Gaining perspective from Kombatan
As Sun Tzu so elegantly puts it; respect your opponent and never underestimate a challenge. I feel that it is important to grow vision and understanding beyond one’s own chosen art. The key to analyzing the different ways for self-growth is learning to distinguish differences and to see patterns in different art forms.
My journey in martial arts started in my teens with Karate. I grew deep respect towards my masters and desired to become one myself one day. I realized, that to accomplish that, I would need to work hard. I began my training Finland with Karate and Kendo.
Then hunger dig in deeper drove me out of the country to observe masters elsewhere. My path into finding my own art took me to Thailand, Europe, and finally to China and Hong Kong. In Thailand, I was training Jeet Kune Do as well as Muya Thai. Thai boxing, then again, gave my body a new way to move, which was fun, but it was not “the” art for me.
Once I got into Wing Chun - that was it. Next year, I am celebrating my 20 years in Wing Chun. Those years have taught me a lot about body mechanics, power structure, breathing, and over all control. Overall, it has given me tools to analyze all movement. I am now able to see challenges in everyday activities as well as in fighting. Wing Chun is a way of life. My Sifu, Wan Kam Leung has been perfecting the art for 50 years and I am highly honored and privileged to be his disciple.
My hunger for knowledge made me call Master Tomi Harell. I felt that I wanted to learn Kombatan as passionately and as fully as I have learned Practical Wing Chun. I was more than happy to become his student. All the techniques were new and, in the beginning, having a stick as an extension to my arm felt stiff.
Now, as a beginner in Kombatan, I want to try to describe the differences between the two martial arts I love the most. Kombatan has a completely different stance and legwork than what I had gotten used to in Practical Wing Chun. However, working my legs in a different way has made me able to root faster and be better in Wing Chun as well. Taking along a stick into the movement has awoken my brain to seeing possible attacks in a slightly different way – the timing and distance are crucial in all martial arts, but even deadlier with a blade. The blade in skillful hands is a natural looking and feeling extension to the arm. I am passionate about learning to master that.
Power lines adapt quite well from Wing Chun to Kombatan, even though the movements are wider and in a way, more round. The biggest difference is the flexibility in techniques – In Wing Chun there are certain rules in correct angles and in the use of bone structure, that makes the techniques precise and strong without physical strength, knowledge of those gives a different touch to working with blades and sticks. Then again, in Kombatan the stick gives an extra edge that does not require as specific motions. In Kombatan, you need to block with force and confront power with power and speed, whereas in Wing Chun, you turn your opponent’s force back at him and minimize the strength you need to use as fast as you can. The biggest differentiating factor in the two, is the fighting distance. Kombatan gives one the extra reach, whereas Wing Chun works great in very condensed space.
Today, I stand proudly looking at all the wonderful lessons the various martial arts have given me. What truly thrives me forward from this point, is eagerness to learn even more from all my favorite things: Martial arts, Love, and Life. I aim to inspire others the way my masters and fellow trainers have inspired me.