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Question-Do: The art of asking (martial arts) questions and receiving answers


One of the most interesting part of the Wing Chun class I signed up for is the question period, which happens once in a while, whenever the teacher feels like answering them.


The questions I remember most are the sillier and the “challenge Wing Chun” type of questions. Questions like: “what would happen if a Jujitsu practitioner would do a rear choke hold to a Wing Chun practitioner”, or “why Wing Chun doesn’t use pressure points”  would always annoy our otherwise serene and patient teacher, who would invariably demonstrate his points on one of his senior students. Although the demonstrations are done in a controlled and respectful manner, I cannot help but be delighted at the sight of the entertainment provided by seeing senior students taking a (mild) beating from the teacher.

What would a Wing Chun practioner do if he was choke-holded?
What would a Wing Chun practitioner do against a choke hold?
Photograrh is courtesy of Jenni Tapanila

Sometimes, even after a demonstration, the student would appear to completely ignore the points demonstrated and would keep on questioning, challenging. Such exchanges appeared to turn into ego confrontations where both party feel they need to have the last word. I understand that the school instructor has a duty to answer student’s question, hence having the final word, but I can’t really comprehend why the student would want it.

During my first years of University, there would be time when students would question the real world application of the engineering principles and formulas taught. Many times, the professor would expose examples that threw us into further confusion. As first year students, we did not fully understand basic engineering notions and were missing important pieces of knowledge to bridge theory with application. As a consequence, students would try to dig further by insisting that the teacher finds another way to explain. Sometimes, in a vain attempt to show their knowledge, they would add irrelevant piece of information to their argumentation. It was as if they would not stop until they heard exactly what they wanted to hear (which was that the engineering lesson was purely academic and useless in real work environment).

Real world application of theory taught may not be immediately apparent
Photograph is courtesy of B. Grigaliūnaitė Lt

As far as I remember, most of the times, the additional questions did not serve any good and would only annoy fellow students, eager for the class to go on.

At the end of my engineering degree, most students had wised up. They knew better than to question the principles taught to us without prior research. If they did ask a question, they would empty their minds and carefully listen to the answer, recording it in their memories to be recalled later. They knew that one day, the big picture composed of the principles and formulas learned throughout their studies would come out in clarity.

When you ask a question, it is imperative that you take whatever answer comes.

If at first you don't understand the answer, it is perhaps because the teacher does not orally communicate clearly or maybe, there are deeper meanings to his words that only time and experience can uncover.

Our mind work best when focused on one task so when information is given through explanations or demonstrations, set it to record everything it can.

While the teacher speaks, simply listen, record and analyse the teacher’s words; do not try to come up with rebuttals or trap questions. When he demonstrate, look carefully and record in your memory as many details as you can, do not try to mimic the movements until the teacher is done demonstrating.

Kids attentively listening to the teacher's instructions
Photograph is courtesy of Heero Miketta

Wing Chun doesn’t have too many on-ground techniques. Practitioners assume their opponents to be bigger, stronger and more numerous and estimate that they have better survival chances if they stay on their feet. As such, they spend time parrying and countering take downs instead of working ground techniques. Likewise, they do not need to control people with pressure points (although they do strike people at meridian points).



Last Updated on Monday, 22 March 2010 21:32  

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