Three Ways to Cure Elvis Pelvis

Wing Tsun chain punches are one of the most devastating techniques in your fighting tool bag. Fast, powerful, and precise applied with the right footwork will make most fights end in a matter of seconds. I’ve seen with my own eyes practioners able to throw 5-7 punches in one second, while maintaining accuracy, and good structure. So if it’s so cool and awesome, why does it suck so bad when you do it? Although this technique/concept is one of the first things you learn, it is very nuanced and needs to be trained like a mad man.

The most common mistake that needs to be corrected quickly is Elvis Pelvis. Elvis Pelvis is when the student is chain punching and their waist, particularly their posterior shakes from left to right like Elvis Presley singing My Blue Suede Shoes.  If you have ever had the honor of teaching begginers, you quickly find out you need to be able to explain how to correct this several different ways because all people will receive information differently. Elvis Pelvis occurs when the student has poor or no knee adduction pressure, improper stance and or a lose core. No matter if your in a frontal or advancing stance you should be able to deliver solid chain punches on a wall bag while stationary with no booty shake. 

Here are a few ways to train getting the shakes out of your stance. When working on a wall bag I prefer students and myself to be in a training stance, feet turned inward forming an isosceles triangle, squeezing the knees together, pelvis pressed forward, straight back, and tight core. Often times this will fix the issue but if you could do these fundamentals correctly without training you would be a genius. For the rest of us, we need to train it in baby steps.  Take a yoga block or focus mit while in the frontal stance, place block short ways between your legs right around knee height and squeeze. You feel that inner thigh burn? That’s the knee adduction pressure that you want to train. While holding this position keep a tight core and deliver slow and heavy punches to the wall bag. I regularly train my punches in this fashion to give my most used tool a bit of a check up on a regular basis. 

If the above doesn’t fix the issue, the problem may be in the pelvis area. Often times begginers have a tendency to stick their buttocks out and lean their face forward, which can be extremely bad in a fight for obvious reasons. While in a good training frontal stance pretend you have a quarter between the bottom of your butt cheeks and you want to hold it there without it sliding out. Squeeze your cheeks as tight as possible while maintaining all the other characteristics of a good frontal training stance. With these things in place deliver slow, methodical, wrist over wrist, low elbow chain punches to the wall bag. 

Issue still persists? Perhaps it’s in your core or lack there of. Your core should be tight no matter if you’re in a frontal or advancing stance. A visualization I like to use is drawing my my belly button or naval towards my spine about an inch and bracing myself like I’m going to be punched right in the gut. While holding this position you should be able to talk and breathe normally so adjust accordingly. While in a proper training frontal stance, stand perpendicular to the wall bag, make a proper  90° turn towards the wall bag, while sinking all the weight onto the back leg. The whole time doing this keep pelvis forward, back straight, and core tight. Perform slow chain punches paying special attention to good form and structure. 

Hope this short post, helps clear up your case of the Elvis Pelvis.  If you found this useful please leave a comment, alternatively if you hated it, leave a comment and explain why. 

Thanks

Sifu Barry

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Si-fu: 10 Attributes of a Great Teacher

This blog post is dedicated to the guy who started me on this journey, Sifu Alex Richter. Many long days and nights under his watchful eye, steady hand, and scientific approach helped guide me and many other students to take the road less traveled. To quote Si-fu “it’s kung-fu, it’s supposed to be hard, just train”. He has been the pebble hitting the calm cool waters, creating ripples of cultivated knowledge that will forever be in my mind’s eye. But yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah, why is he so freaking great?

1. Brutally honest when no one else will.

You ever been training something really hard, getting the technique or movement in your muscles, and finally start to feel good about it. Everyone around you tells you it’s great. When you look in the mirror, the thought “I should be a freaking action star, this looks great”, enters your mind. 

FREIGHT TRAIN….BAM. 

Si-fu can bring you back to earth, like a meteor shower across the night sky, ego engulfed in flames, streaking ever constantly to the earth’s surface at 25,000 mph, only to crash in some remote field in Pennsyltucky. This is something that is absolutely important for the serious student, to be picked apart by a master is the highest form of compliment. If the master didn’t care they wouldn’t waste there energy, time, and brain power on you. So although it hurts swallowing that bitter medicine, it’s absolutely necessary for the growth of any serious student. 

