THE SECRET TO WING CHUN’S ROOTING POWER: Best Wing Chun Training Wall Bags 2019

In order to fight, you need to train and train correctly. Wing Chun’s effectiveness boils down to structure and power. Wall bag training gives you both; to neglect this mode of training is to invite defeat.

I have said this so many times thus far, and I will continue to do so until my tongue falls off and I puke up thumbtacks: Wing Chun as an art is based off of structure.

Everything you will do in Wing Chun has its root- literally-in the structure of your body. From solidifying the Wing Chun yee jee kim yeung ma stance to the body unity expressed through the forms, from the reinforcement of basic concepts through the weapons of the long pole and butterfly swords to the application of Wing Chun theory and technique in a combative sense by way of chi sau and sparring training, everything boils down to one thing: structure.

A key component in training your structure is the use of the wall bag. The wall bag is to Wing Chun what the heavy bag is to a boxer.  Boxers use a heavy bag to develop power, structure and rooting which forms the bedrock foundation of their entire game plan in applying their skill set.  Wing Chun is no different; we need a tool to reinforce our body’s structure, rooting and power generation which will then bleed over into all aspects of training, from our forms to applying the techniques of the Wing Chun system to chi sau, weapons training and sparring.  That tool is the Wing Chun wall bag.  

Much care should therefore be put into choosing wall bags that most accurately and completely reinforce your structure in Wing Chun training, since the rooting and structure you develop will bleed into every area of your Wing Chun fight game, without exception.

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Wing Chun, Self Defense and Fighting Lessons from the “Deadliest Man Alive”

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Count Dante: visionary, pioneer, bullshit artist and all around badass.

No figure in the history of martial arts in America has been surrounded by as much controversy, myth, flamboyance and flat-out bullshit as the late John Keehan, also known as Count Dante. The self-proclaimed “Deadliest Man Alive,”  Keehan was once a respected sensei, undefeated tournament fighter and former Midwest Director of the United States Karate Association (USKA) and the one person responsible for entrenching the martial arts in Chicago and the Midwest during the early to mid-1960’s.

After parting ways with his instructor Robert Trias (the “Father of American Karate” who opened the first dojo in the USA in 1946) Keehan began promoting himself as the “Crown Prince of Death” and offered his booklet, World’s Deadliest Fighting Secrets, for sale in the back of comic books and bodybuilding magazines.

An absolute attention hound and fierce self-promoter, Keehan would walk his pet mountain lion down Continue reading

STING LIKE A BUTTERFLY: Best Wing Chun Swords / Knives 2019

Demonstrating the baat jaam do form, the last formal set in the Wing Chun system. The butterfly swords tie in everything you have learned in Wing Chun; after that, it’s up to you.

The final piece of the Wing Chun system that the student learns are the baat jaam do or Wing Chun butterfly swords.  The name itself, baat jaam do, when translated means “eight directional cuts of the knife” or “8 slashing blades.” In the Wing Chun system, the learning of butterfly swords/knives rounds out and completes formal instruction in the Wing Chun curriculum. 

Given their status as the end of formal Wing Chun training, choosing the right pair of butterfly knives or swords is a decision that, in effect, reflects how far you have come since you began training. Much thought and consideration should be given into choosing which butterfly swords best suit your training needs as well as the direction you would like to take your future in Wing Chun. Continue reading

SIX (AND A HALF) POINTS OF POWER: Best Wing Chun Long Poles 2019

My instructor Keith (front) and me (back) demonstrating Wing Chun’s luk dim boon gwun, or six-and-one-half-point-pole set during one of Chinatown’s annual summer fair celebrations.

The Wing Chun itself system is very small in its’ core teachings and curriculum, and is designed that way for a very specific purpose. There are only three empty hand sets,  the muk yan jong or wooden dummy set, and two weapon sets: one for longer range and one for shorter.  Together they comprise a complete progression taking one through all facets of self-defense and close-range combat skill.  Each one is vital to the mix and contains lessons which will enhance your ability to protect and defend yourself and your loved ones. 

Once the foundation and basic principles, techniques and concepts have been ingrained in your muscle memory by way of the forms, dummy and chi sau drills, weapons are introduced in order to reinforce those ideas and key principles by applying them to something outside and independent of your physical body.  Continue reading

MOVING TEXTBOOKS: Best Wing Chun Instructional DVDs 2019

When seeking out qualified instruction via DVD, make sure the instructor’s lineage is beyond reproach and his or her mechanics and grasps of basic principles are sound and presented in a way that is easy for you to understand. One such example is this DVD by Gary Lam’s top student, Sifu Greg LaBlanc.

Learning any martial art from a DVD is a daunting task.  Nothing will replace finding a qualified instructor to guide you through the nuances and subtle points of the Wing Chun system, since Wing Chun is an art and system of self defense predicated on feeling and close-in contact.  Given today’s high-tech world we live in, however,  the landscape of learning has changed. Finding the best DVDs on the market to guide you through the Wing Chun system and serve as “go-to” references for clarification is not only doable but necessary to gain a firmer understanding of what makes Wing Chun such an efficient and effective fighting art. Continue reading

“BRAIN TRAINING”- Top 10 Best Books on Proper Mindset & Mental Training for Wing Chun, Self Defense and Personal Safety 2019

Ah, the dream of discovering the ancient scroll containing all of the secrets to mastery…sorry to burst your balloon but let me clue you in on a secret I found out a long time ago: shit don’t work that way, Grasshopper.  It’s all about the hard work, and mental training is no exception.

