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Thread: The Thinking Man's Art

  1. #1
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    The Thinking Man's Art

    I came across an interview with Sifu Robert Chu today. He said something I liked and that has some bearing on recent threads here in the forum:

    You gotta have some brains in order to do Wing Chun. That is the beauty of it, what is it an advanced marital art? It is thinking man’s art. Think about it, Wing Chun was passed down by the opera troops. They have to be very innovative, be comical, understand situations to entertain people. They have to be able to take the best of martial arts and simplify it for application. Yet they still have to be able to use martial arts for show and entertainment.

    They passed it down to the merchant class. Doctors and merchants are usually very smart people. They have to use their brain, they have to do problem solving. Then we have the age of the educated individuals, like in Hong Kong.

    You didn’t have your basic farmers learning Wing Chun, you had people with more substance (learning it at that time). We should conduct the art in that matter, because it’s progressing in that matter. I think there is a great improvement of Wing Chun, because it passes onto intelligent people. Not just thugs, gangsters, or stupid people.

  2. #2
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    Well ...

    IMO most martial arts require the application of intelligence and critical thinking to get the most out of them. Jiu jitsu IMO is undergoing continual evolution with some very smart and innovative practitioners and coaches pushing it along. Wing Chun, not so much.

    The above statements generalise that farmers and the lower classes lack intelligence, and that entertainers are necessarily smart. And that merchants are as smart as doctors. Might have been so back then, but highly questionable whether it is now.

    Another WC internet celebrity seems to think that WC has gone backwards since 1850 and we've lost a lot of stuff since then. All the smart people must have got left out of the loop. Or all the smart people got too smart for their own good and decided to take that sh*t to their graves.

    Which Internet guru do you want to follow? Neither, thank you.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by KPM View Post
    You gotta have some brains in order to do Wing Chun.
    I read that statement, and then I look around at this forum, and somehow I don't find myself agreeing with Robert. Maybe it's just me.

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    oh my gosh, talk about fluffing a fart filled pillow.

    "thinking mans art"?

    It's not mathematics, it's stuffing your fist into someones face and stomping on their knee.

    WTF is there to think about. Just repeat stuff til you have skill and then apply. Not much thought required.

    Wing Chun is the same as any other martial art in that respect.

    Why is there a segment of people who think themselves intellectual for pursuing martial art? It borders on the sublimely ridiculous when you break down the logic of that.

    Just saying.
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    Combat is whatever that you can do on your body. It's not what you can think in your brain.

    The difference between a scholar and a MA guy is when a

    - scholder tries to answer 10 questions exam. He would start from Q1, Q2, ... If he has problen with Q5, he can skip it and come back to it after he has finished Q10.

    - knife is stabbing toward a MA guy's heart, he has only 1/10 second to make the right decision. If he has to think about whether he should use "Tan Shou", "Fu Shou", or "Bon Shou", he would be dead.
    Last edited by YouKnowWho; 07-25-2013 at 12:06 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Jamieson View Post
    oh my gosh, talk about fluffing a fart filled pillow.
    Lol

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    He says doctors, merchants and actors are of more substance, and farmers are stupid? That's pretty funny. None of those 'persons of more substance' would have been able to feed themselves without farmers to provide for them. Also, many farmers develop freaky strength from their daily labor. Add MA training to that and put two and two together. Farmers also have to know what they're doing. I doubt those 'men of greater substance' would have lasted a day working the fields.

    As YKW mentioned, intellect has little to do with combat. Too much reliance on intellect and thinking will indeed interfere with your actions/reactions.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 07-25-2013 at 01:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post
    Combat is whatever that you can do on your body. It's not what you can think in your brain.

    The difference between a scholar and a MA guy is when a

    - scholder tries to answer 10 questions exam. He would start from Q1, Q2, ... If he has problen with Q5, he can skip it and come back to it after he has finished Q10.

    - knife is stabbing toward a MA guy's heart, he has only 1/10 second to make the right decision. If he has to think about whether he should use "Tan Shou", "Fu Shou", or "Bon Shou", he would be dead.
    Yes, true, but he could think about the ramifications as he lay there dying and make adjustments for his next life. I have heard Wing Chun referred to as a "gentleman's art", though.
    Last edited by PalmStriker; 07-25-2013 at 02:46 PM.

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    I have heard Wing Chun referred to as a "gentleman's art", though.
    An assertion often contradicted by the behaviour of its senior practitioners.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by anerlich View Post
    An assertion often contradicted by the behaviour of its senior practitioners.
    Ha ! I think the expression was mostly used in Hong Kong.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    He says doctors, merchants and actors are of more substance, and farmers are stupid? That's pretty funny.
    By "farmers" in 19th century China I think he means peasants pretty much. It is probably true that wing chun was more a martial art of the middle classes in China at that time. It is also true that it does provide quite a bit to think about if you are so inclined.

    Who cares though really? It is what it is today, and today is all we have

  12. #12

    The Thinking Man's Art

    Quote Originally Posted by KPM View Post
    I came across an interview with Sifu Robert Chu today. He said something I liked and that has some bearing on recent threads here in the forum:

    You gotta have some brains in order to do Wing Chun. That is the beauty of it, what is it an advanced marital art? It is thinking man’s art. Think about it, Wing Chun was passed down by the opera troops. They have to be very innovative, be comical, understand situations to entertain people. They have to be able to take the best of martial arts and simplify it for application. Yet they still have to be able to use martial arts for show and entertainment.

