Forms, Fighting and Self-Defense…What Is Wing Chun’s “Secret Ingredient” to Effectiveness?

Wing Chun is about self preservation. Anything else is gravy.

Every time you look up anything re: Wing Chun on the internet, you can find anything from what the forms are to what uniforms are used by each lineage to where the big toe from Person A’s lineage rests in the second pivot of the third form compared to  Person  B’s lineage, and so on…

By now I’m sure it comes as no secret or surprise that I think the overwhelming majority of stuff floating around out there online regarding Wing Chun as a system of self defense and personal combat is a pile of sh*t.

My answer to the question I see so much of, “is Wing Chun effective in a real fight?” is YES – with a caveat.

Majoring In Minor Things

As my Pops would say, the majority of Wing Chun material on the ‘net is what he calls “majoring in minor things,” or focusing a lot of energy and attention on shit that doesn’t really matter.

  • Sure you can find enough videos of the forms to keep you busy until the ozone layer finally disintegrates…
  • You can order a dozen different shiny silk “costumes” that look like they were stolen off the back lot of a 1970’s Shaw Brothers flick…
  • You can obsessively pour over scrappy exchanges of padding-clad participants who stalk each other with Donnie Yen-like postures until the first punch is thrown then proceed to chuck concept and structure out the window as they immediately clinch and fall to the ground under the guise of “realism…”
  • …and if engaging in pointless blather and online beimo challenge matches from the safety of your laptop and basement couch scratches you where you itch then you can die happy.

Yep, all that is available at your fingertips-but that’s not enough for me.

As necessary as forms, chi sau and technique drills are (and make no mistake in this or any of my posts, I NEVER denigrate or dismiss the importance of any of those facets of Wing Chun training in any way, shape or form) way too many hard working and well-meaning folks do not address the one missing link to TRUE self defense.  “What is that?” one may ask…a stun gun?  a knife?  a bodyguard?


It’s the WILL.

The most important thing you can do in any self defense situation is NEVER lose your will to survive.  Your will is what keeps you going-if you lose it, you’re done. If you don’t, you will emerge victorious.

As Wing Chun practitioners, our system and style is built for one thing:  close quarter self defense; combat.  It is designed to work.  It has been honed and refined over the last 350 years to take someone out as quickly as possible in the most simple, direct and efficient way possible.

Make no mistake about it, WING CHUN WORKS IN A REAL FIGHT.  However, it oftentimes works not because of the stylist but in spite of him or her.   Wing Chun’s structural design and emphasis on effectiveness and practicality in a self-defense situation by adhering to centerline dominance and forward pressure is often enough to collapse and overwhelm an attacker whose own structure is not as tight or forceful.

…but what about the true threat?

What about the person lying in the shadows, looking for a victim?

No posturing or peacock feather-strutting here; no status symbol drunken bar bullshit.  What about the person who has made up his mind to attack someone forcefully, violently and as quickly as possible?  This is the REAL threat – not some douchebag who feels like starting a little brouhaha at O’Mc’FitzSullivan’s Irish Pub – and this is who we train for.

Tommy Tough-Nuts the drunken douche can be handled easier, either through employing a little “Verbal Judo” to diffuse the situation or by just getting out of there’cause we know it’s not worth it.

The TRUE THREAT to our safety; the one who has nothing but pure evil in intentions, is who our art was designed for and who our training should be centered around.

The Missing Ingredient to Training (Hint: It Ain’t Forms or Chi Sau!)

The missing ingredient to training is honing the KILLER INSTINCT.

It’s sharpening the scalpel of intention in your mind to apply what Bruce Lee called “controlled cruelty” in a surgical and precise yet extremely barbaric manner.  That may put a lot of folks off-which is totally understandable-but if you feel this way, let me ask you this?

Why does this topic make you a bit uncomfortable?

I submit to you that the answer is rooted in the self-image.  Deep down in places you may not even realize, anyone who is not in touch with that part of your brain  that can flip the switch in a self-defense encounter to preserve one’s life and attack the attacker with absolute FURY has a disconnect or blockage somewhere in that pathway that says “hey, f**ker!  How dare you!  I’m worth more than being treated like this by you or anyone!!”

I struggled with this for years-and I mean YEARS-until I read two books, actually almost back.  I used to laugh and think it was a funny coincidence but now my inner Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda reminds me that “…there are no accidents,” or coincidences for that matter.  Those 2 books I stumbled upon through divine arrangement were:

  • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning To Kill In War and Society by former U.S. Army Ranger Lt. Col Dave Grossman
  •  Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence by Sgt. Rory Miller

I break down the impact each none has had on my training and life in my review which you can read by clicking HERE.  Do yourself a favor: pick both of them up, read and re-read them.  You’ll understand why about 15 minutes after you crack the first cover open.

That’s all for now,


Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby

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A WORD OF WARNING: I tend to speak and write how I think, so some of what I say may come across as insensitive, rough around the edges and maybe even a bit arrogant. If sarcasm, political incorrectness and occasional "naughty words" offend you, you may want to move on - but if you're serious about making your Wing Chun WORK, then fill out the fields above and let's get started!