“That’s the Chicago Way!” Are You Ready, Willing and PREPARED to Use Your Wing Chun on the Street?


I’ll keep this short, sweet and to the point today.  Here’s a little clip from one of my favorite films, The Untouchables.

I was thinking about this scene the other day.  Being from the Chicago area I’ve always liked this scene but what makes this stick out in my head is the mentality that the seasoned cop Malone imparts to the determined but hesitant and somewhat naive Eliot Ness as to the way things work and what must be done in order to achieve his goal.  Much the same way when discussing martial arts training for any semblance of self defense or personal protection, the reality of any encounter must be honestly addressed, and this must be reflected in the way techniques, concepts and principles are not modified per se, but rather adapted to fit any situation.

Ironically, Sean Connery’s advice to Kevin Costner as to how to nail Al Capone is just as applicable to our training to use Wing Chun for self defense on the street as anything else written on the subject.  Always ask yourself in your training,“what are you prepared to do?”

The moves on “Kung Fu Theatre” have no place in my training.  I practice with the full understanding that should I ever need to call upon my Wing Chun skills for use on the street, for self-defense and protection of myself, my wife, family or friends that there is a very real possibility that I will be hurt.

I may be cut, I may break a bone, I may be maimed in some way.  That is not an admission of the ineffectiveness of my training-that is a statement of fact.  Anyone who thinks that they will emerge unscathed from any violent altercation on the street is not someone I want to stand next to, as they may just get my ass killed too.

Keep This One Thing In Mind Today

One thing to adjust in your training is the effectiveness of an open hand strike vs. a punch for self defense purposes.  Why?  Here are just a few reasons for the superiority of an open handed strike:

  • No special skill is needed to develop the mechanics.  Ever push a door open?  Good. You’ve got it.
  • A palm strike from a smaller person has stopping power; a punch from a smaller person who hasn’t invested months if not years in proper transmission of energy will most likely just end up pissing me off.  In this pic, if she had punched me instead of using an open handed palm strike once I stopped laughing I would have knocked her into next week.  Instead she is slamming my head back, raking down my eyes and is a split second from kneeing me in the cajones (this is why I am wearing the “diaper-style” groin guard which, if you engage in any semblance of reality or contact-based training you should have and use). This type of training underscores the reality that in this close of a range, bad things can and do often happen.  Are you prepared to get “up close and personal” with an attacker’s eyes, throat and balls?  If not, you’d better be-and quick.
  • The palm strike mechanics are identical to any punch or biu jee eyejab strike in any of the Wing Chun forms.  Just the “head of the drill,” so to speak, changes.  This means no extra time is needed to integrate into your Wing Chun daily practice.

Keep these in mind and always ask yourself, “what am I prepared to do?


Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby


PS Connery’s final words to Costner are Gospel to any of us who seek to instruct others.  As an instructor you take a “blood oath” to transmit REAL information, not bullshit theory or fancy fluff.  That is why I am never hesitant or afraid to say “I don’t know, let’s find out”  when a question is asked or situation is presented that I may not be familiar with.  There’s just no other way to be.

Always keep that in mind.


  1. I think it’s important that everyone can defend themselves. I’m not sure if any style is better than another but I fully support anyone’s choice to choose and train under one. My wife did Krav Haha until we moved and now she wants to do something else. Are there training sites across the USA for wing chun?

    1. Tony,

      Yes there are several.  It is important to visit a school and see if they teach realistic self-protection or just pre-rehearsed routines. You can get a feel of a school  by observing how realistic they train their material and how accomodating to potential new students the instructors are.


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