Paradigm Shift

Terance Rangi (6/2002)

When learning Wing Chun, we need to turn off our Automatic Reflexive Behavior that causes us to use brute strength. Unfortunately, this reaction has been ingrained into our subconscious since the dawn of time. There is also natural Homeostatic mechanism built into our bodies through the Fight or Flight Responses. These reactions are designed to help us get out of hazardous situations by supplying the body with tremendous amounts of Glucose and Oxygen to help fight of an attacker. Because this response initiates the use of brute strength it does little to assist us in learning Wing Chun.

What is required is a Paradigm Shift in our thinking so that our Cognitive Behaviors can be changed to better suit Wing Chun's concepts. Achieving this will help us to respond to incoming force in a efficient and effective way. It is a process of turning our automatic reflexive behavior into conscious awareness of our behavior.

When we learn any skill we pass through 3 levels of learning, they are:

Beginners Level (Conscious Incompetent) -

Learns the movement by copying or from instructions from the teacher. They have not fully grasp an understanding of the movement, i.e. they can perform a correct Bong Sau with assistance, but they cannot comprehend the movement by themselves, at this stage in their training.

Intermediate Level (Conscious Competent) -

Movements can be performed as long as, full conscious attention is being paid to the movement, i.e. they can perform the movement of a Bong Sau by themselves as long as all their concentration is behind the movement. Which means that there is no brain space left to concentrate on anything else. Their Bong Sau will be good but their Stance and Focus will suffer as a consequence.

Advanced Level (Sub-conscious Competent) -

Movement can be performed without full conscious attention being paid to the movement, i.e. Bong Sau can be performed efficiently, effectively. Which means there is plenty of brain space left to concentrate on other things, like focusing.

As our training progresses and we learn new skills, we constantly cycle through these stages consistently. It is a never ending Circle.

So what does all this mean to us?

How do we progress through each of these stages successfully?

First, we need to answer a series of questions (5WH). These questions can be applied to any aspect of our training. The following are just examples;

What movement causes tension?

When does this tension occur?

Why does this tension happen?

Where do you feel the tension?

Who causes this reaction?

How does this tension effect my body?

These type of questions need to be ask of ones self so that a better understanding of what actually happens to us in a given situation. By answering these 5WH questions honestly, helps to bring our actions/reactions into conscious awareness. So that a full conscious decision about what needs to changed can be made. In doing so you may experience a plateau in your training, but the gains far outweighs the cost.

When exploring these issues you will discover that when automatic reflexive behaviors occur, they stimulate Sensory Channels either externally or internally which causes you to react in a certain manner either physically of mentally. So therefore, it is possible to change these automatic reflexive behaviors through the same sensory channels creating a different response to the same situation. One that is more conducive to Wing Chun's concepts. The use of imagery will assist in changing our cognitive behaviors.

Two points to realize, when using imagery:

  1. "Neurological the brain cannot tell the difference between, real and imagined experiences, they both stimulate the brain through the same neural pathway. The brain and the body will act upon sensory input whether real or imagined." 1

That means that the brain can learn new behaviors by imagining the desired movements, but that does not mean that mental rehearsal can replace physical practice. It does mean however that mental and physical training compliment each other, they form a Cohesive Union.

  1. "The Brain cannot assimilate External and Internal generated sensory input in a particular sensory channel at the same moment in time." 1

You cannot pay attention to the External Visual side of a movement, practicing a Bong Sau, while paying attention to the Internal Visual Image of the same movement. By using External and Internal stimulus at the same time optimal absorption will not occur. It's like having a conversation with two people at the same time. The true meaning or intentions of the conversation is ambiguous, low retention of information hence poor performance.

Imagery is similar to Visualization except it is more dimensional, that is o say that it utilizes all our sensory channels - Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, Gustatory internally or externally. Each sensory channel have their own sub-modalities which optimizes our potential.

Visual (seeing) - Color, 3-Dimensional, Symmetry, Size, Clarity, Distance etc.

Auditory (hearing) - Pitch, Tone, Volume, Tempo, Clarity, Positive Affirmations etc.

Kinesthetic (feeling) - Texture, Shape, Intensity, Movement, Happy Emotions etc.

Olfactory (smelling) - Aromatic etc.

Gustatory (tasting) - Sweet, Sour, Bitter etc.

Imagery needs to be practiced in a relaxed physical and emotional state. When we are in a relaxed state, we are susceptible to imagery and suggestions so that new behaviors can be learnt for a given situation. Create an image that uses as many sub-modalities as possible, bring the picture to life, making it as real as possible. Imagine yourself using the newly learnt behaviors in a given scenario with a Positively Optimistic outcome. Constantly repeat the scenario with a repetition of passion, a state of grace, a feeling of happiness joyous emotions. Incorporating positive emotions into imagery helps to commit newly learnt behaviors to memory. Coordinating our mind with our sensory channels creates symmetry between mind, body and spirit a synergism, thus increasing our chances of improving our skills.


"Remember to keep your desires or outcomes that you want lively in your Mind, because all the Mechanisms necessary for the fulfillment of those desires are inherent in the desires themselves. Always remember that whatever you pay attention to in your mind grows strongly in your life."2

Be careful what you wish for it may come true.....

1. J. D. Hodges, B.Sc.(AES) Sports Mind, 1993

2. N. McMaster, PhD, Psychologist, 1998

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