices the same William Cheung lineage of Wing Chun that we teach here at Vancouver Wing Chun!
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Rumble in the Bronx
A classic Jackie Chan film, amazing moves on the wooden dummy!
What are your favourite movies featuring Wing Chun?
We have a finite amount of time given to us at the beginning of our lives. Every moment lived is one less moment until we die. That sounds terribly morbid, and so some of us focus on doing as much with our time as possible. But a balance must be struck between quantity and quality. Virtue is finding the middle ground between two extremes, or vices. Too much quantity, and the value of what we do approaches zero. Too much quality, and we lose variety, the spice of life!
Often, despite the time saving advertisements of the latest technology, we waste more time saving time than we do actually doing something. Switching from task to task on our smart phones, and between our smart phones and our computers, we're much less efficient multitasking than we would have been focusing on one thing at a time (despite how amazingly productive we feel when we are multitasking).
How can we be more present when we're working, studying, training martial arts, and interacting with our friends and family. How can we increase the quality of what we do using the technology available to us?
If you work a sedentary job, move at least 2 minutes for every 20-30 minutes of your day you spend sitting. Go for a walk around the office, have a chat with a coworker, get a drink of water, go stare out the window and contemplate your life and how awesomely lucky you are to be alive. This may seem counter intuitive to the idea of staying focused, but oftentimes a break from sitting at your desk can give you new and valuable perspective on your work.
"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." -Deepak Chopra
If there is one thing that can help inject quality into our lives, it's awareness. Working on awareness is long term and gradual, but is incredibly important in getting more out of what we have, what we experience, and how we relate to other people.
Turn what you do into an adventure! It's amazing how much more you can get out of your experiences when you think of them as adventures. Think of yourself as having an adventure and suddenly you're much more aware of what's happening, and you're much more likely to rise to and overcome the challenges you meet. It changes your mentality from stress response to challenge response.
Meditate 5-7 days a week. You don't need to spend a half hour sitting in lotus position to benefit from meditation. When you first wake up in the morning or after you finish your work day, even spending 5 minutes sitting comfortably and counting your breaths can help.
Keep a journal on your thoughts and feelings. Keeping a journal helps you reflect on your day, your week, your year, or your life in general. It gives you perspective, and lets you see the long term changes that are so hard to detect when only comparing today to yesterday.
"For there was never yet philosopher That could endure the toothache patiently." -William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
Who doesn't like clean teeth? Small changes can make a big difference (can you sense a common theme?).
Brush your teeth after lunch. Maybe it's the association that clean teeth have with getting ready in the morning. After brushing my teeth after lunch, I am much more ready for an afternoon of work than another cup of coffee could have made me.
Prioritize. Take 5 minutes each morning to list the day's priorities. You can also do the same thing for the upcoming week on Sunday night. This saves you time by stopping you from wasting time on things that aren't important. And remember that when you're prioritizing, there's a difference between important and urgent.
Instead of the typical New Year resolution talk about creating new and healthy habits for the year, we’re going to take the opposite approach. All too often we start out with the best intentions of forming new and wonderful habits that will take us to a higher plane of existence as human beings, only to revert back to our old habits that keep us firmly on our current level of humanity.
So if we’re not going to talk about forming better and new habits, what’s this article all about? DESTRUCTION!!!
No, but seriously, perhaps what we need in the New Year isn’t creating new habits but destroying old ones. Imagine we could get rid of just one bad habit every year. Maybe part of the reason our new and healthy resolutions don’t stick is because we haven’t made room for them in our existing set of habits.
"We can never free ourselves from habit. But we can replace bad habits with good ones." -Steven Pressfield
One thing to be wary of when going after those bad habits is what is known as extinction burst. I’m sure we are all too familiar with this particular event. We go to break a bad habit, be it overeating, eating junk food, biting our nails, watching too much TV, overspending into debt, etc.. We do well for the first few days, but the urge gets stronger and stronger, until it’s all we can think about. We end up diving headfirst back into the habit that we were so diligently on the way to breaking. The terrible thing about extinction burst is that, when given into, it actually reinforces the bad habit even more.
How can we avoid having a bad habit reassert itself? We can be aware of the fact that extinction burst exists, and prepare ourselves to feel it. It takes will power (i.e. it’s going to be really hard) to not give in. But there are other tools at our disposal to aid us in our battle!
Awareness is the most important tool for dealing with habits. You can’t work on destroying or changing a habit until you know what is triggering it (the “cue”), what the process of the habit is (the “routine”), and what the end result of the habit is (the “reward”). We can increase our awareness of our habits by keeping a journal of our environment, what we are doing, and what we are feeling (physically and emotionally) when our habits kick in. After we’ve done that, we’ll be able to determine what cues, routines, and rewards are associated with our habits. Next, we can decide what tool we’ll use to blow our habits out of the water!