The real secret to training, skill and mastery is simply this: techniques provide the foundation but mindset and mentality make all the difference between using those techniques successfully or unsuccessfully.  Having been training since 1994 and exclusively in the Wong Shun Leung (WSL) system of Wing Chun (Ving Tsun) since 2002, I have compiled in my personal library a list of the best books on mindset and mentality relating to Wing Chun and self defense.  Each of these books satisfy all of the criteria I feel is essential in a valuable resource that you should make use of and have at your disposal.

When one begins training in any martial arts system or style, in our case Wing Chun, the first type of books he/she looks for are always “technique” or “how-to” books.  Makes sense; you want to know how to do things so it stands to reason that looking for books to teach you a skill set is a natural thing- and it is.

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FORM & FUNCTION: 2019 Best MMA Gloves for Wing Chun, Sparring and Self-Defense Training

MMA gloves are a Wing Chun guy or gal’s best friend and most valuable training aid. It is imperative to know what to look for to best suit your needs.

To make your Wing Chun skills truly functional, practical and effective – for self-defense or full-contact combat sports such as MMA, muay thai and sanshou kickboxing – depends on several factors, not the least of which is the gear you train with.  Shin pads, mouthpiece, chest protector, groin cup and headgear are all necessities to have in your gear bag, but the single most important item of your gear will always be the gloves you have to punch with.

MMA gloves offer a very specific benefit to us as practitioners of Wing Chun as their open-palm design, loose fingers and minimal weight allow us to train, for all intents and purposes, as if we had no gloves on at all.  Choosing the best MMA glove to suit your needs is of the highest importance when training to make your Wing Chun skills work for you in an efficient, effective and ,above all, realistic way. Continue reading

GUARD YOUR LOW-LINE, ATTACK THEIRS! 2019 Best Shin Guards for Wing Chun, Sparring and Self-Defense Training

Wing Chun is a close-quarters system, and it doesn’t get more close-in than a boot to the shin or a stomp to the instep. Think you can realistically train without using the right gear  (such as the Fairtex SP5 Competition Shin Guard shown above)? Think again, Grasshopper.

One aspect of Wing Chun that does not get enough attention is its’ use of the kick. The Wing Chun kick is a low-line technique most often delivered to the shin, the kneecap or the hip in order to displace the opponent’s energy by immobilizing or causing pain. Training this very valuable but often underutilized aspect of the art requires the right gear and shin guards are the only way to realistically train the kick. The question then becomes: what kinds of shin guards are best suited for Wing Chun training, not only for self-defense but for applying the art to full contact combat sports such as MMA, muay thai or kickboxing? 

Choosing the best shin guard for your Wing Chun training, both for self-defense practice (first and foremost) and for full-contact combat sports participation such as kickboxing, MMA or sanshou fighting is of the highest importance as your training progresses. Continue reading

BUILDING YOUR “SELF DEFENSE SUCCESS LIBRARY”: The Top 5 Self Defense Books You NEED On Your Bookshelf 2019

What “secret weapon” do all successful people in any skill have in their homes? I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with LIBRARY.

I am a firm believer in having and building a “success library.”  Anyone who is successful at a certain skill – be it cooking authentic Italian food, playing the saxophone or repairing lawnmower engines- more than likely has quite a few books on the subject.  Training Wing Chun for the purpose of developing and applying simple, effective and practical self-defense skills is no different.

After sifting through my extensive collection of books I have compiled a list of the top 5 best books on no-frills self defense out there.  The books listed on this review are those I feel have the proven to be the most useful and valuable to myself as a Wing Chun guy, specifically as it relates to integrating my Wing Chun training into the matrix of simple, effective and practical self defense, thereby making Wing Chun work for me as a system of pure combat and fighting skills. Continue reading

GUARDING THE BREADBASKET: 2019 Best Chest Protectors for Wing Chun, Sparring and Self-Defense Training

The benefits of striking to the chest in our Wing Chun training as opposed to the face are numerous.  Some are more obvious than others, however, the one thing they all have in common is that they need a form of chest protection (such as the Hayabusa Pro-Training Body Protector, seen here) in order to be effectively applied.

Proper Wing Chun training involves contact. While that statement may come as no surprise, what is surprising is how little contact most Wing Chun people actually make during their training.  Also, when it comes to contact everybody becomes a headhunter when in reality shots to the chest offer the quickest and most effective path to training your Wing Chun punch and therefore the shortest method to unlocking Wing Chun’s devastating structural simplicity, efficiency and directness.  Choosing the best chest protector to hone your Wing Chun skills for self-defense and sparring is a necessity and a process that you should not take lightly. Continue reading

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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!