In the day of mixed martial arts and UFC we have lost sight of what martial arts is. The art is void in MMA. There is belief that MMA is the ultimate combat training and all else is inconsequential. Dana White, the President of UFC has gone so far as to assert that Bruce Lee is the “Father of MMA” and would have competed if given the opportunity. As a Bruce Lee and Gung Fu scholar, I disagree. MMA is a highly effective system of combat. A well trained MMA fighter has an edge on many other American based Martial Arts systems. However it has rules and and your enemy does not. I learned early in my martial arts training that the way you train is the way you fight and for even an experienced UFC fighter that means exposure. While you are submitting your opponent on the ground he is gouging your eye or his friend is impailing you with a knife. If you want to be a well rounded one on one sport based bad ass them MMA is the way to go. If you want to learn an “easy” yet effective way to defend yourself then Krav Maga is for you. It was designed to teach large numbers (the Israeli military) effective hand to hand combat in a short time. Having studied Krav Maga techniques I can say with confidence that they will not hold up against a well trained formidable opponent. If you are willing to take the time to train and master a martial arts. Meaning practicing daily with intention for a lifetime then I personally believe Wing Chun is the most effective style. It is not easy to learn but is based on sound laws of Physics. It was founded by a woman, a Shoalin Nun who was legendary for defeating the Shoalin monks in competition. The fact a woman developed it is key. The smaller and physically “weaker” of the sexes means the principles are geared to defeating a larger, physically stronger opponent. The beauty of Wing Chung is that being fast or strong is no gaurentee of victory. The better practitioner has the advantage always. There are no weight classes as their are in sport combat ie UFC and boxing. Bruce Lee originally studied Wing Chung and then implemented various new principles into his training which is why Jeet Kune Dao is difficult to “learn”. It is not a strict style but rather guiding principles that every martial artist can apply to their craft. This is why Dana White is misguided in thinkin Lee would prescribe to a style such as MMA. Lee was only interested in what was effective on the streets. The argument for what is the most effective style and why will likely never end. The problem is not styles it is practitioners. As with American Martial Arts, the problem is not the physical style. It is the lack of higher principles Lee and the ancient Masters imparted.
Kung Fu is not simply physical combat training. It is not colorful belts and flashy kicks, it is not the octagon. It is a way of life committed to self mastery in all aspect. For those committed to being their best at their given craft it becomes Religion. It tends to flow into all aspect of their daily lives because this is the cost of self-mastery. You can’t be a serious Martial Artists and not be concerned with your health. You want to be the best version of self and therefore you have the discipline to train. To eat the right foods. To learn about Anatomy and Physiology, Health and Fitness. To learn about the Mind and the Warrior Spirit within. I was lead to meditation in part to be a better athlete/ martial artist. To learn how to tap into inner powers and be fearless. My Wing Chung Sei Fu, Master Fong is very traditional. He shares a direct lineage with Yip Man. He is a Chines Herbalists and acuupressurist too The original Kung Fu masters were all Healers, Herbalists, acupuncturist etc. Gung Fu in the traditional sense of the term applies to an individual who studies and practices Philosophy, Alchemy, Medicine, Literature and Music. Hence a well-rounded jack and Master. In other words, anyone who hones their craft and masterfully, expertly and authentically express it is a Man or Women of Gung Fu. Martial Arts training was not a way to prove who is better but to learn about oneself. It is self-discovery, not prowess that drove them. It is spiritual growth and self-awareness. When training I am present. Martial Arts is Mindfulness. It is being in the moment. A great martial Artist is not thinking but rather flowing. If your opponent moves you move if you move they react. You exchange yin and yang. A great Martial Artist mindfully waits for his opponent to make a mistake. Like Chess, it is a battle of minds. The Confusious principles that influenced Martial Arts and expressed in The Sun Tzu’s Art of War. It is not actually about how to Win Wars or be Victorious in Combat. It is about cultivating a skill and Spirit so powerful that your enemy yields without conflict. The enemy within.
“All types of Knowledge ultimately leads to self-knowledge. So, therefore, these people are asking me to teach them, not so much how to defend themselves or how to do somebody in. Rather, they want to learn to express themselves in some movement, be it anger, be it determination or whatever. So, in other words, they are paying me to show them, in combative form, the art of expressing the human body.” Bruce Lee
Love and Empathy,