Change the Cue
The first way to get rid of a bad habit is through adjusting the cue that triggers the habit, and then getting rid of the cue. The best way to understand this is by looking at an example:
I have a habit of biting my nails when my boss walks up to my desk. The cue is my boss walking up to my desk, the routine is biting my nails, and the reward is a momentary reduction in stress over forgetting to put the new cover sheets on the TPS reports (or whatever else he wants to talk to me about). To adjust the cue, I’m going to snap my fingers every time I see my boss walk over to my desk, and then start biting my nails. In fact, anytime I feel the urge to bite my nails, I’m going to snap my fingers first. Then, after a month or so, I’m going to actively stop snapping my fingers, EVEN WHEN I see my boss walking up to my desk. Nail biting destroyed!
As you can see, the habit is still there inside our mind, waiting to be cued. All we did was adjust the cue, and then remove the adjusted cue so that the habit won’t be triggered.
Change the Routine
The second way to get rid of a bad habit is to keep the same cue, but let it trigger a different routine. Again, let’s look at an example:
I have a habit of going for a cup of coffee and a tasty treat from Starbucks every morning at work. The cue is the clock telling me its 10 AM, the routine is getting out of my desk and going to Starbucks for my food and drink, and the reward is getting a break from my sometimes tedious desk job and avoiding all those memos about TPS report cover sheets. To adjust the routine, instead of going to Starbucks, I’m going to take a vigorous walk outside, breathing deeply of the fresh air! Perhaps I’ll eat an apple as I march through the streets. I’ll walk for the same amount of time it would usually take me to get my coffee and food. I’m going to do this EVERY DAY at 10AM.
In this case, the cue is the same, but the habit has changed. We’ve replaced it with something much more beneficial.
Remove the Reward
The third way to get rid of a bad habit is to purposely expose ourselves to the cue, and even the routine, but WITHOUT the reward. Like all the other tools at our disposal, this one requires us to use will power. The more we expose ourselves to the cues without giving into the reward, the less power those cues have over our behaviour.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” -Napoleon Hill
Wow, what an amazing journey we’ve been on together! Our grading tests took place over the last two weeks, but we started on the road toward our goals much earlier than that. For some of us it’s been less than a year, for others it’s been almost 20. We all achieved a goal over these last two weeks, and that is something to be proud of. Forget about being self-conscious or humble, and take a moment to feel the pride for what you’ve accomplished. Take a deep breath, feel the sense of accomplishment, crack a smile.
Many of us probably didn’t start training Wing Chun because we had a goal of passing a certain level grading. We were more interested in the process of practicing a martial art. And if anything, the fact that we achieved our goals shows the effectiveness of adhering to a process.
There were no guarantees that we would pass our grading tests. However, because of the discipline we showed in adhering to the process of training, we accomplished what we set out to do. We’ve said before that practicing martial arts is like a microcosm for the experience of life in general. This is no more truly reflected than in the fact that continual and disciplined adherence to a process results in accomplishment. Sure, we came across setbacks, but we overcame them using chi sao (metaphorically and literally). The more we undergo this cycle (dedicating ourselves to a process, overcoming setbacks, accomplishing goals), the more we create a frame of mind that predicts success through hard work; the more we build our integrity.
“Arriving at a goal is the starting point of another.” -John Dewey
Goals may still be important, but perhaps they are important because they help us determine what process we should dedicate ourselves to in order to achieve them. Goals are milestones in the process. If we have a goal, do we stop the process after we achieve it? If we want to learn to play piano, and we set a goal of learning a particular piece, do we stop playing piano after we’ve learned the piece? Not if we love music, and the process of playing music. The same goes for Martial Arts, or any worthwhile process. Goals are guides and motivators to picking (and planning) a process.
“The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about, and opening them. Three hundred sixty-five days later, we try again and find that the same thing has happened. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we're off to reach the next one, then the next one, then the next.
That doesn't mean that the goals we have don't count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process and it's the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused, and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from that, it's really the process that's important.”
? Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
We’ve accomplished our goals! So what now? Let’s continue with the process, and set new goals! Now is the time to take a fresh look at what we’re doing, and remind ourselves why we’re doing it. Maybe you started practicing a martial art because you wanted to get in better shape, find out how to defend yourself, increase your coordination, challenge yourself to learn something new, bolster your self-confidence, or meet a group of likeminded individuals. Likely it was a combination of these goals, or all of the above. Let’s rededicate ourselves to our training and keep creating the benefits we want to see. The best is yet to come.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” -Jimmy Dean