2. Encouragement, with impeccable timing. 

You ever had a day where everything was 30° off to the left? I’ve had those days, big time…Wake up late with no time to drink that morning cup of Joe that I have grown to rely on. Kids are having meltdowns because they don’t want to get ready for school, obviously they would rather play with toys at 7:13 a.m. Finally I get out of the house, rush to my car, and start the engine only find that I’ve absolutely no gas for a 40min commute to work. Hell, I’m not even sure if I’ll make it the 2 miles up the road to the gas station.Get gas, jump on the highway, and make record time to the security gate, only to be lucky car number 10 which has to go through an extra security screening. Finally make it to work 3 min late only to receive the look of death from my boss, like I had just poured him a glass of shit juice. Fast forward, finally make it to training and the situation isn’t getting better. I can’t learn this new material to save my life, feel like I just started yesterday. That’s when it happens, Si-fu walks over and tells me, “great job, you executed that nicely, just keep training but focus on changing these small details”. 

Arbitrary encouragement that has no substance, flartery, and useless compliments can be a total hindrance to growth. Si-fu has the ability to give the right encouragement, at the right time, with the right details to give you that extra push you need. 

3. Skillz, talk is cheap. 

Si-fu has the skill to annihilate you like a tiger playing with a ball of  yarn at any given time. Not abusive, in fact, the most extreme controlled force shellacking I’ve ever gotten was days before his shoulder surgery. Talk is cheap, if I’m paying money, it sure as hell better work. I’m six feet tall, 200lbs., with several years of Wing Tsun in my bones.  I’m generally not tossed around that easily. 

4. A patient trainer. 

The role of a trainer is of utmost importance. Too often, in an effort to make training more realistic, the trainer will sabotage the trainees ability to complete the exercise or learn the movement. Si-fu remains ever vigilante in reminding us what we actually need, really pretty simple when you take a step back. Practice the correct movement, with the correct impulses, don’t add extra steps, be as efficient as possible, and don’t cheat the timing. Although simple, students of Si-fu are constantly reminded the importance, because we are constantly forgetting. So it’s really nice to have our true north reset, on our Wing Tsun compasses when things get out of whack. 

5. Physically fit and a shining example. 

Mobility, power in flexibility, speed, and razor sharp technique are the characteristics of Si-fu. As martial artist, we should be fit. We should be constantly shaping our bodies to become better, greater flexibility, strength, and speed are all part of the total package. Especially when we are young, there should be little excuse not to strive to improve our physical conditions. This isn’t to say Si-fu has the strength of 10 gold medal gymnast, but he is constantly seeking improvement which I have personally seen over the past 10 years. This kind of work ethic has been a great example for me and the other students, as we get older it’s much harder to keep our athletic physique, agility, and stamina. By having someone so dedicated to the science of physical improvement, who is selflessly devoted to sharing with his students, we have been given the location to the fountain of youth.

6.  Learning is an everyday process. 

For a guy who didn’t go to college, he’s one of the smartest people I know. Speaks 3 languages (reading and writing), traveled the world extensively, owns a successful small business in one of the hardest cities in America, avid reader, self-development and self-reliance are in his DNA. I’ve had the privilege to watch Si-fu grow, ups and downs, ins and outs, he has still managed to keep growth and completion of goals in the forefront. For me this is true intelligence, the way in which we deal with adversity, growth/self-development, and the accomplishmenr of clearly stated goals. The improvisation of life. 

7. Make the hard decision. 

Si-fu has to be the one to make the hard decision sometimes. We all don’t agree with it, we question it, and we wish he made a different decision, but at the end of the day it’s his decision. You have to respect a man that stands for something. When running a small business, there’s a lot to be done, but only one person that will get it done. 

8/9. Almagamating the best of the Masters.  Improving the Wing Tsun teaching system. 

These two have to be talked about in tandem. Very rare that you meet someone so thorough when it comes to different Wing Tsun/Chun pedagogy, applications, approach to training, and weapon fighting. Si-fu has the German organizational sense of how the material is organized and taught but the Hong Kong flavor of street tested application that can be applied in the thick of chaos. 

