All things come in threes

Self-defence is spelt WT – that it the old slogan I once invented, and accordingly we should not be surprised if somebody hearing WingTsun mentioned first thinks of a self-defence method against physical attack.

In this respect we are like Indian Yoga, which is also limited to its physical, i.e. visible and spectacular aspects in the public mind.

But while at least the more initiated know that in addition to Hatha Yoga, which teaches control over the body, there are also other, higher aspects of Yoga, only very, very few WingTsun Masters are aware that there is a further, much more profound inner teaching in WingTsun. When I say "inner" I mean higher. I am avoiding the word esoteric, which originally meant the same, because it now sounds like a cliché and is misused by many.

What these discipline and teachings in inner WingTsun are, their individual purposes, how they are structured and how they should be taught is probably a greater secret than the long pole and the double broadswords combined!

In fact physical self-defence is only the first and lowest level in WingTsun, however it is the most obvious and most easily understood for the uninitiated. The ability to fight efficiently is only a vehicle, a means to an end. Economy of movement is to be achieved, for as always in Taoism it is a matter of energy, saving and in fact generating energy. Energy which is urgently required to achieve higher levels of consciousness.

Owing to the simultaneous use of all three brain centres, a combat situation with its emotions and not least fear provides the best possible conditions for a transformation or change.

Without change, without adapting to conditions, we die both externally and within. Most people first become rigid in their thinking and feelings, and die inwardly first. But the only constant in WingTsun is change, and the aim of our own change is our individual evolution into a new person who frees himself from his own and external binding forces.

And as always in WT it is a matter of simultaneity, namely three-fold simultaneity. The hardest fight is not the fight with somebody else, but the battle with oneself, one's own ego, will and desires etc..

In WT we use three-fold simultaneity to attack and conquer ourselves. I did not choose our triangle symbol merely by chance. In WT we do not only execute three punches at the end, all things come in threes in WT: three forms, three different punches, three different palm attacks and three different types of kicks. The three-part structure of Form, Chi-Sao, Lat-Sao, the triad of three forces that are necessary for every action. We know that there is not just black and white, but many shades in between. And we know that there cannot be hate OR love, but that there is also hate AND love: love-hate. The most convincing example for the constant presence of a third state is the world itself: is it all quite random or organised down to the last detail? Is the universe a chaos or cosmos? Major scientists now agree that there must be a third state, which they call complexity, between order and chaos (I am indebted to my student Herbert Kühn for the relevant literary reference!). Recognising that the world does not really consist of opposites gives us greater tolerance and inner peace. This is also the subject of my sifu-seminars. Only few are aware that this was the favourite philosophy of GGM Yip Man. To paraphrase Grandmaster Yip Man, there is a third state which lies in the middle between too much order and too little order. This conciliatory, mediating middle way is however very hard to recognise, as our eyes in their present state are too slow to perceive it.

GGM Leung Ting illustrates the principle of the three forces by a three-legged stool which cannot stand on two legs and would not stand as firmly on four. I like to explain it using a pendulum as an example: we see the extremes, the final positions of the pendulum's movement at the right and left, but our eyes are too slow or the movement is too fast to make out the centre position of the pendulum. The hypnotic power of life and its events only allows us to see the extremes and consider them to be reality, however reality is the middle, the golden mean, which we, obeying Confucius, must not leave. We can only find this mental, inner centreline in WingTsun with the right instruction. Only then can we learn to keep the sweep of the pendulum shorter in order to find and maintain the centre.

WT shares its knowledge of the trinity of forces with all the major philosophies of the world, which, if they are based on truth, fundamentally express the same. For example Hinduism refers to the three Gunas and Christianity in another connection to the holy trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. 'All things come in threes' is a profound truth amongst all peoples. The Arab word for oneness (ahad), which is ascribed to Allah, the One, according to believers, consists of the three Arab letters for AHD. Thus three and one becomes One, i.e. the same. I shall discuss this in further detail during my Sifu-TR4 seminars, as lack of space and previous knowledge by my readers precludes this here.

For now it is enough to know that WingTsun is much more than just its lowest, physical level. The advanced WT practitioner works on himself at three different levels on a daily basis: via movement, via the emotions and via the intellect. The element of fear provides a welcome and necessary fire which makes our progress, change and transformation irreversible, i.e. certain and permanent.

The Master who has "completed" the Wooden Dummy form and makes his first acquaintance with his next field of study, the long pole, always thinks when embarking on this long road that it is something quite different, as if he were learning a completely extraneous art such as Ikebana or Kendo. But what is unfamiliar is "merely" the set of movements, the external aspect. The important aspect is always the inherent principles of WingTsun, which correspond to the principles of weaponless combat.

The theory of WingTsun applies throughout, is transcendable and always usable, being at the same time the profoundest philosophy, clearest logic and science. When isolated from the physical aspect and emotions it is not so easy to teach and also less effective than an "attack" on all three levels at the same time. Accordingly, separating intellectual, emotional and physical work is not very efficient.

Look forward with pleasure to this inner WingTsun, which continues the WT principles you have learned through physical work in the most fascinating way and will enrich your lives.