    They passed it down to the merchant class. Doctors and merchants are usually very smart people. They have to use their brain, they have to do problem solving. Then we have the age of the educated individuals, like in Hong Kong.

    You didn’t have your basic farmers learning Wing Chun, you had people with more substance (learning it at that time). We should conduct the art in that matter, because it’s progressing in that matter. I think there is a great improvement of Wing Chun, because it passes onto intelligent people. Not just thugs, gangsters, or stupid people.
    I agree , you ' re not only learning how to fight , but you ' re also learning how to think too .

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    The class levels pretty much determined who did and who did not study martial arts in old china. If you worked from daylight to dark every day it might effect the time you might have to study or practice. The red boat acrobats likely had lots of time to practice wing chun, as would most persons of status .
    Jackie Lee

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    Wow! I have to scratch my head a bit over some of the responses on this thread. I felt the need to respond to a few of them.

    The above statements generalise that farmers and the lower classes lack intelligence, and that entertainers are necessarily smart. And that merchants are as smart as doctors. Might have been so back then, but highly questionable whether it is now.

    ---He was obviously talking about “then”, not “now.” And it wasn’t a statement on intelligence, it was a statement on educational level.

    Another WC internet celebrity seems to think that WC has gone backwards since 1850 and we've lost a lot of stuff since then. All the smart people must have got left out of the loop. Or all the smart people got too smart for their own good and decided to take that sh*t to their graves.

    ---Internet celebrity? Robert hasn’t had any kind of internet presence for several years now. He no longer participates regularly on the forums and hasn’t even updated his own webpage in a couple of years. And you got all that from that simple passage I quoted? He simply said that to be good at Wing Chun you have to use your brain as much as your fists. Nothing was said about whether we are worse off or better off than our predecessors.

    knife is stabbing toward a MA guy's heart, he has only 1/10 second to make the right decision. If he has to think about whether he should use "Tan Shou", "Fu Shou", or "Bon Shou", he would be dead.

    ---Once again, how do you derive that idea from the passage quoted? Robert is talking about training and understanding Wing Chun at a certain depth. He never implied that you were supposed to stop and think about each move before you did it. That’s just a ridiculous statement.

    He says doctors, merchants and actors are of more substance, and farmers are stupid? That's pretty funny. None of those 'persons of more substance' would have been able to feed themselves without farmers to provide for them.

    ---And again! How do you arrive at that conclusion from his statement? Where did he say farmers are stupid? Obviously farmers worked long hard days and had little time left over for either education or training in martial arts. This was not necessarily the case for the merchant class, and certainly not the case for the “upper class.”


    oh my gosh, talk about fluffing a **** filled pillow. "thinking mans art"? It's not mathematics, it's stuffing your fist into someones face and stomping on their knee.
    WTF is there to think about. Just repeat stuff til you have skill and then apply. Not much thought required.


    ---“Fluffing a **** filled pillow”??? Really???? You think it’s that simple? Ok. If you guys don’t respect what Robert Chu has to say, how about some quotes from someone else? This one is from Wong Shun Leung in David Petersen’s book. Wong Shun Leung knew a thing or two about fighting and referred to Wing Chun as a “skill” rather than an “art.” He had a no-nonsense approach to fighting. Yet even he said:

    Wing Chun teaches you how to think. People find that its concepts can be applied in other areas of their life.

    They (students) don’t understand how to apply the concepts of Wing Chun. This means that the students are concentrating too much on the individual technique rather than seeing the whole situation. They cannot appreciate the theory that would otherwise suggest an appropriate technique.

    A lot of Wing Chun is in the mind. The actions or movements are not that important. What Wing Chun teaches is that it is more important to use what is in your head.

    Wing Chun is an expression of concepts. Wing Chun does not have to be done to the letter. Only enough needs to be done to fulfill the requirements of the theory.



    I think I'll stick with Robert Chu and Wong Shun Leung. If you guys can't see the wisdom in their words, that's OK. To each his own.

  15. #15
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    He was obviously talking about “then”, not “now.” And it wasn’t a statement on intelligence, it was a statement on educational level.
    Then or now, it was a dumb generalisation. He implied farmers were without "substance". He said Wing Chun was only passed down to "intelligent people", and it was not passed down to farmers. Maybe that doesn't imply farmers are stupid by the rules of formal logic, but it certainly f'in' does in regular parlance.

    What do you think he meant if not that?

    ---Internet celebrity? Robert hasn’t had any kind of internet presence for several years now. He no longer participates regularly on the forums and hasn’t even updated his own webpage in a couple of years. And you got all that from that simple passage I quoted? He simply said that to be good at Wing Chun you have to use your brain as much as your fists. Nothing was said about whether we are worse off or better off than our predecessors.
    He's on Facebook.

    My point was that there are widely different opinions among gravitas-claiming amateur Wing Chun historians about the activities and motivations of our illustrious predecessors. Robert's view is but one.

    Using your brain? Think for yourself rather than making appeals to authority, in that case.

    Where did he say farmers are stupid?
    See above. It's more what he implied they weren't rather than what he said they were.

    If you guys don’t respect what Robert Chu has to say
    I respect Robert. I can forgive him when he puts his foot in his mouth like he did this time, too. He's only human, not some Wing Chun messiah whose words are to be absorbed uncritically like the Bible or the Koran.

    I think I'll stick with Robert Chu and Wong Shun Leung.
    Arrgh, death by a thousand quotes.

    Good for you. Just maybe apply a little more critical thinking before sharing their wisdom with us next time.
    Last edited by anerlich; 08-05-2013 at 03:21 PM.
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