Introduction to 8ES
In my previous post, I discussed what is the Wing Chun Singapore Energy strikes system (8ES) and what are its benefits for learning Wing Chun. In this second edition, I will discuss “how to train” 8ES. I will use the LIST training method to explain the 8ES curriculum and its progressive training methods.
LIST is a useful and comprehensive approach for learning Wing Chun. It is an acronym for Learn (practice the technique) Integrate (incorporate what you have learned before) Strategy (application and fight plan) Test (live training, sparring).
The first exposure for new students is to learn a (single) technique, for instance, spring, whipping, or bouncing punch.
- Learn the basic structure of power and body unity.
- 8ES and eight (8) directions footwork
- Defend and counter 8ES
- Combination punching
Drills and exercises
- Beginners shadow boxing
- 1 for one drill (counters)
- Wall drill (defend basic punches)
- Fundamental pad work: sparring drills: body sparring, lead hand only, 1-2 sparring
It sounds simple, but with no previous exposure to martial arts, it is not. One of the main difficulties new students face is that they lack body and mind awareness.
What do I mean by that? They drop their hands, or they don’t notice when their stance is too wide or narrow. They are too tense and exert themselves too much, thinking about power, speed or possible applications of the technique. In short, they are not in the present moment and don’t notice their mistakes.
My advice to new students is to “train slowly.” Perform the motions consciously, relax your body (don’t think about power) and relax your mind. Check in to yourself,
Ask yourself: did I maintain proper structure? How is my stance? Am I tense? Many students give up martial arts in their first year because they don’t put in the right effort.
It takes time, patience, and dedication to learn Wing Chun.
In this phase, we integrate 8ES with techniques we have learned before. For instance, punch and kick or punch and footwork. Integration is a BIG THING!
Firstly, I must mention the fighting range. It is the relative distance between you and your opponent where your techniques are most effective. A critical concept! In CSL Wing Chun, we consider four (4) ranges:
Long fist (boxing) – Sticky hands (elbow) – Sticky body (chest to chest) and ground range.
Each of these distances has its concepts and applications.
Secondly, seamlessly integrate the different techniques from different ranges. It requires you to have proper technique and body/mind coordination (balance, flow).
For example, a punch or a knee have different ranges. A strike at kickbox (long) range or sticky body (short) range has different power development concepts and applications. You will need lots of partner drills and pad work to build up your muscle memory and technique.
Training and drills
- Intermediate and advanced pad work.
- Heavy bag work.
- Advanced punching methods
- Partner drills, combination and flow drills (kick, punch, elbow, etc.)
- Sparring drills: Distance management and concepts
- Students should start developing their body and mind：
- Wai Gong (外功) strengthens the muscles and the bones. Functional weight training and cardio.
- Nei Gong (内 功) training the first four (4) core elements, body, mind, breath, and energy.
To develop your plan in Wing Chun is a critical and fun stage of your training. Sadly, not many practitioners reach this level because they never put in the hours to master the fundamental techniques.…!
When are you ready to strategise?
In my experience, Cham Kiu (CK) level is a good yardstick for your Wing Chun training. Of course, knowing the CK form is not enough. You need to have proper technique, and you must be able to mix it up with a good structure and a relaxed body and mind!!
At this stage, you should:
- Have learned SNT and CK and its applications
- Able to apply and integrate SNT and CK concepts in Chi Sao.
- Integrated 8ES with other techniques (kicks, footwork, and so on)
- Able to express the first four (4) Core Elements (body, mind, breath, and energy) in every aspect of your training.
Where to I start? It depends, a strategy is personal. Most importantly, it fits your style and disposition. Are you tall, short? Do you have innate natural attributes, are you fast or strong? Do you have a set of favourite techniques or concepts? Are you a winner, aggressive, or do you prefer to counter punch?
You should also be familiar with some of the Wing Chun combat concepts.
- The attack is high, and I counter low. The attack is low, and I counter high.
- Hands-free charge forward
- You are strong when your opponent is weak. When he is hard, you are soft.
- My opponent shows me how to hit him.
Some strategies you can develop.
- Develop specific attributes, speed, evasion, or a KO punch.
- Setups for entries strategies, breaking rhythm, feints, and timing, draw your opponent in.
- Punch/ kick combinations, GM Robert Chu “Five (5) ways of combat.”
- Counter strategies, evasive footwork, break your opponent’s structure, suffocate your opponent, and so on.
Keep training what you did before (pad work, forms, chi sao, etc.) Then develop your strategies, first as a drill than in sparring.
- Partner exercises to drill feints and setups and entries.
- Sparring games,
- Working on pads and heavy bag to develop specific techniques, punching combos for speed and power.
- Understanding range and application.
Your goal is to become very good at a few aspects of your game plan.
Now it is time to put your learning to the test. Live training, sparring with an uncooperative partner. It is an indispensable part of your training progression. Here you will get immediate get feedback. Very important and one of the main reasons why BJJ, Muay Thai and Western boxing excel in combat application. Sad to say that many Chinese Martial arts do not test their skills.
At our school, we train our sparring or Sanda with boxing gloves sparring and Gor Sao. The latter is all-range Chi Sao. From boxing range to Chi Sao and Sticky body (clinch) and takedowns.
- At this stage, “less is more.” Stick what works for you and be very good at it.
- Learn to “read” your opponent’s action. Very important, don’t forget, “Your opponent tells you how to hit him.”
- If your strategies did not work out, go through the whole cycle again, learn, integration, plan, and test. What happened? Where did I go wrong? Analyse and fix it!.
In this second post, I discussed how to train 8ES at our Wing Chun Singapore school. I used the LIST method to show you how you can integrate 8ES as an integral component of your Wing Chun training.
I hope you find this post useful. Looking forward to hearing from you if you have any questions or comments regards this topic.
Sifu Wang Head Instructor
CSL Wing Chun Singapore