Power verses structure
In the Wing Chun Community, you hear mention of structure a lot of the time. The use of the word Structure as applied to Wing Chun has a rather ambiguous implication. I initially heard the word structure being mentioned during the early 80's in James Yimm Lee's book," Wing Chun" ( Bruce Lee's student ). However, back then I paid it's mention no mind due mainly to the fact that the word "structure" had no significance to me but also because the book failed to explain "structure" in any detail. It was not until much further down in time that structure became a hot topic of interest which for many years had lead to an overabundance of discussion and even a number of heated debates.
As far as myself is concerned, in the 25 years of Wing Chun training and the various sifu's I have trained under, I've never learned or knew anything about structure.It was not until only 4 to 5 years ago, when I met and started training with my current Sifu that I was able to witness what true structure meant. To my Sifu structure was the foundation of the Fut Sao Wing Chun system; without it nothing would work. Without structure one would have to solely rely on power and speed to overcome an opponent and therefore the more powerful and faster person would most likely be the victor of a fight. With structure one could hold, redirect, absorb a force greater then your own. This is the core training in Fut Sao and is what gives the "smaller guy" a fighting chance. Structure can be used to slow down your opponent, drain his energy, or to redirect his own energy back towards himself. The net result is that the one using structure will be able to out last his aggressor and ultimately win the fight. Structure can be either hard and ridged like a rock or soft and flexible like water flowing around a rock. It is what the old internal masters refer to as "the hard within the soft". In other words, the out side of the body (the muscles = external) is soft but the inside (internal) feels hard and solid
The situations I have experienced from my Sifu when I first met him are nothing short of astounding. At the time and still today I am younger, physically stronger, weight more, taller, and more massive. Nonetheless, when I tried to exploit these to my advantage (youth, strength, speed, and weight) it did not work and instead made it easier for him to make me succumb. I also tired much more rapidly then him due to the fact that I relied solely on my physical attributes. My Sifu has always told me," Kung Fu was designed for the little guy to give him a fighting chance". If you're already bigger, stronger and faster then your opponent then why train in Kung Fu. As mentioned earlier, when going toe to toe with someone power vs power usually the one who is stronger and faster will win. Or another way to look at it, is like having two cars with one that gets 15 mpg and the other car going 32 mpg. Even if the first car is better made and faster it will run out of gas before the second car does. In a fighting situation, using structure, one has advantages over pure strength or one's physical size. If all else fails, being able to conserve your energy more efficiently then your opponent surly will give you an advantage in a fight.