Constantly seeking further knowledge from Wing Tsun masters all over the world but also not afraid to leave his comfort zone and seek out some of the great masters of the other styles. Taking all that information he has been gathering, trimming the fat, slowly refining his curriculum, testing what works and what doesn’t, and updating what is to be expected on the street. The result of this massive level of effort is a learning experience for the student like no other and to be a Si-fu under his system is an education far more valuable than any university degree.  

10. Humility

Si-fu teaches his students that there is no one better style (admittedly we love Wing Tsun), no lineage, or attack better than the other. It’s simply how well the individual trains and how well you’re able to apply concepts. He is always trying to promote Wing Tsun/Chun as a martial art style, history, and the masters that are left that need to be documented. Although in many circles he is considered a master he simply prefers to be called Si-fu or senior instructor. Always reexamining, codifying, modifying, and improving himself internally and externally makes him the best teacher and leader I’ve ever had the opportunity to follow. The true lesson in humility for me is Si-fu’s ability to constantly stay grounded and train hard. A lesson for all of us. 

These are the top 10 attributes of my Si-fu and why I think he’s totally awesome. If you’re interested in learning more about him please visit here. You can find lots of cool information on him and start your Wing Tsun journey. If you enjoyed this blog please leave some comments below. 

Thanks

Sifu Barry



Wing Tsun Family

Today I got a message from one of my Wing Tsun nephews. I looked up the Cantonese translation and got even more confused about the term nephew so we’ll just use English. The message was a few words of encouragement and an update on things in his life. These words of encouragement had perfect timing for a couple of different reasons. 

I had no idea what I was going to write about in my blog and was actually feeling a little discouraged because I’m not a writer by any stretch of word. I went to a conservatory for undergrad and it took me about 9.5 years to finish, I love playing trombone but I HATE Sch… Let’s just say school is not my forte. Although I consume about a book a week or educational podcasts daily, I typically only read news articles from my phone. I can’t remember the last time I actually read a work of fiction from a book with the exception of reading bedtime stories to my kids. Don’t get me wrong I think learning is a lifetime process and should be done daily.  I’ve just figured out the best way for me to retain and apply information doesn’t come from reading. 

That’s when it hit me, the importance of my Wing Tsun family! I’m insanely inspired by them and depend on them more than I had originally thought. For some reason I get super pumped when I see a 108 pound female pull a clean sweep on a big,sweaty, muscle bound, 180 pound male, followed by a stomp kick to the throat. Or the look of a guy who’s been practicing for a few years and have a real light-bulb moment in the middle of class. Also once you get to know people beyond class, you realize that your WT family is pretty awesome at life in general. Typical cross section of class includes musicians, bankers, lawyers, doctors, stay at home mom/dad, architects, graphic designers, and full-time martial artist to name a few. On a normal day it would be difficult to talk with let alone sweat and train with this many different walks of life, all with varying experiences, ways of learning, and ways of teaching. 

Well I’m feeling pretty inspired and pumped so off to work my forms before preparing for work, but before I go I would like to share with you the last thing my nephew said to me.  

That’s life, right? Timing ; )

Bryan M

This was after I thanked him for his perfect timing. Now go train!

Sifu Barry

p.s. All this would not be possible without my Si-fu, Alex Richter! Stay tuned for Sunday night when I drop my next blog post dedicated to him: 10 Attributes of a Great Teacher.

Throwback Thursday! Way in the back as a white shirt. 

Send Your Hands Forward

One of the first things you learn (if not the first) in a good Wing Chun school is, send your hands forward and not your face…it’s a much better outcome. This is also tied to, if the way is clear, go forward. This simple concept can mean the difference between someone breaking your nose, grabbing the back of your head and slamming your face into the ground, stealing your girlfriend, wallet, and dignity…or not. I prefer not.

 Since we are in a modern society, the likelihood of getting into a physical confrontation is extremely slim and may only happen once or twice in our life. With the exception of law enforcement, military, bouncers, security gaurds, etc., which because of their occupation will put them in a higher probability for a violent interaction. But for the other 98% of us, how do we apply this to daily life. Well I have a few simple theories on this that help me to apply this concept. 

