Saturday, January 28, 2012
Bruce Lee and Yip Man
Bruce Lee wrote the book on Mixed Martial arts. It was called the Tao of Jeet Kune do. His original teacher was Yip Man. Yip Man is known as the grandfather of Wing Chung. Yet Wing Chung was a woman. She originally created the style using techniques that would work for a smaller practitioner to use against a larger practitioner.
Yip Man is highly regarded around the world as the patriarch of Wing Chung. He is very small and frail yet very talented and competent. It reminds me of the stories of the small old men who were Kendo masters. They were very relaxed and fast and were amazingly competent. It’s nice to see a smaller guy take out a larger guy using technique not brute force. Everybody likes a David and Goliath story.
Yet in our day, North Americans call for the steroid moneys to over power and control their opponents. It’s sad really. Not only is a huge portion of the arts lost but a large portion of the philosophy is being lost as well.
Royce Gracie put the UFC on the map. He was the man. He showed us how it was done. We need to remember that and respect what he did for the art that we now know as MMA. He was the king of ground fighting. He took a boxer to the ground, mounted him and the boxer tapped out because he had no idea what to do. He took out a much larger and stronger opponent by choking him out with his legs in a perfect triangle choke. He brought us technique before brutal force.
Bruce Lee wasn’t a very large man physically but he was very strong and very fit. His technique demonstrated how not only could a smaller opponent take out a larger opponent but multiple opponents. No a days it’s the old cop out, fight me fight my gang. Now it’s seven guys giving one guy the boots and pretending that has anything to do with manliness.
There was an older movie called the Dragon that was a good portrayal of the Bruce Lee Story. More recently there was a great movie done about (Y)ip Man’s life with Donnie Yen. I’m still not sure if that has been released with English subtitles yet.
There isn’t much Kung fu that has survived the UFC. Just like when full contact Karate became a sport, most of the hand techniques of Karate were dropped and replaced with Western boxing. Thai boxing has survived and risen to be very practical in the cage.
Chi Sao is just a drill but it does have a purpose. It can be done blindfolded to teach wrist sensitivity. The trapping hands of wing chung bridge the gap between stand up and grappling. It is well worth preserving that tradition.