View Full Version : Wing Chun helps a football player deal with larger opponents!

10/22/2004 3:33am,

The 265-pound Chike Okeafor regularly uses concepts he learned practicing kung fu to take on bigger lineman.
Nick Cardillicchio

Workout: Kung Fu Fighter
How Seahawks DE Chike Okeafor prepares to face big linemen

By Amanda Cherrin

Chike Okeafor has long admired the way Bruce Lee chopped down larger opponents, but he never knew what kung fu could do for his game until he checked out Sifu Eric Oram's Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy in L.A. three years ago while playing for the 49ers. "Learning the philosophy, I was like, man, this is exactly what I need. It's a form created for a smaller person to handle a larger person -- which sums up what I do," says the 6'4", 265-pound Okeafor, who works with Oram to prepare to take on linemen who commonly weigh more than 325 pounds.

"Wing Chun's concepts apply to football because players are in hand-to-hand battles," says Oram, who studied under Lee's teacher, William Cheung. "They're not fighting, but principles apply to focusing on balance, angles of approach and coordination of simultaneous deflects and attacks."

Okeafor, 28, says Wing Chun improves his reflexes, power and strategy. He had career highs of 47 tackles and eight sacks in '03 and has 5.5 sacks this year. "It's perfect because I'm not as strong as my opponent," says Okeafor, raised in West Lafayette, Ind. "The way to get around the size difference is efficiency of movement, straight lines and quickness -- I need to beat him to the punch." Here's how he trains to do just that:

1. MERIDIAN STRETCHES (WARMING UP) Before practice and games Okeafor does poses that stretch what he calls his "meridians" or "energy lines." Says Oram, "On a surface level he's stretching the underneath of the forearm and getting his hands, arms and wrists loose and relaxed. On an internal level he's stretching the lung, pericardium and heart and increasing circulation." (The forms and theories found on this page are described in detail on the academy's website, www.lawingchun.com.)

2. SHIL LIM TAO FORM (REACTION TIME) "The purpose of the exercise is to focus your mind, body and internal energy at the same place at the same time with minimum conscious awareness," says Oram. "Ultimately, the subconscious is the realm of the reflexes." The exercise is, in essence, a moving meditation.

3. GUARD POSITION (BALANCE) In this breathing and centering exercise, says Oram, "his conscious awareness is in the dan tien, the literal center of the body, about an inch and a half below the navel. That's where the center of your energy and your physical center of gravity are." Assuming this combat-ready stance, Okeafor guards his center while sparring with a fellow kung fu student, alternately taking strikes and striking back. When Oram's not there, Okeafor often spars with his wife, Stephane.

Chike's Choices
Okeafor, whose full first name, Chikezie, means "well made by God" in a Nigerian dialect, tries to live the truly good life:

"I always eat organic," he says. "Natural is the best way."

He replenishes his system with multimineral and herbal supplements and a protein supplement.

To "link the mind, body and spirit" Okeafor meditates in the morning and evening. He also runs trails with his Great Danes, Mystique and King.

In the off-season he does Pilates and also does yoga with Stephane. "She's getting into hot yoga," says Okeafor. "I think I'll try it."

He drinks at least seven 16-ounce bottles of ultrapurified water a day.

He is anti-anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. "They're synthetic," he says. "They work for symptoms but have side effects. The body knows the difference between natural and synthetic."

He runs on "cleaner fuel," though he's no extremist. Okeafor's favorite morning meal is eggs scrambled with avocado, tomato and cheese. For lunch he loves a turkey sandwich, piled high with swiss cheese, spinach, lettuce and pickles. Dinner? "I've spent a lot of time in the Midwest," says Okeafor, who went to Purdue, "so I have a lot of love for the old steak and potatoes."

Issue date: October 25, 2004


First time I've heard the first WC form romanized like this: "2. SHIL LIM TAO FORM (REACTION TIME) "
not sure where the reaction time thing comes in.

Please someone tell me what is 'hot yoga'?

Wounded Ronin
10/22/2004 7:17pm,
who studied under Lee's teacher, William Cheung

Wasn't that Yip Man?

10/22/2004 7:33pm,
At one point or another, every Asian martial artist born before 1973 was Bruce Lee's teacher.

edit: by Asian, Asian style, not neccissarily Asian person.

10/23/2004 2:18am,
Please someone tell me what is 'hot yoga'?

AKA Bikram yoga, it's basically yoga practiced in a heated (approx 100 degress F) room with other sweaty smelly people. The heat is supposed to increase your ability to stretch, thereby increasing your flexibility and also promotes sweating out toxins.

It's a little bit Bullshido, like most yoga, in that it claims to cure arthritis, heart disease, etc:


10/25/2004 6:38am,
Wing Chun ?

I would have though Judo would be more helpful ?

Judah Maccabee
10/25/2004 7:52am,
I didn't realize eating healthy and organic foods was newsworthy anymore.

I'm a damned story waiting to happen!

El Tejon
10/26/2004 12:19pm,
Hannibal, from what I've heard here is that he was a buddy of the president of the Purdue Judo Club, Marcus, who also trained with us in the Tippecanoe Wing Chun Association. May have studied Judo with Marcus, don't know.

Good to see the arts in a positive light.

10/26/2004 3:34pm,
The Search function is buggered out right now, otherwise I'd post the link to the 'Karate helps football players' article I posted earlier this year.