Often times we are forced into situations of extra responsibility, problems, and stressors that can make our life a living hell. A concept that I like to use is sending out my mental hands. I’ll give you an example:

I recently purchased a four family investment property in South Florida. At first I thought this would be extremely easy because I had all the necessary funds, excellent credit, and a good track record thus far in owning and operating multi-fams. Instead this proved to be one of the more difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Fortunately I sent my mental hands out when the way was clear to solve this problem. This can be done by asking the right questions like: what is the bank looking for? where are the regulations that are guiding your bank’s decision-making process? does your bank do these type of deals? etc… After several attempts and several failures I kept sending my mental hands forward to any mortgage broker that would look at my file. As the process went on, interviewing different brokers, my mental hands became more sophisticated, sometimes it was in the form of an email with all my particulars laid out in a way they wanted to see  or just calling a broker on the phone and explaining clearly what I wanted to do in clear banking/real estate language. I was finally able to close the deal, but the concept of sending my mental hands forward was extremely helpful. 

Sending  your hands can also be a metaphor for our next concept, cut through the bull shit. I joined the Army at 30yrs old, if you’re not familiar with basic training, it’s a young man’s game. You’re thrust into a life of highly regulated activities with 18-20 year old men and women, who’ve never held a job bedsides part-timing at some fast food restaurant or grocery store, living at home with their parents some of which were going directly back after basic training (National Guard/Reserves), or just some degenerate fuck-up whose last ditch effort to get their life together was joining the Army. To say basic was a mental challenge would be an understatement, but I’m glad I did it and I think it changed my life for the better. 

One night when all the festivities for the day had concluded and the drill sergeant had basically given us a hour of free time before lights out to take care of personal things like, writing letters to family, showering, and organizing our foot locker for inspection the next day. Instead of doing those essential tasks the men in our barracks bay were engaged in grappling each other, trying to apply what we had learned earlier that day in combatives. To give you insight, a barracks bay at least where I went to basic is an open room with 60 bunk beds, no walls, and no privacy. Something about young men, when bunched all together with different stressors, metrics, and goals that most be achieved daily. Will become highly competitive, aggressive, and easily manipulated… probably by design. 

There was one big kid that was the king of the bay, he was the biggest, strongest, tallest, and most country guy there. I think he grew up on a farm in Tennessee or something. Anyway, this guy just walked around the bay picking people up off their feet randomly, giving rear naked choke holds, bear hugs, etc…basically a silver back gorilla displaying his dominance over the troop, beating his chest and calling the shots. Because I was clearly much older than everyone (gray hair at 25), for the most part I was left out of the playful games of submission. That night was a little different, for whatever reason the silver back of the bay decided to give me a rear naked choke hold. 

CUT THROUGH THE BULLSHIT! 

I immediately grabbed a hand full of his manhood. The kind of grab you make when pulling an unripened orange from a tree that’s just not ready to fall off the branch. The rear naked choke hold problem was solved immediately and followed up with chain punches to the throat, this is cutting straight through the bull shit. I was forever known as The Black Ninja in my bay and never had to grapple with any one after that. In hindsight if I had to grapple with him, I probably would have gotten my ass kicked, he was bigger, stronger, and had more grappling skills. Way easier to cut straight through the bullshit. 

The last concept we are all familiar  with and I think something that  we are constantly re-learning is, you don’t know to you ask/try. For me this is the same as if the way is clear, go forward. How do you you know if the way is clear or not unless you try? I recently re-learned this from my first 2 students. Although I teach 2x a week at City Wing Tsun Headquaters no one there can call me Si-fu because they’re not my direct students. As my Si-fu says “you’re a Sifu but not the Si-fu”. My (2) students actually came to me and asked to learn after hearing me talk passionately about Wing Tsun, teaching weekly at CWT, and recently obtaining my Sifu title. They’re my first students and no matter if they quit tomorrow or study for the long haul and become a Sifu themselves, I will always be grateful and they will have a special place in my heart for making me their Si-fu. So I guess I was reminded of the last concept in sort of a backwards way, you don’t know until you ask/try. 

Well those are my thoughts on sending your hands forward, a little abstract at times, but these are some of the ways I apply Wing Tsun in my daily life. If you find this interesting please leave me some comments below, if you hate it and wish I had never wrote it please leave some comments below. 

