Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Book Review: The Structure of Wing Chun

I like this book a lot. It’s very readable and I like the way it is written.

Alan Orr teaches a branch of Wing Chun that is firmly based about six core elements. His is a system of principles rather than techniques.

Orr begins with some personal history, something about various martial arts he has trained in or exposed to, a little about his teachers and a brief mention that his method of teaching and training is based upon some first principles.

He then continues to spiral with more about his martial arts journey, more about his teachers and how he was exposed to the principles.

Orr feels very strongly that if you are learning about combat, that you have to fight. Beating people up in the street is frowned upon, so his students regularly participate in MMA matches. There are vignettes by his students who have trained with him and fought in MMA matches. Some of these students have gone on to teach others as well.

To do this, he’s had to add grappling to his repertoire and so has learned BJJ. Orr is a master within his system of Wing Chun as well as a legitimate BJJ black belt. One of the things I have admired about Judo is that there is a consistent philosophy in both standing and grappling situations. Orr’s take on BJJ fits his Wing Chun philosophy like a glove

We read about Wing Chun history and how it fits in with today’s interpretations. Orr trains with all the traditional forms, weapons and tools as well as the latest in modern methods. Orr doesn’t make a big deal out of it, but I think that it’s worth pointing out that the “traditional” methods that some of us revere WERE the latest in available technology to those who came before us.

Orr writes about the philosophy behind the forms, which is something I have not really encountered before and again ties everything together with the six core elements.

More personal history, more from his students, from his teachers in the form of interviews … and the table is set. By the time we get to the latter half of the book, the table has been thoroughly set for his to explain his six core elements, learn some drills and begin to work with this stuff.

Orr offers some on line options to learn from him, or at least learn more.

I am not a Wing Chun student, but I really liked this book and felt that I learned something from it. I think this book and it’s approach could well be a model for how martial arts books are written in the future.

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