by Sifu Keith Sonnenberg
Many people have an all or nothing view of life. They believe that if you cannot do something all the way, don’t do it at all. There is some merit to this point of view but not if it prevents you from forming a good habit.
I am sure that you have heard of the “cold turkey” method of getting rid of a bad habit. Some will swear that it worked best for them when they quit eating deserts, quit eating fatty foods or quit smoking. Others follow a gradual plan advocated by counselors or doctors.
The opposite can be true of forming good habits. How many times have you or somebody you know started an exercise program and went full-tilt for two or three weeks and then gradually quit? All too often the person trying this method over does it, getting too sore and their body cannot recover fast enough in time for the next workout. This becomes a de-motivating factor. In addition, the time involved becomes interruptive to all the things currently in their life plan. Excuses begin to form and friends start wondering where they are.
For all these reasons I created a ten minute Wing Tsun™ mind-body training program on a card! It takes only ten minutes to do several basic WingTsun kung-fu drills chosen for their overall benefit to the fitness and skills of the mind and body compressed into a ten minute period of time. I laminated them onto card stock and students can take them on trips, put them into their gym bag, and, with a rubber band through hole on one side, hang them from hooks in their hotel room or tape it to a mirror! I recommend carrying a small timer with you on trips and leave it where you practice at home.
Busy people always put their stressful life styles ahead of healthy habits. If you begin WingTsun training at your local WingTsun school, it is important to follow through with basic exercises at home.
The rationale for this ten minute training is that people always think that they do not have enough time to train or they claim that they do not know what to practice. Carrying this constant reminder with you eliminates those excuses. It is called a ten-minute training so that you know it will not take longer than ten minutes. The timer is to make sure that you do not go beyond ten minutes. Let’s face it, once you get going, WingTsun training is fun. Many driven personalities will want to go beyond the ten minutes. However if you spend too much time during a busy period, you and your family and associates are going to start resenting all the time spent away from them, especially if you are late for meetings or assignments! The ten minute training is designed specifically for those busy periods. The longer, regular personalized training with your fellow WingTsun students is yours alone at the WingTsun school in your area.
WingTsun exercises are not jumping jacks or push-ups. They are footwork drills and punching drills. They are chosen for their overall effects, addressing the upper and lower body and reversing the effects of stress with breathing exercises while doing the Siu Nim Tau form:
1) Siu Nim Tau – Do the form at the same pace we use in regular classes – 4 minutes
2) 250 chain punches, moderate-fast pace – 1½ minutes
3) 40 Huen Bo (circling stance) in place, 20 per leg – 1 minute
4) Turning stance with changing man sau, 30 on each side, 60 total – 2 minutes
5) Knee thrusts in forward stance, 20 each leg – 1½ minutes
This routine will take ten minutes without having to rush through it. Be sure to avoid any tendency to rush through the movements. During Siu Nim Tau, pace yourself and breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth in an easy, natural way. Let the abdomen swell up and follow that with allowing the chest to expand. Let the breath out slowly through the mouth. This is what makes this a mind-body exercise. It will calm you and leave you refreshed.
Perform the chain punches at a moderate pace. Make sure to lock out the arm on each punch.
Do the forty circling steps in one place, alternating feet. Constant daily practice of this technique will pay dividends down the road. This exercise is so important that the ancestors of this system placed another set of this footwork in the advanced form Biu Tze, learned only by our Technician Level instructors.
Turning stance is to be done using the 45 degree turn. Beginners can do this with hands chambered. As you advance, you may use the man sau changing with man sau pointed to a single target on a mirror or on a wall. Later, you can use any turning stance hand technique such as tan dar, gaun dar, etc.
The knee thrusts are an upward thrust of the knee for knee striking to an attacker’s chest. Use the forward stance and do ten, then turn 180 degrees and do ten more, then turn and do ten on that side, then turn again and do ten. Total= 40. Finished!
This whole series can be done in a very confined area such as a hotel room. More advanced students can elaborate on this program with similar exercises done with both hands and feet moving together.
If you can maintain training with an eye toward a realistic approach to how much you can accomplish during busy and stressful periods, you are far less likely to lapse entirely. Continuity is one of the vital elements in your continued success with WingTsun training or any physical pursuit.
© Copyright Keith Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.