Day One.

“You have just learned the two most important things about Wing Chun Kung Fu, Respect and Breathing!”  is what my Sifu said on day one.

This was taught in metaphorical fashion. I was told to stand in a modified attention stance and then it was called out;

“Knees bent, right foot out 45 degrees, left hand up Wu Sao breath in, Right hand punch the left palm breath out SSSSST, Left foot out Du Ma breath in, Shoot both hands out Biu Sao breath out sharply SSSSST, both hands back breath in, double back-fist breath out sharply SSSSST, right foot back front breath in, press down with both hands and stand straight up and breath out. You have just learned the two most important things about Wing Chun Kung Fu, Respect and Breathing!”

Now lets look at this portion of the statement, “Respect and Breathing”, we all know what happens if we all stop breathing. Basically we die.

If we put two trained martial artists with the exact same skill set in a ring, the outcome would depend on will power and a little luck. Now lets add something to one of the fighters skill set; solid relaxed breath training, or training to breath appropriately for the circumstance. Breathing has a lot to do with how well your body does under pressure. If your blood is well oxygenated and the body is constantly being refreshed by breath and the fighter can achieve this well under pressure, this fighter has an skill that may well be the edge he needs to overcome his opponent whom may be gassed, or weak and fatigued.

Common training knowledge directly correlates breathing with well developed cardio fitness, and as we all know good cardio equals stamina and longevity in case of a fight. There are professional athletes in Hawaii training under water with no breath as a means to develop a stronger resistance to fatigue in the body under duress. The idea here is to train the body to work with less oxygen or utilize the remaining oxygen in the body efficiently or economically. This is a common training method for the new guard of big wave surfers here in Hawaii and free-divers around the world.

There are also hundreds of breathing apparatus on the market, being used in MMA and most pro sports training camps today. From old gas masks to high tech re-breathers and breath restrictors  they all have a similar concept in mind. Train the body to breath efficiently, or utilize oxygen better.

The idea of training breath or breathing to be second nature under duress or in a conflict is key. Along with all technique taught within the Wing Chun System breath and breathing is paramount.

One idea on how it is instilled within the system itself would point to the breathing done and practiced during hand forms. If a student actually practices, he will get this training as part of his twice daily ritual of preforming Sil Nim Tao and it will become second nature or a memory reflex.

Another way this can be incorporated into training method, is through forced instinctual breathing. As a student or practitioner works on technique, if coordinated strong sharp out breaths are used during the exercises, the body automatically re-breaths due to the natural instinct to breath in as the body is stressed and out of breath.

As part of San Sik a timed continuous chain punch can be utilized with breath changes added for effect. Try this technique with natural breath, continuous out breath until stressed, and also with no breath until stressed.

“You have just learned the two most important things about Wing Chun Kung Fu, Respect and Breathing, Because if you dont Breath you Die, and if you don’t show Respect you may also Die!”

On Day One! “Respect and Breathing” is what he said.

by Lawrence Ramirez Sifu lrs

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