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M1K3
11/20/2006 9:13am,
I wanted to start a thread about Wing Chun that was not a flame war or mocking the art. I hope it will be about how WC came to look like it does today and where it may be heading in the future. Here are my thoughts on the subject.
1. WC is an urban Chinese art developed in the 17th century. Cities were crowded with dirty streets. Think London of the same time period. Poor drainage and raw sewage.
2. Grappling was seen as a lower class/peasant/rural activity. Again think England in the same time period. Also, see dirty streets listed above.
3. Fighting at that time is looked upon as no holds barred from our perspective but there were unwritten rules about fighting. Excluding attacks from thugs and other miscreants, most fights were fought as duels. I am sure society at that time frowned on maiming or killing your opponents. In addition, it’s hard to keep students that way. Look at England in the same time period. In both sword and bare knuckle fights it was considered poor taste and a lack of skill to kill or maim an opponent.
4. WC was developed to fight against TCMA of southeast China at that time. WC may have been influenced by bare knuckle boxing as the major foreign ports were located in SE China at that time.
5. Full contact sparring was seldom if ever used at that time. Without the benefit of equipment it would have been too dangerous. Again, look at bare knuckle boxing training for the same time period.
6. Chi Sao was a MAJOR step forward at that time. (See above) It allowed for a degree of aliveness that was unheard of in the 17th century. Unfortunately, I believe WC stopped evolving at some point in the 18th century.
7. Last but not least is the comments I have been reading that WC in the ring must look like 18th century WC or else it is not WC. I believe there are some WC practitioners that are starting to look at their art with a critical eye and are beginning to test it in the ring. Modern boxing barely resembles bare knuckle boxing, yet it is still boxing. A more recent evolution is the addition of western boxing techniques into MT. I am old enough to remember watching MT fights on TV in the 60’s and early 70’s. The style did not include nearly as much punching back then and a hook was unheard of.

Let it be known that I am a former chunner who now does BJJ. Mostly because I believe that genetically I have a predisposition to wrestling and I am descended from a long line of lower class European peasant types. In the words of BJJ Teen and JFK, “ Ich bin ein dirt fighter”. You know, that might become my sig.

I truly expect to be flamed by both sides with this thread, so fire away.

meng_mao
11/20/2006 9:33am,
Can you give some sources for 1 and 2. I'm not disagreeing; I've just never heard those theories before.

M1K3
11/20/2006 9:57am,
1. WC is an urban Chinese art developed in the 17th century. Cities were crowded with dirty streets. Think London of the same time period. Poor drainage and raw sewage.
2. Grappling was seen as a lower class/peasant/rural activity. Again think England in the same time period. Also, see dirty streets listed above.

Both of these ideas came from the Wing Chun museum site. Probably in some discussion forums there, but I am not sure. Also I am a bit of a historical fiction buff and if you read about cities during that time frame, clean is not the first word that comes to mind. The wrestling idea was discussed in a thread I read some place and it made sense to me. These views on wrestling were pretty common in a lot of cultures at that time. Rolling on the ground is not usually looked upon as a sophisticated urban activity. :icon_sunn

M1K3
11/20/2006 10:19am,
One other thing, these are my opinions. I do not claim historical accuracy. But there are a lot of parallels between WC and bare knuckle boxing even if neither of them had an influence on the other. BTW in most cultures boxing tends to be more urban and wrestling more rural. Most likely a product of the environment where you are going to practice your art.

MaverickZ
11/20/2006 10:40am,
So essentially, wing chun is now irrelevant, as key factors in its creation are now important, is that what you want to say?

M1K3
11/20/2006 10:53am,
So essentially, wing chun is now irrelevant, as key factors in its creation are now important, is that what you want to say?

Nope, not what I am trying to say, no more than I am saying boxing is irrelevant as bare knuckle boxing was a key factor in its creation. What I am saying is that I think that WC is starting to evolve again after being dormant for a long time. And I think it would be fun to guess where this new evolution will take it. No disrespect is intended.

Axelton
11/20/2006 11:32am,
i like points 1 and 2

Tom Kagan
11/20/2006 11:51am,
i like points 1 and 2


LOL, they are the two points which I personally think make the least sense.

To imply there is something inherent in the environment which would shape it in a certain way is certainly reasonable. However, such a "dirty urban signature" would be fairly obvious in the other arts gestated in similar locales. So, #1 sidesteps any attempt to reconcile the fact that so many styles which do not have similarities with __ng __un were also developed under the exact same or very close circumstances.

#2 also sidesteps any attempt to reconcile the fact that most of the people involved with the style's creation were peasants from rural areas. And by being traveling performers, they were considered the lowest class of that society to boot! It also ignores that modern grappling wasn't exactly "developed" in isolated backwater areas.

Chili Pepper
11/20/2006 11:57am,
5. Full contact sparring was seldom if ever used at that time. Without the benefit of equipment it would have been too dangerous. Again, look at bare knuckle boxing training for the same time period.

The TCMA answer was the development of two-man forms, allowing both practitioners to strike as hard as they wanted to without risk of injury, as well as showing correct application of blocking technique.


6. Chi Sao was a MAJOR step forward at that time. (See above) It allowed for a degree of aliveness that was unheard of in the 17th century. Unfortunately, I believe WC stopped evolving at some point in the 18th century.

Chi sao isn't unique. I think you would have a harder time finding a TCMA style that doesn't have a similar exercise.

M1K3
11/20/2006 11:58am,
LOL, they are the two points which I personally think make the least sense.

