Meet What Comes, Follow What Leaves
Meet What Comes:
When an opponent goes to strike a Wing Chun Practitioner, you should move forward to meet the opponent's bridge; this is not done with force, but with relaxed arm (tense on contact). From the first point of contact with an opponent depends on where the bridge is met by your arm (Man Sau or Wu Sau) this determines what position your arm moves into.
I.e. if you were standing a Man Sau/Wu Sau Position (left hand in the Man Sau position) and the opponent punches with their right hand - if contact of the bridge is met on the top side of the of the left arm, you can move on the inner gate with a Tan Sau or outer gate Bong Sau, both with the left arm. If contact is made with the bottom side of the your left arm, you can move into outer gate Jum Sau with your left arm, or move into an outer gate Tan Sau with your right arm
So from the first point of contact with your opponent determines what arm position you decide to apply, thus redirecting the on coming force, from this position you continue to maintain the bridge of your opponent and strike.
This also applies when practising Chi Sau - If an opponent is using very heavy forwarding energy, they are testing your technique for openings, testing your structure - they are probing you continuously. So to combat this advanced technique you need to meet your opponent's energy with the same amount of energy. This does not mean that you are tense with your arms; your energy comes from the floor. I.e. you use your body to counter the force by moving your feet and re-directing the energy back at the opponent, thus forcing them off balance.
Newton's third law "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
If you let an opponent probe you without reacting you will find yourself being forced off balance and unable to counter their attack as you have no structure to base any form of defence on.
So to 'meet what comes' is to meet an opponents energy with a hand position that is relaxed and able to move forward into further more attacking positions.
Please note that Wing Chun practitioners do not meet force with force, but flow around or redirect oncoming force by absorbing the force using your structure or by folding/enveloping the force into a position whereby you can throw the energy back out at an opponent, causing them to be off balance, and this is done by changing of angles.
Follow What Leaves:
To follow what leaves you must have already made a bridge (contact) with an opponent.
When training with an opponent in Chi Sau or free sparing and you feel them pushing a certain way - let them go that way, as once they are off their centre line they will have lost their structure and can easily be moved off balance giving you an opportunity to strike.
If you resist the force applied to you, you would have had to tense the arm or limb, and the opponent can use your tense limb as a lever to manipulate your structure, forcing you off your centre and therefore causing you to be off balance due to loss of structure.
You need to remain the opposite of your opponent; therefore if they apply a tense force, you remain relaxed, as when the opponent retracts the tense force, this is when you can take advantage. Being relaxed you are able to move at very fast speeds indeed, therefore you are able to close down the opponent and dominate the situation.
What you do not want to do is enter into a situation where you and an opponent are struggling and using great amounts of strength, this will not only tire you out, but only the strongest will win and this may not be you!
A true Wing Chun Practitioner will not force an opponent into a certain position by force, but to take advantage of the opportunity if it presents itself.
The idea is to stick to your opponent and not let them gain any distance from you, you should continue to close them down until the opportunity has been fully exploited. If the opponent manages to gain distance from you because you have not followed them, they will be able to correct themselves/recover back in to a guard position and your opportunity has been therefore lost.
Strike When the Hand is Free:
In some martial arts which have now turned to sports there is a lot of emphasis on scoring points against an opponent in a set time period (rounds). This is all very well but is unrealistic as there are rules you must abide by and the practitioners of these sports wear padding for obvious safety reasons.
In these sports each opponent looks for that opening in their opponents defence or tries to make an opponent make a mistake therefore causing an opening for them to strike. Once the strike has been made, the opponents tend to return to their starting position and do not capitalise on there opponents mistake.
However in the Wing Chun system you are taught to look for that opening or cause the opening in your opponents defence by making them make a mistake, but when that opening has been made, we capitalise on it by destroying the target, this is very apparent when you have trapped up your opponents arms and are able to strike them with ease. Once engaged in to a technique and you have met what has been thrown at you, you have followed the force, if your hand becomes free at this point the idea is to then strike with the free hand.
As there are a lot of controlling movements within the Wing Chun System which are all based on touch or sensitivity you are able to feel when you hand has become free and therefore you are able to strike a lot faster that that of martial arts that use sight to react.
There are various ways of saying this Popular Wing Chun Proverb:
- "Meet What Comes; Follow What Leaves and Strike When the Hand is Free."
- "Greet what arrives, Escort what leaves and Rush upon loss of contact."
- "Stay with what comes, follow as it retreats, if the hand becomes free, follow straight to the centre line."
- "Stay with what comes, send off what goes', 'detain what arrives, escort what is removed."
- "Force comes you redirect, force retreats you follow, force detaches, you strike."
- "Retain what comes in, send off what retreats. Rush in on loss of hand contact."
In Wing Chun we seek the most efficient, direct, and structural path to accomplish the concepts we are guided by:
- Accept what comes / keep
- Let go
These are universal truths in dealing with energy.
Some structures are better suited for accepting / redirecting / rooting on coming force. Based on the variables of that force, is it harder, softer, higher, lower and so on
You need to have an adaptive structure, so you would need to ask yourself are you bigger, smaller, faster or slower? Therefore you need to be able to adapt your footwork and weight distribution to suit the on coming force
The same goes with follow / escort / send off. Will it be the limb, the body or footwork whereby the opponent retreats, how much of each and to what degree?
Let go, how stubborn are you given the technique you have applied in this circumstance, do you force the technique to work, or are you able to have an open mind and adapt your original technique and remain in control of the situation.
Rebound, is your approach. Is your structure and footwork flexible enough to expand and then contract and still remain structurally sound? Can your physical and metal ability fulfil these basic rules?
Wing Chun is personal; therefore everyone trains differently based on build, strength, speed, structure etc. There are no golden techniques that fit every given opportunity, Wing Chun techniques should be personalised based on the variables of you
Sifu Neil Sydenham.