The Virtue of Self-Control in Wing Chun

In all martial arts, the virtue of self-control is (ought to be) taught.  In Wing Chun, it is a vital attribute to develop not only for the sake of not hurting someone but for the sake of becoming a better Wing Chun practitioner.  Since Wing Chun utilizes the sensitivity of touch as a way of reacting and sensing the opponent, self-control ought to be a naturally developed trait.  Being able to move at full speed but also being able to stop a punch right at the opponent’s skin is being in control.

As I’ve been teaching Wing Chun in my studio in Hollywood, I’ve increasingly recognized the important need for methodically training self-control.  The person who strikes without the ability to intentionally and determinatively hit exactly where he purposes to hit and as hard as he purposed to is like an undisciplined animal, wild and unskilled.  On the contrary, the person who shows self-control is an artist.  I suppose it’s not too different for me from painting – I apply the right amount of pressure on the canvas with the brush, move the brush exactly at the speed I want to move it and stop the stroke at where I mean to stop it.  It’s not overdone and the motions which results in the amount of paint that goes on the canvas is not unintentionally superfluous.  In art, the inability to have self-control will create mud.  The ability to take a punch only as far as I intend to while under challenging circumstances indicates a personal strength.  The person who cannot control himself cannot establish control in adverse or trying situations of life. To train the body to have self-control requires training the mind.  Self-control is a strength not only in the physicality of martial arts but also as a virtue in ones character.

This principle highlighted for me the Biblical emphasis of self-control as a godly attribute (Gal.5:22).  The ability to resist temptation, turn away from distraction, restrain urges that lead to regrettable consequences, and refrain from over indulgence is a form of inner power.  It demonstrates a mastery over oneself.  Living life without self-control can and will result in mud.  The absence of self-control means being out of control; being out of control means being powerless.  Sometimes we feel like we have control when we give ourselves the license to do what we want and as much as we want without restraint.  But in actuality, we’re mere powerless beings when we lack control over the most primary object we should have control over – self.  In the end, we may feel immediate gratifications for our urges.  But we’re not making art our of life.

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