How to develop and improve our feeling?

In Wing Chun, this question comes up quite often and every practitioner will think about it someday. The Chi Sao (sticky hands) which is considered the heart of the Wing Chun, is undoubtedly one of the best exercises to develop the feeling because we must constantly adapt to the feeling of our training partners, and therefore this ability to adaptation allows us to progress in a rather concrete way. But we have to admit that in a general way and according to our degree of experience, we tend to repeat more or less the same techniques, because we are conditioned by automatisms that are related to the system we are learning and also to our morphology and our own motor and cognitive functioning, which may one day limit or disrupt our progression. So the question is how to solve this problem? This time, the solution lies within ourselves and not with our training partner.

Contrary to what one imagines, it is possible to develop the feeling alone without any partner. But for that we must first understand how the feeling works. In Wing Chun, the "feeling" is the result of a complex brain activity of the nervous system, motor and cognitive, which allows us to feel the movements of our opponent, thus developing a real intuition of the fight that allows us to react spontaneously without reflect. In this cognitive process, a large number of neurosensory information will be sent and processed in the brain to trigger a spontaneous and appropriate motor response (eg, defensive and/or offensive movement).

This information comes mainly from touch / Tact / Contact and Vision / Vision but also from all the forces, pressures, pushes and tensions exerted on our body by our opponent. Several informations are also coming from our own Muscular System which is controlled by our Nervous System in order to define all our voluntary and involuntary movements, our structure, balance/equilibrium, rooting etc. In addition it is important to know that this motor response from the brain can easily be disturbed or hindered by our thoughts, our ego or our emotions. A multitude of details that make this cognitive process very complex and very sensitive, can be destabilized at any time.

So if we understand that each of our actions goes through our brain and that our brain itself is responsible for our "Good or Bad Feeling" It is very easy to understand the importance and usefulness of training our mind to be able to progress. Working on the mind does not necessarily mean devoting oneself to religious, mystical or philosophical practice. We must consider that Working on the Mind/Mental is a kind of Cognitive Therapy based on "the observation of the present moment" which acts directly on the Cognitive Functions of the Brain.

This method works only what we call "mindfulness meditation" is now recognized by many scientists around the world. it has been proven that meditation can have multiple physiological and psychological benefits such as helping to regulate our nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory system, improve our cognitive performance, our concentration, and attention, but also our memory and creativity, we help to better manage our emotions, etc. Precious benefits that will help us to be "more attentive to what we feel and perceive in the moment" while strengthening our mental so as not to be disturbed by our thoughts, emotions or ego...

This new attitude of the mind to be more Concentrated, Attentive, Responsive and Alert, will undoubtedly help us to better feel the movements of our opponent and thus develop a more subtle and intuitive feeling for Chi Sao, Combat or Self Defense. It will also allow us to improve our Motor Skills and Creativity which are important elements to be able to progress technically. In the traditional Martial Arts, the benefits of meditation are therefore based on these principles and it is for this reason that for centuries this spiritual practice has been associated with Kung Fu - especially thanks to Boddhidharma at the Shaolin Temple (6th century). In Wing Chun, meditation can be a real tool for progress, an important key to improve and develop our Feeling and Kung Fu, it is also the way that allows us to unite body and mind in the practice of Martial Art.

By Thierry Cuvillier