Thanks 

Sifu Barry

Pictured below is Sifu Nicole Daniels and I, very proud to say I get beat up by a woman 3x a week. 

Location Location Location

The three words that should be at the top of any entrepreneurs priorities when opening any brick and mortar business is location, location, location. I have been looking for the proper location for the better part of 2 months now. Sometimes I feel like I’m being paralyzed by choice. I live in the New York City Metro area and although I don’t want to open in NYC I do want to remain close, where there are lots of young professionals, fairly close to my house, no tolls, and if I can ride my bike there  that’s even better. 

So far I’ve considered a full gut rehab on a ex-chinese restaurant, partnership with a dance school that wants to expand with the addition of another floor, and a stand alone brick building. The most difficult problem of selecting the proper location is selecting the right location that I will be happy with for the next 5-7 yrs. These three choices offer different pros/cons, although the monthly leases are relatively similar, the prices can be affected by the type of heating oil/gas, who pays water, property taxes, electricity, and adequate parking for customers. When I finally decided to let go of part of my fear and embrace the unknown, these are the details that never crossed my mind, anyways the devil is in the details. My goal is to fully realize my dream January 2017 by actually signing a lease, officially opening my school and letting go of all my fear. 

If you have experience and can offer some insight on commercial leases, have an inside scoop on the perfect place between Fort Lee, NJ and Nyack, NY, or just want to leave a word of encouragement please leave me a comment. 

Thanks

Sifu Barry

Really, really, really like this location. 

Monday

Being a good student/teacher of Wing Tsun in my mind is not about having some exceptional talent, being super fit, or having some inner fire that can’t be extinguished. Nope. Although these attributes may be developed over time, for me it’s simply showing up. 

Today is Monday,  I’m tired, unmotivated, and mentally drained after fighting NYC traffic. Luckily it’s ok, the hardest part of  today’s training session is complete. Just by simply showing up, the rest will fall into place. Time 

Sifu Barry

p.s.

The bottom picture is me and my totally awesome Si-fu, Alex Richter. Much is owed to this great man! 

The Long Journey to Sifu

Hello my name is Barry, I’m the guy who never grew up…I like to tell people this because after graduating highschool, in all my 18yr. old wisdom, decided to move to NYC and become a jazz musician. Clearly I’m a person who chases dreams and doesn’t really think about the economic parts of the equation. Luckily I had moderate success touring with various orchestras and freelancing quite a bit in the city. I was fortunate to travel quite extensively, meet new and interesting people, and was able to afford some extracurricular activities. 

On my 26th birthday I wanted to give myself a present that would fulfill a few of my dreams/goals. Firstly, I have always been a huge fan of Bruce Lee and martial arts flicks in general, I wanted to learn kung fu and be like Bruce Lee. Second, somewhere between traveling in Europe/Asia, jet lag, being cool (at least I thought), and late nights drinking, I picked up the habit of smoking rolled cigarettes with no filter, I desperately wanted to stop (I actually quit about 8x but it didn’t take). Third, I was a gym rat, with big muscles, no flexibility, limited range of motion, and couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag with scissors in both hands.

Thank goodness for YouTube and Google! 

After some research on Google, into what was the first style of martial arts Bruce Lee learned I found Wing Chun. I had never heard of Wing Chun, I thought it would be a bunch of Chinese guys flying around kicking each other in the air. I watched various videos of guys pushing each other around, doing fancy kicks, blocking kicks with shin pads, and other things that I thought were way to impractical for someone to use on the street. 

Boom! That’s when I found it, a really simple video from City Wing Tsun. Short, sweet, and straight to the point. I signed up for an intro lesson for the next day and became a Sifu that very next week. 

THE END

not

No but seriously the quality of instruction, school atmosphere, and other students made me fall in love with the art. So now that my life has changed drastically for mostly the better, loving wife, two kids, career playing trombone in the West Point Army band, and free of smoking, I became a Sifu at the age of 34, I’m 35 now and truly believe Wing Tsun has been a corner stone of my success. I’m totally in love with the Art and it’s my goal to share it with as many people as possible. 

This is my first blog but I would like to convey my thoughts about Wing Tsun, my journey to forming my own school, and crazy little things that happen in my world. Hope you enjoy. 

Sifu Barry