Hi there fellow Wing Chun fanatic —
It’s Rob from WingChunLife.com. Quick question…
Do you cross-train?
I ask because there’s only so much you will learn to do inside the kwoon.
If you want to get to the next level, or want to get an edge with the limited time you have, you have to look outside the Wing Chun womb. I think Bruce Lee exemplified this thought.
I’m not suggesting inventing a new martial art or martial art philosophy like he started to do.
Instead, I’m thinking about something more practical for the everyday Wing Chun warrior. For example…
Cross-Training is a Well Established Method to Improve Physical Ability…
Consider competitive swimmers. Instead of spending all their time training in the water, which makes logical sense, they spend a lot of time training on dry land.
They pump weights or run and workout muscles that may not be vital for gliding through water. But by doing so, they make overall improvements in their body, which makes an important difference when they race.
I feel yoga is a great way for Wing Chun fighters to cross-train. If you’re someone who thinks yoga is too fluffy, or something weaklings do, just hear me out for a minute…
I’ll show you some professional athletes and MMA stars who use yoga to sharpen their game and a disabled American Gulf War vet (dependent on two crutches and knee braces just to stand) who used a hybrid yoga program to get back his body!
And if you follow their lead, even just a little, you can get an edge in Wing Chun and your everyday life and health as well.
Add Yoga to Improve Your Wing Chun Ability: a Primer
Unfortunately, I don’t practice regularly, but I’ve been a fan for years and have gone through spurts where I add yoga to my solo workouts.
In general, I’m pretty limber and have decent balance compared to other students in my kwoon.
This is a direct result of my years tinkering with yoga.
Here are few ways yoga can help you —
- Being properly limber helps you strike and kick with more fluidity, which usually translates into speed;
- Yoga improves your core strength and balance making your strikes more powerful;
- Effective core strength and balance makes you more sure footed – it improves your footwork;
- Sure footed-ness also quickens your interruptability;
- Yoga can be therapeutic helping you recover from strenuous workouts or injuries.
I asked certified yoga instructor, Michelle Chua, to share a few more thoughts on how and why yoga could improve our martial arts training.
Take it away Michelle…
Yoga for Martial Artists?
Whether or not you can bend over and touch your toes, yoga has much more to offer your mind, body and spirit—more than I could begin to cover in this brief overview.
As a certified yoga instructor in Los Angeles, I’ve personally experienced the healing qualities of a consistent yoga practice (which could be as little as 20 minutes to an hour per week) and observed my students over a period of weeks improve balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, mental calm, confidence, and personal body awareness.
Just as individual bodies have unique abilities and needs, yoga postures focus on different areas to strengthen, stretch, and open energetically. Here’s an introduction to some postures you might find useful as a martial artist.
Flexibility Improves Kicks…
To maximize range of motion and height in kicks, it’s essential to have open hamstrings, lower back and hips. In Head-to-Knee Forward Bend pose, sit upright with a leg extended forward and the other bent out to the side with the sole of that foot planted onto the inner thigh of the extended leg.
Maintain a long spine as you gradually fold over your extended leg, using each exhale to mindfully inch forward. You might find it helpful to keep your shoulders relaxed by looping a strap or towel around your extended foot and holding both ends with each hand. After about a minute, switch legs.
Strength and Balance: Better Interruptability, Coordination, and Endurance…
By strategically holding postures that confront the natural human fear of falling, you can greatly improve calm in the face of danger, boost your confidence and self-esteem, and increase your coordination and muscle control. Warrior 3 pose encompasses all that while building endurance and strength in your core and leg muscles.
You achieve a sense of flying, as you stand on one leg with your torso parallel to the ground, playing with your center of gravity. As you train for optimal alignment, try firmly pressing your lifted foot against a wall as you stand on the opposite leg facing away from the wall.
Keep your hips squared and engage your core. Either press your hands together in front of your chest, extend them out to the sides, or reach them forward alongside your ears. Keep your body and mind relaxed by consciously taking full breaths. Remember to switch legs, too.
You might notice similarities between yoga postures and stretches you use for martial arts, as I also found with dancing and long distance running.
Yoga Surpasses a Good Stretch…
While rehabilitating after knee surgery with yoga (due to a dance injury), I realized how yoga surpassed a good stretch.
Yoga unites the forces of controlled breath, intelligent alignment and muscle engagement, and a peaceful mind. Just like martial arts, you may need to explore various instructors and styles to find what works best for you.
I hope you experiment and add yoga to your training. I feel it will bring you much empowerment and joy to your everyday life as well as your martial arts. For more information on yoga or local classes, visit http://www.root2riseyoga.org/.
Thanks Michelle, I felt a sense of calm just by reading your descriptions. I also realize how important and useful it is to have an expert give feedback to do yoga well.
That’s it for today. If you cross train, with yoga or anything else, tell me about it. I’d like some tips to get an edge.
P.S. I almost forgot. You can see Arthur, the disabled military vet’s, inspirational transformation here. You may have seen or heard his stroy before. It’s great.