combat, kung fu, law enforcement, martial arts, military, self defense, Terre Haute

Avoiding the “What If” Question: Learn to Ask Your Kung Fu Sifu Good Questions

In today’s world people want instant gratification, or stimulation, . . . . .  Anyway, it leads to many kung fu sifus (i.e., teachers or instructors) getting asked, “What if. . . .” questions, like “What if someone tries to take you to the ground?” or “What if someone throws this or that type of punch?” . . . .  One example, that I love to tell, comes from a friend of mine, Phil, who teaches Tai Chi.  He was approached by a young man, who mockingly asked a what-if question.  Phil, in response, simply stated, “I don’t know.”  The young man, continuing in his mockery, asked, “You don’t know?”  And, Phil responded, “No.  And, I’d rather we didn’t find out.”

Yip Man
Grandmaster Ip Man

Most kung fu instructors hate the what-if question.  It tends to lean toward requests to match technique to technique for memorization and later attempted use; rather than, empowering the student to express themselves in the ever-flowing relationship that is the fight.  You see:  Kung fu, like the Wing Chun, Chi Kung and Praying Mantis taught here at the Yost Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, is principle based.  Those principles are to be mastered to expand the fighting-vocabulary of the student, for empowering ability in the worst of situations.  And, one cannot do that by memorizing a drill, exercise, form or technique.

Every fight is different.  Every fighter different.  There are those with no formal fight-training, who will attack you in very unpredictable and chaotic ways; and, there are those with some formal training that will come at you in calculated, structured ways.  If all you do is prepare for one or the other, you will have difficulty adapting to the actual fight; in other words, instead of fighting the fight you’ll be too busy trying to recite theory or recreate a drill.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Questions are an essential part of learning.  You should be able to ask your Sifu a question when you have one.  Just ask your question correctly.  Here’s an example:  Instead of asking what to do if someone tries to (generically) take you to the ground, ask your teacher how you can use your specific kung fu (e.g., Wing Chun) to deal with a specific issue; then, allow the teacher to instruct you as he/she sees fit.

Empower yourself to life!™

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Terre Haute, Indiana

 

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