To imply there is something inherent in the environment which would shape it in a certain way is certainly reasonable. However, such a "dirty urban signature" would be fairly obvious in the other arts gestated in similar locales. So, #1 sidesteps any attempt to reconcile the fact that so many styles which do not have similarities with __ng __un were also developed under the exact same or very close circumstances.

#2 also sidesteps any attempt to reconcile the fact that most of the people involved with the style's creation were peasants from rural areas. And by being traveling performers, they were considered the lowest class of that society to boot! It also ignores that modern grappling wasn't exactly "developed" in isolated backwater areas.


I disagree, I think the similarty most southern kung fu styles from that time is the lack of 'rolling on the ground' techniques, ie dirty urban signature. As for number 2 I am not sure that the traveling performers (red boat opera company) either developed the art or would be considered rural.

Tom Kagan
11/20/2006 12:08pm,
I disagree, I think the similarty most southern kung fu styles from that time is the lack of 'rolling on the ground' techniques, ie dirty urban signature. As for number 2 I am not sure that the traveling performers (red boat opera company) either developed the art or would be considered rural.


You missed my point. There is some similarity to other styles of the area. But many styles came from dirty cities throughout the world... including "no no not on the raw sewage" low class grappling.

The lack of extensive grappling comes from reliance on bladed weapons (and other similarly shaped farm tools).

I'll be more than willing to go out on a limb and speculate the the mentality of "fair fight" dueling to settle grievences was a greater factor on the influence of striking styles than any other factor.

M1K3
11/20/2006 12:17pm,
You missed my point. There is some similarity to other styles of the area. But many styles came from dirty cities throughout the world... including "no no not on the raw sewage" low class grappling.

The lack of extensive grappling comes from reliance on bladed weapons (and other similarly shaped farm tools).

I'll be more than willing to go out on a limb and speculate the the mentality of "fair fight" dueling to settle grievences was a greater factor on the influence of striking styles than any other factor.

I didn't consider the weapon aspect, I like it. I didn't post the ideas in order of importance but more on the order I thought of them.

Goju - Joe
11/20/2006 2:50pm,
The analogy with bare knuckles boxing doesn't entirely work. Prior to the Marquis of Queensbury bare knuckle prize fights had throws and grappling and there was a school of fighter who practiced something called "English style shin kicking - or something like that" which sounds a lot like Muay Thai stely kicks.


So even though London was dirty and filled with poor people they had a well rounded fighting system.

Tonuzaba
11/20/2006 3:17pm,
M1K3, I am thrilled that someone is trying to have a communication instead of warmongering on the topics of the Beautiful spring. Thank you. Let us all enjoy the fruitful moments this thread has to offer up to that point in the - I fear - very close future when hordes of brainless type-o-warriors are going to **** it up for good...
I am looking forward a normal sane discussion here, although I personally don't think there is a point in discussing the creation/evolution of any MA on such broad and generalized terms as "the streets were dirty therefore there was no grappling". Wing chun as one of the latest CMA's was developed as an answer to the classical bullshit-loaded CMA's partly because of the European influence. Real life effectivity was something that was sorely missing from most CMA's, which turned into rather ritual movements series. This projected itself into the fights/duels also. Meeting up with drunken European sailor/soldiers and being KO'd with a few strong punches despite all the fancy acrobatic movements must have been a bigger eye opener for the Chinese martial artists than UFC was for the majority of BS "MA" gyms around the civilized world.

Tom Kagan, if I remember well you wrote somewhere on Bullshido that you've trained in Hong Kong. I take that as a fact and therefore respect your views as ones based on more personal experience than mine. I've never been in Asia. However, unless you claim the whole of the wing chun family tree to be myth, you must see that there were many high class practitioners of utmost importance. Leung Jan, the King of wing chun, was a doctor, which was and is a highly respected social position in China as far as I know.
Then again, the travelling theatre people were not always the hobos they might have looked like to the outsider. Pretty often they were intellectuals using the boat theatre as a disguise or a hideaway place.


Chi sao isn't unique. I think you would have a harder time finding a TCMA style that doesn't have a similar exercise. I would strongly disagree. My experience with TCMA's is pretty limited, but I have some regarding the most known and most widespread of all CMA's besides Wing Tsun, i.e. Praying Mantis and Tai Chi. Now these also have drills/movements that might appear to the unknowing eye to be the same as Chi Sau. However, if you'd try them and compare them, you'd quickly realise the HUGE difference. To put it simply, it is the difference between sticking hands to the hands of the opponent for the sake of sticking and then doing circling movements/pushing, and sticking in order to learn to avoid the sticking and follow up with attacks.

Tonuzaba

rsobrien
11/20/2006 4:15pm,
[quote=GoJu - Joe] there was a school of fighter who practiced something called "English style shin kicking - or something like that" which sounds a lot like Muay Thai stely kicks. [quote]

I think you are referring to the folk sport of purring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purring
They actually kick each other in the shins not using their shins to kick each other.

Secret Fighting Arts of the World actually has a fairly detailed account of it, if its at all true.

M1K3
11/20/2006 4:29pm,
Tonuzaba, thanks for the input. I only did Wing Chun for a short while. It wasn't a good fit for me but there were parts I realy liked.

I wasn't going strictly for a "streets are dirty, therefore no grappling" but more of an upper/middle/urban class vs the rural bumpkin rolling in the dirt mentality. If you look around most 'civilized' martial arts may employe throws but seldom continue the fight on the ground. Look at san da rules today in China. Also the bare knuckle boxing comparison still applies as boxers would often throw their openents which ended the round. Even if many of them landed on the oponent in the course of the throw.

Also BKB (bare knuckle boxing) was moving into a ring, or controlled arena for fighting as it turned more into a sport.