How to Instantly DOUBLE Your Wing Chun Training Today

Applying Wing Chun against a fully padded and non-cooperative opponent in a real-world scenario boils down to one thing: FUNCTIONALIZATION.

Anyone who has become proficient at a certain skill, be it playing a musical instrument, perfecting a tennis serve or swinging a baseball bat, knows that repetition is the mother of skill. That is undeniably true, however, there is a world of difference between practicing the skill and pulling it off in a pressure scenario.

Why does the baseball player consistently clobber the ball in the batting cage but freeze up and choke at the plate?


Skill is not enough.

The player has mastered the skill, but he has yet to functionalize it; that is to say, pull it off when it really counts.

What makes Wing Chun such an effective martial art for self-defense & personal protection or for combat sports like MMA is its’ ability to be called upon in a simple, direct and efficient way.  This is also why folks who cannot rely on physical strength or size find Wing Chun to fit their needs best…sadly though, if they do not train the art properly and with the right end goal in mind, it is of no use to them and can actually end up doing more harm than good since it may give the practitioner a false sense of security.
This false sense of security only comes about one way: by not training the art REALISTICALLY to develop functionality in technique and application.
Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee’s martial art) instructor and self-defense authority Paul Vunak outlines the four phases of any martial arts or self-defense technique in his approach to street self defense.
 One, you learn the technique.
Two, you practice the technique.
 After many hundreds of repetitions, you master the technique-but that does not mean you know how to use it. It simply means you can do the technique well.
It is only after you begin to apply the technique via scenario training in a variety of uncooperative environments that you begin to functionalize the technique. Functionality should be the ultimate goal of any self-defense concept, technique or system.  In plainspeake, while steps 1 through 3 are essential, they don’t mean shit if step 4 isn’t achieved.  All you have left is fancy aerobics.

How do you functionalize a technique?

Again, the answer is simple and it takes you back to the first thing you likely learned to use as a little kid-your imagination. For many martial arts, particularly those with an extensive curriculum, the ways to functionalize techniques are as limitless as the techniques themselves.

This, to me, is a hindrance; a pain in the ass.  Why?  Easy.  Functionalizing takes time!!

For us, being Wing Chun folks, we are practitioners of an art whose techniques are very small in number.  Ironically, that which makes Wing chun so effective for the street or the ring can also  be its’ biggest downfall if this one key concept goes undeveloped.  Our job is to never let that happen.

How do you defend against this or that or this or that? You move in, preserve your structure and impose your will-by functionalizing that which you practice in your forms and drills. There’s no Dragon Scroll, Po, just “gong fu” – “hard work.”
In today’s mentality of “more is better” you might find yourself wondering if Wing Chun is lacking something…Let me answer that for you right now.  NOPE. The beauty and lethality of Wing Chun lies in its’ concepts being expressed through its’ techniques to fit any situation, not in having a “technique,” per se, for any situation… if that were the case, Sweet Jesus, I’d never leave the house!   I’d be too busy training for every possible scenario.

Anyways, how do we functionalize our Wing Chun to make it functional, practical and workable for a self-defense scenario?  A few of the more obvious ones are listed below:

  • Every few weeks, train in street clothing.  Forms, stepping drills, pak sau, lop sau, gum sau, chi sau, dummy, pole, knives-the works.  If you are used to practicing in a uniform (which as a Wing Chun guy or gal, why you’d want to wear the button down kung fu get-up in the first place is beyond me) or even in a school T-shirt and gym shoes, train once in a while wearing slacks and dress shoes.  Believe me, different feel…but last time I checked bad guys don’t just attack folks when they’re coming out of the gym, so it behooves us all to train in different clothes now and again, particularly those more restrictive such as slacks or dress shoes, which have less traction and thereby are more unstable to train with.  To train for the street you must think outside the training hall.
  • Adjust the lighting in your practice area.  Use a black light or even a strobe light to throw off depth perception. Chi sau with a strobe light on?! Wow.  That’s some trippy shit.  Try it out and you’ll see what I mean…you’ll also see why the “sticking” of “sticking hands” is so important.  Parking lots, dark sidewalks, alleys-every possible street situation can be mimicked if only in theory.
  • Pirate Chi Sau.  As for chi sau, everybody wants to do the cool “blindfolded chi sau” stuff.  Looks badass…but let me tell you if you want to try something more challenging, try chi sau with an eyepatch on.  Why?  It’s easier to chi sau with no sight than with depth perception thrown off from one eye being out of commission.  Train with the mindset of the eyepatch being dust, sweat or blood in your eye.  Have at it.  Switch the eyepatch every other round if you really want to mess with your brain.
  • Play loud music such as that you would hear in a nightclub or bar. You can even play music you cannot stand to already put your body in an unfamiliar state or a state of annoyance.  This one is fun to do.  Get creative.  From Perry Como to the Wu-Tang Clan-try it all.
  • Vary your training surface.  Practicing outside, in a parking lot or on surfaces such as gravel or concrete mimic the conditions one may find oneself in should a physical confrontation ever occur. add that to dress shoes and you may find some holes in your stepping or structure that need to be shored up.  No problem.  That’s why we do it now…like the old saying goes, “cry in training; laugh on the battlefield.”
Ever train against a full-power sucker punch or a headlock? Why not? You’d best get ready for the ball, Cinderella.
  • Develop scenario drills.  Create situations involving one on one, two on one, etc., as well as certain scenarios that do not involve someone actually attacking you but being verbally belligerent.  This will train you to assess a situation and its accompanying potential legal ramifications. These are just a few of the infinite ways to train your Wing Chun skills to become highly functional for straight up, no bullshit self-defense.  I don’t know about you, but that’s why I love and train Wing Chun.  For scenarios, a good face mask such as the Pro Force Thunder Padded Combat Headguard pictured here is worth the price paid 10 times over.  The metal cage ensures a much stronger and durable protection for your face than the clear plastic which can and does crack quite a bit.  As a bonus, the throat is covered which allows for knifehand or fung hau strikes to the sides of the neck.  Start using it ASAP.

NOTE: It goes without saying that MMA style gloves are a requirement with this type of gear.  I have always felt the Combat Sports Pro Style MMA Glove, pictured here, an excellent value for the price.  My only criticism would be that after a few years (my experience) the velcro begins to lose it’s grip but that’s after a few years of constant use so what the hell, right?  Still a small price to pay for a damn good deal on a durable pair of gloves and besides, as modern-day sage Tyler Durden said in Fight Club, “hey, even the Mona Lisa’s falling apart” so I guess I shouldn’t bitch.  Do yourself a solid; check out my review of these HERE, pick up a pair of this or another style you jive with, make good use of them and watch your confidence in training and application skyrocket.

 Use your imagination, seek new and innovative ways to train, and you will be amazed at how much more functionality you will develop-your techniques will become much more crisp and you will be able to respond to any scenario with much less time elapsing between confrontation and response.

Above all else, resist the temptation to break structure or alter technique; The techniques and structure of the system DO NOT need to be modified; they need to be functionalized.  More on that later…

Remember -Wing Chun is for SELF PRESERVATION and in self-preservation, functionality is KING!

Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby

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