Two of the core principles of Wing Chun Kung Fu are effectiveness and efficiency. This applies not just to structure, movement and technique, but everything about the system. In this case, we are going to apply it to the training schedule.
There is a concept best illustrated by the old story of the student who approaches the master and asks how long until he will master Kung Fu. “Practice one hour each day, and you will know the system in two years,” the master replied. The student asked again, “How long if I practice two hours per day?” The master answered, “Four years.” The student was confused, and asked, “How long if I practice eight hours each day?” The master shook his head: “Ten years.”
Skill in Kung Fu grows naturally and cannot be rushed. Too little effort and you will make no progress. Too much effort and you could become injured or otherwise hinder your progress. Think of cultivating your skill like a child growing strawberries. Told to give her plants a little water each day, she thought more water would make the plant grow faster. By over-watering, the plant was drowned.
Coach Henk Kraaijenhof, a former world record holder and world champion himself, and coach of Merlene Joyce Ottey, who won a combined 23 medals at the Olympic games and world championships, has this to say about training: “Do as little as needed, not as much as possible.”
Minimal Effective Dose (MED)
The concept of Minimal Effective Dose (referred to as MED from here on) essentially means how little training can I do and still gain Kung Fu skill? Unless you have opted to become a Kung Fu monk and live in isolation on a mountain top, you probably have an overwhelming list of responsibilities that are competing for your time and attention. There’s work or school, family and friends, and the full spectrum of personal demands and household chores. Who has time for Kung Fu?
The good news is that Wing Chun was developed by regular people who had regular lives. As you read in Wing Chun History, all of the grandmasters had jobs and families, too. They developed specific training methodologies that could be effective by training in intensive but very brief blocks of time. We are going to continue that tradition throughout this course with the Wing Chun MED.
DAILY MED: 5 MINUTES
Your commitment for learning Wing Chun Kung Fu is that you set aside five minutes every single day for training. You don’t get weekends off, and you still have to practice during full moons and when its raining. In those five minutes, you will practice the Siu Lim Tau form. As you learn the other forms, you will add those to your daily practice (and it becomes ten minutes, then fifteen minutes). But at a minimum you will always practice Siu Lim Tau every day.
WEEKLY MED: 2 HOURS
In addition to the five-minute daily form practice, commit to at least two hours of training each week. The Wing Chun Concepts curriculum breaks down into small practice blocks called Twenty Minute Modules (20MM). Over the course of each week, commit to training at least six modules. Maybe that’s one 20MM every day, Monday through Saturday (rest on Sunday). Maybe that’s one hour of practice (three 20MM) every Tuesday and Thursday in class. Maybe it’s two hours on Saturday morning. The actual organization is up to you and your training partners, but make a firm commitment to at least six 20MM each and every week.
Please understand that the 5MIN/DAY + 2HR/WEEK schedule is your MINIMAL training investment in order to be effective. That means you need to commit to this much training time for the next two years to really get solid results. OPTIMAL training is a little more: one hour each day, every day, encoded as: 1HR/DAY/WEEK.
An hour per day of training equates to: 10 minutes of study prep, either reading new material or reviewing current material; plus 5 minutes of forms practice; plus two 20MM practice sets (40 minutes); plus 5 minutes of self-evaluation, note taking and updating your progress chart (explained in the next section).
This much of an investment may not be practical for you, but somewhere between the MINIMAL and OPTIMAL schedules is recommended. Training more than this is also possible for some, but the “return on investment” begins to be significantly diminished.
NEXT: Training Methodology
In the final preparation step, we look at how the Wing Chun Concepts training fuses modern sports science with ancient tradition. This hybrid approach gives you practical Kung Fu skill and working tactical knowledge in the fastest, most effective way possible.